The twists, the turns, the awkward group photos during the drop: Roller coasters are predictable and predictably thrilling. But they aren't all created equal. Where your run-of-the-mill loop-the-loop merely weakens knees, a great coaster – one of Ohio's aging wooden monsters or a Dale Earnhardt–inspired speedster in Virginia – makes riders question their decision to climb aboard then decide it was the right move after all.
Since the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, a mining company track in Pennsylvania, opened in 1827, American engineers have been building bigger and badder thrill rides. Here are the best in the country.
The Voyage, Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana)
The 1.2-mile-long Voyage coaster is as American as apple pie – literally. This ride, which reaches speeds of 67.4 miles per hour as it winds through five underground tunnels and careens around 90-degree banked turns, is Thanksgiving themed. The main course: Feeling weightless for a sum total of 24.3 seconds before the turkey comes back up.