Canyon Ski Resort will soon be known for more than skiing and snow tubing.
Construction is underway on the new Canyon Coaster — the only alpine coaster in Alberta — that will propel thrill-seekers on a track through the canyon forest at speeds of up to 40 km/h, while timid riders can take a more leisurely trip at a slower pace.
“What’s unique about it is it gives you control. You can take it anywhere from zero to 40 km/h,” said David Martel, resort general manager, about each rider.
The coaster’s monorail track is almost 1.4 km long, ranges between 0.3 to 1.3 metres above ground, and takes riders from the top of the canyon, down towards Red Deer River.
Martel said the few alpine coasters elsewhere in Canada can be found in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. But the coaster in Red Deer County will be the only one that the manufacturer Sunkid has installed in North America where at the end riders stay in their toboggan while they are pulled back up the river valley by a T-bar lift.
He said Sunkid is known for its minimal ground disturbance and utilizing existing ground conditions so that riders can enjoy the natural surroundings.
“We’re the third people in Western Canada to install one of these alpine coasters, and this will showcase what Red Deer has to offer.”
The Canyon Coaster is being built on the old luge run, and will be accessed through the Upper Village expansion at the top of the canyon near the Edgar Highspeed Tube Park that operates during the winter months.
The area will include the coaster ticket office, food and beverage area, washrooms, and a parking lot.
The project broke ground in March and the anticipated opening day is June 25 if the weather cooperates during construction.
Martel said the vision for the resort has always been to make it a year-round business. The coaster project has been in the works since 2020 when the focus turned to local activities and attractions after COVID-19 struck.
Sunkid, an Austrian company, had to delay its site visit last spring until the fall due to COVID travel restrictions.
“The project was delayed a little bit due to the COVID restrictions, but we’re here now, the materials arrived, and the install is well underway. We’re about halfway through the construction.”
Martel said the coaster will show visitors how green and lush the area is when there’s no snow on the ground.
“We get over 50,000 skier visits in the wintertime, and the river valley looks completely different in the summer. We want people to experience the beauty of Canyon year-round.”
And people who come out for coaster rides could be eager to return for some winter fun, he said.
Children eight years and older can ride their own coaster toboggan.
The coaster’s hours of operation are expected to be Wednesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. throughout the summer, including all statutory holidays.
Come next year, the Canyon Coaster should be running from the May long weekend to Thanksgiving.