15 Must Ride Roller Coasters Within 7-Hours of Duluth
If you're looking for a fun summer road trip, how about an adventurous outing to ride some of the best roller coasters in the region?
There are a surprising number of world-class roller coasters less than a 7-hour drive from Duluth, with theme parks like Valleyfair, Nickelodeon Universe, Adventureland, Mt. Olympus, Little Amerricka, and Six Flags Great America, there are plenty of options for any level of coaster rider.
First, let's take a look at how far these amusement parks are from Duluth:
- Valleyfair - Shakopee, MN - 2:30hrs
- Nickelodeon Universe - Mall of America - 2:30hrs
- Adventureland - Des Moines, IA - 6hrs
- Mt. Olympus - Wisconsin Dells, WI - 4hrs
- Little Amerricka - Marshall, WI - 5hrs
- Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, IL - 6:45hrs
Each of these parks is worthy of a stop, some you'll want to spend more time at than others, but all of them have at least two roller coasters, and each of them has something unique to offer for Twin Ports coaster enthusiasts.
This list is in no particular order, I'd like to be able to give you reviews of each of these coasters, but I haven't ridden them all, so I'll provide a YouTube video of each of them to give you a sense of what each one is like, and provide my review if I've had the luck of riding the coaster. Hop in, make sure your seatbelt is buckled and your lap bar is down, here we go!
This is a coaster I make sure to ride every time I'm at Valleyfair, 'High Roller' was built in 1976 and is a classic "out and back" wooden coaster that provides riders with great air time all the way until the end. It only has a 70-foot lift hill, but you can really get flying on this coaster, it can hit speeds of 50 mph.
This coaster is a hidden gem, located at Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin Dells is 'Cyclops', it's a short wooden terrain coaster at only 1,750 feet long, and its highest drop is only 76 feet, but I was shocked after my first ride how insanely fun this coaster is. This is one of those coasters that feels right on the edge of safety and real danger, you get some incredible air time and get flying at speeds near 60 mph. RIDE THIS COASTER!
You may not even know that this theme park exists, located just outside of Des Moines is Adventureland, they were a family-owned park up until recently and have slowly built an impressive collection of roller coasters. Their latest, and most impressive, is the steel looping coaster 'The Monster', built in 2016 it features a 110-degree drop, the steepest in the midwest, and five inversions.
Fairly Odd Coaster
Located inside the Mall of America is a collection of roller coasters that is quite unique for a shopping mall, and quite fun. Constructed in 2004, 'Fairly Odd Coaster' is a family-friendly, but exciting spinning coaster that takes riders down quick drops and cruising around hairpin turns at a top speed of 31mph all while spinning uncontrollably.
Six Flags Great America
Six Flags Great America is located about an hour outside of Chicago and features one of the biggest rosters of coasters in the midwest. When it was built in 2014, 'Goliath' was the fastest, tallest, and steepest wooden roller coaster in the world. The first drop is a massive 180-foot underground plunge at 85 degrees which accelerates the trains to 72mph before taking riders through a 180-degree zero-G twist, two inversions, and a spiraling inverted zero G stall.
The 'Corkscrew' at Valleyfair is much like the 'High Roller', a nostalgic ride that still can excite the thrill-seeking customers of today. Opened in 1980, this looping coaster hits speeds of 50mph and takes riders through a Vertical Loop, and a Double Corkscrew. The 'Corkscrew' is still enjoyable and provides Valleyfair visitors with its only inverted coaster experience.
Wild & Wooly Toboggan
Located in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin is Little Amerricka theme park, opened in 1991 it features a collection of 24 rides, mostly classic flat rides, but they do have a few coaster options, including this rare, vomit-inducing, Toboggan style roller coaster, this coaster is serial #1 from Chance Rides and was originally installed in 1969 at Dogpatch USA in Dogpatch, AR, and today it is one of the only remaining coasters of this kind. I won't highlight another coaster from this park, but they do have a small wooden coaster called 'Meteor' and a classic Mad Mouse style coaster, Little Amerricka is maybe a quick side mission on your larger coaster journey.
This coaster looks like so much fun, called 'Dragon Slayer', this coaster opened in 2021 and is a 4D Free Spin roller coaster, riders are seated in horizontally spinning cars on either side of the track all while flipping during the 770-foot length of the ride.
Six Flags Great America
This is one of, if not the most extreme ride on this list, opened in 2019, Maxx Force is the latest coaster at Six Flags Great America and is the fastest launch coaster in America taking riders from zero to 78 miles-per-hour in two seconds! Maxx Force also holds the record for fastest inversion and highest double inversion in the world. This ride is short, it will take you less than 30 seconds to travel the 1,800-foot of track.
Opened in 1989, 'Excalibur' gives riders the unique experience of a steel-tracked, wood-supported roller coaster that hits a top speed of 54mph after the 105-foot initial drop. Some people find the ride extremely rough, I generally don't find it an issue, but smaller riders beware that you could get tossed around a little.
Here's another amazing coaster at Mt. Olympus in Wisconsin Dells, this wooden coaster is a record-breaker, featuring the longest roller coaster tunnel in the world, and a 360-degree loop, making it the world’s first upside-down wooden roller coaster. In its opening year of 2005, it won the "Best New Ride" award from Amusement Today magazine and is consistently ranked as one of the best wooden coasters.
SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge
This is one of my personal favorites, 'SpongeBob SquarePants Rock Bottom Plunge' is the most thrilling and tallest coaster at the Mall of America, opened in 2008 this coaster features Minnesota's only beyond vertical drop at 97-degrees, and features two inversions.
Six Flags Great America
Opened in 2012, X-Flight was one of the first wing style coasters in America, wing coasters basically put pairs of riders on either side of the coaster track making the ride vehicle look like a wing. X-Flight will get riders up to 55mph, flip them over 5 times, and provide some amazing "near miss" elements throughout the 3,000-feet of track.
The crown jewel of coasters at Valleyfair is the hypercoaster 'Wild thing', which opened in 1996 and hits a top speed of 74mph after the 207-foot initial drop, when it opened 'Wild Thing' was the 5th tallest roller coaster in the world, today it ranks 33rd. "Wild Thing' is on my personal top 10 list, it's so smooth, has great air time, and the first drop is great fun from the front seat and hands up!
SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight
Six Flags Great America
Something you can only get at Six Flags Great America is the true feeling of flight with 'SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight', which opened in 2003 and is also installed in two other Six Flags parks. The coaster puts riders parallel to the track facing toward the ground held securely in place by an over the torso harness. 'SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight' is 115-tall and hits a top speed of 52 mph and features the first pretzel-shaped inverted loop. This ride pairs up nicely with the several DC Comics rides and coasters at Six Flags.
There are several roller coasters from these parks that I did not mention, but these are certainly the highlights and a go start for a summer roller-coaster road trip.