It's a thrill ride that's already found at many mountain locations, especially here in the West. But until now, you had to do some driving to have fun in the "alpine coaster" trend, where small two-person sleds follow a twisting course just off the ground.

And while the new operation above Flathead Lake isn't the "Disneyland" type experience some local residents had worried about, it's likely to draw some pretty strong interest from locals and visitors alike.

The new Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster is now operating at Lakeside, after operators fought their way through a complicated approval process, including improvements to busy Highway 93 to alleviate traffic concerns.

Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster
Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster

Montana Talks logo
Get our free mobile app

The Alpine Coaster is a "roller coaster" in the pure sense of the definition. But it's not towering multi-story loops in the air, but rather a single-lane track that takes two passengers "sleds" on a winding course through the forest. It does use the hillside location for drops that are sure to create some butterflies for the riders.

There are some limits to help safety

The ride is designed for most people, young and old, although there are specific height, age, and weight restrictions for safety. The minimum height is 38" tall, at least 3 years old, and young passengers have to be with someone at least 18 years old. The driver has to be at least 56" tall to operate the sled. The combined weight is limited to 375 pounds in dry conditions and 330 pounds when it's wet.

And the plan is to operate the attraction year around.

Adult prices are $18 per ride and $13 for kids. There are also ticket packs and discounts for military and "local" residents.

The Flathead Alpine Coast is just north of the town of Lakeside.

Get to Know Missoula A to Z

All about Missoula, Montana.

More From Montana Talks