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Defiance Coaster opens at Glenwood adventure park

The new Defiance Roller Coaster runs at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Following a brief hairpin ascent, you’re graced with a breathtaking view of the Roaring Fork Valley.

And hardly enough time to take it all in.

Before you have time to exhale, it’s gone in a woosh. Gravity pulls you down, but it also pulls you in, under and more down than you’ve felt before.



Gone is any feeling of anticipation — it’s just exhilaration now as you finally let a breath out in the last corkscrew turn.

People enjoy a soft opening of the new Defiance Roller Coaster at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Then, less than a minute before it began, you’re left with just one question: Are you ready to hop on the Defiance Coaster again?



“The scariest part is the anticipation, going up and looking out at the blue yonder,” Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park General Manager Nancy Heard said after riding the rollercoaster for the ninth time. “Nothing can replace the feeling of being on top of that hill.”

The pause is just enough time to take in the view of everything from Mount Sopris to Red Mountain and West Glenwood before you plunge straight back down at a 102.3 degree freefall drop.

A group of thrill seekers ride the new Defiance Roller Coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

The entire ride lasts about 56 short and sweet seconds after the intense buildup and drop in the beginning. 

“It was the smoothest roller coaster,” first-time rider Quinn Helbling said. “It was grand.”

She visited the park Tuesday from Montrose for the first time with her husband Darren Helbling and friend Chad Stafford, from Denver, who had told them about the park.

Quinn typically seeks thrills riding her dirt bike, but the coaster still made her nervous, especially when she couldn’t do anything to slow herself down. Stafford and Darren had already ridden the roller coaster a few times and instantly jumped back in line to ride the Defiance Coaster again. 

Defiance was the original name for Glenwood Springs and a perfect name for the seemingly gravity-defying ride.

People react after riding the new Defiance Roller Coaster at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“You go from feeling complete weightlessness to feeling as though you weigh more,” Darren Helbling said.

Even though the ride was opened during the Fourth of July weekend, the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the Defiance roller coaster is Saturday. The opening celebration will include swag, grand prize giveaways, limited edition pins for the first 100 guests, and a performance by Paisley Park, a popular Prince cover band.

Defiance is the highest rollercoaster in the western United States, sitting atop Iron Mountain at 7,132 ft above sea level. 

“We have unparalleled views,” Heard said. “Insider’s tip: sit in the front.” 


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