A new roller coaster has arrived in Glenwood Springs and adrenaline junkies are queuing up for the euphoria kick that comes with mustering the courage to ride Defiance.
Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the mountaintop theme park in Glenwood Springs, just launched its newest thrill ride—and it’s a scream! Named Defiance, the ride’s vertical profile is enough to cast fear into the hearts of most people, but for adrenaline junkies, this coaster is high-elevation elation.
The stats on Defiance are precisely what makes it irresistible to daredevils. After the coaster cars reach the apex of the track, riders plummet back toward earth with a 102.3-degree freefall giving Defiance the claim of the steepest coaster plunge in the western United States! The thrills keep coming with other heart-stopping components that invert and tilt riders such as a 98-foot twisted top hat switch, a 111-foot banana roll and a 41-foot Zero-G heartline roll. From the fast start to the final stretch, Defiance is 56 seconds of unfiltered heart-pounding excitement.
Why We Crave Fear
What is it about roller coasters that people love so much? The rides’ popularity is linked to what psychologists call sensation seeking, the desire for speed and novelty experiences including fear. Rather than fending off grizzly bears in the wilds of Alaska or free climbing El Capitan in Yosemite, riding a roller coaster is certainly scary but it’s actually a safe and nonthreatening way to experience the “fight or flight” response. Symptoms include a pounding heart, an increase in breathing and the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Coasters and other thrill rides go to extremes with curves, drops and loop-de-loops to illicit these known physical signs of fear, and enthusiasts can’t get enough of them.
Another side effect of engaging with fear aboard a ride like Defiance is the triumph and sense of exhilaration that riders experience when it’s over. Part of the draw of roller coasters is the feeling that comes afterward. Extreme rides or activities raise the levels of endorphins released in the brain causing people to experience an intense sense of wakefulness, euphoria and well-being. Perhaps these feelings are the ultimate reward for having the courage to ride in the first place.
Taking a Pass is Okay
While people have been known to queue up for hours to ride a new roller coaster that often takes less than two minutes from start to finish, they aren’t everyone’s jam. It turns out that people with higher levels of dopamine—a neurotransmitter that regulates the reward center in the brain—are more prone to sensation-seeking behavior. Those with lower levels, less so. Also affecting roller coaster ridership is a tolerance for risk-taking behavior, which is higher in younger people and tends to diminish as we get older.
Defiance is a thriller, but if freefalling isn’t your idea of a good time, there’s no shame in taking a pass. There are plenty of other options for exhilarating experiences in Glenwood Springs. For challenges that will accelerate heart rate try whitewater rafting on the Colorado or Roaring Fork Rivers, mountain biking on the Wulfsohn or South Canyon trails or paragliding from the summit of Red Mountain. But thrills, like people, come in all forms. There’s an excitement that comes from catching a rainbow trout, scoring under par at area golf courses, or even shopping for a one-of-a-kind treasure at a boutique downtown.
Find out more about Defiance roller coaster and all the other thrilling possibilities for vacation fun in Glenwood Springs.
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