Roller coasters are one of the most popular ways to be scared in a good way. As the train climbs to crazy heights, whips you around at high speeds, and flips you upside-down and all around, it definitely gets your blood pumping! Nothing makes you feel more alive than an adrenaline-boosting thrill ride. While the world's tallest and fastest coasters are scattered all over the world, the USA is home to many record-breaking rides. People come from around the globe to ride the roller coasters on this list!
You might think you are the bravest coaster enthusiast out there, but strap into any one of these coasters and you will be crying for your mommy. From super steep drops to dizzying heights to break-neck speeds, these rides have all the best features of world-class coasters. The best part? The roller coasters listed here can be found all across the country, so no matter where you live you are probably close to at least one of them! Whether you are a long-time coaster lover or a newbie who wants to start off with a bang, get ready to scream. Read on to learn more about 20 of the scariest, most amazing roller coasters you can find in the USA!
20 Kingda Ka (Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ)
Did you know that the tallest roller coaster in the world is in the USA? Kingda Ka, located at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, stands 456 feet high, making it the tallest coaster on Earth. Riders blast out of the loading area and quickly climb over 40 stories, then immediately dive back down toward the ground. With just straight up and back down, how bad could it be? When you see the sheer height of this coaster in person, your knees will grow weak. Though there are not a lot of fancy features to this ride, it will most definitely make you scream in terror.
19 Goliath (Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL)
I will start you off with a wooden coaster but don't think that makes this ride an easy one. Unlike many of its wooden counterparts, Goliath, found at Six Flags Great America, flips riders upside-down in its zero-G stall, which makes it feel like you are inverted for an eternity. Oh, and did I mention this ride doesn't have shoulder restraints? When it was first built in 2014, Goliath was also the tallest, fastest, and steepest wooden roller coaster on Earth, with an 85-degree, 180-foot drop and reaching speeds of 72 miles per hour. This isn't your grandpa's wooden coaster!
18 The Voyage (Holiday World, Santa Claus, IN)
Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana has three wooden coasters that thrill seekers love. The Voyage, based on the story of the Pilgrims coming to America, is the most intense one of the trio. With a 154-foot drop and top speeds of 64 miles per hour, you'll feel like you are flying. The sensation gets even stronger with the ride's 24 total seconds of stomach tickling airtime. In addition to the usual thrills, this coaster features a "triple down" where the train swoops underground three times in fast succession, blasting you into and out of the total darkness at crazy speeds.
17 Maverick (Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH)
Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is known as the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. That is why a lot of the entries on this list are found there. The first is Maverick, known for its blazing speeds. Using magnetic tracks, riders are shot out of the loading area, up a hill, and back down a 100-foot drop that is 95 degrees. That is more than straight down! As if that weren't enough to take your breath away, the coaster stops in a tunnel partway through the ride, only to blast off again at 70 miles per hour. Don't forget all the twists and turns!
16 The Intimidator 305 (King's Dominion, Doswell, VA)
The Intimidator 305, found at King's Dominion in Doswell, VA, is themed after the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt. This steel coaster gives you the feeling of zooming around a race track by reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour! After climbing high above the park, you'll plummet 300 feet almost straight down before flying into a series of mind-boggling twists and turns. This coaster is proof you don't need inversions to be a scream machine! Voted Best New Roller Coaster of 2010 by Amusement Today, thrill seekers won't want to miss this perfect marriage of high speeds and dizzying heights.
15 X2 (Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA)
Only those with a strong stomach should attempt this next coaster. The X2, found at Six Flags Magic Mountain, is so intense that you won't know which end is up. The seats sit on either side of the ride's track and rotate 360 degrees, so you are spinning back and forth while also going through the coaster track! You will also climb 175 feet backward, then drop almost straight down 215 feet! Add in speeds of 76 miles per hour, fire features, and a blaring rock soundtrack and you have one of the craziest coasters the world has ever seen. Good luck to those who try this one!
14 Top Thrill Dragster (Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH)
If you are not quite ready to face Kingda Ka, try this similar coaster to start. Found at Cedar Point, the Top Thrill Dragster is the world's second tallest roller coaster, rising 420 feet above the ground. Themed after the thrills of a drag race, this coaster takes riders from zero to 120 miles per hour in 3.8 short seconds! Unlike Kingda Ka, which takes riders straight up and back down, the Dragster features a 270-degree twist on your way back to Earth. Though the entire ride takes just 17 seconds, it is sure to stick in your mind for the rest of your life.
13 Diamondback (Kings Island, Mason, OH)
Not a fan of going upside-down? Diamondback, found at Kings Island, is the perfect coaster for you. While it features no inversions, there are still plenty of thrills thanks to its insane speeds. Riders will zip around the track at 80 miles per hour, getting tons of airtime during the ride's duration. Diamondback includes 10 stomach-turning drops, including the first drop that is 215 feet and 75 degrees. Now that's scary! With a fun splash-down effect towards the end of the ride that sprays you with water from a lagoon, this coaster is heart-pounding, fun, and unique. You'll definitely get right back in line to do it again!
12 SheiKra (Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Tampa, FL)
While a lot of the roller coasters on this list keep a solid floor below you, this ride takes away that feeling of safety. Found at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SheiKra lets riders' legs dangle as they plummet towards the ground at a 90-degree angle. At 200 feet, this is one of the tallest dive coasters in the world. You will really feel the height when you are dangled at the top of the coaster's tallest hill before dropping at a crazy speed of 70 miles per hour. It's only a split second, but it will feel like an eternity!
11 Apollo's Chariot (Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA)
A hyper coaster is defined as a steel roller coaster over 200 feet tall with no inversions. These are basically built for their height and speed. One of the first hyper coasters was Apollo's Chariot, located at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Built in 1999, this ride has a drop of 210 feet and hits speeds of 73 miles per hour! You whiz through the park's lush landscaping so fast, it's all a green blur! What really makes it thrilling is the series of smaller hills that equal major airtime. If you love that butterflies in your stomach feeling, hitch a ride on this coaster.
10 Manta (SeaWorld, Orlando, FL)
For those people who wish that they could fly and soar, Manta is the ultimate roller coaster experience. Located at SeaWorld Orlando, this coaster positions riders on their tummies, so every dip and dive you take is head first! Nosedives, inversions, and splashing through a lagoon, all while face down, make this one of the most unique roller coasters on this list. The ride is meant to simulate the gliding of a giant manta ray through the ocean, but this coaster is more scary than serene. Wait for the front row for an even more intense ride!
9 Lightning Rod (Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN)
Lightning Rod, located at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN, has fun theming to match its thrills. Riders hop into a train designed after an old hot rod car, then blast off in the world's first magnetic launch on a wooden roller coaster. The topper track makes Lightning Rod a smoother ride than most wood coasters. You will be thankful for that because, at 73 miles an hour (the fastest wooden coaster on Earth), your head would rattle off! Add in a "quadruple down" feature where riders plummet underground four times and you have a coaster no one will soon forget.
8 Nitro (Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ)
Though this next coaster isn't record-breaking by any means, it's still full of thrills. Nitro, found at Six Flags Great Adventure, consists of a thin steel track, so slim and sleek that you'll feel like you're practically floating on air! As you zoom through the track at 80 miles per hour, you will feel weightless in your seat. Perhaps the scariest element is the fact that it doesn’t have shoulder restraints, just lap bars; this makes the 215 foot drop a million times scarier! Nitro is classified as a hypercoaster for its height and speed and you'll be hyper to ride it again!
7 Superman the Ride (Six Flags New England, Agawam, MA)
Have you ever wanted to fly like Superman? Well, Superman the Ride at Six Flags New England is one of the closest things you can get to becoming the Man of Steel. This thrilling coaster takes riders up 208 feet and then drops them 221 feet. How you ask? Riders plummet into a foggy underground tunnel at a breakneck 77 miles per hour! The coaster also features a second dive into a tunnel, a dizzying double helix, and some major airtime. Superman the Ride was once voted Best Roller Coaster by USA Today readers, so you definitely have to check this one out!
6 Cannibal (Lagoon Amusement Park, Farmington, UT)
If you love that feeling where your stomach ends up in your throat after a ride, head to Lagoon amusement park in Farmington, Utah. Cannibal is a roller coaster as scary as its name implies. Riders climb 208 feet before plunging into an underground tunnel. Three inversions, including a 140-foot inverted loop, and speeds of 70 miles per hour will easily get your heart pumping. But the most scream-inducing aspect of this coaster is its 116-degree beyond vertical drop on the first hill. You will feel like you are free falling! Get ready to have your breath stolen away on this ride!
5 Millennium Force (Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH)
Consistently named one of the world's best steel coasters, thrill seekers flock to Cedar Point to ride Millennium Force. When it opened in 2000, it became the first of a new classification of coaster: the Giga coaster. With a drop of 300 feet and speeds of 93 miles per hour, this coaster was at one time the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. It changed the way we think about roller coasters today! Riders enjoy all the hits of coaster features including hills, tunnels, water features, and more. Ride it once and you will see why this coaster wins awards year after year.
4 El Toro (Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, NJ)
If you have ever wanted to experience bull-riding but don't want to risk your life, head to Six Flags Great Adventure for a ride on El Toro. This wild and crazy wooden coaster includes a number of overbanked turns that will pitch you from side to side harder than any other coaster you've ridden. Pair that with some super strong ejector airtime (the kind that feels like you're being blasted out of your seat), and you're in for one heart-pounding ride. Despite all this, El Toro is surprisingly smooth thanks to its prefabricated track (the only wooden coaster in the US with this feature).
3 Superman: Escape from Krypton (Six Flags Magic Mountain, Valencia, CA)
Blasting off at blazing speeds is scary enough. But on this coaster, you get to do it backward! Superman: Escape from Krypton, located at Six Flags Magic Mountain, sends riders 415 feet straight up into the sky in reverse. Talk about gravity-defying! Even scarier is that you go from zero to 100 miles per hour in just seven seconds. At this 90-degree angle, you will experience total weightlessness for 6.5 seconds before zooming back down to Earth. This was the first coaster to ever reach a three-digit speed, letting you know what it is really like to fly like Superman.
2 Griffon (Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, VA)
If you enjoyed SheiKra, you will also love Griffon. This is another floorless dive coaster that thrill seekers can't get enough of. Griffon, found at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, was the first coaster of its kind and is the second fastest dive coaster around. This coaster drops you 205 feet straight down (90 degrees) but the dangling feet element and steep drop aren't the scariest part. Before you plummet down at 75 miles per hour, you will inch to the edge of the hill and hang there for a few seconds. Just watching this cliffhanger feature is enough to raise your blood pressure!
1 Fury 325 (Carowinds, Charlotte, NC)
Fury 325, located at Carowinds in North Carolina, is the world's tallest and fastest Giga coaster. Though it doesn't have any inversions, its breakneck speeds of up to 95 miles per hour will definitely get your heart pumping. Riders climb—you guessed it—325 feet before diving 81 degrees into a barrel roll. Then you are in for S-curves, camelback hills, and a dive under the park's pedestrian bridge. With over 1.25 miles of track, Fury 325 is also the longest steel coaster in North America. Its most unique features are that you will cross between North Carolina and South Carolina while on the ride!