The Best Roller Coasters in North America

Do You Have What It Takes to Brave the Top Thrill Machines?

Twisted Colossus coaster Six Flags

Six Flags

Quick! What comes to mind when you think about amusement parks? Chances are, it’s roller coasters.

Coasters are the kings of the midway and have been since the earliest days of the amusement industry. Parks love them and prominently feature them. Fans love them and can't stop riding them. But which ones are the best?

We've had the good fortune of riding tons of thrill machines and have been reviewing them for years. People often ask us to run down our picks for favorite coasters. It's a fluid list. Parks keep introducing new ones, and the latest rides sometimes turn out to be among the greatest. We are always tinkering with the best coasters countdown.

Beginning in the early 1990s, the rides began their second Golden Age (the first was during the Jazz Age 1920s when the wooden lattices dotted the U.S. landscape), and their numbers and variety show no signs of letting up. While the basic concept—trains racing around a track—has remained more or less intact, ride manufacturers have been incorporating all kinds of innovative designs and features. Today, you can find magnetically launched coasters, hydraulically launched coasters, inverted coasters, and hybrid wooden and steel models, to name a few varieties.

Just as book reviewers tend to distinguish between fiction and non-fiction titles, and film reviewers maintain categories such as documentaries, animated films, and narrative features, we’ve developed three lists of best coasters. All of them are based at parks in North America. Are you ready to ride the best?