Located in northern Idaho, Silverwood Theme Park is one of the biggest and best family-owned parks in the Pacific Northwest–and the country for that matter. While it does have a themed Garfield's Summer Camp land, it is more of an amusement park than a theme park. (And yes, there is a difference.) The focus is mostly on roller coasters (of which there are six), spinning rides, and other mechanical rides, as opposed to sophisticated, immersive dark ride attractions found at destination parks such as Disneyland.
Opened in 1988 and set amid the mountains near Coeur d'Alene, the 220-acre park is nicely landscaped. While many of its rides are thrilling, Silverwood is not primarily a thrill park (like many Six Flags parks). There are things to do for the entire family. In the warmer months, Silverwood also offers Boulder Beach, a large, outdoor water park. Boulder Beach is included with the price of admission, making visits on days when it is open a good value.
Silverwood's Roller Coasters
The signature roller coasters at Silverwood are Tremors and Timber Terror, two woodies. While neither are generally considered among the best wooden coasters, they both offer enjoyable, albeit rickety rides that are characteristic of "woodies."
Of the two, Tremors is the more critically acclaimed. Spanning over 3,100 feet and lasting 1:40, the long and narrow layout of Tremors occupies a lot of real estate. It climbs 85 feet and drops 99 feet into the first of four underground tunnels. One of the other tunnels includes a see-through window into a gift shop. Tremors accelerates to 50 mph.
At 2,700 feet, Timber Terror is slightly shorter in track length and ride time than its sister coaster. It also climbs 85 feet but hits a top speed of 55 mph. Known as an "out and back" coaster, it too is designed as a long and narrow course. It includes a series of straightaway hills that deliver some nice pops of "airtime," the delirious negative-G sensation of rising out of your seat that coaster fans crave.
Interestingly, a major and celebrated roller coaster designer and manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC), is located in nearby Hayden, Idaho. It is best known for converting rough, past-their-prime wooden coasters into remarkably smooth wooden-steel hybrid coasters using its patented iBox steel track. To date, however, RMC has not converted either of Silverwood's wooden coasters.
On the steel side of the coaster equation, Silverwood offers Aftershock. The company that makes the ride calls it a "Giant Inverted Boomerang." It climbs over 191 feet and drops 177 feet. While there are plenty of coasters that reach much higher heights, Aftershock is nonetheless fairly extreme. Its height accounts for the "giant" part of the description. "Inverted" refers to the way that the trains are affixed to the track. Instead of sitting atop the track like a traditional coaster, the chassis and cars hang beneath the track, somewhat like a ski lift, and passengers' feet dangle as they navigate the course. Like other "Boomerang" coasters, also known as "shuttle" coasters, Aftershock climbs a dead-end tower, releases into a series of elements (including a roll and a loop), then climbs a second dead-end tower and retraces the course in reverse. It hits over 65 mph twice after diving down both towers.
Silverwood's other major thrill machine, Corkscrew, is an historically significant ride. It opened in 1975 at Knott's Berry Farm (where it was also known as Corkscrew) and was the first modern-day coaster to turn passengers upside down. While its double corkscrew element is tame by today's standards, it was quite a novelty back in the 1970s. After its debut, it spurred many other parks and manufacturers to develop coasters with inversions. The ride has not aged all that well, but it is relatively short.
Rounding out the park's coasters are Krazy Koaster, a family spinning coaster (in which the cars spin as they race forward) that travels along a figure-eight track and Tiny Toot, a kiddie coaster that is themed as a mine train.
Beyond the coasters, Silverwood offers Panic Plunge, a drop tower ride. Sitting in spacious seats with their legs dangling, passengers slowly climb straight up 120 feet, pause for a few agonizing moments to take in the park's skyline from a lofty perspective, and then freefall at 47 mph before magnetic brakes slow the vehicle at ground level.
For Spincycle, 24 passengers also face outward in exposed seats, tethered only by over-the-shoulder harness restraints. The pendulum to which the spinning ride vehicle is attached swings back and forth until it hits a top speed of 11.5 RPM and a height of 104 feet. The momentum eventually sends the vehicle rotating a full 360 degrees. (That is, passengers are sent upside down.) Riders experience an intense 3.5 Gs of force.
Silverwood offers a classic wet ride, Roaring Creek Log Flume. It climbs 40 feet before plunging passengers at 30 mph to a splashdown finale. Guests can also get wet on the river rapids ride, Thunder Canyon. Other more moderate thrills include midway "whirl-and-hurl" staples such as the Round-Up, the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Scrambler, and the Paratrooper. The park doesn't have bumper cars, but it does offer bumper boats. In addition to careening into one another, passengers can soak and get soaked with onboard water guns. Among other low-impact rides is a Ferris wheel.
Silverwood Caters to Kids and Families
One of the park's highlights is Expedition Silverwood, a 3.2-mile, 30-minute journey aboard an authentic circa-1915 steam engine train. Along the way, passengers can see bison and other real animals as well as Sasquatch. Hosting and narrating the ride are Old West characters such as Marshall Jack. At one point, bandits threaten to rob the train. Other presentations include a 30-minute magic show presented in the park's Theater of Illusion.
Most of the rides for young children can be found in Garfield's Summer Camp (although none of the rides are themed to the sardonic feline). They include a Frog Hopper mini-tower ride, a Puppy-Go-Round, and a climbing structure. Garfield and his buddies appear in his land to meet and greet guests. Elsewhere in the park are an antique cars ride, a carousel, and Flying Elephants (think Disney's Dumbo).
Chill Out at Boulder Beach
The onsite water park, Boulder Beach, is included with general admission. It offers a generous array of slides and attractions, including the giant wave pool, Boulder Beach Bay, and the lazy river, Elkhorn Creek, both of which are open to visitors of all ages and swimming abilities.
Among the park's more thrilling slides are Velocity Peak, a 60-foot-tall speed slide that accelerates riders up to 55 mph. Groups of up to four can pile into circular rafts and brave Avalanche Mountain, while another family raft ride, Ricochet Rapids, features an enclosed tube and a halfpipe element. Boulder Beach also offers the large mat racing slide, Riptide racer, and the multi-slide tower, Rumble Falls.
Younger children will enjoy Polliwog Park, a large interactive play structure with small slides, sprayers, and a massive tipping bucket. Toddler Springs is another area geared to young slashers.
What's to Eat at Silverwood?
Among the park's standout eateries is Chuckwagon John. The all-you-can-eat BBQ includes pulled pork, wood-grilled chicken, hot dogs, cornbread, and watermelon. If you and your park gang have big appetites and are wont to load up on big portions, the relatively low-priced restaurant is a good value.
The High Moon Saloon offers live music along with deli sandwiches, fish & chips, beer on tap, and other items. Lindy's (named for Charles Lindbergh) is the park's full-service restaurant. Its extensive menu includes burgers, baby back ribs, pasta, and, for dessert, chocolate mousse. Other locations serve pizza, ice cream, Mexican favorites, subs, and kettle corn, as well as other treats.
Note that the park does allow visitors to bring in their own food (in small, soft-sided coolers) and non-alcoholic beverages. There is a picnic area just outside the main gate.
When to Visit Silverwood, Getting There, Where to Stay, and Admission Info
Silverwood is open on weekends and select weekdays in the spring. Daily operation is from early June through Labor Day. Boulder Beach water park is open, weather permitting, from June through Labor Day. The park resumes a weekends-only schedule after Labor Day.
From early October through the end of the month, the park transforms into "Scarywood" and presents its Halloween event with haunted mazes, scare zones, and themed entertainment. In October, the park is open evenings on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
The park offers its own campground and RV park—guests staying at the campground qualify for discounted admission tickets to Silverwood. Nearby accommodations include Comfort Inn and Suites and Best Western in Coeur d'Alene and Triple Play Resort in Hayden.
Tickets purchased in advance online at the park's Web site are offered at a reduced rate. Tickets are lower for children (3 to 7) and seniors (65+). Silverwood offers season passes and group sales for parties of 15 or more. In addition to reduced-price tickets, the park offers picnic facilities and dining packages for groups. Parking is additional. VIP cabanas for Boulder Beach can be reserved in advance,
The park offers Read 2 Ride, which rewards students who complete the program's reading requirements with free tickets. It is available to children in preschool through sixth grade. Schools and homeschool co-ops must apply in advance to participate in the program.