From the outside, Haunted Mine Drop at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park looks like an abandoned mine from the 19th century. Inside is a scream-inducing ride. © Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park/Mandy Gauldin

Originally published: September/October 2017

By Tom Hess

There’s something about the idea of falling fast, in the dark, that haunts many people. Not me. Or that’s what I tell myself.

Years ago, I dropped 130 feet while riding the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at California Adventure Park, and loved it: no screaming, no profanity, no bodily fluids—just pure thrill, and my amazement at Disney’s technological prowess.

Sadly, California’s Tower of Terror closed in January (though it remains open at other Disney parks), replaced in May by a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction—Mission: Breakout!

Amusement park attractions come and go, in an ever-escalating game of leapfrog, and fortunately for Coloradans, a new one opened this summer in Glenwood Springs—the first dark-ride underground drop in the world. It’s called Haunted Mine Drop, and it’s the newest ride at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. This thrill-seeker is happy for it.

Haunted Mine Drop sends you 110 feet to the bottom of a mine haunted by a century-old victim of greed. This attraction is just steps away from the Giant Canyon Swing—another scream-inducing ride that launches you 1,300 feet above Glenwood Canyon.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is fast becoming one of the wildest, most “dangerous” parks in America.

Search YouTube for video of the Giant Canyon Swing, and you’ll find several, with millions of views, that show men and women screaming in genuine terror.

With Haunted Mine Drop, you can’t bring your phone (you’d likely drop it into the mine), so there won’t be a digital record of your screaming on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram. But it’s likely that you’ll hear from at least one of your five fellow passengers in this six-person ride.

I test-dropped into the mine just before the Grand Opening in late July, and the two other passengers joining in the ride remember screaming and cursing. I didn’t hear them. I was caught up in the sensation of falling quickly, as if through a trap door, with a rush of wind and yet nothing to see until the storyline that began above ground continued below. The narrative is entertaining enough to make you want to ride again.

It took the park management a year to create and stabilize the mine shaft in Iron Mountain. Given all the costly requirements for dark rides, it’s probably one of the safest rides at the park. And yet it seems the most dangerous. For some, that thought will be haunting enough.