The Tumwater Twister Alpine Adventure Park. Image courtesy of Leavenworth Adventure Park
Many of us picture a visit to Leavenworth with relaxing strolls through town and gorgeous views of the mountains.
Our family visited recently for the much-anticipated opening of Leavenworth Adventure Park, and we experienced our state’s Bavarian-themed village in a whole new way.
You won’t be at all surprised to hear that it’s totally awesome.
Leavenworth Adventure Park offers mountainside thrills
Leavenworth Adventure Park’s most impressive attraction is the Tumwater Twister Alpine Coaster, which you can see as you drive into town. Spotting it amplified the excitement in our car, and questions from the back seat shifted from “Are we there yet?” to “Can we go there first?!”
First off, it’s good to know that everyone can enter the park grounds for free; it’s a pay-per-attraction experience. We love that everyone in your group can come into the park and be together, and those who want to ride the rides can do so. This is also helpful if you have little ones who aren’t big enough to ride the coaster. They can hang back with a grandparent or a friend who isn’t into seeking thrills.
The meat of our review details the coaster, but don’t underestimate the fun of the other attractions. The gem sluicing was a big hit in our family (more on that in a sec).
Tumwater Twister alpine coaster
Once inside the park, we headed straight for the coaster. We entered the adventure park’s building to get in line. We found that riders can go solo or in pairs. My husband and I each took one of our daughters, listened carefully to the safety instructions, and off we went.
The ride was a much different experience compared to a ride on a traditional coaster. Instead of a theme park environment, you’re on the side of a mountain amidst stunning scenery, just you and your passenger. It was exhilarating and refreshing all at once.
The tracks for the alpine coaster twist and turn down the hillside and riders can reach speeds up to 27 miles per hour. Holy moly! It looks like something you’d see in the mountains of Europe — a fitting new addition to the Bavarian-esque burg.
Rather than a theme-park-style roller coaster, with cars attached like a train, riders on this coaster each drive an individual toboggan. The driver is in control of the speed and must remain aware of toboggans ahead on the track and maintain a safe distance. Fortunately, there are several speed checks to make sure you don’t exceed the max speed.
Fun fact: You’d expect this thrill ride to only operate in summer, but we were pleasantly surprised to hear that it is fully operational year-round — rain, snow or shine.
Is the coaster too thrilling for kids?
Several of our friends were curious to know what our kids thought about riding the coaster. Their squeals of laughter were all the proof we needed to know that they loved it. My husband and I are both thrill seekers and opted to go full speed — relying on the automatic braking system to keep our speeds in line. I used my knees to brace my littlest one on the tight curves when she was riding with me. But if you wanted to, you could go slowly and enjoy the stunning views of Leavenworth.
It’s helpful if you let the staff know whether you are planning to go superfast or slow so they can time the toboggans accordingly. During my husband’s last ride, he had to slow down significantly because the person in front of him was going at an enjoy-the-scenery pace. He said it was still fun, and he took the extra time to look for paragliders.
The ride lasts roughly five minutes, depending on your speed.
Requirements for riders
There are quite a few requirements to ride the coaster that families should be aware of before visiting. Each toboggan has a driver. To drive alone, riders must be at least nine years old and 54 inches tall. To ride as a pair, the driver must be at least 16 years old, at least 54 inches tall and a head taller than their ride-along, so that they can see over the rider’s head. Passengers must be at least three years old and 38 inches tall. The max weight capacity for the toboggan is 330–375 pounds total, depending on weather conditions. Decide in advance who is riding together in your family or group.
Additionally, it may be challenging for some to get in and out of the toboggans. The driver gets in the toboggan first, followed by the rider. Staff members aren’t available to help load kids into the toboggan, so if lifting while sitting is challenging, plan the order of your rides so that someone else in your party can help load.
There are several spaces where you’re high in the air, so people with a fear of heights should be aware. As far as safety is concerned, we liked that each rider has a good seatbelt: the driver’s belt much like what you’d find in a car, plus a lap belt for the passenger. Waivers are required and a safety review happens upon boarding.
Other Leavenworth Adventure Park attractions
Gems of The Enchantments Mining Sluice was easily our second-favorite activity and we would definitely come back to do just that. It is budget friendly ($8 per three-pound bag of loose dirt) and you can enjoy a fair amount of time doing this. We spent about 30 minutes sluicing and collected more than 15 gems.
We spent even more time studying our spoils with the included identification card. There weren’t a ton of sluice boxes, so I can see how this attraction might back up on busy days. If needed, you could probably put two bags in one sluice box.
The Alpine Ascent Climbing Wall has four levels of difficulty. See if you can spy the hidden lion head shape on the rock face. It’s intended to look like the park’s mascot, Ludwig the Lion. Closed-toe shoes are advised and you can’t go barefoot. My older daughter tried climbing in open-toe sandals and did okay on the easier routes.
To attempt the climbing wall, kids must be at least 3 years old, weigh at least 22 pounds, and be 38 inches or taller. The maximum weight is 309 pounds.
The Bavarian Bungee Bounce Trampoline looked fun. Bigger kids can do flips, and this may be a fun activity for adults as well. Since the park is so new, the bungees were still a bit too stiff for my older daughter. Even at 60 pounds, she found herself mostly floating in the air. It’s designed for kids as small as 40 pounds, and I imagine that in a few weeks the bungees will loosen up a bit. I asked if it would be okay for a little one to just take a turn jumping on the trampoline, and staff said that would be fine. Keep in mind that at two minutes, turns are short, though the staff may let you go longer if there are no lines.
The first floor of the building features guest services, plenty of healthy snacks for purchase, merchandise and the bags of dirt for sluicing. If you have backpacks, you’ll need to check them with guest services so you can ride the coaster. You’ll also find a family restroom with a changing station and an elevator available as well.
The second floor houses the loading area for the coaster. Unloading takes place on the third floor where you can enjoy great views of the coaster, a food stand and — coming soon — beer for the adults. (Keep in mind that outside food and beverages are not allowed in the park.)
You’ll also find bathrooms on the third floor. We appreciated the layout of the bathrooms. They have very private stalls but an open washroom, making it convenient for families.
The park is ADA-compliant, but call and check with staff in advance if you want more details on a specific attraction. Service animals are welcome.
There is a fair amount of outdoor seating available but none of it is covered or intentionally shaded. If you need a cool (or warm) spot to sit and relax, head to the third floor of the building where they have lots of seating and tables.
The park has redefined what a trip to Leavenworth means for our family. We enjoyed a few hours at the adventure park, then proceeded to hit up our favorite toy store, The Hat Shop Wood Shop.
If you go...
Parking: Free on-site parking is available. You can also walk to the park from downtown or take a free DART shuttle.
Cost: Pricing is a la carte for the various attractions. For a single ride, the alpine coaster costs $20 for riders ages 13 and older; $17 for riders ages 7–12; and $5 for ages 3–6. The bungee trampoline and climbing wall cost $12 each (for all ages), and the mining sluice activity costs $8 for a three pound bag. Adventure packs that combine attractions are also available.
Booking online saves you a little compared to walk-up prices. Advance ticket purchase and reservations are encouraged, as attractions will likely sell out on summer days.
There are party and group rates available, and we can certainly see this being a fun friends-and-family outing.
Staff: Overall the staff was friendly and helpful. If you need anything don’t hesitate to ask.
More things to do in Leavenworth: Read our guide to a family-fun getaway to Leavenworth for lots of ideas.