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Alberta’s first and only alpine coaster is ready to welcome visitors in Red Deer.

An alpine coaster - also known as a mountain coaster or summer toboggan - is a type of roller coaster built in places like ski hills.

David Martel, Canyon Ski Resort owner
David Martel, Canyon Ski Resort owner, can't wait for Albertans to enjoy this unique experience.

The Canyon Coaster features a luge track that spans more than 1.2 kilometres and weaves carts in and out of the ski slope and forest trails. Riders can control their own speeds, reaching up to 40 kilometres per hour. After they traverse the closed-loop track with a 440-foot vertical drop, they will climb back up the hill using its unique T-bar system.

The Canyon Coaster is the only alpine coaster in North America from manufacturer Sunkid that utilizes the T-bar as the uphill lift system. Others need a chairlift or gondola to take riders back up the hill.

“It’s a pretty unique track compared to others around the world, because our track is about 90% treed,” says David Martel, Canyon Ski Resort owner. “Going through the forest gives the perception that you’re going faster than you are.”

Martel and his team have been working on the coaster since 2020. Because of the pandemic, they needed to find innovative ways to attract local visitors. After overcoming many construction challenges, they are ready for action.

Canyon Ski Resort attracts visitors to central Alberta who are looking for a unique ski or snowboarding experience. But it usually shuts down over the summer months – meaning the resort must lay off its seasonal staff, then recruit and train new staff in the fall.

“With Travel Alberta’s investment, we’re able to do more year-round activities. We’re able to keep more staff on payroll year-round, which in turn will provide for a better guest experience."

David Martel

Daily summer operations will help the resort employ up to 12 full-time staff year-round, along with part-time seasonal staff. Each year, the coaster will generate 40,000 more visits and over $1 million in gross revenue.

And that’s just at the resort. Attracting visitors to central Alberta will also boost revenue at local hotels, restaurants, shops and more.

“It’s a one-of-a-kind attraction in Alberta. This is something that people will travel to experience. It’s a great way to continue attracting some of those domestic visitors.”

Rene Rondeau, Executive Director of Tourism Red Deer

In 2021, Albertans helped offset part of the losses from international travel. Domestic travel within the province surpassed 2019 levels, and overall tourism expenditures are expected to exceed pre-pandemic levels by 2024.

Rondeau says he’s excited to see new product offerings to add to visitor itineraries. He hopes this type of innovation will inspire other businesses to think outside the box.

“It creates more energy within this community to say, ‘if they can do this, then maybe we can do this too’,” he says.

Investing in Alberta tourism

Last year, Travel Alberta invested in 249 tourism projects across the province. We are dedicated to collaborating with industry and stakeholders to grow our visitor economy. Together, we can position Alberta for a prosperous future that benefits visitors and residents.

Find out how your business can benefit from investment funding

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