By Harley Nefe
The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk has been closed until further notice, according to a social media post by the attraction on Aug. 21.
“With heavy hearts as we have taken the measures asked of us to limit the amount of people coming and other COVID precautions, we have to announce we are closed until further notice starting tomorrow, Saturday Aug 22nd, 2020 due to the State of North Carolina shutting us down stating we are an amusement park and outdoor entertainment and cannot operate,” the post stated on Facebook. “We sincerely apologize to our patrons and guests that have registered and had planned to visit our location.”
The attraction, located at 3265 Tynecastle Highway near the Sugar Mountain Resort, has seen steady business and overflow crowds in the past weeks and during the summer following their opening.
The anticipated opening of the attraction was originally planned for early January, but due to weather and COVID-19 implications it had to be pushed back. The coaster opened May 9 under Gov. Roy Cooper’s phase one reopening. When the second phase order was issued, the attraction opened to the general public.
The alpine coaster also experienced a setback that involved a lightning strike that hit a tree on the attraction’s property on July 21. According to a Facebook post from the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster, several park guests were sitting under the tree and across from the tree when lightning struck. This incident forced the attraction to close for several days for repairs.
Another attraction that was forced to quit due to the COVID-19 pandemic was Tweetsie Railroad in Blowing Rock. The park announced on its website July 27 that it received notification from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services that it was not permitted to run the train, and therefore, had to close the park and cancel upcoming events.