Summer slide: German ski arena offers multiple sledding courses
Europe’s mountains offer plenty of fun during the winter months for skiers and snowboarders. But what’s one to do when all the snow has melted?
Ski- und Rodelarena Wasserkuppe in Gersfeld, Germany, offers those seeking the adrenaline rush of speeding down the mountain an alternative during the warmer months: summer sledding.
From March through October, visitors to the Ski- und Rodelarena Wasserkuppe can fulfill their need for speed on a variety of courses while taking in the picturesque views from the highest peak in the Rhon Mountains within the state of Hessen.
The park makes for a fun day out for adults or for a family. Although there are summer sledding courses throughout Germany, the Ski- und Rodelarena Wasserkuppe is unusual in that it offers multiple courses and has something for everyone.
I got the most excitement from the 700-meter Sommerrodelbahn track, where you can reach speeds up to 25 mph while racing a friend head-to-head on the double aluminum tracks.
After reading the course description along with the simple directions on how to operate the sled, I was ready for my initial foray into summer sledding.
Approaching the first curve, I assumed I would be good to go at full speed, thinking they wouldn’t design tracks like this if folks could actually fall out or flip the sled.
My assumption was wrong.
After flipping my sled back over, brushing the grass off my face, admiring my soon-to-be bruised area and hopping back on the track, my misfortune didn’t dampen my spirits one bit. In fact, I rode the same track over and over, each time learning the intricacies of leaning into curves and discovering how fast I could take them.
By the end of the day, I felt ready to sign up for the Olympic bobsledding team, but I swallowed my pride as I watched teenagers and young children take the turns much faster than I was able to handle them.
After zipping down the mountain, riders are rewarded with a soothing lift ride back up where the sloping hillsides and the surrounding woods offer quite the view.
Another highlight for thrill seekers is the Rhonbob, a 1,000-meter course on an elevated track featuring plenty of jumps and sharp curves. An added bonus is that if you’re unhappy with your current hairstyle, you’ll definitely have a new one by the end of the track.
The park also offers relaxing rides such as the Wie-Li, which is a wagon with room for four people. The wagons move through scenic woods at a slow pace, and the views alone make this ride worth it.
The Hexenbesen — or witch’s broom — is a ride that gives you the feeling of flying through the woods. It’s a fun ride, but only lasts about a minute.
The park also features playgrounds for children, extreme slides, games and the highest rope course in Hessen. The playgrounds are open for all to enjoy, but the rope course has an admission charge.
Even if you don’t want to spend the entire day sledding, the surrounding area offers plenty of hiking and scenic walking opportunities, small gift shops, plenty of spots to grab a beer or a slushy along with a meal and an old military radar station that’s worth strolling to just for the view.
Directions Address is Wasserkuppe 60, 36129 Gersfeld. From the Wiesbaden area, take autobahn A3 heading to Frankfurt Airport/Wuerzburg. Take the ramp on the right at Exit 54 to Fulda. In about a mile, bear right onto the B43A to Fulda. In a little more than five miles, keep right onto the A66 to Fulda. In a few miles, turn left onto B40 and follow for 35 miles. Keep to the left to Kassel and turn right onto B458. Follow signs to Wasserkuppe along Wasserkuppestrasse. Parking is available at multiple locations near the venue. Best parking spot is in front of the Flugplatz Wasser- kuppe, and then follow the signs for a short walk to the sledding courses.
Times Sledding courses are open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. March through the end of October (weather permitting). Some of the non-sledding attractions are also open during the colder months.
Costs For adults, a single ride costs 2.50 euros, six rides are 12 euros, and a day pass is 25 euros. For ages 3 to 14, the fees are 2 euros for a single ride, 9 euros for six rides and 20 euros for a day pass. Reduced prices are available for groups of 15 or larger.
Food Food, drink and snack stands with seating areas are located in the summer sledding park. There is also a nearby restaurant and other options within walking distance.
Information If you’re wondering how the weather impacts the park’s opening, a traffic light system is set up online for each attraction. If you purchase a day pass, an extra 5 euros will be charged as a deposit. When you return your bracelet, you’ll get the deposit back.