Stratosphere is an observation tower, mini theme park as well as a full-fledged casino and hotel. The establishment is located on the Northern End of the Las Vegas strip in Nevada, USA. you can’t miss it with its towering 350 m tall space-like observation tower. Let check out the STRAT observation tower establishment with an exploration.
Getting to the STRAT
The establishment is also known by its more recent name “STRAT”. That is the STRAT Hotel, Casino, and SkyPod. Moreover, the tower is located quite out of town right on the along the northern-most part of the Las Vegas strip. The quickest way to get there without taking an Uber or Lyft involves a ride on the Las Vegas monorail.
The monorail travel is actually pretty fast. A ride costs $5 a pop. This is regardless of distance and you be there under half and hour from the MGM station. The Stratosphere stop is the last station on the route. You simply alight from the station by SLS Hotel and a short 15 minute northbound walk along the walkway along the road. Moreover, this monorail station also serves the nearby Circus Circus Hotel and Adventure dome theme park too.
Moreover, this part of the strip is pretty quiet. This is in contrast to the busy strip, with notable lower vehicle and human traffic. It is also a notably less safe place. Groups can be seen loitering here at night along the various cannabis and tattoo shops in this neighbourhood.
Going up USA tallest observation tower
Sitting at a height of 350 m with at least 110 floors, the Stratosphere Tower is not only the tallest observation deck in Vegas, it is also the tallest observation tower in the United States.
The STRAT observation tower box office where show tickets are sold is also where you buy tickets to head up the tower, as well as ride tickets on the tower. A cheat code to head up for free is to tell the staff that you plan to head up to the bar above.
Furthermore, 4 of the 7 elevators here are high speed ones, which brings you direct to the observation deck. Interestingly, the interior of the elevators are plain. There are no special animation that those we see on the Burj Khalifa or Taipei 101 tower.
On abit of history, also, the establishment had its ground-breaking on November 1991, with construction on February 1992. It opened on April 30, 1996 at a cost of US$70 million. I didn’t had a chance to visit it when it was under construction when I was in Vegas back in 1994. 25 years later. I am glad I have the chance to high up the tower.
Views up the tower
You exit the elevator and enter straight into an enclosed air-conditioned enclosed viewing gallery. There are two viewing areas up here. This lower area allows for 360 views all round.
Moreover, there is a bar, café with lounge seating. A gift shop is also located here, which sells similar attraction-themed souvenirs which you can also find in the STRAT observation tower shops and mall below on the second level.
In the day, you can see the. In the distance is the mountainous and canyon ridge lines of the dessert surrounding the city of Hotels and Casinos. Also, you can see the sun set over these distance mountains as it nears to the night.
Las Vegas lit at night
Moreover, at night, the strip transforms into a sea of lights. You can even see the Luxor hotel light beam in the distance from up here. However, much of the distant mountain areas visible in the day are all pitch black and not visible in the dark.
Additionally, there is more emphasis on the glittery lights of buildings, traffic and the strip of Las Vegas which brings life to a completely different view only at night. A gripe is that the tower is actually very far away from the strip, which makes everything seems very distant.
Also, for plane spotters, Vegas airport also noticeably busy. Frequently, you can see then oncoming lights of air traffic coming and leaving the city.
Head one floor to level 109 here up via a staircase puts you into an open air deck. It can get rather windy up here. Unlike the lower floor with all-round views, the open gallery here only have a 180 viewing area facing the Las Vegas strip. Up here is also where the SRAT thrill rides are located too. They operate till late tied to the observation deck opening hours.
Thrill rides attractions
There are 3 thrill rides up here on the stratosphere top deck, each with their own unique method of instilling fear through people’s natural fear of heights up here.
There is, a custom rotating flat ride built specifically for the STRAT observation tower. The ride opened in 2005 and sites at a height of 270 meters. A giant swing arm thrill ride dangles riders over the edge of the tower and it starts to spin and opens up in a circular pattern at approximately 60km/hr. At its open state, riders are tilted facing downwards.
Moreover, Insanity the third highest thrill ride in the world. Notably, the ride is very safe, it is programmed to cease operation if a fault or problem is detected by the ride’s control system. You have a higher chance of being stuck in it that being thrown off. This was the case in an incident on 2005, on opening year. Here, riders were left stuck dangling over the edge for nearly 90 minutes when the ride unexpectedly shut down.
Roll of the edge on X-Scream
There is also, a half-track coaster which gives riders the sensation that they are riding off the edge of the tower. Before the platform upcoming up and sliding the train car back again for another go again.
There is a total of about 5-6 slides. X-Scream at 264 m is the fourth highest thrill ride in the world. It consists of a single car that rolls back and forth on a straight piece of track that slightly overhangs the tower and pivots vertically in a see-saw motion.
Jump off the Tower?
Moreover, there is a free fall jump called the SkyJump Las Vegas. Opened on April 20, 2010, it is a controlled-descent, Bungee-jumping-like ride. You be dressed in a jumpsuit and enter the cable reel room located in the observation deck lower floor.
Additionally, the jumper will plummet down 261 meters in a controlled high-speed descent (not quite free fall) rate guided by guy-cables down to the lower floors. Your rate of decent is limited by an attached cable drum which you are strapped onto.
Also, last but not least is the Big Shot vertical sky shot tower. Sitting at 329 m, it is highest ride on the STRAT observation tower and possibly the tallest sky shot tower in the world. Well, however, that title of the Highest thrill ride in the world was overtaken the Sky Drop ride at Canton Tower (485 meters tall), which opened on 2010 in Guangzhou city.
There used to be a roller coaster up here
Moreover, there used to be a roller coaster called the High Roller up here on the STRAT observation tower. During its time, it was located at 277 meters above sea level. It was the highest roller coaster.and second highest ride in the world.
However, the coaster was more of a vertigo thrill ride than what you would call a “regular roller coaster”. Here, it just cruises leisurely on a continuously track, with not much of an excitement factor other than imparting a constant sense of vertigo at height. After 9 years of operation, the ride had since been dismantled and demolished about 10 years ago in December 30, 2005.
All in all, you are good up here on the stratosphere for about 2 hours tops. It is well connected by public transport. Also, it recommended to visit just before sunset, allowing you to catch both day and night views. Notably, there are no queue up to the attraction at all. On typical days, you will be up in less than 5 minutes from the purchase of your ticket. If you have a short evening to spare, the STRAT observation tower is definitely a no-brainer.