REVIEW: Steel Hawg at Indiana Beach

Steel Hawg is an S&S El Loco coaster at Indiana Beach, a small boardwalk amusement park located in Monticello, Indiana. The El Loco coaster model is known for throwing a bunch of thrilling elements together in a super compact layout on a small footprint. There are only 6 El Loco’s in the world–two of which are in the United States–so I was pretty excited to ride one of them. Also, up until this point I had never ridden a roller coaster with a beyond 90 degree drop. Steel Hawg’s angle of descent is 110 degrees, which at one point was the steepest drop in the world. Needless to say I was pumped to find out how fun this coaster was.

And that’s the thing. I wasn’t really expecting Steel Hawg to be anything other than fun. It’s not a mind-blowing coaster on paper, and it definitely didn’t make my jaw drop when I saw it in person. All the reviews I watched prior to riding the coaster didn’t rate it extremely high, but still said it was one of the best rides at Indiana Beach. That’s where I decided to set my expectations.

Waiting in line for Steel Hawg was a pretty painful experience. On the day I visited, the park was only running one train on all of their roller coasters. This didn’t impact the wait times for rides like Hoosier Hurricane or Cornball Express, but Steel Hawg was a different story. The trains only seat four people, so that meant that there was a max of four people going through the layout at a time. On top of that, Indiana Beach’s ride operators don’t exactly seem eager to send trains out that quickly. It’s not that the operations were slow because they were taking their time with Covid-19 precautions either, because there were basically none. It was just laziness on their part, which is quite upsetting to see.

Once aboard the ride, the train takes a sharp right turn out of the station and ascends up the 96 ft. lift hill. This actually feels taller than it is, due to the other coasters at the park being shorter. As soon as you get to the top, you turn left 180 degrees and immediately plummet down the 110 degree vertical drop. I guess I don’t exactly know what I expected this to feel like, but it certainly wasn’t this. It’s still a cool sensation, but it isn’t nearly as intense as I thought it would be.

After the drop, the coaster rises up the track and makes a sharp left turn. The coaster then hits a mid-course break-run and does another sharp left turn–this time while banking outwards. I’ve always loved it when rides have elements and turns that bank outwards. This tends. to be a thing. that RMC coasters do, so it was cool to see another type of coaster do it on a smaller scale.

The coaster immediately makes a 180 degree turn, this time banking inwards. The turn continues to bank further and further until you’ve flipped completely upside-down into an incredible hang time moment. This inversion is technically a dive loop, but it doesn’t feel like any dive loop I’ve ever experienced before.

There is one more mid-course break-run that comes directly after the dive loop. After this, the coaster makes another sharp right turn before arriving at my favorite part of the ride: a downwards inline twist. Usually inversions tend to slow the train down a bit, but because this inversion doubles as a drop, the train actually speeds up quite a bit. It’s definitely one of my favorite inversions on a coaster.

After that, the coaster heads into an over-banked turn to the right before heading into the final break-run. This isn’t really an important moment on the coaster, but it’s still pretty fun since it comes immediately after the in-line twist.

The Verdict

Steel Hawg is an enjoyable ride that met my expectations. It isn’t the most incredible or ground-breaking roller coaster out there, but there also isn’t really anything wrong with it. If anything there were just missed opportunities, such as the drop or the final over-bank. I wouldn’t say it’s the best coaster at Indiana Beach, but it’s definitely close.

Final Score: 7/10

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