The view from atop the Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel & Casino—the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States—would be stunning even without the faux Eiffel Tower and New York City skyline. But Vegas likes to raise the stakes. So the 1,149-foot tower thrills visitors with a trio of rooftop scream machines. One of them, Insanity, dangles brave souls 900 feet above the Strip—upside down—and spins them with a force of 3 g's. It's the ultimate double down.
RACE TO THE TOP
Double-decker elevators whisk riders from ground level to the 866-foothigh observation deck in 37 seconds, or roughly three floors per second.
SIN CITY NATIVE
The Stratosphere is the only major casino on the Strip located within the city of Las Vegas; the others lie in the unincorporated townships of Winchester and Paradise.
The tower stands taller than two Washington Monuments stacked on top of each other.
STOP RIGHT THERE
The Federal Aviation Administration quashed plans to build the tower any higher as it would have edged too near an alternate flight path for McCarran International Airport.
DINING IN THE ROUND
Talk about haute cuisine: Guests dine at 832 feet in the tower's revolving restaurant, Top of the World, which completes an orbit every hour.
Big Shot, the highest thrill ride in the world, launches thrill seekers 160 feet up the mast of the tower in 2.5 seconds.
Photography by Mitch Tobias 
This article was first published in November 2008. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
The Stratosphere Las Vegas Hotel & Casino is located at 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S. (702) 380-7777, (800) 998-6937, stratospherehotel.com .