The Getaway
Take A Trip On The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the city's top attraction and one of the world's largest rotating aerial tramways, accommodating 80 passengers. It offers glorious views of Chino Canyon and the Coachella Valley and transports passengers to Mount San Jacinto in less time than it takes to unload a dishwasher. When you reach the top, numerous amenities await, from a bar and restaurants to restrooms and picnic tables. Go on a guided nature walk or explore at your own pace. Just remember to carry a sweater because the temperatures are vastly different from those at the Valley Station.

Advertisement

01 A journey to the sky

airway

Passengers wait in a designated area before boarding the tramcar, and boarding begins ten minutes before the departure time. Then it's up, up, and away. It doesn't matter where you stand on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway cable car because it makes two full revolutions to allow everyone on board to take in the views of Chino Canyon from all angles. You'll gain 6,000 feet of elevation and travel 2.5 miles in just 10 minutes.

Advertisement

02 Mountain Station oasis

tourist enjoying view at mountain station

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is as much about the destination as the journey. When your ascent is complete and you've reached Mountain Station, it's time to explore. Head for the observation decks to absorb the breathtaking vistas before deciding what to do next. During winter you could rent snowshoes at the Adventure Centre, for example.

Advertisement

03 Hiking in the clouds

Mt. San Jacinto State Park

The tramway is a gateway to fantastic hiking in Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Enjoy over 50 miles of trails in a pristine setting and breathe the fresh air deep into your lungs—after all, your head is in the clouds. The Long Valley Discovery Trail is the easiest at less than a mile long. If you want to do a more strenuous hike to Wellmans Divide or San Jacinto Peak, dress comfortably, carry water, and stick to the signposted paths. You'll be rewarded with unrivaled views.

Advertisement

04 Dining with a view

All that heady mountain air might make you feel peckish, and you're not without eating options. When you book your ticket, you can choose to include dinner at Pines Café—a sample menu is available on the tram's website. You could also just grab prepacked goodies from the café and have a picnic. For a date you won't soon forget, make a reservation at Peaks, the on-site fine dining restaurant with even finer cliffside scenery.

05 A glimpse into history

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is also known as Crocker's Folly by those in the know. That's because in 1935, an electrical engineer by the name of Francis Crocker looked up at the snow-capped Mount San Jacinto and longed to ascend to its cooler elevation. Cut to 1945, and a tram bill was passed. Designs began in 1950, and finally, after the Korean War, construction began in 1961 with the help of helicopters and ended in 1963. It was a civil engineering feat, and millions have ridden the tramway ever since. In the late 90s, the facilities were further improved, and that's when Palm Springs officially became home to "the world's largest rotating tramcars."

Advertisement

06 Seasonal splendors

montain station overview

Visiting Palm Springs in summer? You may want to take the cable car up in the late afternoon to catch the sunset and watch as evening descends upon the city and the lights come on. In winter, the colder weather is perfect for activities like snow camping and cross-country skiing, or you can simply take in the changing landscape and toss snowballs at your buddies.

Advertisement

07 Taking education to new heights

Santa Rosa mountains

After spending time on the observation decks or walking the short trails, you can learn more about this alpine habitat at the small natural history museum or sit in the theaters to watch State Park videos. You'll gain a deeper appreciation for the park, the tram, and some of the work that goes into maintaining the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.

Advertisement

08 Photography paradise

sunset over Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Photography enthusiasts are spoilt for choice. Golden hour on the mountain is stunning, and the observation decks are a good place to get enviable landscape shots. Drones and remote-controlled devices are prohibited items, and formal photoshoots and filming have to be approved in advance by contacting the tramway's PR manager.

Advertisement

09 Tips for your visit

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

It's at least 30 degrees cooler on the mountain than it is on the valley floor, so carry a cardigan to stay comfortable in the crisp air. Check the tram schedule before you go, and leave your pets at home. The stations and cable car are ADA-compliant and wheelchair accessible.

Advertisement

10 Beyond the tramway

Desert Hills Premium Outlet

When your tramway adventure is in the rearview mirror, there's still loads to do in the area. Find the best deals on designer goods at Desert Hills Premium Outlets, take a sound bath at the Integratron, practice your short game at world-class golf courses, or blast U2 while taking a self-guided audio tour of Joshua Tree National Park. In the absence of Coachella Music Fest, attend a performance at the legendary Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown.

Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

The Getaway Badge
Sign up to receive insider info and deals that will help you travel smarter.
Advertisement
Advertisement