Living in California, spending a long weekend in Palm Springs happened very often. It was a great place to get away and relax. One of the more exciting things to do while visiting the area was taking a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. We recently rode the tram at the Royal Gorge, and I there were a few similarities. Apparently it is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. Before its construction, the only way to the top of the mountain was to hike a number of hours from Idyllwild.
It was opened in September 1963 as a way of getting from the floor of the Coachella Valley to relatively near the top of San Jacinto Peak and was constructed in rugged Chino Canyon. Before its construction, the only way to the top of the mountain was to hike a number of hours from Idyllwild. Since 1963, nearly 18 million people have traveled via the tramway.
Today the twelve-and-a-half minute ride begins at the Valley Station and passes up North America’s sheerest mountain face through five life zones (biomes) on its way to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet above mean sea level. You start in the Sonoran Desert and arrive at an alpine forest. The view at the top can stretch northward for more than 200 miles on a clear day, all the way to Mount Charleston north of Las Vegas, Nevada. Views to the east and west can stretch as far as 75 miles. The Salton Sea is plainly visible to the southeast.
The first time I went up the tramway I was a little worried that it would get stuck more than the fact of how high we were climbing. Luckily it didn’t stop, stall, or have any complications, which made me feel much better on subsequent visits. 🙂 I was actually able to admire and really appreciate the amazing and breathtaking views.
Once you get off at the top of the tramway, there are quite a few things to do. Suring the summer months, you can take a nice little hike while enjoying the view or there are free 40 minute guided nature walks you can join. During the winter months you can enjoy snowshoeing (rentals available) and cross country skiing (rentals available). Either time of the year, take a few moments to just sit, relax, and enjoy the beauty around you.
If you get hungry while up there they have two restaurants for you to choose from: Peaks Restaurant and Pines Café. According to their website, Peaks restaurant is a Culinary Experience Above the Clouds. The chefs have created a menu featuring a variety of fresh vegetables and greens from the Coachella Valley. Dry aged meats and poultry along with fresh breads from local bakeries are also available. Pines Café is a cafeteria-style restaurant and offers a variety of menu selections for lunch and dinner. Lunch items include pizza, grab & go sandwiches, salads and soup. They also have a dinner selection. Check out their site above for more information and pricing.
I have always enjoyed the views from the tramway, as well as the peaceful relaxing feeling I get when I am up there on top of the world. Hope you can visit Palm Springs one day and take the time to visit. Please share you visit or thoughts if you have done this attraction. Would love to hear from you.
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