Climb into the
Mountains Aboard Palm Springs Aerial Tram
Story and photos by Greg Aragon
here are some Southern California attractions that I have to visit once
a year and the Palm Springs Aerial Tram is one of them. Like Griffith
Observatory or the LA Zoo, this thing is a true must-do for any cool
tourist or fun-seeking native.
A friend and I recently snuck away to the tram after
a night at nearby Morongo Casino Resort and Spa. It was a beautiful
spring morning and we were ready for adventure.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tram has been called the
"eighth wonder of the world"
Our getaway began at the base of Mt. Jacinto, where
we boarded the pumpkin-shaped tram, which has been dubbed the "eighth
wonder of the world." Once inside, the conductor closed the doors
and the tram car began to climb straight up the rocky face of the mountain.
The car begins its journey at Valley Station at an elevation of 2,643
and ends at Mountain Station at 8,516 ft above sea level.
As the 80-passenger tram scales the mountain, visitors
are transported through five unique ecosystems a change in landscape
and life, equivalent to a drive from Sonora, Mexico to the Arctic Circle
in Alaska. It makes this trip in about 11 minutes!
The 80-passenger tram car is pulled up 12,000 ft
of cable as it travels through five unique ecosystems
During the journey, the car is pulled up 12,000 ft of
cable and passes through five huge, support towers. At each tower, the
tram shimmies and shakes, giving riders a roller coaster thrill. And
while inside the tram, passengers need not fight for viewing spots because
the car rotates 360 degrees and everyone gets a memorable view of Coachella
Valley and Mt. San Jacinto. According to officials, these are the world's
largest rotating tram cars!
The tram car rotates 360 degrees so everyone gets
a memorable view
At the top, there is a lodge-like visitors center
and two restaurants. There is also Mt. San Jacinto State Park, which
offers 54 miles of hiking trails and a few primitive campsites within
a 13,000-acre pristine wilderness. When we got to the top, we set out
on a hike of Long Valley, following a three-quarter-mile-long loop trail
through a large beautiful meadow.
Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers miles of hiking,
campsites and pristine wilderness
The weather was a perfect 65 degrees and the meadow
was lined with tall pine trees, trickling streams, lots of native plants
and grasses, and a few patches of left-over snow. Along the trail we
scratched the dark brown bark of a Jeffrey pine tree (the most common
tree in the valley) and breathed its natural vanilla and butterscotch
The views of the valley are incredible atop Mt.
After hiking we got a couple cups of hot tea at Mountain
Station and then had lunch outside on a picnic table, beneath a towering
pine tree. After lunch we relaxed on the Mountain Station terrace, looking
down over the entire Palm Springs desert valley.
The tram is currently offering its popular Summer Pass
special for $50 for adults and seniors and $25 for children ages 3-12.
Valid through August 9th, 2013, the pass entitles holders to unlimited
Tram rides, a 10% discount on additional Tram admissions and 10% discount
at both mountaintop restaurants. Passes can be purchased at the Valley
Station or online at www.coolsummerpass.com.
Another great deal is the Ride n Dine Pass, which includes
round trip tram fare and dining in Pines Cafe (available after 4pm).
Prices for Ride n Dine are: adults and seniors $36 and kids
The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is a must-see Southern
The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is located just before
the city of Palm Springs, at One Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262. The
first Tram up Monday Friday is at 10am, first Tram up Saturday
and Sunday 8am, last Tram up 8pm and last Tram down 9:45pm. For more
information call 888.515.TRAM or visit: www.pstramway.com.
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