Palm Springs is one of the top attractions of the Sonoran Desert and is famous for having a bewildering amount of golf courses. Some of the things that no one can miss out on while visiting Palm Springs are the golf courses, soaking in the beer-drinking swimming pools, visiting Slab City (called America's last free place), and having a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
The Palm Springs is not just another cable car; it is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. It is an excellent attraction to enjoy while staying in the oasis resort town. The tramway is not only fun with spectacular views, but it also offers a refreshing break from the sometimes oppressive temperatures of the desert.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - The Largest In The World
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway first opened in 1963 and connects the Coachella Valley almost to the top of San Jacinto Peak. San Jacinto Peak is part of Mt. San Jacinto State Park and is a stark contrast to the desert below. In 2000 the cable cars were updated with rotating cars.
- Longest: Rotating Aerial Tramway In The World
- Duration: 12.5 Minutes
- Length: 2.5 Miles
It is one of only three rotating aerial trams in the world (the others being in Cape Town in South Africa and Titlis in Switzerland).
At the top of Mountain Station, there are two restaurants, observation desks, two documentary theaters, gift shops, and even a natural history museum. Visitors can also get lost on the over 50 miles of hiking trails.
Those who would like to stay overnight have the option of camping there with advance reservations. The camping permit costs $5.00 and can be reserved online.
In the summer, it is possible to enjoy horseback riding, while winter activities include snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The tramway also rents out winter gear like snow shoes and cross-country skis. They also sell sleds, although visitors are also welcome to bring their own so long as they are plastic.
From Sweltering Desert To Alpine Forest
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway travels along the Chino Canyon's breathtaking cliffs. The cable cars rotate slowly, so passengers can just stand and enjoy 360 views of the region. The cars make two rotations along the journey.
- Capacity: 80 Passengers
- Base & Top Elevations: At Valley Station 2,643 Feet, At Mountain Station 8,516 Feet
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ascends 5,873 feet and passes through some five different biomes or life zones. The base is in the Sonoran Desert, while the top is an alpine forest.
At the top, the weather is normally significantly cooler than the hot temperatures down the mountain in the desert. Air temperatures can be as much as 40 °F (22 °C) cooler.
During the winter, there can be snow at the top. Those who would like to hike in the backcountry will need to get a permit from the U.S. Forest Service.
The views at the top can be astounding; on a clear day, the views can be as much as 200 miles or 320 kilometers into the distance. Visitors can also easily see the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is one of the most remarkable environmental disasters-come-resort/wildlife refuge-come environmental disaster and economic ruin stories ever told.
Planning A Ride On The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The cars leave at least every half hour starting from 10.00 am during the week, and 8.00 am on weekends. The last car up the mountain is at 8.00 pm and the last one down is at 9.45 pm. They are also fully wheelchair accessible and are A.D.A. compliant.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Tickets:
- Adults: $29.95
- Children: $17.95 (Aged 3 to 10)
- Summer Pass: $85.00
- Annual Pass: $165.00
Ride 'n' Dine Tickets:
- Adults: $38.00
- Children: $24.50 (Aged 3 to 10)
The Ride 'n' Dine tickets offer a round trip tram face and dining in Pines Cafe. The tickets are available after 7 pm.
Unfortunately, Pooch will need to stay behind as pets are not permitted.
There aren't any buses or shuttles from Palm Springs, so the best way to get there is to have one's own car.