Monday, December 26, 2011

Riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs, California

Our Portland friends were in town visiting us for the day, so we decided to ride the Palm Springs Arial Tramway and have lunch at the top. Many people that we have met have recommended the tram and the views it provides, so we were excited to for the experience. The Valley Station of the tram is 5-6 miles north of downtown Palm Springs. There are multiple parking lots and free shuttles that will take you to the Valley Station. The tram cost $23.25 for adults and $16.25 for child ($21.25 for seniors). The tram are the world’s largest rotation tram cars, making two complete revolutions during your 2.5 mile 10 minute ride to the top. This insures you get to see everything matter where you are standing in the car. The ride takes you from a starting elevation of 2643 feet at the Valley Station to 8516 feet at Mountain Station. There were great views on the way up. 

While ascending via Chino Canyon, you travel through 5 different climate zones starting with Desert Sonoran to finally Arctic/Alpine. According to the narrated recording we heard on the way up, this is the only place you can travel through this many climate zones in such a short distance. To give perspective, it was in the 70s when we left and 20 degrees wind chill at the top when we arrived. Wow, it felt really cold we must say. Most people donned hats, gloves and many layers of clothing.

The Valley Station at the top has a patio called Chino Canyon balcony that offers great views of the Coachella Valley and Chino Canyon. This is the best place to get your photos of the valley and surround mountains. 

The Valley Station offers a gift shop, lounge and two places to eat; the Peaks Restaurant which requires reservations for both lunch and dinner and the Pines Café which has limited cafeteria style menu. Sense we didn’t know reservations were required, so we were force to eat at the café. The food consisted of three types of pre-made sandwiches, pizza, salad, French fries and typical drinks. The food was okay at best and as you would expect a bit pricey. Bringing your lunch might be the best bet.
Out of the back of the Valley Station is the St. San Jacinto State Park. This is a beautiful snow covered forest area that has hiking trails and plenty of snow to enjoy. In fact, many people brought their snow sleds and enjoyed the day of sliding down packed trails. We can image in the summer time there would be great hikes to enjoy and also primitive camping. We walked down some snowy trails for a while until we had our fill. The trams run every 15 minutes so we caught the next one for our ride back down.

This is one of the main attractions in this area and probably should be done at least once. It is a bit pricey but the amazing views make it worth it. You would have a totally different experience at night with the all the city light in the valley below.

The tram construction took 26 months and was completed in 1963. It consists of five towers with the first tower being the only tower accessible from the road at the valley station. This made the construction and engineering challenge and at the time labeled the "eighth wonder of the world”, because helicopters were used to erect four of the five towers needed flying some 23,000 missions, hauling men and all the materials needed to build the towers and the Mountain Station at the top. The trams cars were modernized in 2000 with the new rotating version that is still used today.


Jerry and Suzy said...

That's one of the things on, not our bucket list perhaps, but on our to do someday list. Thanks for the hint about needing reservations. Sounds like it would be possible for Suzy to get aboard with her mobility scooter.

Suzanne and Brad said...

Yes, it would be possible for Suzy. Probably better to go in the warmer months, though ~ easier for her to get around at the top.
Great to hear form you! :-)

Michael and Dee said...

We went up on the tramway in March this year. Wonderful trip, amazing views but way too cold at the top! We are enjoying reading your blog. What a wonderful life!

Suzanne and Brad said...

Yes ~ WAY too cold at the top for us as well! :-)

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