Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- How Cold is it at the Top of the Tram in Palm Springs?
- How Long is the Aerial Tram Ride in Palm Springs?
- Is the Palm Springs Tramway Worth It?
- How Safe is the Palm Springs Tramway?
- Scared of Heights?
- Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument with Kids
- Winter Fun in Palm Springs California?
- History of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
- Lodging at Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
- Dining at the Mountain Station
- Where's the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway?
- Tips from a TravelingMom:
If you’re visiting Palm Springs or the Sonoran Desert in Southern California and looking for a change of scenery, head up to the mountaintops, just a few minutes from the center of town. With the world’s largest rotating tram car, you can head to the top without an arduous hike. Depending on the time of year, you might find snow in the winter and definitely cooler temperatures in the summer. Here are the top tips for visiting the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
A lot of kids love different, mine do. If they’ve never done it, my kids are usually all in. When I asked them if they wanted to ride a rotating tram car up two-and-a-half miles along the cliffs of Chino Canyon, they said yes! Near Coachella Valley in southern California the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway does just that. The world’s largest rotating tramcar ascends to the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and Mt. San Jacinto State Park to an observation deck for spectacular views of the valley floor along with hiking trails and a wilderness area beyond. Here’s what you need to know about visiting the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, one of the best things to do in Palm Springs.
How Cold is it at the Top of the Tram in Palm Springs?
The temperatures are 30 to 40 degrees cooler at the top. So pack a layer to explore and wear comfortable shoes if you plan to hike.
How Long is the Aerial Tram Ride in Palm Springs?
The Palm Springs aerial tram ride up is about a 10 minute ride and offers spectacular views of the Coachella Valley.
Is the Palm Springs Tramway Worth It?
There is a lot to do at the top. At the mountain station (where you depart) find two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and 50 miles of hiking trails.
How Safe is the Palm Springs Tramway?
The tram cars are carried by a 13,100-foot haul cable that is 40mm wide. Each cabin rides on a carriage with 24 wheels that carries it over five towers. The main haul drive cable is located at the valley station.There is a rescue drive counter weight that can used if needed. Here’s more information about equipment used.
Scared of Heights?
If your kids hate heights, the tram ride to the top might be a problem. My kids loved it though the tram car sways over each of the five towers. I found the ride to be gentle and quiet; it takes about 10 minutes to climb 6,000 feet.
During our ride, the kids in our tram were great. A few of the older adults experienced slight vertigo issues with the tram car’s rotation. I suggest riding in the center of the tram and giving kids gum to chew to help with their popping ears.
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument with Kids
The Mount San Jacinto State Park offers 54 miles of trails. During our visit, we hiked from the Mountain Station to the Ranger Station and then to Grubb’s View. My three kids, 8, 12 and 13 enjoyed the hike along wide paths in the dappled shade with summer temperatures not reaching 80F.
Kids can complete a Mount San Jacinto State Park Junior Ranger Nature Guide. Available at the Mountain Station, kids explore the wilderness while looking for plants and animals. Find four and kids get a signed certificate.
The Mount San Jacinto State Park offers guided walks during the summer season from Memorial Day to Labor Day, every weekend. Volunteers guide hikers along a 40-minute walk and point out various plants and animals. Free.
Winter Fun in Palm Springs California?
Looking for a snow play area in the middle of a desert? Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to a winter wonderland. The flurries start to fall around Thanksgiving and the snow lingers through the winter. This is the only area near Palm Springs with a snow play area for sledding, snow shoeing, or cross-country skiing.
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The Adventure Center located near the Mountain Station offers snowshoe rentals and cross-country ski equipment. Sleds can be purchased along with winter-related items.
History of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The idea of a tram began in 1935 yet took close to 30 years to fund and build this marvel. After years of road blocks and halts for major wars, construction began in 1961.
Only the first of the tram’s five towers can be reached by road and the remaining towers along with the Mountain Station (the terminal building for the tram) utilized helicopters to complete the construction. In all, over 23,000 helicopter missions flew the necessary workers and materials for the 26-month long construction period. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway opened to passengers in 1963.
The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument was created in 2000 to protect the pristine alpine wilderness. The majority of the Mount San Jacinto State Park is within the monument’s boundaries.
Lodging at Santa Rosa San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
During my visit to Palm Springs, I stayed in the Walt Disney Technicolor Dream House, Walt Disney’s former home in the Indian Springs golf community. It was an ideal base for exploring Palm Springs or nearby Joshua Tree National Park.
Looking for a rustic way to connect with nature? Mount San Jacinto State Park offers primitive camping in six different campgrounds. Ranging from a 2 to 6-mile hike from the Mountain Station, campgrounds offer vault toilets (not flushing). Water is not available. The camping fee is $5 per person and campers will have to fill out a free wilderness permit.
Dining at the Mountain Station
During our visit, we spent several hours hiking so the kids needed a break and a snack to keep them happy. The Mountain Station offers a couple of dining options.
The Peaks Restaurant offers fine contemporary California cuisine with a view of the Coachella Valley. The Pines Café is a casual cafeteria offering kid-friendly options like pizza and sandwiches. The Lookout Lounge provides the ideal spot to enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset.
Where’s the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway?
Located at 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway requires a ticket for all passengers. Adult tickets are $28.95 and kids 3 to 10 are $16.96, with kids under 3 riding for free. The hours of operation are Monday to Friday with first tram departing at 10 a.m. from the Valley Station. The last tram departs the Mountain Station at 9:30 p.m. On Saturday, Sunday and holidays, the first tram departs at 8 a.m. and the last tram down departs at 9:30 p.m.
Parking is $10 per vehicle and the parking lot opens at 7 a.m.
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and the Mount San Jacinto State Park are open 365-days a year and free to enter.
Tips from a TravelingMom:
- The Mount San Jacinto State Park offers a 30-degree differential from the valley below.
- Use the restrooms in the tram buildings for flushing toilets.
- Take it easy at higher elevations, especially with younger kids and older adults.
- Pack some snacks and water bottles.
- Wear hiking shoes if you plan to explore the hiking trails.
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed for annual maintenance in September and during inclement weather.