Friday, March 25, 2016

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 3/01/2016

Located about 6 miles from Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides a 10-minute, 2.5 mile trip from the Valley Station (2,643') to the Mountain Station (8,516') where you can enjoy beautiful Mount San Jacinto State Park. At the Valley Station are Historic Display Panels, the Cascade Cafe, a gift shop, and several patios offering views of the tram and surrounding terrain. 

The tram cars were manufactured in Switzerland, are 18' in diameter and 8' tall, and can accommodate up to 80 people. The cabin floor rotates slowly (twice) during the ascent and descent, assuring everyone can enjoy the spectacular views. They are the largest tram car in the world with a capacity of 35,600 pounds.

During the 10-minute ascent, the tram car passes through 5 unique life zones from the Sonoran Desert to an Alpine Wilderness. Views of the mountain and the desert below during the tram ride are pretty amazing!

The change in terrain was so striking once we reached the end of the tram ride.

The temperature at the Mountain Station is on average 30 degrees cooler than the Valley Station, so be sure to dress appropriately. There are several dining options at the Mountain Station: Peaks Restaurant (fine dining), Pines Cafe (casual fare), and Lookout Lounge (cocktails and appetizers). Also, the Park Visitors Center and Mountain Gift Shop can be found in the Mountain Station. We picked up a self-guided nature trail map and set out to explore some of the alpine terrain of Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area.

The trail from the Mountain Station winds down to Long Valley where we picked up the Discovery Trail and then the Desert View Trail

There was snow on the ground and ice on parts of  the trail...what a contrast to the desert below!

There are multiple viewpoints places along the Desert View Trail that provide a glimpse of the desert and towns below. 

There are 54 miles of hiking trails here. We both agreed that if we lived in this area we would definitely purchase annual passes as the alpine zone is just gorgeous. We saw just a fraction of it during our afternoon visit. One down side to the state park is that we could not bring Sadie, our doggy, hiking with us here.

The tram is open year-round, 7-days a week. Parking is $5/vehicle and is paid at the entrance gate. Tickets for the tram are $22.95/seniors and $24.95/adults. Summer and annual passes are also available for purchase. 

I initially thought the cost was a little steep, but it was a great experience. I highly recommend a visit to this attraction if you are in the Palm Springs area. It was well worth it! The first tram to the Mountain Station departs the Valley Station at 10 am on weekdays and 8 am on weekends. The last tram down each night is at 9:45 pm. For additional information about hours of operation on holidays and other dining details, please see their website listed below. 

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