Sara and I were really due for a road trip. We picked the direction of East. Sara found hot springs and an art exhibit. I had seen rumblings about a house Al Capone once lived in that is on the way. We also thought we could fit some time in Joshua Tree National Park.
So, naturally, we went on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. We picked a good day, because it wasn’t too busy. It was hot as the devil’s ass outside, though. I had heard of it but was just never able to go on it. I didn’t know what to expect, but assumed it went in a horizontal direction across Palm Springs, even though I had never actually seen it go across the town.
The tram is one of those random ideas some rich guy had in the 1930s and was finally completed in 1963. “The mountains are amazing, but, ugh, that walk UP!” Something like that. I hate walking uphill so cheers to Francis Crocker! Trams on every mountain!!!
You drive uphill for a short while to get to the parking lot. Since it was a light tourist day, we got to park in the lot right next to the entrance. There are shuttles to take you up to the station from the other lots, though, so don’t be scared. And good thing because that is a steep-ass walk. The tram was $25.95 per adult human. The ride takes about 10 minutes each way. Bring your camera!!!
The tram goes up the side of a mountain, but is on cables so you are traveling in the sky, pretty much.
Sometimes, I get irrationally terrified of heights, but never freaked out in either direction. The floor on the tram circulates so everyone gets all of the views. On the way up, some people could not comprehend that the floor moves, so they kept moving in the opposite direction of the floor, so those of us that understood this crazy concept kept being pushed a bit. On the way down, however, everyone remembered that it moves and I had no problems. I was wearing thong shoes and felt a little stress on my feet going down, but not bad.
Something that Sara and I didn’t even think about until it was too late was that the temperature on top would be vastly different than the firey hell the basin was experiencing. Now, on the day we went, it was in the mid to upper 60s up top so we were fine, but it can get cold, so make sure you check their site to make sure you have the proper clothing.
There are restaurants, a museum and a gift shop at the top. There are a lot of hiking trails on San Jacinto, including one that is really easy and flat. However, you do have to climb down some stairs to get to the easy hike, which, of course, means that you will have to climb back up. The easy hike does not require a permit, but the wilderness hikes do and you can acquire a permit at the ranger’s station.
You can also camp up in the mountains. You will also need a permit for that.
The tram does run in the winter and their site suggests cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Their Adventure Center rents gear, so you don’t have to schlepp anything to Palm Springs if you don’t want to.
Sara and I just wanted to go up and down. We didn’t read about the things to do and didn’t even think about the fact that we could have made a day of it. So, we kind of just went up, hiked for 30 minutes, peed, then went back down. It was still worth it, though.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: (888) 515-8726