Where can you go when the temperature is getting so hot that you feel your skin dripping off? Palm Springs, California, of course. What? Yes, that is a destination with an unique twist. Just when you think it can’t get any hotter, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway can take you to a cool place — over 8500 feet to crisp and breezy San Jacinto Peak.
One of Palm Springs signature amusements is the breathtaking ride up craggy canyons, over pinnacles, and across deep tree-filled ravines. It’s managed nicely by letting you and dozens of other visitors stand onboard a round gondola with 365 degree views. It’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar. Really.
Recently updated, the gondola ride is smooth and now rotates around its core control port still manned by a tram driver. As the ride lifts you up above the arid desert floor of Chino Canyon, you can easily spot the Palm Springs Airport, the wind farms, and other large features. The detailed rock faces can be just as impressive as the height. Soaring over the deep canyons, and hearing everyone onboard chattering in different languages about their feelings as we passed cable towers, is part of the experience.
Riders hold their cameras continually as everyone takes photos of their family, their friends, their best canyon shots, and even the gondola driver. Each tower we passed caused a bit of excitement due to the slight swing the gondola took to level back out as it continued skyward.
The air is clear and crisp. At over 8500 feet, the heat of the desert dissipates. Pine trees provide the aroma, while rock swallows and ground squirrels provide some entertainment. Be warned — the air is much thinner at this
elevation so you might feel a bit light-headed or find yourself breathing harder to get more air. But that’s all part of the experience of the sudden climb from the base station at 2,643 feet above sea level, crossing five bio-transition zones to pristine alpine habitat.
Our goal was the top building perched high on San Jacinto Mountain filled with two large restaurants, shops, a museum, and the doorway to “top of the world” hiking trails. For the intrepid, this is the trailhead to over 80 miles of rated trails — easy, moderate, and skilled. Rain or shine, snow-capped or clear, the mountain is always open.
Our purpose that day was to enjoy one of the visitors’ packages: Ride and Dine. For one price you get a tasty dinner to go along with that incredible ride. The complete experience is truly a “Palms to Pines” adventure. And for us, our 34th anniversary celebration.
To find out more about the PS Tram’s ride packages, its history, its trails, and hours of operation, you can phone: (760) 325-1391 or go to: http://www.pstramway.com