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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

One Tramway Road, Palm Springs, California 92262 | 760-325-1391
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9 Reviews
Type: Nature & Gardens, Hiking & Walking, and Restaurants & Food
Ages: All Ages
Cost: $$
Hours of operation: Check details

Cars depart at least every half hour from 10 a.m., Monday-Friday; 8 a.m. weekends and holiday periods. Last car up is 8 p.m. with the last car down at 9:45 p.m. 
The Tramway will be closed for Annual Maintenance                         September 8-October 3, 2008.

9 Reviews for Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

January 09 2016
1 family found this helpful
"Quite the Experience in Winter"

Yes,  it's a pricey activity, in my opinion, but my goodness, what a perfect winter adventure it turned out to be!

We decided to take the tram because mother nature just dumped three feet of fresh snow onto the area, and with two little ones (6 and 2), we thought it would be great to take a tram up to the snow rather than deal with weekend traffic and chains heading up to Big Bear. It was a good decision!!

We got to the tram right when it opened, parked, bought our tickets, and were on the tram within 20 minutes. The ride was beautiful! It was smooth and lovely. There was a tram operator on board with us and an audio tour played through the sound system telling guests all about the tram and the area.

I was worried about motion sickness. I have two little ones who get carsick very easily, and I don't do too well with the rolling feeling either. None of us had a problem. We all enjoyed the ride, and made a game out of the little rocking that happens at each reinforced pole (think of a chair lift rocking when it comes to a pole). I'm also not a fan of heights, but the tram did not bother me.

When we got to the top, we were thankful for the large clubhouse with clean restrooms (including a changing table in the women's) and lockers ($1.50 in quarters). We stowed our extra gear and took off into the snow.

The one downside is that there is a long paved path leading to the valley from the tram. As we went during a freeze, it was pretty icy. We took our time with the kids, and were fine. I would not recommend wearing any shoes except for strong hiking boots or snowboots during the winter months due to the ice.

Once we got to the bottom we were greeted with amazing views of the valley, towering pines covered in snow, and pristinely maintained trails. The two trails in the immediate valley (Desert View and Discovery Nature) were both covered in well-packed snow that distinguished them. They were also well marked. What wasn't well marked was a meadow that people weren't supposed to travel in. We learned that a little late after the ranger found us in the middle of it. (The sign explaining were tiny and not easily seen from where we entered the meadow.) However, the vast majority of the valley was open space for family snow fun, sledding, snowshoeing, xc skiing, and snow hiking.

The adventure center was open during our visit for families who wanted to rent xc skiing gear or snowshoes. Bathrooms were also located at the ranger station in Long Valley, but we didn't need to go check them out.

Both the store at the mountain center and at the valley floor sold gear for those last minute needs or forgotten items. In our case, the kids' mittens were left at home, so for $10 we got them replacement pairs in hopes of not ruining our trip. :)

May 24 2013
0 families found this helpful
"Amazing views"

I'd heard a lot about this tram ride from my grandmother and my parents who had all riden the tram sometime a few decades back.  So I was excited to get to experience it for myself!  After lining up in the boarding area, it was on to the large tram and up we went. I initially was standing on the outer section of the tram, next to the wall. The floor rotates, but the wall does not, so I ended up feeling a little offbalance (I am not a terribly coordinated person) and eventually moved to the interior to lean against a stationary object.

We were amazed by how quickly we went up the mountain- almost 6000 feet in 10 minutes! The ride was smooth, with the exception of when the tram passed the towers, which does lead to a rocking motion.

The views from the top of the mountain are just spectacular- and you're suddenly out of the desert and in to the forest!  

We didn't have time to go for a walk or hike on this visit, but there are trails and activities for families at the top of the mountain, so you can stay and take part in those, if you wish.  

This is a fun, unique way to see Palm Springs!

*I received admission to this attraction as part of a press trip. All opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.

November 19 2012
1 family found this helpful
"Up, up and Away"

My mom is in town visiting for the holiday weekend and I wanted to take her to something that really showcased our inland Southern California and at the same time really allow her to interact with her grandchildren.  That "something" was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  Little did I know this adventure was also on her top 100 things to do before she dies list.  (Yes, we are that kind of mother and daughter that we both have lists like that).  

We got a late start (made the 12:45 tram), but it was actually perfect timing.  We went on a clear day and the view up was spectacular.  The Aerial Tramway is a rotating tram car that climbs up a mountain 2 1/2 miles in 10 minutes ascending from 2600 feet to 8500 feet.  The tram literally takes you from the desert to a forest similar to Lake Tahoe. The tram itself could be a little scary for someone afraid of heights.  My 5 and 8 year old weren't phased but I did see some adults inch to the center of the tram so as not to look down.  When climbing, the tram is steadily rotating so you can see both the mountain your going up to and the valley below, but it does jolt a little when it passes through the towers.

When we arrived at the mountain station, we quickly found the path down to the beginning of the hiking trails.  This path is steep, concrete and has a hand rail.  All I could think about while going down was how my kids would groan all the way back up at the end of the day.  Being in such a high altitude, our breathing was a little labored, but not too bad.  During the winter, this place is covered in snow and snow shoes and sleds are available at the Adventure Center.  

Today we chose to do the 1 1/2 mile loop on the Desert View Trail.  The trail circled a lovely meadow, and brought us to climbable boulders that perched at a view of the Coachella Valley.  It was a nice spot to sit and enjoy the fresh air while the kids played "camping" and collected sticks for fire and tried to chip at some of the ice forming in the rocks.  The trail is not difficult.  (I even saw one tourist hike it in stilettos!)

There is a bathroom at the rangers station next to this trail which is quite convenient.  With four hours of running and fresh air we were famished and ate at the restaurant at the tram station that overlooked the valley.  It was a nice (fancy) way to end the day. There is also a movie theater there that plays an 18 minute film on the history of the aerial tram but we skipped it because my kids were wiped out.

We took the tram back down at sunset and the mountain and valley looked completely different.  The coloring against the rocks was stunning and it made me want to see the San Jacinto Park at different seasons to experience it in new ways.

This trip isn't for everyone and that's why I gave it 4 stars.  If you or your child is afraid of heights, it may not be for you.  It's also not inexpensive.  For 2 kids, an adult and a senior citizen (sorry mom), our roundtrip tickets were $80 total.  (FYI, military gets on free the month of July).  But this was a special occasion because my mom isn't always in town so it was worth making a memory there.

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March 23 2012
0 families found this helpful
"Beautiful views, fun ride"

I'd recommend this for families visiting Palm Springs.  The large tram car rotates 2.5 times on the 10-minute ride to the top of the mountain, so you get great views on the ride as well as at the top.

Hint:  admission is discounted after 4 p.m., so you can save a bit of time be going later in the day.  We went up at 4:30, looked around while it was still light out, and then ate at the (reasonably priced) cafeteria/cafe at the mountain station.  When we came down, it was dark, so we could see the lights of the city below.  

It's a bit expensive but a very unique experience.  The viewing areas at the top are fenced in well, so even with my fear of heights, I felt safe with my kids up there.

April 25 2011
0 families found this helpful
"loved it!"

decided on a whim to go to palm springs over spring break and made the tram one of our "things to do"!  cannot believe we've lived in southern california for so many years and haven't been there!!  now - with two children ages 8 & 7 - we made the trek and had a wonderful time!  we went in the late afternoon (unexpected money saver), wasn't crowded a bit, there was still snow, we could see for miles and found that you can actually camp up there!  modest campsites - but nonetheless what an adventure that would be!!  the tram itself is a marvel in modern machinery!  great time!  

November 26 2012
1 family found this helpful
"A different world"

This November we got a chance to take our kids on this amazing tram ride.  I didn't remember that it is one of the largest/tallest tram rides in the world, but the spectacular trip and scenery is what makes it so amazing.

I vividly remember riding the tram when I was a young girl, watching our tram ascend the rocky cliffs on the face of the mountain.  As an adult, I was quite excited to have my kids experience the same thrill.  I am sometimes a "freak-out" mom who is anxious about her kids falling off of high places, but I was not at all afraid on this tram ride.  It is incredibly well-constructed with millions of visitors and no problems.  The access point to the tram is completely enclosed, as well as the viewing station at the top of the mountain.  The floor of the tram rotates around and gives everyone a great view.  People on the tram were incredibly friendly to my kids and let them stand in front of them near the windows.  Find something to hold onto while the tram goes over the towers as it swings back and forth (slightly).  Don't be like some of the visitors who seemed to push and shove us to get into the tram first to get a good spot... there aren't any bad spots, even though the tram can hold 80 people!

No matter what season you visit, be prepared for temps to be 30 degrees lower at the top than down in the desert BUT dress in layers!!  We took big warm coats and hats expecting a 50 degree day on the mountain but the sun was so hot that it felt like 70 degrees (except in the shade).

Suggestions of what to do at the top:
* Take a hike in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park (steep ramp downhill).  There is a 1.5 mile route around a meadow and to "desert notches" with views down into the valley below (yes, there are some dangerous drop offs, but only if you walk out a ways into the notches)
* Stop in the State Park station (back of the Mountain Station) for Jr. Ranger sheets to fill out while hiking in the park.
* Play in the snow (seasonally) in the state park and rent tubes, cross-country skis and other equipment in the "Adventure Center".
* Eat lunch at the inexpensive deli or enjoy a nicer meal at the sit-down restaurant, both with beautiful views.
* Climb to the top of "Grubb's View" (access it past the restaurant on the deck) for incredible drop-off views of Palm Springs, the San Andreas Fault, Salton Sea, and beyond.  There is a full railing here to keep young kids safe, but there are lots of steep steps and rocks, so keep kids close.
* Watch a movie or two (18 minutes long) in the theater on the construction and operation of the tram.
* Travel the tram at night (discounted tickets after 4:30) to see the sunset, twilight, and night lights of the desert.  Last tram ride up is at 8pm.  Last tram ride down is at 9:45pm.

We headed out the back door of the Mountain Station and found a great trail that looped around a meadow and gave us access to great views of the valley.  My kids loved climbing up rocks that surrounded the meadow, and we had fun exploring.
Tip: Restrooms are to the right at the Ranger Station.  The Adventure Center is only open seasonally for winter gear rentals.

Don't miss this trip when you visit Palm Springs.  It is amazing to start in the desert and end up in the mountains, thousands of feet away in just minutes.  The views are dramatic, both on the ascent and from the top.  This is a great way to introduce Southern California kids to snow in the winter.  It's a quick easy trip to the snow and you don't need tire chains or a winding mountain road.

The one downside to this activity is the high price.  I wish it wasn't so much, but in my opinion, the experience and activities that are available at the top make it worth it.  It will be an incredible memory and experience with your kids!

Disclosure: I was given 2 complimentary tickets, and 4 discount tickets in order to complete this review.  I was not asked to express a particular point of view and all opinions are my own.

December 23 2010
0 families found this helpful
"Fun with the Family"

If you’d like to know where all those mountain streams come from, take a ride on the spectacular tramway, a thrilling and manageable adventure for the whole family. Two suspended cable cars whisk you from the parched desert floor up nearly 6,000 feet up Chino Canyon to the top of 10,800-foot Mt. San Jacinto (Yah’-sin-toh) in a mere fiteen minutes. Up here there’s not a palm tree in sight: This is pine tree country, some forty degrees cooler than the valley below. From the Mountain Station, which has a gift shop and the Alpine Restaurant,there are breathtaking views of the sprawling valley floor and, off to the left, the unmistakable imprint of the San Andreas Fault. The station is at 8,516 feet.

December 23 2010
3 families found this helpful
"A fun way to get up a mountain!"

I'm afraid of heights but I have to admit this rotating tram car is pretty awesome! Once you're at the top, you can go on some leisurely (or not so leisurely) hikes/walks in the San Jacinto Mountains. My son who was just over a year old at the time went on his first hike here (in a backpack carrier for a lot of the way). He seemed to really like being out in nature, in the crisp and clean air, seeing the big trees and dirt. Very different from where we live. We've been here during Labor Day weekend and in the summer and it's definitely cooler up at the top than down below...layers are key.  

December 23 2010
2 families found this helpful
"Cool Ride" you have to do this at least once when you go to Palm Springs. The tram ride is pretty cool. Great views as you make your way up to the top of the mountain. Let it be known though (depending on the time of the year) it is freezing up there. YOU WILL NEED A WARM COAT! We went there during Christmas and I felt like I was in Minnesota! I don't know about you but when I go to Palm Springs I am usually trying to escape the cold. The kids loved seeing all the snow! Great little lodge up there for a cup of hot cocoa or a hot toddy for you!

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