From the desert to the snow in just over 10 minutes. In Southern California, it can be done.
Growing up in Southern California, my husband and I both had fond memories of Palm Springs from our childhoods. Matt spent a week each year in the sunshine and in the water park. I, on the other hand, have just one very clear memory of staying in the same hotel that the Saved by the Bell wedding special. He has serious Palm Spring cred, so it was shocking that I had experienced something in the desert that he hadn’t–the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway.
Check out our family’s high-flying adventure in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park on the world’s largest rotating tramcar.
I received complimentary tickets to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
As we neared the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, my kids kept their eyes on the sky awaiting the first glimpses on the tram. Keep going; the tram is up a long drive. After paying the $5 parking fee, we were directed to a parking lot. From there, guests can walk or take a bus to get to the visitor station.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at tramway website or picked up on the day of your visit on a first come/first served basis. Ticket prices are currently $25.95 for adults or $16.95 for children aged 3-12. There are additional pricing options for seasonal or annual passes.
After purchasing tickets, we awaited our boarding time while gazing upon the gorgeous Mt. San Jacinto mountains on outdoor viewing areas. There’s a Popp Park for junior explorers to roam and play. Also available is a small cafe and also a lounge with alcoholic beverages available for purchase.
Once our boarding time had arrived, we headed to the loading area. One highlight of the day for me was the tram ride itself. From mountain base to mountain top takes approximately ten minutes. As we ascended the mountain, the rotating tramcar provides gorgeous views of both the mountain and the city down below. The spinning of the tram is mild; my children didn’t even notice the spinning.
However, the swaying of the car at a few points plus the height itself was intimidating for my older girls. My preschooler loved it. If you’re traveling with individuals who are afraid of heights, this might not be the best way to explore.
Once the tram ride is complete, there are so many opportunities to enjoy the mountains.
Explore the 54 miles of hiking trails. A variety of options is available for hikers of all skills level, including the San Jacinto Peak which allows guests to reach the second highest point in Southern California.
For a $5 camping permit, stay at one of the six primitive camp sites. Flush toilets are available, but water is not. I saw many hikers with large packs and daydreamed bout the days when my children are ready for this kind of camping.
In addition to the gorgeous views of nature outdoors, there is a visitor’s nature center. My daughter loved seeing the animals of the hills up close.
Enjoy cuisine cloud-side as you dine atop the mountains at Peaks Restaurant. The local flavors of the Coachella Valley are offered. For reservations, call (760) 325-4537.
Planning to spend our day exploring the hiking trails, we descended a long concrete walkway into the forest. This is where I completely geek out on the forest. John Muir once said, “Going to the mountains is going home.” This sentiment rings very true for me, and I love the opportunity to share this homecoming with my children.
We had planned to do much more hiking then we did, but once the kids saw snow we stayed put. Snow in April?
The views of the mountains were spectacular, and the forest floor inspiring. Also fun were the older tram cars on display. The blue car is what I remembered from my own childhood.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is truly unique. The combination of the tram ride with the ability to explore the glorious Mt. San Jacinto State Park is an experience not to be missed.