Got 10 minutes? That’s all it takes to go from the hot desert floor to cool, piney highlands, thanks to this engineering marvel. Spinning slowly as it ascends—it’s the world’s largest spinning tramcar—the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway traverses 2.5 miles along Chino Canyon in one smooth ascent to 8,516 feet at Mountain Station, on the flanks of towering Mount San Jacinto. You’ll be taking in wonderful views of jagged cliffs and canyons (keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls in spring). Celebrated naturalist John Muir once wrote that “…the view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth,” and he wasn’t exaggerating.
Up top, there’s access to more than 50 miles of trails into the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area. The tram operates through winter, and don’t be surprised if fellow tram riders are carrying snowshoes or cross-country skis to explore the snowy backcountry (rentals are available at Winter Adventure Center, at Mountain Station). Tip for outdoor lovers: it’s a short hike to Round Valley, offering picturesque campsites (reservations must be made five days in advance), even in winter.
But you don’t have to hike or ski to have fun. At the top there are two restaurants (fine dining at Peaks Restaurant; cafeteria fare at Pines Café), a full cocktail and beer bar (aptly named The Lookout Lounge), an observation area, natural history exhibits, and a small theater showing documentary films.
Children under 3 years old are free but require a boarding pass which can only be obtained on the day of your visit from the Tram’s ticket booth. Children under 16 years must be accompanied by an adult of 21 years or older.
Educator Package: Includes educational resources, interactive project ideas, trip organization, direct experiential opportunities to help better connect the experience with your students and complimentary chaperone ticket. Does not include student ticket.
Student Package: Includes engaging pre and post educational visit activities, trip organization and student ticket.
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