Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

It was a so-so day, with threats of rain predicted; so we did what others in this area do on these kind of days...we headed into Palm Springs.  It was time to check out the Tramway as a possible adventure for the family over the holidays.

This is one of the retired tram cars

We were cruising along the Sonny Bono Memorial Highway when Left Brain made some reference to a blimp.  I hadn't been paying attention and at first thought he was making disparaging remarks about my weight, but was really a blimp.

Along this stretch of interstate there are more windmills than you can count.  I've never seen so many in one area before, but this certainly is the perfect place for it.   It's nice to see alternate sources of power being used.  I also noticed that many of the schools have huge banks of solar panels and they use the shade created by these panels for parking their cars.  Very clever, these Californians.

This photo is but a small area - this view went on for what seemed like miles and miles.
Before we knew it, we had arrived.  The Tramway was built in 1962 and is the second highest tramway in the world.   It features the world's largest rotating tram cars that make two complete revolutions during the ascent and descent, providing an incredible view from every angle.  The floor moves, so you need to keep grasping a different part of the hand rails that are secured to the outside since they are moving.  Also, when you go past the towers there is a bit of a sway, a gentle rocking of the tram high up over the rocks that would cause a certain death should we plummet to the ground....okay...don't go there....must keep breathing.

The Aerial Tramway starts out at the Valley Station at 2,643 feet and climbs up to 8,516 10 minutes over a 2 1/2 mile trip.  They liken it to going from the Mexican Sonoran Desert to an Alpine Wilderness as you pass through five unique life zones.  Did I mention that I don't care for heights?  And yet this was my idea...go figure.

At the top is Mt San Jacinto State Park, 14,000 acres of pristine wilderness with 51 miles of hiking trails, primitive campgrounds and an adventure center for winter activities during snow season. 

I don't think I could hike up this high. I got winded just in the parking lot and overlook areas.

There were several patches of snow like this one.....and that's enough for me.

There is a movie presentation that shows how it was constructed and we learned that those yellow pads were where the helicopter dropped off people and supplies during the construction.  That would not have been a job for me!

The scenery was stunning from this height and you could see the many desert towns down below, as well as the sea. 

Of course, this is the kind of thing that catches my eye...the pine cones and windswept trees.

My favorite part was dining at the Peaks Restaurant which offers fine Californian cuisine with views that literally take your breath away.  Seriously.  I could hardly get in a deep breath while walking around up here the air is so thin.  They also have a nice cafe with great views.  The music playing is all Rat Pack era - lots of Sinatra and the I grew up hearing in our home.

After a couple of hours enjoying the food and the view it was time to head back down.  While at the departure station I admired this fabulous faux painting.  I had to walk right up to it to convince myself the shelf and all its contents were only painted on the wall.

Yikes.... that looks like a long ways down.

Yup, I think this place is a winner and we'll have to bring the family to experience it while they're here.

Long Live the Queen of the Tram


  1. The views are stunning, but I'll settle for a post card, thank you. I don't think I could get into that tram if you paid me. It's okay, you can call me chicken. I can't imagine building a restaurant way up there with only a tram for transportation. I love your photos though. That fireplace painting is just awesome. Enjoy your adventures and have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.