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If you’re planning a trip to the desert, be sure to make time for a ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car. This is an adventure suitable for any time of year. The temperature at the top is on average 30 degrees cooler than it is at the valley floor, so it’s a great way to cool off on super hot days, but we just visited in February and got to play in the snow!
It was about 80 degrees down below so even though there was snow on the ground at the top, it wasn’t cold. The sky was blue, the sun made the snow sparkle, it was just beautiful!
We arrived just after lunchtime, and took the shuttle from our parking lot to the tram. Our timing was perfect so we didn’t have to wait for more than a couple of minutes. The trip up takes just 10 minutes to get to 8,516 ft and my secret tip is to get on either first or last. If you’re traveling with a child, you don’t want to get packed into the middle of the car. We got in last and as the doors closed we were in the perfect position right up against the glass.
The views are breathtaking and because the tram rotates the view is constantly changing. It’s kind of intense when the tram bumps through the towers, but they warn you to hang on just before it starts rocking.
At the top, we first checked out one of the videos on the building of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. I found it fascinating, and Offspring was being a good sport, but I could tell she wasn’t captivated by the content so we wandered outside.
Here’s a short video from the LA Times that shows what you can expect from the ride.
I felt like I could have spent a week up there in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, and if that’s your thing, you can do it. There are campsites, 50 miles of trails, even a ranger station. We wandered around and enjoyed the scenery for about an hour. I was hoping we’d be able to hike out to one of the scenic overlooks, but neither of us had proper footwear for hiking in snow, so we found a log to sit on for a little picnic before heading back.
There are two restaurants at the top, Peaks, a dining room with a stunning view of the Coachella Valley or the Pines Café, a cafeteria-style restaurant. Both restaurants are open for lunch and dinner. Last time I was up I had some really awesome chili at the Pines Café, but this time we had already eaten lunch so we carried water and a snack up with us.
Our trip up was hosted by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway but the opinions expressed here are my own.
Looking for another family friendly activity in the Desert? Try tailgating at Polo!