Palm Springs: A View From The Top

In the summertime at Palm Springs, when the weather is high, there’s one place you can go to seemingly touch the sky.

And that’s the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Aka the world’s largest rotating tramcar.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Photo credit: Lauren Goldenberg

Rising up to the Mountain Station in Mt. San Jacinto—at an elevation of 8,516 feet—the tram ride up is steep but offers lovely views of the valley below. Originally opened in 1963, the tramway has been a fixture of Palm Springs life from its original golden era age of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley onto its current golden era of today.

And the rotating feature—which came about in 2000—is a thrill for adventure seekers.

Just one part of the fun of boarding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the chance to have your photos professionally taken before boarding. Photo credit: Magic Memories.

Located virtually at the entrance of Palm Springs, the tramway has been featured in countless films and TV shows, including: Hell’s Kitchen, Chuck, Beverly Hills 90210, Columbo and Mission Impossible. It is a must-see on your Palm Springs bucket list and perfect during any season. In the summertime, when temps can soar over 115 degrees, you can enjoy balmy weather that is usually thirty-forty degrees cooler. And in other months, you can often enjoy snow at the top of the mountain—when have you ever done that in the desert before? Even the drive up to the parking lots can be fun, as you have the opportunity to see the original trams. Of course an “Insta-worthy, photo opp.” with them is a must!

But the best is yet to come. Get in line and whip out your best camera-ready pose before a photographer flashes a pic of your group, which will then be available to purchase, either at the Mountain Station up on top or online at the Magic Memories website. Afterwards, get ready to step aboard the tramway. And find something to hold onto—because it’s a long way up on the world’s largest rotating tramway! The floor itself rotates around giving all passengers a 360 degree view of the mountains and Coachella Valley.

Hiking through the mountains, reached by the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Photo credit: Lauren Goldenberg

Once you arrive at Mountain Station, rev up your heartbeat by hiking over 50 miles of trails. On special days, guides are even on hand to take groups for a nature walk (free of charge!). On my hike, I was lucky enough to have Archie as my guide who pointed out the various kinds of pine trees and showed my group where the best vantage points are to overlook the Coachella Valley below. He even pointed out where that most infamous Californian, the San Andreas fault, lies.

Along with summer hiking and nature trails, there are a host of other fun activities throughout the year. In the winter, go cross country skiing, snow camping or snowshoeing.

Dine while you overlook the Coachella Valley. Photo credit: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Hungry? Feed your adventurous appetite with either a restaurant, cafeteria-style cafe or bar located in the Mountain Station. Peaks Restaurant was recently named #8 as one of Architectural Digest’s World’s Best Cliffside Restaurants. Look for menu options on their website.

Naturally, there’s a gift shop atop the mountain to find the perfect goodies to bring back with you to commemorate the special trip. And since what goes up, must come down, the day ends with more excitement as you get to take the rotating tramcar back down 8,516 feet.

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