A Ten Minute Trip to a Whole Different World

If you're ever feeling too hot in the desert, try taking a ride up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tramway's mountain station is 8,500 feet high on the edge of nearly 11,000 foot high Mount San Jacinto, in California's Mount San Jacinto State Park. 

The floors of the Swiss-made tramcars revolve 360 degrees twice during the extremely steep ascent up the mountain. They are the worlds largest revolving tram cars... and the only ones in the Nothern hemisphere. The only other ones are at Table Mountain in South Africa.

The floors of the Swiss-made tramcars revolve 360 degrees twice during the extremely steep ascent up the mountain. They are the worlds largest revolving tram cars... and the only ones in the Nothern hemisphere. The only other ones are at Table Mountain in South Africa.

Inside the tram everyone is rapt as the view grows increasingly spectacular... and the drop increasingly far. Everyone, that is, except the operator. The cars hold up to 80 people and are also the only means of getting water and supplies up to the park at the top.

Inside the tram everyone is rapt as the view grows increasingly spectacular... and the drop increasingly far. Everyone, that is, except the operator. The cars hold up to 80 people and are also the only means of getting water and supplies up to the park at the top.

Halfway up the mountain, the tram passes the descending car. Since the cars counterbalance each other, they pass at the midpoint.

Halfway up the mountain, the tram passes the descending car. Since the cars counterbalance each other, they pass at the midpoint.

Getting closer the the Mountain Station and disembarking into a world completely different from the Sonora desert we just left.

Getting closer the the Mountain Station and disembarking into a world completely different from the Sonora desert we just left.

Closer still. If you are unlucky enough to be bothered by heights, it's best not to look back, because the drop is huge. (I'm so glad I don't suffer from this).

Closer still. If you are unlucky enough to be bothered by heights, it's best not to look back, because the drop is huge. (I'm so glad I don't suffer from this).

As you ascend (and descend), the car revolves. If you were in a spot you didn't favor at the beginning of the trip, don't worry... you'll see everything at some point. Here were are reaching the mountain station to disembark.

As you ascend (and descend), the car revolves. If you were in a spot you didn't favor at the beginning of the trip, don't worry... you'll see everything at some point. Here were are reaching the mountain station to disembark.

Once arrived, you are in the mountains 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) above the desert floor in the Alpine forest of Mount San Jacinto State Park. There are miles of hiking and skiing trails, and two vast connected wilderness areas, if you like to get away from everything and everyone. In fact, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through here. That trail stretches from Mexico to Canada. Up here, it's usually about 30 degrees cooler than in the desert below, and of course the terrain, flora, and fauna are completely different. It's like a ten minute ride to a whole new world.

Once arrived, you are in the mountains 8,500 feet (2,600 meters) above the desert floor in the Alpine forest of Mount San Jacinto State Park. There are miles of hiking and skiing trails, and two vast connected wilderness areas, if you like to get away from everything and everyone. In fact, the Pacific Crest Trail passes through here. That trail stretches from Mexico to Canada. Up here, it's usually about 30 degrees cooler than in the desert below, and of course the terrain, flora, and fauna are completely different. It's like a ten minute ride to a whole new world.