tram car Tram car on the way up, seen from a tram car on the way down

Palm Springs tramway

Up, up, and away!

One of the premier Palm Springs attractions is the aerial tramway, but like so many tourist attractions, locals don't always take advantage of it. This summer Réal and I decided to buy summer season passes, good for unlimited rides through the end of August. It's a "cool" thing to do, especially welcome in the summer when the temperature at the top is usually about 30° less than at the valley floor.

The current tram cars, installed in 2000, are round, and the floor rotates twice during the trip. Five towers lift the cars from an elevation of 2,643 feet at the valley station to 8,516 feet at the top over a distance of about 2½ miles at speeds up to 20 mph. (For full technical detail, see sidebar.) Mind you, the top of Mt San Jacinto is another 2,318 feet higher, for a full elevation of 10,834 feet.

Real Réal at the lookout over the valley floor — hang on tight!

Last night we took a picnic supper and went up to watch the sun setting over the valley. It was beautiful although, to be quite honest, a bit chilly after the sun went down.

We actually saw some wildlife — as we were leaving the terrace by the restaurant, a raccoon ambled onto the deck, presumably in search of a target to mooch dinner from. Unhappily for the racoon, there would be no tidbits from us as we ate our supper all up, including the cheesecake from Bristol Farms.

See the sidebar for a few pics.