The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tram car and travels the cliffs of the Chino Canyon and Mount San Jacinto State Park in California for 2.5 miles. Visitors can also take part in many other fun activities such as the observation deck, a natural history museum, and theatre, as well as the many miles of hiking trails. Photo: Kit Leong/Fotolia



Palm Springs Aerial Tramway began as the dream of a young engineer named Francis Crocker in 1935. Crocker partnered with Earl Coffman, a desert pioneer, to start plans to begin building a tramway through Mount San Jacinto. Legislation and politics blocked several attempts to have their plans realized, but finally in 1945, the governor of California, Earl Warren, signed into law a measure that created the Mt. San Jacinto Winter Park Authority and authorized tramways. Coffman and Crocker were named First Chairman and first Secretary respectively.

Construction was underway for the tramway in 1950 on land donated for the Valley Station and parking lots and funds raised more than $8 million including bonds, to fund the rest. The bonds were paid off in 1996. After delays due to the Korean War, the tramway began construction again in the summer of 1961 and was soon labeled the 8th wonder of the world and is now a historical civil engineering landmark.

The park opened on September 12, 1963 with the first tram ride to politicians and celebrities. The Tramway was modernized in 1998 and by 2000, the Tramway was the site of the largest rotating tramcars in the world. Almost 18 million people have traveled the tram from Valley Station to Mountain Station since opening day. Things to Do in Palm Springs, California: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - Photo: Jeff/Fotolia



Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes visitors from the desert floor of California at Mt. San Jacinto State Park to the top of the mountain where there are dining and shopping options, outdoor activities, a museum, theatres, and an observation deck. Weather can be drastically different with a 30-40-degree difference in temperature throughout the 6,000-foot change of elevation. There are trail cameras accessible online and a tram cam with weather information on the website.

Trams- The world largest rotating tram cars are not airconditioned but do have open windows. There are no pets allowed in the state park or tram cars except for service animals. The ride from the Valley Station to The Mountain Station is approximately 10 minutes long with spectacular views of the canyon and mountain range. Trams depart every 30 minutes and ticket purchase is required.

Winter Adventure Center- During the winter months the Winter Adventure Center provides rental equipment for visitors who wish to ski and snowshoe at the park. There are plenty of options for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snow camping, and sledding with the family at the top of the mountain when snow has fallen.

Outdoor Activities- There are more than 54 miles of hiking trails at Mount San Jacinto State Park. Guided nature walks are available at Mountain Station from Memorial Day through Labor Day and are conducted by park volunteers. These are free and generally last around 40 minutes. There is also a self-guided nature walk that is just shy of a mile long that is an easy level. There are six campgrounds within the state park and Wilderness Area and camping is only allowed in designated areas. The campsites are all primitive with no water access and pit toilets. Not all campsites are open due to Mountain Fires. There is a fee for camping permits. Some activities may require wilderness permits. See the website for details.

Gift Shops- There are two gift shops, one at each station. The shops sell a variety of tramway souvenirs and educational items.

Peaks Restaurant- #8 on Architectural Digest’s World’s Best Cliffside Restaurants, the chefs at Peaks locally source their ingredients from the Coachella valley and purchase bread from locally owned bakeries. Reservations are recommended at this high class, full service restaurant.

Pines Café- With lots of options, Pines is a cafeteria style café that is open from lunch through dinner and serves grab and go items as well such as pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and salads.

Lookout Lounge- located on Mountain Station, this classic cocktail lounge offers an extensive menu of alcohol and appetizers with spectacular views of the mountains and valley.


Mt. San Jacinto Natural History Association and the state park have partnered to offer educational summer programming at Palm Springs Tramway Mountain Top Station. Program offerings include wilderness hikes, junior ranger programs and more. Programs are free but do require advanced registration.

The Easter Sunrise Service is also hosted annually by Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Mountain Station and begins at 5:30am on Easter Sunday with tram cars starting at 5am. Breakfast is available following the service for discounted rates. Address: 1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262, Phone: 888-515-8726 Things to Do in Palm Springs, California: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - Photo: Jeff/Fotolia

Things to Do in Palm Springs, California: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

  • History, Photo: Courtesy of Jeff -
  • Attractions, Photo: Courtesy of Jeff -
  • Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kit Leong -