It’s the best time of year to get high in the Valley.

The Tram Never Gets Old

Story Aaron H. Bible

February, 2020

Photo Courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

There’s truly nothing like it in the country: the iconic Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs features the longest span of spinning gondola cars in the US—6,000 feet in 2.5 miles—with one of the fastest vertical gains anywhere on earth.

Set against rugged Chino Canyon on the northern edge of Palm Springs, the tramway is part of the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, and the area is designated a national monument. More than 20 million people have ridden the 10-minute, dual-car tramway from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. At the top, riders enjoy temps dozens of degrees cooler than where they started. First envisioned in 1935, the tramway was spearheaded by electrical engineer Francis Crocker, who dreamed of traveling to the snow-covered peaks of Mount San Jacinto, sitting 10,834 feet above the desert floor. Three decades later—through years of perseverance—that dream came to fruition. The tramway was finally completed in 1963, and global celebrities like Monaco’s Princess Grace and her family showed up to ride it.

According to officials, funds for the construction of the tramway were raised by the sale of $8.15 million in private revenue bonds, and no public funds were used for the construction or operation of the tramway. The 35-year bonds were successfully paid off in 1996. The tramway was designated a historical civil engineering landmark in 1988.

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