In 2000, the tramway introduced the world’s largest rotating tram cars.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
In the summer of 1935, a young engineer named Francis Crocker was driving from Palm Springs to Banning when he gazed at the snow-capped peak of Mount San Jacinto and dreamed of being transported up “there where it’s nice and cool.”
Crocker’s vision was completed in 1963 with the opening of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In 2000, the tramway introduced the world’s largest rotating tram cars, which travel over two-and-a-half miles along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to the pristine Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness, where temperatures are about 30 degrees cooler than the desert floor.
The 10-minute ride begins at the Valley Station (elevation: 2,643 feet) and ends at the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet). During the journey, the tram cars slowly rotate, offering eye-popping views of the rugged valley. At the top, visitors can enjoy trekking across 14,000 acres of amazing terrain on 54 miles of trails, ranging from strolls to hikes.
Venturing to the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is more than just a means of cooling off. It’s also an opportunity to experience one of the highest public art installations in the United States. A 3,700-pound granite bench created by sculptor Bruce Beasley sits on the Mountain Station’s North Patio overlooking the valley below.
Crocker’s vision was completed in 1963 with the opening of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.