Once you’ve taken the 2.5-mile ride along the cliffs of Chino Canyon on the Palm Springs Tram, here are five things to enhance your experience at the top at Mountain Station.
You have about a month before the Tram shuts down from Sept. 9-29 for its annual maintenance.
First you’re at 8,516 feet elevation, so note the temperature difference (about 15-20 degrees cooler than the desert) and let your body, particularly your breathing, adjust to the altitude. That means hydration and operating at a little slower pace to start. Plan ahead to ensure you have enough time to enjoy the surroundings rather than try and rush through a hike or physical activity.
From now until the end of the year, you can buy a $36 ride and dine combination ticket from 4 p.m. daily with dinner from 4:30 p.m. at the Pines Café. Children are $23.50, ages 3-10. visitgreaterpalmsprings.com
Mt. San Jacinto State Park is located at the top of the mountain, giving you access to 54 miles of hiking trails and 14,000 acres of amazing terrain. There are several easy hikes to try first – from three-quarters of a mile following nature trail posts to a 2.5-mile trail that is considered moderately strenuous. There is no fee for hiking.
There are six designated camping areas ranging in distance from the Mountain Station of 2.5 miles to 6.0. Each sits at a different elevation level – the highest is 9,700m feet – so take that into consideration. There is a $5 fee per person for camping permits. Depending on how much you want to rough it, some come equipped with water access and all of them have a pit latrine.
In association with the Mt. San Jacinto Natural History Association, you can register for guided nature tours in August and again in October. In addition to high altitude exercise, you receive an education on a variety of topics from photography, the San Andreas Fault, to the environment. The classes are free, but you must register. msjnha.org/events
The Pines Café offers the typical food selections you might expect at a tourist attraction — pizza, sandwiches, soup and salad — but the Peaks Restaurant offers an opportunity to enjoy a fine dining experience. The accompanying Lookout Lounge serves a variety of alcoholic beverages. The last reservation taken for the Peaks is 7:45 p.m., and reservations are recommended.
For more information on the Palm Springs Tram, visit pstramway.com.