Looking Fabulous at Fifty: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Let’s face it, there are many fabulous and fanciful places to forage for food and fun in the Palm Springs Valley, but few compare to the fantastic experience of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  We are quickly coming up on the 50-year birthday of this amazing attraction that carries more than 400,000 passengers yearly from the valley floor to an altitude of over 8500 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains.  A perfect place for sightseeing, hiking, or just having lunch or dinner, I’ve been a fan of this place since (do I dare admit it?) its very first days!

The brainchild of Francis F. Crocker in 1935, the tram took decades of planning and fundraising before finally seeing completion in 1963.  To commemorate its 50th anniversary, the Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority—the tram’s governing body—will accomplish more than $175,000 in renovations on the Valley and the Mountain Stations, both of which were designed by locally celebrated architects.  Albert Frey’s Valley Station will be updated to brighten the space and emphasize its crisp, clean lines, and mid-century look.  The station at the top of the tram, designed by E. Stewart Williamson, will have the look of a “contemporary cabin,” complete with new restaurant furniture, working fireplaces, and an indoor/outdoor patio.  The renovations will be overseen by Palm Springs designer Jeffrey Jurasky, who gave Lulu its unique flair.

The tram experience has always been an easy one to enjoy for the entire family.  Parking is convenient, the stations are wheelchair accessible, and there is plenty to do—or to not do, depending on your mood!  Hike to the top of Mt. San Jacinto?  Be my guest!  Looking for a little munch, or a full-on meal?   A snack shop, plus Peaks Restaurant overlooking the Palm Springs Valley, easily fill that bill.  Feel like a little shopping?  There are fun gift shops in both stations, and each offers everything from classic souvenirs, logo clothing (including sweatshirts and winter jackets in case you miscalculated the cooler temperatures in the mountains), and specialty items like real scorpion suckers and Indian art.

The 50th anniversary celebration renovations are just beginning.  Stay tuned for more!