The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is an officially designated Rancho Mirage HOT SPOT. In 2010 guests staying at Rancho Mirage resorts receive a VIP Access Privilege Card that provide adult admission discounts at four Palm Springs Valley HOT SPOT attractions

The ride of a lifetime. From desert floor to the top of Mount San Jacinto the incline steeps 10,834 feet straight up. The “Jig-Back Tramway” ascends the granite cliffs from the Valley Station at 2,643 feet to the Mountain Station at 8,516 feet in 10 spectacular rotating up, up and up minutes.

Step into the Swiss manufactured, 80 passenger car. You are surrounded by glass. An operator greets you and with a touch of a button the climb begins. Breathe deeply. You’re about to experience heaven and earth.

And up. Sycamore, cottonwood, elder and wild grape crowd the narrow canyon. Metamorphic rock channels a gurgling stream via a verdant cienega to the desert aquifer. Birds lark in the shrubbery below. Look sharp. Desert Big Horn Sheep populate these lush parts.

And up. Fractured granite formations jag through scrub oak and mountain mahogany. Here spot mountain lions lairs and the home of their prey the California Mule Deer. The vista of the Valley floor opens and widens. Forty miles away the Salton Sea glints in the desert sun. Tower three looms and passing, causes the car to sway slightly. Passengers gasp. The operator smiles. Teenagers giggle nervously and chatter. Glancing into each others eyes, lovers lean into one another; now alert to an experience they will remember.

And up. The granite core of San Jacinto cliffs straight up right outside the car’s windows. Turrets of solid rock. Scattered big cone pines, pinyon pines, scrub oak cling to rocky crags. A California grey squirrel dives into space. A hawk jets past. On the Mojave side of the car the vista widens. Arizona. Infinity.

And up. Upthrusted and freeze-fractured granite towers envelope the car now dwarfed by the enormity of the scape. Chill on sun-burnt skin. Goosebumps. The massive rock face speeding by is only meters away. And up at what seems to be a progressively faster rate. And up where only birds can thrive and up to where Valkyries reside.

Now docked and heading to the bar.

RM