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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Lorraine and I met up with my sister and her partner to spend the day hiking Mount San Jacinto State Park. If you are ever in the Palm Springs area, I highly recommend the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It will take you up to the State Park in style.

The tramway features the world’s largest rotating tram car. The tram car is quite large and can hold about 80 people.

We paid $8 USD to park our car and $26 USD per person for the tram car ride.

The ride to the top of the mountain takes about ten minutes or so. You will travel about two and a half miles up the cliffs of the Chino Canyon. Once you ascend to the station, you will find over 50 miles of hiking.

A few tips if you decide to experience the tramway.

Expect crowds, especially if you go during peak times, between 11am and 3pm. It took us almost 40 minutes from the time we left our car in the parking lot to the time we boarded the tram car. We went on a Friday morning and the place was packed. I suspect it would be much worse on a Saturday or Sunday.

What I noticed on the way down is that the park emptied out by around 4pm. You might find fewer crowds during the week if you go later in the day. Last tram up at 8pm and last tram down at 9:45pm.

Be prepared. The Mountain Station sits at an elevation of 8,516 feet.

That means two things.

One, it will be much colder at the top, perhaps as much as 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit colder, than at the base of the tramway. Dress appropriately. And make sure you bring along some basic hiking supplies, especially water and good hiking shoes.

Two, and this doesn’t get mentioned on their website, you might get sick. I did. The altitude sickness hit me quite hard soon after we left the park. Severe headache, nausea. It passed after a day. Altitude sickness may become an issue especially if you are not acclimated to higher altitudes and/or you exert yourself too hard at higher altitudes.

When we were there, the trails were snow covered. The weather was beautiful though. No wind. And even though the temperature was in the low 40s Fahrenheit — around 6 Celsius — we did not feel the cold. We had our hiking gear. In my case I had a base layer for warmth and two layers of outerwear along with waterproof hiking boots, a backpack with the usual supplies for hiking and, of course, one of my cameras.

Along the way, we met a family from Saskatchewan, Canada. Mom and daughter were out hiking in open-toed Birkenstocks. They seemed surprised by all of the snow and the difficult hiking conditions despite this sign that greeted visitors on the way into the park.

In just a few hours we went from the heat of the Coachella Valley to a snow-covered mountain.

My poor left foot. I could barely walk on it after the hiking. I might have to get this foot looked at once we return to Canada. Nonetheless, just another one of those perfect days. I so enjoyed the time with my sister and her partner. Such a wonderful couple.

A few more shots from Mount San Jacinto. A stunning place to visit.