Visiting the Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs, California

Valley Station
Valley Station
Ascent, parking lot, tower
Ascent, parking lot, tower
Tram car
Tram car
Tower
Tower
View from the tram car
View from the tram car
Mountain Station
Mountain Station
View at the top, desert, pines
View at the top, desert, pines
Sheer cliffs
Sheer cliffs
Decent, tower, parking lot
Decent, tower, parking lot

The History of The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

It was a very hot day in 1935 when Francis Crocker took a trip to Banning, a small city in Riverside County Ca. Summer temperatures reach well into the 100’s and Crocker was extremely hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable on this day.

In the distance rose 10,834 foot Mt. Jacinto. It's peaks were draped with snow and Crocker wanted a way to “go up there where it was nice and cool.” Crocker was a young electrical engineer whose dream began that day.

Crocker would build a tramway up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon in northern Palm Springs so people could enjoy the snow and coolness of Mt. Jacinto. The only way up the mountain at the time was by way of a long strenuous hike.

Crocker faced a huge challenge trying to make his dream a reality. His idea was ridiculed. The local press soon labeled the idea "Crocker’s Folly." With bad press local politicians refused to support the project. The plans were put on hold during World War II and the Korean Conflict creating more setbacks. However, the locals were enthusiastic and Crocker’s dream never died so the plans were later revived. A battle ensued and Crocker eventually won.

In 1950 $8.5 million in private bonds were sold to raise revenue to build the tramway. Road and tower construction problems were solved. Helicopters would be used to build four of the five towers and the Mountain Station needed to support the tram. The idea had never been tried before.

By 1961 the project started. It was a huge engineering challenge that was labeled "the eighth wonder of the world." By 1963 the tram was completed with the first ride up the mountain. Crocker’s dream came true.

Francis Crocker died in 1992. However, a modernization program began in 1998 installed rotating tram cars. The tram floors rotate and revolve as passengers ascent or decent the mountain. The views are spectacular!

The twelve minute ride starts at the Valley Station in the Sonora desert then ascends up sheer cliffs through five climate regions and ends at the Mountain Station in a pine forest at Mt. Jacinto State Park.

Today the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is considered the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. The project is dedicated as a historical civil engineering landmark. "Crocker’s Folly" has been enjoyed by more than 12 million people who have gotten a thrill riding his tram into the coolness of Mt. Jacinto and enjoying the panoramic view of the Coachella Valley at the top. Francis Crocker definitely got the last laugh!


Tips:

Cars depart at least every half hour.

Monday-Friday first Tram up 10am. Saturday, Sunday and holidays: first Tram up 8am; last Tram up 8pm and last Tram down 9:45pm.

The Tramway’s annual maintenance is scheduled for September 10-21, 2012, tentatively reopening September 22, 2012.

Don't miss a date shake. Heaven!

Visit the Anza-Borrego Desert if you have time and like the desert.

Are we there yet? What to take on a road trip:

An ice chest with food, snacks and drinks for everyone. Forget sharing.

Don't forget your chargers, headphones, earplugs, meds, and a bag for garbage

Take along your Kindle and cell phone to keep yourself and the kids occupied on long road trips. Down load any e-books and apps that will help you.

Remember to take along a great camera. We found the Sony Nex-5 to be light weight and user friendly.

Streets, freeways, and traffic jams are frustrating. Take a good GPS system with you and visit off season.

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