Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Visitor Tips!

Have you been wanting to visit Palm Springs?  Did you know that the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of the must-do activities if you go?  Despite a serious fear of heights, I managed to take the ride in that box.  Read on to learn about the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway experience, tips to enjoy, and how I managed to make the ride up to the top…and back down.

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Why is the Aerial Tramway a must do?

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a breathtaking experience.  It is so unexpected to find such majestic mountain beauty if you’re spending your days swimming during an extremely hot Palm Springs desert vacation.  Even the drive out to the Aerial Tramway greets you with beautiful scenery made up of gorgeous rocks.

You might be saying, “The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is definitely NOT a must do for me!  I have an intense fear of heights.”  Don’t worry my friend, I also have an aversion to heights….especially when I’m inside of a box hanging from a cable.  Be sure to check out the end of this post, where I will share my experience as a person afraid of heights.  You’ll find some tips for getting through the trip.  And for the rest of you…you can skip it, but it might be a little entertaining for you to read. 😉

What is there to do at the top?

There is a visitor center, along with hikes of various levels.  I saw some serious hikers carrying equipment.  There were also people just heading up for the day and taking a leisurely hike along the beautiful wooded area. 

Visitors can also camp and partake in snow sports such as skiing and snowshoeing.

In addition, there are dining options, a gift shop, and a video all about the tram.

What is the Aerial Tram itself like?

The Palm Springs Aerial Tram is spacious and the floor inside of the tram slowly spins 360 degrees as the tram ascends and descends the mountain.  The tram is standing room only, with the exception of a small bench in the center of the tram that might seat one or two people.  The bench is stationary, therefore you will not get a 360 degree view.

Please be sure to read about my personal experience if you, like me, have a fear of heights and confined spaces 😉

When should I purchase tickets?

I strongly recommend that you purchase tickets in advance when possible.  There are timed slots and the tram ride tickets can sell out.  There is also the option to purchase tickets at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway the same day.

Also, be sure to check if you are eligible for discounts on your tickets.  We used our AAA membership to get a discount on our ticket purchase.  Check out the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway website for more detailed information about ticket prices by clicking here.

Where should I park?

I know this is going to sound silly, but park as close to the visitor center as you possibly can.  The parking lot doesn’t seem like it’s on a big hill when you’re in the car.  However, the deceptively flat-looking parking lot wound up feeling like a pretty steep uphill walk.

Parking currently costs $8 and can be paid with cash or accepted major credit cards.  Be sure to take small bills because they do not take bills larger than $20.

Head outside while waiting to ride!

You will likely have to wait a bit before you are able to hop on the tram.  If you have time, I recommend getting a few pics outside.  You’ll find some information about the area and get some cute pics.

Dress for the weather!

We headed to the Ariel Tramway during our spring break.  It was extremely hot in Palm Springs at the time.  However, it was actually very cold once we got to the top of the mountain.  I tried to warn my family of this when we packed for our trip.  Only one did not listen (ahem…husband).  Honestly, the sweaters that we brought really weren’t enough.

We were going through an Elsa phase, in case you were wondering 😉

Even if you or your companions are not big on hiking, you will still want to exit the visitor center to check out the beautiful scenery.  My family did the short hike and loved it!  Even though this easy hike was flat, there is of course plenty of dirt and rocks.  You will want to be prepared with comfortable athletic shoes.

Here’s what I recommend you wear:

  • Dress in layers
  • Wear tennis shoes
  • Bring a backpack to hold your items while you walk around

Take a fully charged camera!

We were unexpectedly surprised by the majestic beauty that we encountered when we stepped outside of the visitor center at the top of the mountain.  There was a tiny bit of snow when we went.  The kids had never been in snow and were absolutely thrilled.  Talk about some great memories to catch on camera!

The scenery is breathtaking, as are the views at the end of the easy family hike.  The ride to the top was absolutely worth the beautiful walk and view!

What was your experience?

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway tram itself looks very sturdy.  This made me extremely comfortable to get on.   However, things changed a bit when the following happened:

  • Quite a lot of people were crammed into the tram. It was busy tourist season and everyone was pushing to get a prime spot.
  • The floor moves to give you a 360 degree view as you go up and down the mountain. This is great…unless you have a fear of heights as it is and there are a lot of pushy people crammed in the tram with you.
  • There are 3 or 4 towers along the cables on the way up and down the mountain.  Why do we care how many towers there are?  Well, every time we were about to pass a tower, this is what happened:

The person manning the tram yelled out, “Hang on!  A tower’s comin’ and the tram will be swinging!”  !!!!!!!!!!!!

Um…maybe it’s a good thing that they didn’t say this before I stepped on the tram.  This will undoubtedly make you panic if you’re afraid of heights.  Also, it was very hard to get to a hand rail to in fact hold on…because the tram was filled to capacity and every space filled in.  The rails are all along the window.  Only those that are next to the rail can easily hold onto it.

My tip: Make sure you are at the head of the line so that you can pick a spot where you can easily hold on to a rail.

You rode the tram.  So what?

I wasn’t always afraid of heights and small spaces.  In fact, I always loved to sneak into small spaces as a kid.  I don’t know if becoming an adult changes your equilibrium, if I just don’t like situations I can’t control, or both.  Ok…yes, yes I do know all of that to be true 😉

The big deal about the tramway?  You are going up several feet in the air…in a box…hanging from a cable.  I mean, if that doesn’t scare you, you are a hero in my book!

Why did you make yourself do it?

There are a few reasons:

  1. FOMO- Fear of Missing Out.
  2. If there’s any chance of danger and my kids and husband are in it…I will be in there with them.
  3. Fear will not prevent me from having an awesome experience!
  4. My girls watch everything I do.  I wanted them to see me be scared of something and do it anyway!

Fear of heights?  Do this!

  1. If possible, try to ride the tramway when there is likely to be less tourists there.
  2. Ride on the bench in the center if the floor rotation will bother you.  The bench does not rotate.  You will lose the 360 degree view, but you won’t be pushed up against people and will feel more grounded.

    My daughter trying to keep me calm by talking and holding me 😀
  3. On the ride down, DEFINITELY ride on the bench. I would never have made it down if I had tried standing and looking at the steep incline on the way down.  I sat on the bench and made sure to be facing the mountain (ie- as if I was heading to the top) on the way down instead of looking at the steep incline going down.  Make sure to get to the waiting area early so that you can be one of the first people to get on the tram.
  4. Drink chamomile tea or something relaxing. I’ll be honest, if you have something strong, take it 😀  You might want to even try roller ball essential oils and inhale a relaxing scent.
  5. Take something for motion sickness if that is an issue for you. A friend suggested Sea-Bands.  I’ve included a link to these bands on Amazon HERE.

Do you plan to ride the Aerial Tramway?

I hope that you found this post both informative and entertaining.  And seriously, I would highly recommend you take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway even if you are scared.  It was an amazing experience and I am happy that I made myself do it.  This is one of our top memories from our Palm Springs vacation.  And…it gave my kids some pretty hilarious memories on our trip.  Sometimes you have to push past the fear and then feel like Wonder Woman when you made it through the experience 😉

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Travel Town at Griffith Park: What’s it Like?

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