Desert - Palm Springs - Tramway Road
Street * Slalom *
Approaching Palm Springs from the north on Interstate 10, take the Highway 111 exit just past San Gorgonio Pass. Follow Highway 111 about eight miles to the north edge of Palm Springs, where you will see Tramway Road heading up into a mountain canyon on the right. Turn right and park on the gravel shoulder before the gate. Approaching from the south on Interstate 10, exit at Date Palm Road about three miles north of the Ramon Road exit. Drive west for almost five miles to Palm Canyon Drive, then turn right. After driving one mile north you will see Tramway Road on the left.
Are you the kind of person who has to experience new things if only to say you did? If so, and if you have good heel braking and hill skills you may be a candidate for Tramway Road. This two-laner climbs nearly two thousand vertical feet in 4.5 miles to provide access to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Since 1963, the tramway has carried hikers, skiers, and tourists up another 12,800 vertical feet to an altitude of 8,516 in San Jacinto Wilderness State Park. In spite of the fact that Tramway Road is very steep (you'll see signs that recommend turning off the air conditioner in your car), the first mile is a feasible skate. It is less steep and is straight enough to allow you to see almost everything, both ahead and behind. This is important because there are no paved shoulders, meaning you must skate on the street, possibly taking up both lanes in order to control your speed with slalom turns. Before you start, make sure you have a lot of rubber on your heel brake and know your abilities and limitations. Stop climbing at the 1,000-foot-altitude sign just before the road begins curving into the canyon. You don't want to be in the middle of the road when cars come barreling down the hill around a blind corner. Now turn around and claim your reward: a breathtaking view of the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea beyond Palm Springs. Before heading down, watch the dip near the parking area for several seconds to make sure no car is emerging, and listen for cars approaching from behind. Unless you schuss most of the way down (bless your immortal soul), check the condition of your wheels once you reach the bottom. They'll lose some urethane with every carve on the asphalt road.
Aug 1, 1995
Aug 1, 1995