The MINI Maniacs spent a day at California’s highest state park on October 21, Mount San Jacinto, with its peak topping out at a breathtaking 10,804 feet.
The day-long event was a hold-over from August, when the temperature in nearby Palm Springs reached 120 degrees, and it was decided to postpone until October.
Getting to the park included a twisty drive over the Pines-to-Palms Highway (CA-74) and spectacular views from the Coachella Valley Vista Point. The highlight of the trip was the last 12,708 feet it took to enter the park, aboard the world’s largest aerial tram car. Made in Olten, Switzerland, the Palm Springs Aerial Tram is 18 feet in diameter and holds up to 80 passengers.
Passengers on the 10-minute ride from the Valley Station to the Mountain Station are treated to 360-degrees views as the entire floor of the tram car rotates. The ascent travels through five climate zones, beginning with Sonoran and ending in Arctic/Alpine. While the temperature in the valley was 85 degrees, it was a chilly 48 degrees on the mountain.
Stepping out of the Mountain Station onto the viewing decks, visitors are treated to an expansive sight of the desert valley below. Inside the station there is a sit-down restaurant as well as a more casual cafeteria, a gift shop and theater. For the more ambitious, the park has more than 50 miles of hiking trails.
Kudos to SCMM Event Director Craig Williams for leading the group, Cecelia Williams for her fine radio work, and Andy Russell for being the sweeper. We had a total of 17 cars and plenty of fun!