The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will open Friday as scheduled, despite Riverside County moving back to the most restrictive category of the governor’s reopening plan.
The Tramway’s famed rotating cars will continue ferrying passengers from the desert to the San Jacinto Mountains amid pandemic-related restrictions, although some indoor offerings will cease, according to Grey Purdy, the tram’s vice president of marketing and public affairs.
After shuttering for nearly six months, the Tramway restarted operations Oct. 9 on a Friday-through-Monday schedule when Riverside County was still in the red tier of California’s four-tier coronavirus monitoring system.
However, county health officials announced Tuesday that the California Department of Public Health had downgraded Riverside County back to the purple, or most-restrictive tier, meaning some businesses that had reopened in recent weeks will have to close again or move their operations outside. Gyms, restaurants, movie theaters and places of worship are among the entities that will be affected.
As far as the tram is concerned, Purdy says it’s within the transportation designation and will not close. But the county’s purple tier classification will force tram staff to slightly modify the Tramway’s offerings, especially those indoors.
All museums and documentary theaters — which were previously reopened amid modified socially distanced protocols — will close, Purdy said.
Pines Cafe will continue selling pre-made sandwiches, salads and beverages, but purchased goods must be consumed outside, Purdy said. Peaks Restaurant remains closed.
Protocols involving the tram cars themselves were already previously within the sprit of the purple tier classification. Car capacities were significantly reduced to allow for social distancing, and the time between each trip was lengthened to allow for sanitization of tram cars between trips.
All passengers must continue to make advanced reservations, cover their faces while inside the tram, or inside the Valley and Mountain stations, and submit to temperature screenings.
The first car heads up each day at 8 a.m., with the last car down at 6 p.m.
Popular hiking trails accessible from the top of the tram — previously closed due to fire danger — also reopened earlier this month within the San Jacinto State Park and San Bernardino National Forest, although overnight camping opportunities remain limited in wilderness areas, according to state and federal officials.
Annual passholders should expect to see their passes extended to match the amount of days the tram has been shut down, plus an additional 10 days, officials said.
Since 1963, the tram has carried visitors two-and-a-half miles from Palm Springs to the San Jacinto Mountains, a trip that takes about 10 minutes.
At an elevation of more than 8,500 feet, Mountain Station is an entry point to more than 50 miles of hiking trails.
More information is available at pstramway.com.
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