It's not logical to escape San Diego's sweltering heat by heading to Palm Springs where temperatures routinely exceed 100 degrees. Logic aside, Palm Springs is the perfect getaway if you're staying at the Welk Resort Desert Oasis.
At 130 miles from San Diego proper, Palm Springs does not require a travel day. Sleep in and enjoy a morning ride up Interstate 15 into Riverside County. Best route is Interstate 215 north out of Murrieta and then Interstate 10 East out of Moreno Valley. Route 111 leads right into Palm Springs.
Don't miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway if you haven't experienced this engineering wonder. The ride alone is worth the cost of admission. It takes just 10 minutes to travel to the top of Mount San Jacinto but the views and exhilaration will have the family in awe. The tram cars are the world's largest of their kind and travel straight up the mountain walls. Elevation gain is over 5,800 feet. Temperatures plummet at the top so sweaters and jackets are advisable depending on the season.
At the summit is Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. Many tread no further than this building and enjoy shopping, dining, a small museum, and movie theater for short nature films. Mountain Station has the hustle of a ski lodge in mid-winter. Find the stairs leading down to the first floor and exit out the back. You've just entered a pristine alpine forest and haven't broken a sweat.
Descend the foot path and choose a trail. Veer left for an easy one and a half mile loop called the Desert View Trail. The walk is easy in sandals and the desert views are spectacular. Like the high country of Yosemite, sugar pines, fir trees, steller's jays, lizards, and squirrels greet you along the way. Find a nook and have lunch.
Depending on your plans, a trip up the tram with a modest hike, only takes a couple of hours. You've traveled from San Diego to Palm Springs, rode up and down the tram and it's still too early to check into your hotel, but try anyway.
The Welk Resort Desert Oasis is good for the family and budget. The Welk name is trusted for quality and you can be sure it's well managed. Rooms are all the same with a living room, full kitchen and bath, bedroom, walk-in closet, and private patio or balcony. The center courtyard holds a family pool, spa, and adult only pool. No restaurant on the premises. Snacks and drinks are available in the activity room and at poolside. Adjoining the Welk Resort is the Cathedral Canyon Golf Club for tennis, dining, and an 18-hole golf course.
By heading south along 111 through Rancho Mirage, look for Highway 74 called the Pines to Palms Highway for an alternate way home. This road winds over the Santa Rosa Mountains towards Hemet. Mid-way is a left turn onto State Route 371 which goes through the small farming town of Anza. You won't regret this path less traveled. For a time it feels like rural Wyoming where land and sky open up between gentle sloping mountains. At Aguanga take State Route 79 to Temecula where it meets Interstate 15 South.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Monday-Friday first Tram up 10am
Last Tram up 8pm Last Tram down 9:45pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays first Tram up 8am
The Valley Station, Mountain Station and Tram Cars are handicap accessible.
Welk Resort Desert Oasis
34567 Cathedral Canyon Dr, Cathedral City, CA 92234