“For once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” -Leonardo da Vinci
Gondola rides offer excellent views of breathtaking mountaintop destinations. Catch spectacular sights from the sky and enjoy adventures available to the whole family when you explore one of America’s best gondola rides.
Crystal Mountain, Washington
A scenic 12-minute ride on the Mt. Rainier Gondola leads visitors over 2,000 vertical feet to the summit of Crystal Mountain. Each gondola cabin seats up to eight people and overlooks meadows of wildflowers along its scenic route. Upon reaching the top, visitors have the opportunity to capture unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Range, as well as the Summit House – the highest elevation restaurant in Washington State! Soak in the sights from one of the sling-back chairs situated along the ridge or bring your leashed pup for a trail hike adventure.
This attraction has served as a one-of-a-kind transportation system. It’s the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the United States. The gondola links Telluride and Mountain Village and serves both as a lift for skiers and snowboarders. Also, it serves as public transportation for locals and visitors. Whether you’re heading to the slopes, market, hiking trails, village post office, or Allred’s Restaurant, the incredible 13-minute ride will surely take you where you need to go. Featuring 360-degree views of the San Juan Mountains and is often referred to by locals as, “the best commute in the country.”
The Stratton Gondola guides passengers to southern Vermont’s highest peak, where the views stretch clear across four states. The 360-degree perspective takes in the White Mountains, Adirondacks, Berkshires and the Green Mountain range. From the summit, you’ll have the opportunity hike to the historic fire tower or explore one of the walking trails. For a more comfortable experience, pack a picnic lunch or simply breathe in the mountain air before riding back down to explore Stratton Village’s quaint shops and restaurants.
Mammoth Mountain, California
Beginning May 15th, tourists can enjoy a panoramic Skyride unlike any other. Featuring 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada peaks and a commanding view of the San Joaquin River Valley below, there was a reason the Panorama Gondola was voted Mammoth’s Favorite Attraction. The summit of Mammoth at 11,053 feet provides one of the most stunning views you’ll find in California. Grab a lunch at the cafe at the top, then visit the on-mountain learning stations to discover the history and wonder of the Sierra.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada/California
Catch a ride on the Heavenly Gondola for a truly divine experience overlooking Lake Tahoe. Beginning just blocks from the shore, the Skyride climbs more than two miles from the resort base. From high atop the mountain, you’ll have the chance to gaze upon the Alpine Lake. It sits on one side and the arid Carson Valley on the other. Other family-friendly activities include ropes courses, zip lines, mountain coaster and a hike at 9,000 feet.
Wildcat Mountain, New Hampshire
Reach new heights this summer aboard the Wildcat Express. If you desire to cast your eyes gaze Mount Washington, then the Wildcat Mountain is the place to ski or ride. As one respondent shared: “Incredible views of Mount Washington are right in your face.” Other stunning sights from the Wildcat Express include views of Tuckerman Ravine, a popular spring skiing backcountry destination.
Palm Springs, California
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway—the world’s largest rotating tramcar—travels over two-and-one-half miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. During the approximately ten-minute journey, tram cars rotate slowly, offering spectacular vistas of the valley floor below. Once you reach the Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet—enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, natural history museum, two documentary theaters, gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails.
What’s your favorite gondola ride in the United States? We would love to hear from you! Share your picks in the comment section below.