Cactus To Clouds

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 33.81440°N / 116.6783°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hike-10,400 ft elevation gain
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: A long walk-up
Sign the Climber's Log


From Los Angeles take I-10 east to CA 111. Take CA 111 into the town of Palm Springs where CA 111 turns into Plam Canyon Drive. Make a right onto W. Tahquitz Canyon Way to Museum Drive. The trailhead is located at the Palm Springs Desert Museum at 101Museum Drive. Also the trail can be reached by continuing on Palm Canyon Drive and making a right onto W. Ramon Road and following it to the end. Unless you are returning to the trailhead you will need to arrange a car shuttle or leave your vehicle at the Palm Springs Aerial Tram and take a taxi to the trailhead. Most people who hike this trail take the aerial tram down the mountain. If you do plan on hiking back to the trailhead it will be a 35 mile day. If not, your hike will be 23 miles.

Route Description

The Cactus to Clouds hike is long. You start on the desert floor and climb to 10,804 feet. You gain over 8,000 feet in the first 12 miles and much of this is hiking in dry aird desert conditions. The total elevation gain is 10,400 feet in 17.5 miles. An early start is suggested if you intend on making the last tram down.

From the very first step you start gaining elevation - non stop. After a mile you come across a rock painted with a note saying, "No water on trail until Round Valley Ranger Station, 8 miles, 10 hours." New information from the State Park Rangers suggest it is 11 miles and not 8. After 12 hard miles you reach Long Valley. This is where the upper tram station is as well as the State Park Ranger Station where you will need to obtain a permit for the rest of your hike. From the Ranger Station simply follow the signs to the summit. In 5.5 miles you will have reached your goal and probably will be exhusted. Return to Long Valley and the upper tram station for the ride down. Note: See info about tram ride down in the MISCELLANEOUS SECTION below. As of November 2010 the cost to ride the tram down is $12.00.

An alternate route down could be taking the Delvi's Slide trail down to Idyllwild. This is about 8 miles, making the total hike 25.5 miles.

Anyway you look at it, this is an extreme hike not to be taken lightly. It is a toughie!

Essential Gear

Lots and lots of water and energy food. Headlamp or flashlight for the early start.

Miscellaneous Info

Contrary to popular belief or to any information that suggests that the tram ride down is is not. Lena Zimmerschied, Public Relations Assistant for the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway, in fact confirms that the one-way price for the ride down after your hike is $12.00.

The last tram down is at 9:45 PM nightly.

The parking lots open at 6:30 AM. So if you plan on parking a car for a shuttle after the hike you will need to do it the night before if you are starting very early.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

Viewing: 1-10 of 10
Fractal Maniac

Fractal Maniac - Nov 3, 2005 12:59 am - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

For more information, including maps, GPS, photos, and detailed route description, please visit the Cactus to Clouds Hiking Guide

Cy Kaicener

Cy Kaicener - Dec 4, 2005 12:42 pm - Hasn't voted

Route Comment

Here are two Cactus to clouds websites with additional information and trip report


mnatureson - Oct 25, 2006 9:34 pm - Hasn't voted

Overnight Parking

If you plan to leave a car at the tram to shuttle you back to the trailhead, and you plan to park overnight, use the "Bobcat" parking lot at the Aerial Tramway.


Moogie737 - Nov 11, 2010 8:44 pm - Hasn't voted

One way tram ride down cost

As of November 2010 the cost to ride the tram down is $12.00.


mdostby - Nov 12, 2010 10:02 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: One way tram ride down cost

Thanks for the info. I've changed the page to reflect the current cost.


MoapaPk - Nov 5, 2011 11:54 pm - Voted 10/10

last tram

Not sure if this is seasonal, but on Nov 5, 2011, last tram was at 8:45PM.

bcrowell2 - May 13, 2012 12:12 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: last tram

As of May 2012, the last tram is at 9:45. I don't know if this changes seasonally.

bcrowell2 - May 13, 2012 12:12 pm - Hasn't voted

best times of year

Some comments about when to do it. This is a spring/fall hike. Doing it in summer is dangerous. Someone dies every year or so from the heat on Skyline. In spring, you have to time it very carefully so that you're not doing the lower elevations in life-threatening heat, and not doing the upper elevations in so much snow that snowshoes are required. In a light snow year such as 2012, the second week of May was about optimal. In a heavy snow year such as 2011, it would be more like the last week of May or first week of June. In spring, route-finding can be difficult and time-consuming as you come up to Wellman Divide. Check the weather forecast in Palm Springs to judge the heat. People typically start at about 3-4 am. Personally I like to start at 2:30. If you start at 5 or later, you will have to carry lots and lots of water to deal with the daytime heat at low elevations.


johnm - Jun 12, 2016 2:59 pm - Voted 2/10

CTC Hike Information

2015 - In my opinion this is the best current informational webpage in terms of the hike, preparation and other resources including National Weather forecasts for different elevations of the climb:


HikingGuy - Aug 31, 2016 9:38 am - Hasn't voted

Anohter Good Resource Cactus to Clouds guide

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