Snowbird’s Aerial Tram—quite possibly the most iconic ski lift in the country—is getting a major upgrade. The resort is updating the venerable old boats with new tram cabins, after the originals have dutifully whisked 125 people at a time to the 11,000-foot summit of Hidden Peak in seven minutes since 1971. They’ve covered just shy of 800,000 miles over the half century, which is like going to from the earth to the moon and back again, so I suppose the red and blue cabins have earned a comfortable retirement. The new tram cars will cover the same 1.6-mile, 3,000-plus-vertical-foot span, just with sleek new boxes for an improved ride.
The new cabins, designed and built by Doppelmayer in Otten Switzerland, feature floor-to-ceiling windows for uninterrupted views of Little Cottonwood Canyon and the Bird’s famously craggy terrain. All the better for skiers and snowboarders to scout their lines and find the best snow on the way to summit.
Summer passengers will have the unique opportunity to recreate the cable car fight between James Bond and Jaws from Moonraker while riding atop the new cabins on the 15-person balcony on the tram’s roof. Even indoor riders can opt for a bit of intentional vertigo by standing on one of the three-by-three-foot glass panels on floor to gaze at the mountain from above.
Updating Snowbird’s tram cabins will help the lift keep pace with that other famous tram up in Jackson Hole, which received its own major update in 2008. Jackson’s has more vert, but the Bird’s wins out on capacity—125 to 100—and it’s no contest on snow quality.
The old cabins’ retirement signals the end of an era at Snowbird. When it comes to skiing in the Wasatch, things just ain’t like they used to be (other than while riding Alta’s beautifully unchanged Wildcat Chair) but it’s tough to find negatives in a more comfortable ride with better views to the best snow and terrain in the mountain range. The cabins are in transit to the Bird as we speak, with installation scheduled for April and May before a grand opening in late June 2022. So long, original tram cabins. Thanks for the ride.
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