Know Before You Go
The tram is crowded during rush hours; for the best experience, visit midday or on the weekend.
The tram operates Monday–Saturday year-round, with Sunday hours in the summer. Closed on major holidays.
If you’re looking for epic views and a unique perspective, look no further than the Portland Aerial Tram. Rising 500 feet (150 m) above the South Waterfront neighborhood, the commuter conveyance has also been delighting sightseers since 2007. The tram was built to carry students, doctors and patients to and from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). But the amazing views from the ride above the forested hills of Southwest Portland made it an instant tourist favorite. Step aboard and get ready to snap fantastic photos of the city skyline, the Willamette River and Mount Hood.
About the Portland Aerial Tram
Every weekday, an average of 10,000 passengers ride the iconic silver tram. Why all the buzz for this futuristic mode of public transit? For starters, it’s an innovative solution to the struggle to accommodate growing demands for access in the somewhat remote neighborhood. It’s an award-winner, earning accolades from prestigious architectural institutions such as the American Institute of Steel Construction for its sleek design. It’s also one of just two aerial tramways in the United States. But, perhaps most fundamentally of all, it’s a simply stunning experience that lifts you above the city, into the sky.
The tram consists of two ADA-accessible silver cabins departing from upper and lower terminal decks approximately every five minutes. (The cabins are named Jean and Walt, after the first female engineering graduate of Oregon State University and the first African American graduate of the University of Oregon Medical School, respectively.) Each cabin carries 79 people, including the tram operator.
Riding the Portland Aerial Tram
How to Get There
Start your trip at the lower tram terminal in South Waterfront. Parking is very limited in this area, but it’s well served by public transit. From downtown, take the Portland Streetcar or MAX Light Rail Orange Line. Plan your trip by transit here. You can also easily bike to the station; Go By Bike offers complimentary bicycle valet service from 6 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.
When to Go
Beat the commuting crowds by visiting the tram weekdays between 10 a.m.–3 p.m. or 6–9 pm. Better yet, plan your trip for the weekend and enjoy breathtaking views in near solitude. (The tram operates on Saturdays year-round, with Sunday hours in the summer only. It’s also closed on major holidays; check www.gobytram.com for details.)
How (And How Much) to Pay
Ticket machines located at the lower terminal accept debit and credit cards for payment. General fare is $5.10 round-trip, while children under 7 (as well as active retired and veteran members of the military with ID cards) are granted free admission.
On Board the Tram
Inside each cabin, four seats offer a place to rest; the remainder of the cabin is reserved for people standing or using mobility devices.
On clear days, the expansive floor-to-ceiling windows boast spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains. In addition to the iconic Mount Hood, keep your eyes peeled for Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams. On drizzly days, you’ll still see the Willamette River and the city, but perhaps with the addition of a blanket of fog or rain clouds. While you may gasp as the cabin approaches the support towers, rest assured the momentary swinging sensation is normal.
What’s at the Top?
Chances are you don’t have a medical appointment at OHSU, so you’ll probably just spend a few minutes at the upper terminal. Stretch your legs and take in views of downtown Portland from the largest enclosed sky bridge in North America. An outdoor patio offers seating and more views. For more of a pick-me-up, visit the nearby coffee shop.
If you’re up for an adventure, you can do the 4T Trail in reverse, hiking the Trail to Washington Park, where you can catch the (MAX Light Rail) Train to downtown, where you’ll connect with the (Portland Streetcar) Trolley — add in the Tram and you’ve got 4 Ts!
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