World Mountain Lifts


Every time being in the mountains, we are thinking about how to enhance our outdoor experience, which data can help us have even better time. That’s not an easy task, to augment something already perfect! What can be better than mountains?! Just the mountains which you have not conquered yet. And probably the information about available mountain lifts to help outdoor enthusiasts get away from mobile network coverage and get even deeper into an amazing world of nature beauty.

Mount Pilatus cable car, Switzerland
Mount Pilatus cable car, Switzerland

There are many mountains lifts in the world: gondola lifts, chair lifts, mountain railroads, etc. Oftentimes they were built for mountain skiing, but open in summertime for hikers as well. Some of them are exceptional in many aspects. There are rotating cable cars, so you can see 360 panorama without running around the cabin and creating even more turmoil. Two-storey cable cars with an open second deck, like a balcony, which feels like riding in a cabrio. They are traversing above cities like “bubbles” in Grenoble and over glaciers like Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. You name it.

Grenoble bubbles, France
Grenoble “bubbles”, France

A vast majority of the state-of-the-art mountain lifts are located in the Alps, as the region is well-developed and serves outdoor entertainment to locals and tourists alike.

Stanserhorn Cabrio cable car in Switzerland
Stanserhorn Cabrio cable car in Switzerland

Recently we analyzed 65,949 lifts and 29,959 stations in the world in order to present them in our 3D maps and found a lot of fantastic places reachable in a comfort even for the faint-hearted. So, now you can plan your hike by using the teleport feature to a high-enough parking lot with a trailhead, then plot a route to a mountain top using the route feature all meanwhile taking into account thousands of mountain lifts all over the world!

Let’s go through some of the most exceptional lifts in the world. Almost all of them have been previously unknown to us, so we are pretty sure the list will be interesting to cast a glance at the very least!

The Longest Cable Car Ride

Tianmen Shan Cable Car is claimed to be the longest cable car system in the world (others list Ba Na Hills Station in Da Nang, Vietnam). Straddling a distance of 7,455 meters (7.45km), it is often touted by tourism publications in China as the “longest cable car ride in the world,” but in reality, it needs to be qualified as the “longest passenger cableway of high mountains.” It takes a total of 28 minutes to cover the entire distance. But its length isn’t the only thing that it has under its belt. Tianmen Mountain towers at 1279 meters above sea level, and the cableway steepest gradient is 38 degrees, just a tad less than Panorama Langkawi.

As you go up, Tianmen Mountain looms in front of you, and from the cable car you have a perfect view of Heaven’s Door, the oval opening in the side of the mountain. Make sure you walk on the glass skywalk, and then climb the 999 steps to Heaven’s Door.

Tianmen Mountain - Heavens Door
Tianmen Mountain, Heaven’s Door

The Biggest Elevation Gain

Elevation gain is one of the characteristics which determines how strenuous the walk is. Taking these cable cars will save you a ton of energy for high-altitude adventure out of the gate of the top station.

  1. Seilbahn Zugspitze in Germany pumps you up almost 2km (more than a mile) up in the sky to the highest point of Germany - Zugspitze.
  2. Tochal Telecabin in Iran is taking about 45 minutes to traverse 7,360m with elevation gain of 1,829m to within a short hike of the summit of Mount Tochal.
  3. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — the world’s largest rotating cable car - in California, USA brings you to the Mount San Jacinto State Park where your can hike 50 miles of trails, including the one leading to San Jacinto Peak. Summit vistas were praised by John Muir: “The view from San Jacinto is the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth!"
3D map of Mount San Jacinto State Park in the PeakVisor app
3D map of Mount San Jacinto State Park in the PeakVisor app

The Highest Cable Cars

How far in the sky can you reach with a cable car? It appears that it can be so high that some might need an oxygen bag. Here are the highest cable cars at your service and most likely the first four are a little bit surprising!

1. China, Dagu Glacier Scenic Area

The world highest gondola delivers the most adventurous to the whopping altitude of 4,843m in Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture in Sichuan. That’s the top of the world reachable on a cable car. Oh, and that’s higher than Mont Blanc in Europe! Be aware of altitude sickness risk.

2. China, Jade Dragon Snow Gondola

The world highest gondola is in China and reaches a soaring 4,511m close to the steep rocky faces of Jade Dragon (Yulong) Snow Mountain (simplified Chinese: 玉龙雪山)! That’s 300 meters lower than Mont Blanc! Together with the nearest city of Lijiang with its UNESCO Heritage Site, the Old Town of Lijiang is simply amazing. The only downside is that it is often too crowded.

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain

3. India, Gulmarg Gondola

The two-stage gondola lift ferries about 600 people per hour to Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Apharwat Peak.

Apharwat Peak and Gulmarg Gondola 3D Map in PeakVisor
Apharwat Peak and Gulmarg Gondola 3D Map in PeakVisor

4. Russia, Elbrus - The Caucasus Mountains

The highest cable car station in Europe is located in Russia on the highest mountain in Europe - Elbrus. The Garabashi station transports visitors to 3,847m.

5. France, Aiguille du Midi - The Alps

Being just 5 meters lower than Elbrus cable car, this French edifice is the next highest in Europe and is one of the most panoramic locations in the Alps. It also makes the nearest spot to Mont Blanc reachable without climbing.

It is important to mention that in some cities like Bolivia’s capital La Paz and Ecuador city of Quito cable cars are a part of a city public transit system that is working at the altitudes up to 4,111m and 3,954m accordingly.

The highest cable cars in the US

The top cable car reachable spot is River Run Gondola at Keystone Mountain ski resort in Colorado (quite obvious, it is after all the most mountainous state in the US). It reaches the altitude of 3,550m.

Interestingly, the second highest gondola is located in the not so famous for the mountains state New Mexico. Apache Arrow Gondola at Apache Ski resort on the slopes of Sierra Blanca Peak reaches 3,479m.

But enough reading. It is time to get out and have some fun. Teleport to a mountain you like and plan your weekend adventure!

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