5 Great Gondola Rides with Incredible Views

by  Zachary Laks | Jan 27, 2015
Telluride Gondola
Telluride Gondola / Craig Zerbe/iStock

There’s no skiing required to enjoy the ascents of these five picturesque gondola tours. You’ll reach new heights and be rewarded with sky top restaurants, nature exhibits, and hiking trails. Don't forget the camera!

Bridger Gondola (Jackson Hole, WY)
Scale the Grand Tetons in style as the Bridger Gondola climbs to a staggering 10,000 feet. The summit is a gathering spot for adventure seekers offering skiing, hiking, paragliding, and rock climbing options -- though many simply come for the breathtaking views. Make it an event by eating at the Couloir Restaurant once at the top -- a fine-dining, four-course meal where the food is as photogenic as the views. Come summer, The Deck, a festive outdoor grill, opens for happy hour and shared plates. The Bridger Gondola operates year-round and no reservations are necessary. $20.

Heavenly Gondola (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
There’s no better view of Lake Tahoe’s serene waters than from the top of Heavenly Mountain’s peak via this state-of-the-art gondola ride. The 2.4-mile journey to the apex offers panoramic views from above the tree tops in the comfort of an enclosed eight-passenger car. Non-skiers seek out Café Blue at the observation deck for some high-altitude hot chocolate and freshly brewed coffee, as well as beer and snacks. Once off the gondola, the Tamarack Lodge offers a 15,000-square-foot food court, complete with grill, artisan pizzas, and chili station. $48.

Telluride Gondola (Telluride, CO)
From 7 a.m. to midnight, the Telluride Gondola operates as one of the main attractions of the mountainous area with a free 13-minute ride that ascends to the peaks of the San Juan Mountains. Built in November 1996, the gondola is the only free public transportation of its kind in the U.S., linking Telluride and Mountain Village. Ample slopes and hiking trails await at the various station drop-offs, as well as the fine-dining experience at Allred’s Restaurant, a New American favorite.

K1 Gondola (Killington, VT)
Killington Peak, the 4,241-foot mountaintop accessible from the K-1 Express Gondola, is a 1.25-mile ride that takes Vermont's scenic vistas to new heights. At the top, hit the 15 miles of hiking trails -- or just relax at the Peak Lodge, where a variety of casual and gourmet food and drink options are available. $20.

Panorama Gondola (Mammoth Mountain, CA)
Yosemite in Northern California is home to Mammoth Mountain, where the Panorama Gondola is one of the most remarkable features. Board the sleek steel pods that take riders up 11,053 feet for 360-degree views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Joaquin River Valley. At the top, Eleven53 Café serves soups and sandwiches with a stunning view. Visitors can stop at the Eleven53 Interpretive Center, where exhibits on the geologic, volcanic, and natural history of the area are on display. $25.

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