Backed by Mount San Jacinto's hulking pinnacle, the Palm Springs Visitors Center anchors the base of Tramway Road, a long straightaway of asphalt that ascends boulder-strewn Chino Canyon on its way to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
The building's space-age profile and triangular roofline add a dash of geometric flair to the arid landscape while its low-slung form and subtle colors blend with the desert sand.
Built in 1965 as the Enco Tramway Gas Station, this glass-and-steel landmark is most admired for its soaring, wing-like roof, which architects Albert Frey and Robson Chambers called a "hyperbolic paraboloid." Capitalizing on the concept that less equals more, Frey and Chambers built the roof from slim steel I-beams and lightweight corrugated metal. It slants upward from the building's midline, extending 95 feet beyond the front door to create a shady veranda supported by steel tubular poles.
The 2,300-square-foot gas station was slated for demolition in the late 1990s, but its retro-perfect mid-century design saved it from the wrecking ball. In 2015, the restored building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it's been immortalized in thousands of Instagram accounts.
Head inside to learn about where to stay, play, dine, and hike in the Greater Palm Springs area or shop for Palm Springs souvenirs. Pick up a free map detailing more of the region's mid-century modern gems, like the Tramway Valley Station at the base of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, just three miles up Tramway Road. Also designed by Albert Frey, this 1963 building forms a bridge over Chino Canyon that allows the creek to flow underneath. Large panoramic windows provide a grand view of Mount San Jacinto's dramatic cliffs.