Verde Canyon Railroad Basics:
The Verde Canyon Railroad is located in Clarkdale, Arizona, approximately two hours north of Phoenix. Map
Address: 300 North Broadway, Clarkdale, Arizona 86324
Riding the Rails with the Verde Canyon Railroad:
Take a train trip through a beautiful canyon in central Arizona. The Verde Canyon Railroad (formerly the Verde Valley Railroad) of Arizona was originally built to support Arizona's richest copper mine, located in Jerome. Now visitors enjoy the Verde Canyon Railway excursions to enjoy a leisurely trip, view the natural surroundings and participate in special events.
Train Trip Options:
The Verde Canyon Railroad offers a 4 hour, out and back, train excursion along the beautiful Verde River. They also offer numerous special events including Easter Bunny and Christmas trips, Mystery Trips, Wine Tasting (Grape Escape) trips and, for you chocoholics, the Chocolate Lover's Festival in February. In the summer, look for moonlight trips where you travel out during the sunset and back under starry skies.
The Cars - First Class or Coach?:
The Verde Canyon Railroad offers first class cars with couch seating, tables, personal service from an extensive bar and a snack buffet. The coach class cars are typical of railroad travel from the '30's and '40's with row seating and no tables. Both classes of travel can access the open air observation cars.
2008 pricing for the standard 4 hour trip:
Adult Coach - $54.95
Child Coach - $34.95
Senior Coach - $49.95
First Class - $79.95
Caboose Charter for a party of 6 - $600.
Ask about discounts for AAA, etc.
What You Will See:
You'll enjoy a narrated trip pointing out historic sights including Sinagua Indian cliff dwellings, remnants of Arizona's mining days, wildlife including eagles, javelina and deer, beautiful canyons with sheer cliffs, and the ever-present lush Verde River. Thrills included watching the train go over a trestle, going through a tunnel and stopping to marvel at a deep river canyon.
Party or Relax, It's Your Choice:
We were in 1st Class and the party started with complimentary champagne and sparkling cider. There were plenty of snacks to keep us going and a full bar that served anything you would like including the Railway's signature margaritas. With couch seating and tables, it was like a rolling party. As the train made it's way slowly down the tracks, partiers and the more quiet guests alike were lulled into a relaxed state as the landcape passed before us. It was a hot day and on the way back, Railway staff passed through the cars offering ice cream sandwiches for $1.00 each. What a treat!
Inquire about "Room, Ride & Meal" packages which include a stay in local motels and inns.
At the Depot:
As you wait at the Depot for your train trip, you can peruse the gift shop, have a meal at the little cafe (plenty of picnic seating outside), enjoy the stationary "Museum Car," and walk up and down the tracks taking pictures of the engines and cars. For your comfort, there are plenty of restrooms and ample shade for those hot sunny days.
Verde Canyon Railway - Review and Recommendations:
I've loved train travel ever since I rode the rails from Oakland, California to Spokane, Washington twice a year to visit my Grandparents. The Verde Canyon Railway locomotives were from that era, having been built in 1953. What's new is the paint job representing bald eagles painted over my favorite southwest color... turquoise!
The cars are all vintage railway cars but have been refurbished for the railway's use. The cars are cooled but keep in mind the the coach class cars hold quite a few people so may feel warmer than the first class cars. Be sure and enjoy the shade covered outdoor observation cars for the absolute best view, though. The railway has staffmembers available on the outdoor cars to help you find those soaring eagles, hidden caves, and rock formations
I found the 4 hour trip through the Verde Valley and rocky canyons to be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. There is plenty of natural beauty to see and it's great fun to watch the train go around a bend so you can photograph the engine or caboose.
I found the staff knowledgeable and very service oriented. We were in first class and had a lovely young woman, a local, tell us not only about the area's history but of the people who lived at each farm along the way. This personal touch made our trip through the Verde Valley even more enjoyable.
My favorite part of the trip, something I didn't predict, was that I fell in love with the Verde River. The river ran along sandy and rocky banks and had carved deep chasms into the earth. The vegitation was green (even in the Arizona summer) and ancient cottonwoods dotted the banks. Every once in awhile we would peer down and see someone fishing or a dog leaping into the water to fetch a stick. It made me want to plan a little hike along the river stopping for a picnic and a cool dip.
A ride on the Verde Canyon Railway, is a fantastic way to learn more about Arizona, to appreciate the vastness of the landscape and to take time to reconnect with family and friends as you experience this beautiful relaxing trip.
I would recommend spending a bit extra to go first class. Why not have the best experience possible for those special 4 hours in the Arizona back-country!