It’s no secret that the Verde Valley is one of Arizona’s most incredible regions. With towns like Sedona, Clarkdale and Jerome all located in the area, the diverse and dramatic landscape of the Verde Valley is easily one of the state’s most scenic areas. Historically, the Verde Valley has been home to miners and other pioneers, who have made lives for themselves on the steep mountainsides and beautiful valley floors. At the turn of the twentieth century, thousands of residents poured into the area to take advantage of the wealth that the region held. It was this wealth that caused them to migrate into the Verde Valley, but it was the Verde Canyon Railroad that brought them there.
The Verde Canyon railroad celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2012. It began as the Verde Valley Railroad, a 38-mile line that linked the company town of Clarkdale to Drake that was designed to transport miners and their findings around the region. Even after the mines closed, the Verde Valley Railroad continued to be an invaluable workhorse for the region. In 1990, the Verde Valley Railroad was transformed by Dave Durban into the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Today, the Verde Canyon Railroad carries only passengers. It takes these passengers on a majestical ride through the Verde Valley’s dramatic and unspoiled wilderness, so that they can experience the beauty of the canyon themselves. Passengers catch glimpses of eagles nested among the cliffs and take in the mighty river that carved the river over centuries - and they do it all from the comfort of a luxurious, comfortable cabin inside of the train. Passengers can book individual coach tickets for reasonable prices, or upgrade to first class and enjoy an open air, panoramic view and southwest style appetizers. Groups can reserve the entire caboose to themselves, in order to get the most personal, private experience of the canyon available. You can read more about their pricing and book your trip here.
This season, the Verde Canyon Railroad will also be hosting a variety of events. On April 5th, the Easter Bunny Express will give guests the opportunity to take photos with a friendly Easter Bunny and take part in a variety of fun, springtime activities, such as Verde Canyon Railroad’s famous jelly-bean counting contest. They’ll follow this event on May 9th, which is National Train Day. This free event will take place from 10.00 AM until 1.00 PM, and will include exhibits and activities from local attractions and organizations, as well as guided tours of the historic train and John Bell Museum. Guests can also purchase a delicious barbecue lunch and keep the fun rolling through the afternoon.
Throughout the summer, the Verde Canyon Railroad also hosts Summer Starlight. They take advantage of the cooler temperatures and travel later in the day so that guests can witness sunset, twilight, and starlight from the canyon. This event takes place on select Saturdays, May through September (May 30, June 27, July 35, August 29, September 12). The train departs at 5.30 PM and returns at 9.30 PM. This gives guests the perfect opportunity to explore the canyon in a whole new light, as it is transformed into a moonlight dreamscape. In addition to first-class and standard coach seating, the Starlight schedule also features two special event options: the Grape Train Escape and the Tequila Sunset Limited. For more information, visit the Verde Canyon Railroad’s event page here.