Without a doubt, the expansion of the western states would have slowed to a crawl without the assistance of the railway system plowing its way through the plains. Today, most of those trails are fleeting memories, but some still live on in the form of the Verde Canyon Railroad.
There have only been a few times in my life that I’ve ridden a train, actually, I can count that number using one hand and still have a few digits left over. I guess I’ve always just wanted to get to my destination faster than what the rails could take me. When I got the chance to check out the Verde Canyon railroad as their guest during my trip in Sedona, Arizona this past June, I was ready to pull the train whistle myself and shout, “All Aboard!”.
Verde Canyon is located 20 miles south of Sedona in somewhat rural, Clarkdale, AZ, an old mining town. The railroad, which celebrates its centennial this year, began as a transport system for the mining industry.
Upon arrival, you will have the opportunity to soothe your hunger pangs at the Copper Spike Cafe. I decided to order a sandwich, fries and water since I had a light breakfast that morning. At the time, I wasn’t aware that a buffet meal would be served on board (it was included in the first class ticket price) and had I known, I would have waited. Nevertheless, the cafe is located outside the Welcome Center/Boxcar Gift store where you can find assorted train memorabilia that will make lovely souvenirs to take back home.
It was soon evident why this ride was unlike no other. The pristine quality of the landscape was a sight to behold. It seemed untouched by human hands even though it was inhabited by natives long ago, it was now a living monument to those days when the Sinagua Indians and early settlers blazed a path along its route. The ride was quite tranquil despite the fact that there was a large number of passengers aboard. As I studied my surroundings, it was easy to get lost in the magnificence of it all. It was easy to forget that there were others along on my voyage.
Two hours later we’d reached the midpoint of our journey at a stop in Perkinsville, AZ. It was easy to see the depot station was standing on its last leg and had undoubtedly seen its share of gawking tourists over the years admiring its petite frame holding steadfast to its chipping paint. I learned that the depot was featured in the 1962 film, “How the West was Won”. Small, weather-beaten and a movie star to boot. I was impressed.
If you ever lucky enough to find yourself in the city of Sedona, please set aside a half day to take advantage of this scenic tour. You will get to see areas that the city’s residents rarely see not to mention numerous photo ops. It will be money well spent and most certainly not your everyday run of the mill tour. What unusual tours have you had the privilege to take part in?
All First-Class – $79.95
Adult Coach – $54.95
Senior Coach (65+) – $49.95
Child Coach (2-12) – $34.95
All train trips are four hours long.
(Must be at least 21 yrs old for
(Tequila or Wine-tasting trains)
Reservations and General Information
Verde Canyon Railroad
300 North Broadway
Clarkdale, Arizona 86324
Verde Canyon Railroad