Arizona by Rail on the Verde Canyon Railroad

Written by on April 9, 2017 in AZ Attractions - Comments Off on Arizona by Rail on the Verde Canyon Railroad

What better way to see Arizona than by rail aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad. Built in 1882, the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad supported Arizona’s richest copper mine, located in Jerome, Arizona. The Atlantic & Pacific was built in a single year, 1911 to 1912 and took 250 men using 200 mules, picks, shovels, and lots of explosives.
The Verde Canyon Railroad is best known for its towering red rock pinnacles and the clean green waters of the Verde River. You can enjoy the view of this canyon from inside the comfortable, reconditioned and air-conditioned Pullman and Budd cars. However, for a real treat, the open-air viewing cars are the best way to get the full impact of the canyon.

As the Verde Canyon Railroad travels into the canyon, headed by an SP7 GM Diesel built in the 1950s, you will marvel at the vivid green growth along the banks of the Verde River. Watch closely and you might spot some very large fish. As the train continues deeper into the canyon, the distant hills of the Mogollon Rim begin to close in. Chugging through the Upper Verde and Sycamore Canyons, eventually the walls narrow down to sheer cliffs of towering red rocks. Along the way, you will see ancient Sinagua Indian ruins and scream and holler through the total darkness of a 680-foot tunnel.

The tunnel is an amazing feat of engineering. A small corps of Swedish engineers built the tunnel using nothing but picks, shovels and blasting powder. According to Lisa O’Neil, of the Verde Canyon Railroad, because the train travels through the tunnel in complete darkness, people see all kinds of things — phantoms, ghosts, animals and so on. “We once had a couple who had been trying to get pregnant for a long time. The husband took a photo of his wife while they were in the tunnel and he claims to have seen an image of Kokopelli. Kokopelli is a fertility deity, usually depicted as a humpbacked flute player, venerated by many Native American cultures in the Southwestern United States. Kokopelli presides over both childbirth and agriculture and is also known as a trickster god. Shortly thereafter, the couple became pregnant.”

The Verde Canyon Railroad staff provide an in-depth explanation of the history of each site along the rail, as well as share the gritty true stories of the building of the railroad. Best of all the train will slow or even stop from time to time to allow you to view the beauty of the scenery, animals and plants. With a little luck, you might even catch a glimpse of one of the 30 bald and golden eagles that winter in this riparian environment.

Grape Train Escape
During the summer and early fall, the Verde Canyon Railroad enhances this already amazing experience with its Grape Train Escapes. The train pairs gourmet cuisine with exquisitely chosen wine for a full-flavored experience. For example, if you sign up for the September Grape Train Escape you can savor the following menu.

Pears in Port Wine with Stagecoach Vineyard Syrah Rose
Venison and Chestnut Compote with Chasseur Pinot Noir (’04)
Drunken Wild Boar with Folie a Deer Zinfandel (’03)
Pheasant Sausa with Page Springs Vino de Famillia
Petite Fours & Chocolate Berries with Monchhof Wurzgarten Spatlese (’03)

“We rely on local Arizona wineries to provide both their products and their knowledge of wines on these trips,” says O’Neil. “Local vendors provide the different foods for each trip. One of our most popular wine trains is the Tour of Italy. There’s just something about Italian food and wine that is so romantic.”

Ales on Rails
Every weekend in October, you can enjoy beers, brats and other Oktoberfest-style foods aboard the Verde Canyon Line. Oom-pa-pa music is provided by the Geritol Hipsters of Prescott, Arizona, plus you’ll love sampling the marvelous food and beer. The party actually starts at the depot in Clarksville, where guests can taste 20 different styles of beer – 5 authentic German beers and 15 beers from local Arizona microbreweries.

Of local brewers, O’Neil says. “They are thrilled to share brewing history, tips and information with our passengers and we are delighted to have them.”

The fun continues on the train when the beer and guests are loaded aboard for the trip into the canyon.

Other Special Trains on the Verde Canyon Railroad

  • Fall Colors Tour
  • Santa Claus Express
  • Chocolate Lover’s Train
  • Spring Bloom

And many, many more!

There are many options for lodging and hotels in the Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Sedona.icon

For more information on any of the special events or regular trains, call 1-800-320-0718 or visit Verde Canyon Railroad online.

Other attractions in the area include:
Pueblo Indian Ruins

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