BY LYNNE TUCKER
Hailed as one of North America’s most scenic and breathtaking rail journeys, the Verde Canyon Railroad is a four-hour rail excursion through the scenic Verde Canyon near Sedona. Pulled by vintage locomotives, sightseers will marvel at the stunning canyon walls, the Indian ruins, the Verde River and the majestic wildlife all seen through the slow-moving train that offers view after view of spectacular scenery right in the heart of the state.
Travelers may well marvel at the spectacular sweeping canyon views and the rugged faces of the red rocks. Photographers are also always eager to catch shots of the resident bald eagles that make their home in the area. But the riparian habitat is also home to blue herons, hawks, and elk. Other memorable sites of the trip include a 680-foot man-made tunnel, old trestles, and historic mining encampments.
Offering a choice of first class or coach, the train itself is just about the only way to access the beauties of Verde Canyon. With its slow pace and comfortable accommodations, the railway is a superb way to see the sights. During the first half of the journey, the staff can be heard overhead describing the important sites and providing lots of information about the landscape. The entire trip lasts about four hours covering a span of about twenty miles. Both accommodation classes have access to observation cars which offer fine viewing and the opportunity to move around a bit. First class offers a hot and cold buffet as well as extra-comfortable seating. Bag lunches can also be purchased at the depot. Reservations are a must.
The railway first began making trips in 1912. It was built to support area mines like the copper mines of Jerome. The Sante Fe Railway operated the Verde Canyon line from 1912 to 1989. The line was purchased by the Durbano Family in 1989 who began to offer scenic excursions in 1990. Today, it has become an Arizona treasure that hosts as many as sixty thousand people annually.
For the directions and schedules of their departures visit www.verdecanyonrr.net