Verde Canyon Railroad
Located in the red rock country near Sedona, Verde Canyon Railroad’s rare ribbon of rails runs through a dramatic high desert landscape adjacent to a precious riparian ecosystem. Since 1912 this heritage railroad, sandwiched between two protected national forests, has existed in harmony in the wilderness through which it passes and the canyon’s native inhabitants. The scenic excursion first launched in 1990, offering a glimpse of this treasured landscape to visitors while providing an unforgettable encounter that transcends generations.
This four-hour rail trip takes passengers on a 20-mile journey through exciting geology swathed in railroad history. The train’s handsome FP7 locomotives, built by General Motors Electromotive Division in 1953, are two of only 10 remaining in North America. These iron horses provide the muscle that powers the consist of restored vintage passenger cars through the picturesque Verde Canyon … only accessible by rail.
Passengers will enjoy the progress of daylight as it dances over the rippling green waters of the Verde River, across the canyon floor through canopies of foliage, and over the towering crimson cliffs under brilliant azure skies. History comes alive above, below and around every bend. Ancient Sinagua ruins cling to the canyon walls above the tracks. Sturdy trestles and sound bridges span deep gorges, a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of the men who built them over 100 years ago. A 680-foot manmade tunnel, blasted through solid rock, envelopes passengers in total darkness before delivering the train back into glorious Arizona sunshine. This bewitching scenery forms an unforgettable backdrop for the slow rolling journey of Verde Canyon Railroad.
Four types of accommodations make up the Verde Canyon Railroad – caboose, locomotive ride-along, first-class and coach-class. The exclusive caboose is designed for one party of six or fewer adults. Its luxurious appointments include oversized chairs, large picture windows, cupola seating for bird’s-eye views and private outdoor platforms. A personal valet pours complimentary Champagne upon boarding and serves sumptuous, freshly-prepared appetizers. A selection of premium alcoholic beverages is available for purchase.
Each day, one adventurous passenger can savor their train ride from inside the cab of a rare and powerful American-built locomotive. During the ride-along, you’ll be seated between the engineer and conductor inside the cab of the Railroad’s classic 1953 General Motors EMD FP7. First-class passage, boasting fewer passengers than coach, includes spacious living room-style seating near panoramic windows. Other amenities include a Champagne toast upon boarding and a buffet of appetizers. Full-service bars feature premium beverages for purchase and service at one’s seat.
Coach features traditional Pullman-style seating, the classic style that has characterized train travel from its inception. All seats are near wide windows with unobstructed views. Convenient snack bars offer an assortment of refreshments. Despite the chosen class of service, for the price of one ticket, every passenger has two seats to enjoy – one inside with easy access to another on an open-air viewing car. All attendants, well-versed in the canyon’s history, geology and wildlife, share highlights and answer questions. Indoor cars are climate-controlled and each has a restroom. The train meets ADA requirements.
One of the highlights of the Verde Canyon Railroad journey is seeing bald eagles. Through the years, eagles have nested in the canyon and cohabited with the daily passing of the train, much to the delight of passengers and crews. The population of eagles swells in the Verde Canyon during nesting season between December and March when resident birds are joined by migrating winter visitors. Many seasonal highlights and special events take place throughout the year.