The remote wilderness of the Verde Canyon, located west of Sedona and below Jerome, is renowned for its towering red rock pinnacles and clean, green waters. The train rolls past Indian ruins, through a 680-foot man-made tunnel, over old-fashioned trestles and under clear azure skies. This picturesque setting is further enhanced by the variety of indigenous flora and fauna and the many migrating waterfowl. Over thirty bald and golden eagles winter in this riparian respite each year.
Passengers enjoy this four-hour scenic train ride in first-class style aboard renovated passenger coaches and open-air viewing cars pulled by vintage locomotives.
The Verde Canyon is often called 'Arizona’s other Grand Canyon' with spectacular canyon scenery, on a train tripthat offers visual feasts including seasonal spring flowers, fall foliage and hundreds of migratory birds, such as the majestic bald eagle.
The Verde Canyon Railroad is often referred to as the finest train ride in Arizona and acclaimed as Arizona’s longest-running nature show. The Verde Canyon Railroad is the #1 outdoor attraction for visitors coming to Sedona, Arizona and is an easy 25 mile drive southwest on scenic Highway 89A.
Verde Canyon Railroad Event Descriptions 2014
Chocolate Lovers’ Festival- February 14, 15, 16 The romance of the rails will captivate your senses during Verde Canyon Railroad’s Chocolate Lovers’ Festival celebrated over Valentine’s Day Weekend. On February 14, 15 and 16, 2014, rich chocolate blends with the Verde Canyon’s majestic wilderness. The confectionary celebration will fill your first-class car with the intoxicating scents and flavors of chocolate via tasty pastries, cakes and luscious hand-dipped delicacies. Many ingredients partner well with chocolate but the best embellishment is the clickety-clack of railroad wheels on the track. In addition to the Chocolate Lovers’ Festival there is available seating in first-class and standard coach.
Rhythm on the Rails- March 8 On Saturday, March 8, Verde Canyon Railroad’s serves passengers a special blend of trains and tunes with this onboard concert in the Canyon. As the train covers a wide range of scenic highlights, distinctive musical acts cover a wide range of genres from jazz to blues, rock to country, spoken word to instrumental. The passenger cars each provide an intimate concert venue as the acts travels the length of the train, performing mini sets of songs in each coach. The musical line-up will equal the thrills of the Canyon’s rare riparian wilderness for an audio-visual sensation hard to find elsewhere.
Lucky Leprechaun Express- March 17 Celebrate the Verde Canyon’s “wearing o’ the green” on March 17, as the fresh buds of Springtime festoon the canyon with new growth. A party on the patio prior to departure features Irish favorites like corned beef and cabbage, classic Celtic ales and tunes to set your toes tapping.
Easter Bunny Express- April 20 A favorite symbol of springtime, the friendly Easter Bunny hops, skips and jumps along the blooming roses at the Verde Canyon Railroad depot on Easter Sunday, April 20th, sharing pastel-colored candies and photo ops with all guests. The famous “jelly bean counting contest” prior to departure will award one calculating child an entire jar of Easter treats for the train ride.
Cinco de Mayo- May 5 On Monday, May 5, Verde Canyon Railroad celebrates the Southwest’s rich history of Mexican culture with a fiesta on the patio prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m. departure. A festive luncheon at the depot features a great selection of south-of-the-border favorites including tacos, burritos, chips, salsa, guacamole, margaritas and Mexican Cervezas all served to the spicy sounds of traditional Hispanic music.
National Train Day-May 10 On Saturday, May 10, Verde Canyon Railroad celebrates the important history of American railroads with an entertaining and educational celebration at their Clarkdale depot. This free event, taking place from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m., is open to all and will include exhibits and activities from local attractions and organizations as well as guided tours of our historic train and John Bell Museum. A delicious BBQ ribs and chicken luncheon will be available for purchase.
Throw Momma on the Train-May 11 Throw Momma on the Train this Mother’s Day, Sunday May 11. Celebrate your devoted mother with first class service and a rare riparian wilderness aboard Verde Canyon Railroad. The delightful spring time season’s highlights include abundant wildflowers, perfect temperatures and young eaglets learning to fly.
Summer Starlight- May 17, June 14, July 12, August 9, Sept.6 Departing during the cooler temperatures of late afternoon and traveling through sunset, twilight and starlight, the Verde Canyon Railroad’s popular Summer Starlight ride operates on select Saturday evenings May through September. Departing at 5:30 p.m. and returning at 9:30 p.m., the Starlight Ride serves up a wide ranging mix of light, color and shadow as the Canyon transforms into a moonlit 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.
Grape Train Escape- May 17, June 14, July 12, August 9, and Sept. 6 A scenic sunset journey, perfect for the leisurely sipping a variety of specially-chosen vintages, awaits you aboard the Grape Train Escape. Once a month on select summer Saturday evenings May through September, Verde Canyon Railroad highlights a different wine-growing region from across the globe, including Italy, Australia and New Zealand, South America, Washington State and California featuring our very own private label varietals. A tasting flight of five wines includes special accompanying hors d’oeuvres to complement each selection.
Tequila Sunset Limited- May 17, June 14, July 12, August 9, Sept.6 The Tequila Sunset Limited celebrates the wide-ranging popularity of this beloved Mexican spirit. A selection of three premium tequilas will prove that the agave-distilled liquor can boast a complex sipping flavor suited to any snifter. This tequila tasting event, paired with Mexican appetizers, makes an excellent accompaniment to the fantastic summer sunset scenery.
Throw Poppa on the Train- June 15 A ride aboard Verde Canyon Railroad is the perfect way to show dad your appreciation on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 15. Throw Poppa on the Train for a memorable adventure aboard a historic rail line through a wild and scenic river canyon. With traditional passenger cars powered by vintage locomotives, Verde Canyon Railroad is a true classic… just like your Dad.
Firecracker Express- July 4 Make a day of it and celebrate the Fourth of July small-town Arizona style. Enjoy the town’s famous holiday parade down Main Street in the morning before heading over to the red, white and blue festooned Verde Canyon Railroad depot for an All-American barbecue luncheon on the shaded patio prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m. departure. Grilled burgers and hot dogs, baked beans, special recipe potato salad, cupcakes and ice-cold lemonade are served to the tune of rousing patriotic anthems.
Grandparent’s Day- September 7 Grandparents are an important resource in the lives of their grandchildren as a touchstone to the past and a gentle guide to the future. Grandparent’s Day, Sunday, September 7, is a perfect time to celebrate the special elders in your life with a classic train ride through an unspoiled natural wilderness. Winners of the Verde Canyon Railroad’s annual Grandparent’s Day Essay and Drawing Contest, chosen from elementary schools throughout Arizona, will be enjoying their prize, a first-class train ride with their “Nonny” and “Pop Pop” on Grandparent’s Day, Sunday, September 7th.
Rhythm on the Rails- September 20 On Saturday, September 20, Verde Canyon Railroad serves passengers a special blend of trains and tunes with this onboard concert in the Canyon. As the train covers a wide range of scenic highlights, distinctive musical acts cover a wide range of genres from jazz to blues, rock to country, spoken word to instrumental. The passenger cars each provide an intimate concert venue as the acts travels the length of the train, performing mini sets of songs in each coach. The musical line-up will equal the thrills of the Canyon’s rare riparian wilderness for an audio-visual sensation hard to find elsewhere.
Ales on Rails- Every Thursdays through Sunday in October Ales on Rails kick starts the hearty harvest season with the robust colors and flavors of autumn. The celebration begins at 11:00 a.m. on the depot patio every Thursday through Sunday in October. A beer garden serves a variety of regional craft beers as well as traditional European ales, by the taste or by the glass, and a mouthwatering luncheon of German sausages, sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels and strudel, all served to the rhythmic tunes of a polka serenade. The 1:00 p.m. train whistle signals the continuation of the party as it moves onto the rails with specialty beers available onboard, including Verde Canyon Railroad’s own private-labeled brews, crafted in Sedona by the renowned Oak Creek Brewery.
Haunted Halloween Express- October 31 On Friday, October 31, the “Haunted Halloween Express” showcases the amusing, creative and startling all rolled into one. The railroad crew let their alter-egos out to play for a day, decked in costume at the depot and aboard the train. Halloween treats are shared with all guests and passengers in costume are awarded prizes for their participation.
Fall Color Tours- October and November Verde Canyon Railroad’s rare river landscape makes up just two percent of the state’s geography. For this reason, very few locations in Arizona offer such a bounty of fall color. The vivid foliage combined with the vibrant geology delights train passengers with the saturated hues of autumn. From the middle of October through the end of November, canopies of butter-colored cottonwoods and willows, bronze sycamores, coppery oaks and scarlet ivies festoon the Verde River with a bright autumn burnish.
Santa Claus Express- Every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday prior to Christmas Expect a visit from the Jolly One himself during the Santa Claus Express Santa and the Missus ride along with us, sharing holiday goodies and rousing carols with our passengers. Winter months are ideal for viewing raptors from inside a climate-controlled passenger coach or outside on a refreshing open-air viewing car.
Eagle Watch- December thru-March Soaring over their winter habitat along Arizona’s perennial streams and rivers, Bald Eagles inspire all with their majestic appearance and graceful acrobatics. During Eagle Watch season December through March, an abundance of high-flying activity may be seen from Verde Canyon Railroad as the raptors jockey for position, mates and nesting locations. Catch a glimpse of our national symbol in its natural environment.
Liberty Wildlife Educational Opportunities By partnering with Liberty Wildlife, Verde Canyon Railroad provides visitors the opportunity to see wild raptors at the depot and onboard the train.
Raptors at the Depot From 11:00 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. raptor handlers will answer questions and pose for photos with raptors during educational presentations on the patio. February 20 March 20 April 17 May 10 (National Train Day) September 18 October 16 November 20 December 17 Note: these presentations are subject to cancellation dependent on weather conditions
Raptors on the Train See a majestic bald eagle spread her wings onboard this wilderness train ride. January 4 February 1 March 1 April 5 May 10 (National Train Day) June 7 July 5 August 2 September 13 October 4 November 1 December 6