Journey through history
Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad
When you think of the West, what comes to mind? Perhaps it’s the sweeping, rocky mountains. Some think of fields of cacti nestled into dusty valleys. For many, they probably see a railroad slicing through the landscape. For a taste of the Old West, hop aboard the shining tracks of the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Cozy up with your partner or fellow outdoor enthusiast for one of the best Arizona railroad trips around. With these tips from our local expert concierge team, you’ll be ready to head out on the rails.
All images courtesy of Verde Canyon Railroad.
Vintage Verde Valley
Sedona's Glory Days
In the popular days of railroads, FP7 locomotives traversed states delivering goods and people across miles of desert. Today, only 10 cars of this model are still in action in North America, and two of them run the Verde Canyon Railroad.
This historic landmark preserves the memory of a time when the railroad was a central fixture of every town. The John Bell Museum, housed inside a renovated boxcar, offers fun facts and antiques from the days of the mainstream railroad. Outside, storyboards trace the history of the Verde Canyon Railroad line, and a memorabilia shop carries local art and books.
No matter your age or interests, the railroad offers a great chance to see stunning views and make memories!
Direct to the depot
How to Start Your Arizona Railroad Trip
In less than half an hour by car, you can be transported from the nestled red rocks of Sedona to the Verde Canyon Railroad train station.
From Sedona Real, drive south on 89A, and take a right onto Mingus Ave. Drive past the Verde River, turn right on Main St, and follow it through a scenic state park to get to Clarkdale, the home of the Verde Canyon Railroad train depot.
Trains leave at 1 p.m. most days, so head out early to enjoy lunch in Cottonwood and explore the historic mecca before boarding the train.
Roll on Through
Experiencing the Scenic Southwest
The Verde Canyon Railroad lets you travel cooly in renovated cabins or feel the breeze in your hair while riding in an open-air viewing car with shaded canopies.
Once you’re on the train, you can watch through the window as the spectacular sites of the Verde Canyon roll by. The train runs from Clarkdale to Perkinsville, following the daylight as it shifts and shimmers through the brightly colored desert landscape.
On your Arizona railroad trip, you’ll pass through two national forests (Coconino and Prescott), scale the famous Red Rock Canyons of Sedona, and catch a glimpse of the wildlife passing through the open desert. If you’re lucky, you might even see bald eagles soaring overhead during Eagle Watch season!
Northern Arizona Beauty
Fun for the Whole Family
The journey begins at the train depot, where you’ll find a gift shop, cafe, and museum showcase with over 100 years of memorabilia located in a real boxcar! Once onboard, kids of all ages love looking out the windows with their binoculars at the animals and nature whizzing by. Tour guides also serve as helpful narrators who point out rock formations, previously inhabited caves, and the history of the railroad.
The train also comes equipped with comfy couches and seats, nice bathrooms, plus a bar with kid-friendly snacks and adult beverages for mom and dad — all must-have amenities for a fun family adventure!
Special Rides and ExcursionsIf you prefer to pave your own path, grab a map from our lobby and hit some of our local favorites:
Interested in adding a special element to your Wild West outing? The Verde Canyon Railroad offers many opportunities to vamp up your trip.
For the train devotee, get the best seat in the house: right between the engineer and the conductor! On this Arizona railroad trip of a lifetime, you’ll learn about the mechanics of the train right from the cab, receive complimentary Verde Canyon Railroad safety gear, and get a picture with the crew.
Couples can spend a night to remember traveling side-by-side, watching as the sun sets low in the valley and the stars emerge with a Saturday Night Starlight journey.
If you’re interested in planning a seasonal trip, Verde Canyon Railroad offers select excursions throughout the year:
February – Join your love on a Chocolate Lovers’ Train Ride with wine and bald eagles soaring overhead
Fall – Watch the changing leaves while enjoying a beer during Ales on Rails
Winter – Bring the whole family for a Family New Year’s Eve Train ride
Spring – Catch the Easter Bunny Express
Taste the Wild West
Recommended Local Restaurants
After your Arizona railroad trip, hop back on the road and hang a left on 10th Street to get to Blazin’ M Ranch. This ideal dinner spot for families offers a Chuckwagon supper featuring prickly pear coleslaw and cowboy beans, plus a Wild West show by the Blazin’ M Cowboys.
If you’re extending your day trip and looking for a more gourmet dinner, head back to Cottonwood for a delicious bite. You can go local with southwestern flavor at Concho’s Mexican Restaurant, Adriana’s Mexican Restaurant, or Pepe’s Cafe. Or, dig into home-cooked BBQ at Hog Wild BBQ or COLT 804 Grill. If you’re craving a slice, head to Pizzeria Bocce, or extend your evening with a wine tasting before picking up dessert at Paradise Point Cafe.
Extend your Day the Sedona Way
Before and after your Verde Canyon Railroad trip, make the most of your Sedona vacation with another excursion. Some of our favorite shorter activities can fit into any time of day, such as:
- Taking a morning hike to a Sedona spiritual vortex
- Exploring the ruins at Montezuma Castle
- Scheduling an evening massage or spa treatment
- Visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross (especially beautiful at sunset)
Do's and Don'ts
Making the Best of Your Railroad ExperienceThe Verde Canyon Railroad is an exciting, one-of-a-kind trip for individuals and families. Our concierge team has a few tips to make your day safe and fun.
- Bring your camera and binoculars.
- Wear comfortable clothes and shoes so that you can move between the inside cabin and the open-air cars.
- Make a day of it! Most trains leave at 1 pm, so plan a morning hike and an evening meal to round out your Arizona railroad trip.
- Forget to buy tickets. Most trains sell out in advance. Our concierge team can take care of these details for you!
- Show up late. Trains leave right on time to make their full trip and keep the day moving.
- Bring your own food and beverages. No outside food or drinks are allowed on board.