Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ridin’ the Rails in Arizona’s Verde Canyon

“It’s not the Destination, it’s the Journey”  they told us as we began our afternoon aboard Arizona’s Verde Canyon Railroad

They were right.

The vast open spaces that gave way to sheer canyon walls towering above us, the winding river. . . well, what we had feared might be a touristy outing turned out to be one of the best travel excursions we’ve ever taken in our three decades of travel. 

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Two FP7 locomotives – and two of only 10 remaining in North America -- are the horse power for the renovated vintage passenger cars. We chose coach class (and saved more buying at the AAA discount price) although we could have opted for First Class with a glass of champagne or hired the caboose all for ourselves. (All were air-conditioned.)

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We’d planned to spend just a portion of the trip in the open-air viewing car but within minutes of pulling out of the station we knew we weren’t going inside . . .the views were so breath-taking we couldn’t tear ourselves away from that railing  – we stood the entire way, moving from side to side trying to see it all. (Yes, it was in the 90’s that day but the viewing cars had canvas covers.)

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We traveled along the winding Verde River (verde; ‘green’ in Spanish) from Clarksdale, a one-time mining town, to what was once a train stop – Perkinsville - on the line that served this mining area in north-central Arizona. We passed mountains of slag, the remnants of those bygone mining days as well as cliff dwellings of the Sinagua Indians believed to date back to 600 B.C.

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We passed through a 680-foot manmade tunnel and didn’t realize until we came out the other side, just how small that opening was: this is the car behind us as it emerged from the tunnel.

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Cliffs towered above us and beside us, sometimes so close we could have touched them as we passed.

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The Verde River Canyon was such an enchanting place that we want to do this trip again – and highly recommend it to those who find themselves in the area. (Clarksdale is between Sedona and Prescott). In addition to the daily afternoon trips, they have special holiday excursions and in the summer when the moon is full, or when it's not - under starry skies -- night-time wine tasting trips.  I can’t imagine anything more magical sounding than that. Can you?

I took dozens of photos but will stop here and encourage you to visit other destinations featured this week on Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Budget Travelers Sandbox.  For those wanting more information on Verde Canyon Railroad, schedule and prices, click the link in the opening paragraph to access their website.

14 comments:

  1. So beautiful and I can only imagine how magical it would be at night under the moon.

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  2. I actually thought of you when I wrote this post and envisioned how you might describe the experience especially after reading your Stone's Story post. They say it's a 20-mile, 100-year trip you take and they couldn't have been more accurate. Our imaginations raced as we conjured up life as it must have been for the cliff-dwelling Indians so long ago. Indians by the way called Sinagua, in Spanish that means, 'without water'.

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  3. This looks awesome! 30 years ago (yes thirty!) I traveled from Alberta to Halifax by train, and I never left the observation car!

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  4. It was absolutely THE best. Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancie. I really do think that all train cars should be observation decks, well, maybe a few for those who prefer to sleep their way through stunning scenery (and we had a few of them on this train - much to my amazement).

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  5. I love train trips. I took an old steam train trip in the mountains in Germany.

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    1. That would be an incredible trip in Germany. We'd love to do that some day. There is just something about trains that draws us to them.

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  6. That looks like a great travel excursion to me. Interesting that the locomotives are two of only 10 left. Hope they keep them going for a long time! Champagne in First Class would have been nice, but a trip like this is wonderful in any class service, I think.

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    1. It really was a great train trip -- they sold ice cold beverage on board (beer, water and soft drinks) and then while they moved the train engines for the return trip they sold old-fashioned ice cream sandwiches. We hadn't eaten those in years, but somehow it was the perfect treat.

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  7. "One of the best travel excursions we’ve ever taken in our three decades of travel." That is high praise, coming from you! I must put this on my list.

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    1. It really was one of the best - the scenery was absolutely spectacular.

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  8. That looks AWESOME!! My family would love this!

    Thank you for linking it up this week.

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    1. Yes, they would, without a doubt. Thanks for letting me be a part of your Friday.

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  9. This looks like a great train ride, Jackie and Joel!

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    1. I thought of your great train photos when I was taking photos on this trip and kept thinking how superb yours would be. You definitely need to do this if you find yourself in Arizona.

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