The Verde Canyon Railroad has been acclaimed as Arizona's longest-running nature show. The depot is located just 25 miles southwest of Sedona and is an easy 2 hour drive north of Phoenix and west of I-17. The railroad has put together several exciting rail experiences this summer. Here are AAA Travel’s picks on four rides not to be missed:
Grape Train Escapes
Each escape focuses on a select wine-producing region, and each vintage is paired with appetizers that complement the wine. The cool high desert twilight air caresses wine tasters and stargazers as the moon illuminates the wilderness, offering a rare vista from the outdoor viewing cars. This summer, tango with South American wines in June, experience wonders from down under with Australia and New Zealand wine in July, enjoy the whimsical wines of Washington State in August and take a tour of Italian wines in September. Tickets for Great Train Escapes are $119 per person. Guests must be 21 or older.
Tequila Sunset Limited
The Tequila Sunset Limited is a spirited adventure which celebrates the heart of the agave plant. Offered on select Saturdays June through September, premium tequila tastings are featured along with a festive south-of-the-border buffet, Mexican coffees and specialty tequila drinks. Passengers are drawn from the train’s panoramic windows to the adjoining open-air cars to enjoy the refreshing breeze and the spectacle of a million stars flickering in the velvet sky. Tickets for Tequila Sunset Limited are $119 per person. Guests must be 21 or older.
Saturday Starlight Tours
On summer evenings, it’s not just the stars that come out to play in Verde Canyon. On select Saturday evenings, the Verde Canyon Railroad offers Starlight Tours. As the train rumbles through the Canyon, the low slant of sun bathes the high cliffs in soft golden hues. The train reaches the turn-around point of Perkinsville amid a scandalous sunset. The return trip offers a serene glimpse into the nocturnal wildlife set against a dazzling canvas of celestial bodies. As the sun slips behind distant mountains, cool air sweeps through the Canyon signaling the resident wildlife to begin their nightly rounds. The Canyon comes alive with the luminous glow of moon-kissed skies. Coach class is available for adults at $54.95 per person and $34.95 for children 12 and under. First-class seating is available for $79.95 per person.
On Friday, July 4, Verde Canyon Railroad will celebrate Independence Day with its annual Firecracker Express. The event begins with a traditional all-American barbecue and patriotic music in the depot’s shaded courtyard. At 1 p.m., guests will board the historic train pulled by vintage locomotives adorned with American bald eagles that pull coaches along century-old ribbons of rail into the rich and unspoiled landscape of the Verde Canyon. Guests will return in time for Cottonwood’s dazzling fireworks. Coach class is available for adults at $54.95 per person and $34.95 for children 12 and under. First-class seating is available for $79.95 per person.
AAA members save 10% on all Verde Canyon Railroad tickets. To book your summer rail adventure, visit the full-service travel agency at https://www.az.aaa.com/discounts/travel/verde-canyon-railroad .