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Lake Cowichan view from our dock.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Verde Canyon Railway

Today, Sunday, for Ray's Birthday, (he turns the big "6 0" on Tuesday) we took the Verde Canyon Rail Tour from the little town of Clarkdale a short distance from our campsite. The people in the new campsite we were to move into fortunately left early.  We were able to move in and setup by 11 a.m. with an hour and a half to spare before we had to leave for the train. Another gorgeous and warm day in Arizona.

At the train station after picking our tickets up, we strolled around the gift shop, patio areas and museum while waiting to board. You can buy your lunch from the station and either eat it in their patio or save it for the train. We chose to splurge on first class as the seats were better for Ray's back. There were only 20 people in our car called the "Cottonwood". There were about 6 empty seats so Ray and I were able to sit on either side depending where the view was. You have a hostess, get a glass of champagne for a toast to the journey, light snacks including chicken wings and sandwiches etc and a bar to buy local wine, beer and other spirits. Attached to this car is your own private open air viewing car. Quite a deal for only $15/person more compared to coach. The coach class has about 40 people per car, so a lot more crowded. The train trip is 20 miles up the Verde Canyon and then they unhook the engines and they move from the front of the train to the back of the train by use of a siding. The caboose becomes the third car! The train goes pretty slow ... top speed 15 mph so the trip takes about 4 hours.

The outside patio area at the station.

One of the two FP7 diesel locomotives powering the train.  There are only ten of these in North America.

Our first-class car.
One of the viewing cars.
Vintage 1940's pullman car.
Suzanne, our hostess, made a mean prickly pear margarita.
After everyone boarded we left at 1 pm. What a beautiful ride.

The tracks on which the Verde Canyon Railroad runs were opened in 1912 as part of a north–south branch line linking a copper smelter at Clarkdale and the copper mines at Jerome to Santa Fe Railway tracks passing through Drake. The Santa Fe Railway owned and operated the 38-mile (61 km) branch line from 1912 to 1988.

David L. Durbano bought the branch line in 1988. Passenger service between Clarkdale at milepost 38 and Perkinsville at milepost 18, resumed in 1990 under the name Verde Canyon Railroad.Milepost 0 of the AZCR is at Drake, where the line meets the BNSF Railway system. The AZCR track to Drake is still used for hauling freight even though the excursion line stops at Perkinsville.

Excursions involve a 4-hour, 40-mile (64 km) round trip from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back. Scenes from How the West Was Won were filmed at Perkinsville in 1960s. The route follows the Verde River, crossing bridges and trestles, and passes through a 680-foot-long (210 m) curved tunnel. Between milepost 30 and Perkinsville, most of the land along the railroad right-of-way is in the Prescott National Forest or the Coconino National Forest (across the river).

Sampling the local beer ... I make a great camera assistant eh!

Yup there is the caboose. A private coach for up to 6 passengers for $700.

Over the tressel

Verde River

Above, here comes the tunnel.

Here we go into the 680 foot tunnel.

Sanaqua Dwelling
There were lots of rock formations on the way they told you of.  Some easy to see ... others more than my imagination!  Suzanne did suggest more prickly pear margaritas to help with the "formation recognition".

Butterfly Rock

Abe Lincoln Rock (more margaritas please)

Turtle Rock

Eagle Rock

Elephant Rock

Bathtub Rock (Ray says it looks more like Toilet Rock)

Rattlesnake Rock (just the head of)
After 2 hours we pulled into the abandoned train station of Perkinsville. The land around this is still a working ranch by the Perkins family.

Here is the engine going by us to hook up to the back of the train.

Yup the caboose is now the first car or third in.

The Verde River Canyon colours were beautiful. It was such a treat to actually see flowing water in an area that is so desolate.

It was a very long day for Ray and the last hour of the trip he was squirming with pain. Tomorrow he will be "couched" to recover as the next day is his 60th birthday,


  1. Happy Birthday Ray! Looked like a great day.

  2. Thanks for the tour. We want to do the train on our next visit.
    Safe travels!

  3. Wow. gorgeous trip, finally looked at your blog, wanted to see where you were..So far here winter has been good, first snow yesterday but the last two weeks we had a pineapple express hit BC so it has been quite warm. I'm sure we will get it soon..we took advantages of the warmth and did our Xmas lights..lol...well I will keep watching. Happy great birthday to Ray and a big hug too. Miss you guys. had a lot of fun with you this summer. Paul and Giselle

    1. Nice to hear from you guys ... and yes we had fun this summer. Hopefully we can catch up next summer again. Winter well.