My Hometown · Travels

Verde Valley Train Trip Through the Southwest High Desert

If you are ever in Clarkdale, Arizona, take a ride on the Verde Valley Train. You should book in advance as the cars are often filled to capacity. This train trip is a little pricey, but worth a take. I mean, you will spend twice as much as  if you go to a movie and buy refreshments in the theater snack bar, but you will have a better outing, so do it.  OK, maybe three times as much, but it’s not something that you do every day.

train tunnel
Train tunnel ahead
Verde Valley train

If you are the type that complains that the appetizers are cheap, then don’t do it. In my view you are not going for the appetizers anyway, you are going for the ride and the gorgeous views of the Desert Southwest. Views that you are not apt to experience if you stay in your car with your only destination being good appetizers. There are a variety of excursions and packages to choose from. We bought the day trip. It is a four hour ride through the river and mountains to the ghost town of Perkinsville and back. Each car hosts informative guides to entertain you as well as to answer any questions that you may have. There is also a brunch and complimentary mimosas or water included. If you need to buy drinks, there is a fully stocked bar with attendants in each car. There are also covered observation decks where we spent most of our time.

train tunnel
Train tunnel ahead

If you are interested in gift shops, there is a huge, fully stocked one at the train depot. Plus, there are restaurants and ramadas where you can eat your snacks outdoors and in the shade while you wait for the train to load. It’s free to that section and is actually a pleasant picnic area where you can people- watch, take photos of the trains and eat your lunch. If you are looking for an afternoon of free fun, say you have kids in tow and want to show them the trains, this is a cool spot for just that. If you have no money, bring a brown bag lunch. This is not a “big city-glossy” trip in that it becomes a little hokey at times. The guides do their best at keeping you entertained with their commentary and jokes, but I basically tune them out. The beauty of the high desert is enough entertainment for me.When I had questions though, they answered them with quite a bit of knowledge about the area.

cliff dwellings
cliff dwellings
rusted retaining wall

You will go over the Verde River and cross gorges on trestles as well as pass through tunnels and travel past ancient cliff dwellings. There are so many caves that I would love to explore. It really sets off my imagination wondering what or who has and what currently occupies them.  If you are lucky, you will see the resident eagles hunting small prey. We were lucky at seeing them, but I was not to lucky at getting my camera ready in time. grrrr….The days was rife with beautiful red rocks and gorgeous, sunny blue skies. Perkinsville is now just a ghost town with very little remaining. I don’t know what this pile of rusted train stuff is, but I like the texture.Speaking of texture, I LOVE this old, rusted retaining wall that is crumbling apart. Notice how the corrugated steel has left an imprint in the rock face.

When you get back to the depot, Jerome is just a quick run up the mountain. We had a fabulous dinner in one of the little restaurants there. All in all, it was a great day with great company and packed with cool memories.