Summer is Sensational in the Verde Canyon

Summer is Sensational in the Verde Canyon

Summer plans are taking shape and an escape from the ordinary is on the agenda. The Sedona area is surrounded by two rare riparian canyons that run through the red rock heart of a wildly scenic high desert wonderland: Oak Creek Canyon and Verde Canyon.

Both are jewels in Arizona’s crown. One, however, has no highway, no hotels and no parking. It’s accessible only via the historic rail route of Verde Canyon Railroad, which provides front row seats to a summer respite full of lush green shade, sweet seasonal scents, wild flora and fauna. Where the pavement ends the adventure begins.

There is something wonderful to see aboard the train year-round, and summer is the season of Verde Canyon Railroad’s special morning trains, evening excursions and the ever-popular Grape Train Escape wine-tasting trains. Summer morning rides depart at 9:30am on select Saturdays and travel the canyon during the day’s dewy early hours. Morning trips include breakfast-style appetizers and offer a chance to toast a mimosa or Bloody Mary while wild scenery streams past.  A counterpoint to morning trips are the Starlight and Moonlight runs that roll out of Clarkdale at 5:30pm and return by 9:30pm. These beloved summer evening excursions travel the Verde Canyon by daylight into the rich golden colors of sunset, returning through twilight under skies full of stars. Moonlight rides, scheduled closer to the full moon, take place on special Friday nights May through September. Starlight rides, scheduled on certain summer Saturday nights, run during nights when the moon is new and celestial constellations truly come alive. The always anticipated Grape Train Escape wine-tasting event on board is now in its 21st year. A seasonal optional upgrade on the Saturday Night Starlight schedule, each Grape Train highlights a different wine region, ranging from France to Italy, Chile to Argentina, as well as vintages from closer to home, Arizona. Four tastings are included, plus a champagne toast finale.

Arizona summers are a sleepy season, under swaying Cottonwood canopies of green and the sounds of birds and bees abuzz amongst the wildflowers and river breezes. The high desert surrounding Sedona and the Verde Valley runs cooler than metro-Phoenix, making for a perfect getaway from summer in the city. Verde Canyon Railroad offers something for everyone during this season, at once leisurely and adventurous, luxurious and wild, for both early birds and night owls alike. 

Since 1990 Verde Canyon Railroad has carried nearly 3 million passengers through a wild and scenic canyon, on its historic route completed in 1912, all while leaving no trace. Summer outside the city, with lush riparian views, towering yucca and ocotillo in bloom and a wide variety of colors painting the skies and the soaring cliffsides makes this Sedona area treasure an ideal escape from the everyday. Book your escape today!