New England is a place synonymous with vibrant foliage, but “leaf-peepers” can seek gold much closer to home aboard Verde Canyon Railroad’s Fall Colors Tour. Passengers enjoy front row seats to autumn hues via the luxurious accommodations and panoramic views of this vintage passenger train. “Arizona” and “autumn” might seem like separate thoughts entirely, but the Sedona area’s mild high-desert climate actually experiences a warm and long-lasting fall season burnished with bronze, copper and gold.
Following heritage rails dating from 1912, Verde Canyon Railroad wanders a winding canyon of curves and astonishing photo ops at every bend. As summer fades into fall and October fades into November, the lush canopy of riverside forest blazes a brilliant gold along the rails. Set against bold red rocks and brilliant blue sky, centuries-old Cottonwoods and white-barked Sycamores fill the riparian canyon that the Railroad calls home. Goodding Willows, native only to southwestern river ecosystems, also join the crescendo of color as the days grow shorter and the nights cooler.
In addition to the rich colors of autumn in the Verde Canyon, the amber flows in frothy fashion during the Railroad’s annual “Ales on Rails” celebration every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday October 6-30. This party on the patio, popular for nearly 15 years, is prior to the train’s 1:00 p.m. departure. Passengers arrive early to enjoy myriad beers, ranging from regional craft brews to traditional European ales, with a traditional German luncheon available for purchase.
The train provides a comfortable and exciting journey as it travels a leisurely four hours from the charming Clarkdale depot to the ghost ranch at Perkinsville and back. Awe-inspiring rock formations, historic trestles, ancient cliff dwellings and soaring raptors are just a few of the trip’s many highlights.
The well-appointed caboose is a private car for six. First-class cars boast plush seating, complimentary appetizers and a full-service bar. Coach offers vintage Pullman-style seating, panoramic windows and snack bars. Everyone has access to open-air viewing cars offering 360-degree vistas and spectacular photographic opportunities. The Railroad recently added one more class of ridership for one fortunate person each day … an honorary engineer ride-along sitting between the engineer and conductor in one of the classic American-built FP7 locomotives.
A stone’s throw from the hillside mining town of Jerome, Verde Canyon Railroad is located in the heart of the Verde Valley, a diverse crossroads featuring amazing adventures in every direction. Only two hours from Phoenix and 25 minutes from Sedona, Verde Canyon Railroad is the perfect Arizona day trip, weekend celebration or addition to Arizona vacation plans. Reservations are accepted online at VerdeCanyonRR.com or at 800-293-7245.