Verde Canyon Railroad's Summer Starlight

An Arizona Seldom-Seen But Fondly Remembered

Starlight Ride at Verde Canyon Railroad

Many have a childhood memory of crawling into a cozy sleeping bag in the backyard to slumber beneath the stars. The only illumination was the rising moon. Occasionally across the hills came the faraway moan of a train whistle, the call of a lonesome freightliner rolling through the night, a chorus of coyotes inspired to sing along. And, there was quiet -- the most precious of all endangered qualities. Lose the sleeping bag, grab a friend and climb aboard that distant steel ribbon for a night ride at Verde Canyon Railroad.

For those who have spent too much time traveling asphalt striped with white and yellow, facing glaring lights and screaming streams of life-threatening traffic, it’s time to return to the quiet -- and starlight -- and coyotes -- in a wild canyon where the summer sounds haven’t changed much, including those of the train.

As the summer sun sinks low over the desert, crepuscular creatures of the overlooking Mogollon Rim country abandon their shadowed retreats from midday heat and venture out upon their evening agenda -- as do the cars of the Verde Canyon Railroad. Stirring from their rest alongside the Clarkdale Depot, the cooled cars seek the shaded quiet of their namesake canyon in search of this alluring Summer Starlight adventure.

Sunset comes early in the depths of the Verde Canyon and the tracks of the train soon rest in the shadows. While a Great Blue Heron wades through a sycamore-shaded pool, a family of javelina wanders mesquite forests beneath the cliffs. Nearby, a bald eagle sweeps low across a rapid, tracking a fat trout. This scenario is the essence of Verde Canyon Railroad at twilight. Two murmuring vintage locomotives carrying the likeness of bald eagles cautiously nose around a crimson sandstone promontory, pulling cars of explorers into an Arizona seldom-seen.             

The brash distinctions of the day are softened and subdued, while the mysteries of history existing here are deepened: the black basalt cliffs, remaining antiquities of volcanic ages; the Sedona sandstone and Verde limestone of ancient deserts and seas. Enveloped in the dramatic colors and evolving light of sunset, passengers enjoying an open-air viewing car raise a prickly pear margarita in celebration of summer. Arriving at the valley of the Perkinsville Ranch at the sun’s last light, darkness sweeps over the train’s return, spreading overhead an open view undiluted by earthly light of a billion stars.

As the darkness deepens, the brilliance of the stars is modulated by the intermittent appearance of the moon above the monoliths, creating other-worldly landscapes made even more extraordinary by the vantage point of a historic train. Traveling these tracks since 1912, this heritage railroad is right at home in its wild and scenic canyon.

Verde Canyon Railroad’s Summer Starlight Tours take place one Saturday per month June through September, departing the depot at 5:30 p.m. and returning by 9:30 p.m., on June 2, July 28, Aug. 25 and Sept. 15. For more information, contact Verde Canyon Railroad at 800.293.7245. The popularity of the evening tours dictates reservations well-in-advance. 

It’s not the destination, it’s the Summer Starlight journey.

Contact: Teresa Propeck 
Phone: 623-374-3185 
tpropeck@verdecanyonrr.net                   

Reservations: 800-293-7245
www.verdecanyonrr.com                                                                        

Source: Verde Canyon Railroad

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Categories: Vacations and Travel

Tags: arizona, evening, moonlight, railroad, starlight, summer, sunset, train, twilight


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About Verde Canyon Railroad

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Verde Canyon Railroad offers an unforgettable rail adventure following the curves of the Verde River 20 miles into a scenic Sedona-area wilderness accessible only by train. Luxurious amenities make this historic 4-hour journey a popular destination.

Verde Canyon Railroad
300 N Broadway
Clarkdale, AZ 86324
United States