Arizona is a beautiful state to visit to explore, but with several canyons and valleys, there are some areas that a car can’t easily access. A convenient and relaxing way to explore some of these areas is by train. This traveling mom recently took a train ride with her family on the Verde Canyon Railroad, and discovered that not only was it a great way to explore some of the beautiful sights that Arizona, and Verde Canyon, have to offer, but it was also very family friendly.
Most people associate Arizona with the Grand Canyon, and rightfully so. However, not too far away, in Clarkdale, is the Verde Canyon Railroad. It’s a four hour train ride that takes passengers through not only Verde Canyon, but also past beautiful rock formations and Indian ruins. Adults and kids alike will enjoy all that the train has to offer, making it a very family friendly train.
Verde Canyon Railroad: Comfort and Convenience
Comfort is my main priority when traveling with my three-year-old son. We rode first class as opposed to coach, and I highly recommend the extra cost for the upgrade, regardless of whether or not you are traveling with children. An upgrade to first class includes two very important things: (1) extremely comfortable couches and chairs, and (2) all you can eat appetizers, including brownie bites and crackers for children. Also included is a full bar on board for the adults. Although alcoholic beverages are not included in the price of the train ticket, enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne for the adults and apple cider for the children.
The Verde Canyon Railroad also included a nice bathroom, essential when traveling with children. It was clean and much nicer than any bathroom in a plane or bus!
Our favorite part, though, were the couches inside the train. Not only did the couches and chairs look very new, but they are also conveniently located right next to large picture windows and easy to access from the aisles. My son loved looking out the window with his binoculars.
Traveling Mom Tip: Try to be as interactive as possible when traveling with your children. Binoculars are a great way for your child to engage with his/her surroundings, especially nature.
Enclosed (But Open) Platforms
There’s nothing worse than being stuck inside a car with a child who is going stir crazy. The same goes for a train. We loved that the train had platforms where passengers can walk around, not only to get fresh air, but also to take great pictures of the scenery. It was even better that my son could walk around to the point where he felt like he wasn’t being cooped up.
Traveling Mom Tip: When booking a reservation, ask for the Cottonwood train. Why the Cottonwood? It’s the only portion of the train where you don’t have to share a platform with the other passengers in other cabins. While the Railroad can’t guarantee you’ll be in the Cottonwood, they will do their best to accommodate your request. It’s well worth it, because it’s not as crowded.
One of our guides pointed out different rock formations as we passed by them on the train. Several of the rocks looked similar to animals, which appeal to children. For example, some of the formations we enjoyed seeing were formations that looked like a turtle and a dinosaur. The guide also did a great job by trying to involve children by asking them to look at the different formations to see if they could identify certain shapes and objects.
Arizona is full of history, especially Native American history. Our guide pointed out areas where we, along with the rest of the passengers, could see Indian ruins. This was the first time that my son had seen ruins, and he was very curious about them. So not only is the train fun, but it’s a learning experience for children.
And speaking of learning experiences, we were handed activity sheets for our son prior to boarding the train. This is another way to keep children interested in their surroundings.
The Verde Canyon Railroad far exceeded our expectations, and this train ride is something that all family members should enjoy.