This August the National Park Service celebrates the centennial of its 1916 inception, the year it was created by Congress to protect America’s burgeoning collection of national parks and monuments. Arizona is in the tenth position for most national parks within its state borders (Grand Canyon, Saguaro and Petrified Forest), but it leads the country with 17 national monuments. In total, Arizona is home to 26 National Park-administered designations, including memorials, trails and historic sites. In Arizona’s Verde Valley alone there are three: Montezuma Castle in Camp Verde, Montezuma Well in Rimrock and Tuzigoot National Monument in Clarkdale.
Park and monument fans can collect inked cancellation stamps in their “National Park Passport” books. As Verde Canyon Railroad’s historic rail line, created in 1912, is a slightly older contemporary of the National Park Service, it has joined the celebration by creating a cancellation stamp to share with National Park Passport holders observing this monumental anniversary. Visitors to the train depot are encouraged to get their passports stamped with the Railroad’s green commemorative stamp which is compatible in color with the Western Region stamps of Arizona’s National Parks and Monuments.
Verde Canyon Railroad provides a comfortable and exciting journey as it travels a relaxing four hours from the charming Clarkdale depot to the ghost ranch at Perkinsville and back. Fittingly located between two protected national forests and adjacent to the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, the train takes its passengers through an untamed and unspoiled terrain, an exceedingly rare ribbon where the high desert meets the riparian river. Sinagua ruins high in the cliff sides along the share the same ancestry with nearby Tuzigoot National Monument. Archaeologists believe these pre-Colombian people arrived in the Verde Valley around 1125 A.D.. Their dwellings were all mysteriously vacated sometime around 1400 A.D.. Many experts believe these tribes migrated north where they were eventually absorbed into the Hopi culture.
Ancient cliff dwellings, awe-inspiring rock formations, historic trestles and soaring raptors are just a few of the trip’s many highlights. The Verde River, a wild and scenic wilderness corridor, is a key resource to native species of flora and fauna.
The caboose is a luxurious, 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 views and spectacular photographic opportunities. A stone’s throw from the hillside mining town of Jerome, Verde Canyon Railroad’s Clarkdale depot is located in the heart of the Verde Valley, a diverse crossroads featuring amazing adventures in every direction. As a vital link to Arizona’s history, Verde Canyon Railroad is a perfect accompaniment to a National Park itinerary, always moving forward yet forever part of the past. Reservations are accepted online at verdecanyonrr.com or at 800-293-7245.