I live in Phoenix, but sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m in Arizona. Living in such an urban part of the state makes me forget that I even live in the desert. When my digital journalism professor showed us this time lapse of Arizona and Utah (which I urge you to watch) a few days ago, it suddenly hit me that most of the photographs of breathtaking desert landscapes featured in the video clip are only a drive away. From the Grand Canyon to the beautiful red rocks in Sedona, Arizona has what I consider are the most gorgeous scenic desert views in the U.S.
When I was in the eighth grade, my family and I took a trip to Arizona from Hawaii to visit my aunt and cousin who live near Phoenix. We spent a full day just driving up to the Grand Canyon. Regrettably, since I was still young, I didn’t appreciate the views as much as I would today, but since I’m going to school in Arizona, I don’t plan on leaving this state without one more trip to the Grand Canyon.
On the other hand, a similar view (but not quite as grandiose) that I do remember clearly is of a Canyon near the town of Clarkdale. A few years ago, while I was still going to college in Washington, I spent my spring break with my aunt and cousin. My aunt asked me if I wanted to take a train ride through a canyon in Clarkdale, a few miles away from Sedona. Without hesitation, I said “of course.”
My aunt, two of her friends, and I spent a few hours on a road trip up to Clarkdale where we then boarded a train along the Verde Canyon Railroad. The train’s 40-mile journey starts off in Clarkdale and ends in the ghost ranch town of Perkinsville and heads back to Clarkdale. Passengers are taken through the Verde Canyon where they can see breathtaking views of the Canyon’s rugged, high-desert rock faces, the lush Verde Canyon river, and the Canyon’s wildlife.
Verde Canyon train. Photo courtesy: Gateway to Sedona.
The train’s enclosed and open-air cars gives passengers different viewing experiences. While in the enclosed cars, I was able to enjoy the comfort of soft chairs and the cool air conditioner while gazing out the window at the view. But standing out on the deck of one of the open-air cars was a whole different story. There’s nothing like being outside and letting the wind blow through your hair while taking the majestic views in.
This wasn’t the Grand Canyon, but it sure comes close. If you’re in the Phoenix part of Arizona and don’t have enough time to drive all the way up to the Grand Canyon, the train ride through the Verde Canyon near Clarkdale will satisfy your Grand Cranyon cravings. It gave me a good sense of some of the natural scenic wonders that Arizona offers.
One of many great views from the train.