SOURCE: Verde Canyon Railroad

Verde Canyon Railroad

September 08, 2014 16:36 ET

Verde Canyon Railroad Celebrates the Return of Eagle Season

SEDONA, AZ and CLARKDALE, AZ and COTTONWOOD, AZ--(Marketwired - Sep 8, 2014) - San Juan Capistrano has its swallows; Michoacán, Mexico has its monarch butterflies and Hawaii has its humpback whales. Arizona's protected Verde Canyon (near Sedona) has its own famous migration each winter: bald and golden eagles and a great variety of hawks join resident raptors in the Canyon's riparian paradise. Long before humans wishing to escape chilly climates deemed sunny Arizona an ideal winter getaway, the original "snowbirds" were already here. An ideal eagle breeding habitat with cozy cliffs for nesting, abundant prey and the perennially flowing river full of fat fish, Verde Canyon is a sheltered area closed to the public from December through June.

Verde Canyon Railroad provides the only vantage point to view this population of extraordinary animals in their natural habitat. The eagles pay no mind as this heritage railroad, slow rolling along this river for more than 100 years, clickety-clacks its way to Perkinsville and back on a four-hour journey. The raptors not only live harmoniously with the train, they also share this wild refuge with countless other feathered and furred, including Great Blue Heron, Javelina, coyote, brown bear, elk, deer and an occasional brigade of feral burros. With wingspans stretching to six feet, the majestic eagles carve lazy circles in the brilliant blue sky, captivating train passengers with their aerial acrobatics as they waft overhead or engage in breathtaking courting rituals.

Verde Canyon Railroad takes its title, "Arizona's Longest Running Nature Show," quite seriously. In addition to providing support for Arizona Game & Fish's Eagle Watch program, the train is sponsor to Scottsdale's Liberty Wildlife, an animal rescue and rehabilitation center that tends to the needs of thousands of abandoned and injured Arizona wild creatures each year. In celebration of this partnership, volunteers from Liberty Wildlife bring rescued educational animals for special presentations at the depot and aboard the train each month. Visitors may enjoy a close up glimpse of owls, hawks, falcons, tortoises, snakes and even share a train ride with Sonora, a bald eagle who enjoys traveling through the Verde Canyon by train. She's not the only one who appreciates the luxury on board.

The vintage FP7 locomotives are both dressed proudly in eagle livery, the national bird's visage leading the train's way through the winding, wild canyon. Comfortable first-class accommodations lavish passengers in a luxurious living-room setting, including an abundant selection of appetizers and attentive beverage service right to the comfy seats. Coach-class is redolent of vintage-style passenger car charm with a well-stocked snack bar. Both classes have access to open-air viewing cars, a favorite aspect to this rail journey immersing passengers into the sights, sounds and scents of this wild western canyon. It's the best location on the train during "eagle watch" season.

Only two hours from Phoenix and 25 minutes from Sedona, Verde Canyon Railroad is the perfect Arizona day-trip, or if you plan to stay over, ask about our Room, Ride and Meal packages. Trains depart at 1 p.m. daily. Reservations are accepted at 800.293.7245 or online at verdecanyonrr.com.

It's not the destination, it's the journey

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