Jaunt: Nighttime views make Starlight Express a trip worth taking - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Jaunt: Nighttime views make Starlight Express a trip worth taking

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Posted: Friday, June 22, 2007 12:37 pm | Updated: 6:05 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The lights of the train gyrate and dance over the canyon walls. The engineer blows the whistle and a coyote answers beneath a blanket of stars.

The lights of the train gyrate and dance over the canyon walls. The engineer blows the whistle and a coyote answers beneath a blanket of stars.

This is the Verde Canyon Railroad’s Starlight Express.

“It’s very romantic in a Western, yearning type of way,” says Lisa O’Neill, a sales and marketing representative for the railroad.

The Starlight Express, which runs Saturdays through Sept. 15, is a two-hour trek through the Verde Canyon. Passengers sitting in the open-air cars will experience cooler temperatures and a section of the canyon inaccessible to cars. The train departs the depot at 5:30 p.m. and follows the Verde River for 20 miles in the daylight.

“Halfway back to the depot the sun goes down and the stars are incredible,” says O’Neill. “You get the dramatic lengthening shadows of a sunset and this incredible banner of stars with no light pollution.”

Even though the last stretch is under the cover of night, passengers can see the canyon walls and other natural features thanks to the engine lights. So bring binoculars, or rent them from the gift shop.

Starlight Express

What: Two-hour trek through canyon wilderness under the cover of night

When: 5:30 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 15

Where: Verde Canyon Railroad Depot, 300 N. Broadway, Clarkdale

Cost: First class $79.95; coach $54.95 adults, $49.95 seniors, $34.95 children

Information: (800) 293-7245 or verdecanyonrr.com

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