Clarkdale is at the upper end of the Verde Valley in Yavapai County approximately 110 miles north of Phoenix and south of the Grand Canyon at an elevation of 3,542 feet. The topography of the area is characterized by numerous mesa sand buttes along the rise from the Verde River on the east, at 3,300 feet, to the Mingus Mountains on the west, at 7,000 feet. Clarkdale, incorporated in 1957, was laid out in 1914 near the site of the Clarkdale Smelter, which was financed by Senator William A. Clark of Montana. Construction of the smelter began in 1910 and it processed ore from nearby Jerome until 1952. Clarkdale was a company town way ahead of its time with many modern amenities. The old mining and smelter sites and clubhouse are listed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Clarkdale developed as a service center for the mining area around it. The growing population spurs the housing and construction industries and makes for active retail and service sectors within a five-mile radius of this community. Peck’s Lake is the site of the Verde Valley Ranch, a 977-acre mixed-use, master planned community of 900 homes currently under development by Phelps Dodge Development Corporation. Peck’s Lake will continue to be accessible to the public. The Phoenix Cement Company, on a 2,000-acre site, is one of only two Arizona portal and cement manufacturing plants. Artists and production craft persons utilize the original high school and elementary school as facilities. CTI, a trucking firm, headquarters in Clarkdale and is a major employer. Varied custom manufacturers and producers serving the construction industry are part of Clarkdale’s industrial and professional community. Clarkdale is home to Mold-in-Graphics and Reactive Metals serving manufacturers internationally. The Arizona Central Railroad Company, which has a 1500-ton capacity, makes a daily 38-mile freight run to connect with the Santa Fe. The Arizona Central Verde River Canyon Line is a 19-mile scenic-passenger tour up the Verde River between Clarkdale and Perkins Ville.
Clarkdale’s location makes the varied scenic, historic and recreational areas of the Verde Valley and north-central Arizona easily accessible. Historic Main-Town Clarkdale preserves its “model town” look and an ambiance perfect for walking tours. In addition, the historic downtown district offers two restaurants and an Antique Emporium and Soda Fountain. Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area, a quiet and beautiful 26-mile canyon is perfect for short walks as well as lengthy backpacking. Tuzigoot National Monument, immediately east of Clarkdale, dates before 1000 AD. This 42-acre site houses three large Sinagua Indian Pueblos containing over 100 rooms. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a 300-acre park with a visitor contact station and facilities for camping, picnicking, and fishing.
Clarkdale is a great place to learn about the history of mining and ride the rails. It is a small town that began as smelter town. Today Clarkdale is a model town with beautiful homes and streets. It has a population of 2,100. The town sits at an elevation of 3,545 feet. The climate is cool all year. The low temperature in the winter is 30 degrees and the high temperature in the summer is 97 degrees. The town does receive approximately 11 inches of rain a year and 4 inches of snow. The town has refused to accept the end of the copper era as a defeat. Today, the town has diversified its economy and adjusted to new realities. It is building a promising future. The town is relying on tourism, retirees, and trade.
There are some terrific attractions in and near Clarkdale. The Verde Canyon Railroad is a wonderful experience. Visitors will travel down the railroad lines viewing scenic spots and wildlife. This is a very popular attraction. Tuzigoot National Monument is an old Indian dwelling. The monument has hiking trails leading visitors up to the dwellings.
Clarkdale has so many outdoor activities. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is so close to town. This park has a variety of things to offer its visitors. You will discover camping, horseback riding, and fishing. The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area is a 26-mile canyon perfect for hiking. This canyon is one of the most breathtaking spots in the area.
Clarkdale was named after William A. Clark, who was a Senator from Montana. He was the former owner of the United Verde Mines. Clark decided to purchase this land, which was previously known as Jordan Ranch. The town became a smelter town. The United Verde Copper Company built the smelter in 1911 because the United Verde mines in the town of Jerome had outgrown their smelter. Jerome had experienced cave-ins and a lack of land to build.
In 1914 the town was founded. Clarkdale was a model, planned town with beautiful homes and streets. It was a company town way ahead of its time. There were many modern facilities. The old mining and smelter sites including the clubhouse are on the list of National Register of Historic Sites. The smelter was completed in 1915 and had a monthly capacity of four million five hundred thousand pounds of ore. The smelter continued to process the ore until 1952 when it closed down. It wasn’t until 1957 when the town was incorporated.
Verde Canyon Railroad
Check prices and Schedule. I wrote this a long time ago.
The Verde Canyon Railroad takes passengers on a historic trip through a wonderful Arizona landscape. The Verde Valley Railroad was built to help promote the United Verde Copper Company. The railroad had the nickname “Verde Mix” because of its diverse uses of the rail, both people, and products road the line. The railroad was financed by Senator William A. Clark and was operated by the Santee Fe, Prescott and Phoenix Railroad. Then in 1953, the copper smelter closed down and so did the line.
Today, the restored route begins at the town of Clarkdale and proceeds to Perkinsville. Then it makes its return trip back to Clarkdale. The three-hour forty mile round-trip ride takes passengers through the Sycamore Wilderness Area along the Verde River. The path of the train follows the Verde River, through two national forests and the wilderness area. Visitors see steep rock formations and diverse plant life.
The historic train has Pullman Standard coach cars built in 1946. The cars are pulled by an FP7 engine, of which there are only 12 such models left in North America. The Electro-Motive Division of General Motors built the engines in 1953 for the Alaskan Railroad. It takes two engines to pull the train at a speed of 12 miles an hour. There are beautiful eagle paintings gracing the outside of the engines, which were painted by Doug Allen, a wildlife artist.
The highlights of the trip are a ride into a 680-foot man-made tunnel and viewing the ancient Sinagua Indian ruins. The vintage train rides the old rails and crosses over old fashion trestles. You will be amazed at the unique sights that can be seen depending on the season of the year. During the spring there are wildflowers spread across the land, the summer blue herons stretch their wings, in the fall the leaves change colors and in the winter bald eagles can be spotted.
Visitors are encouraged to arrive at the train depot at least an hour and a half prior to departure. This early arrival will give you enough time to eat a picnic lunch at the outdoor picnic table area or purchase a lunch at the Copper Spike Café in the depot to take aboard. The train usually boards 15 minutes before departure.
Visitors will want to make sure that there adequate time to go through the exhibit at the depot. The exhibit explains the history of the railroad. The exhibit includes photos and items from the railroad’s past. There is the Boxcar Gift Store that has something to remind you of your journey.
There is a food and beverage service available on the train and at the depot. The train does request that no coolers or hard-pack containers, strollers or large carry-ons are brought on board. There is no smoking on the train or in the depot area.
The Verde Canyon Railroad offers several travel packages including lodging and train tickets. There are accommodations for special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, reunions, birthdays, private parties, cookouts or company parties. If you have a party with more than 20 individuals, be sure to ask about a discount. There are occasional moonlight rides. You will have to contact Verde Canyon Railroad for dates and precise times.
There are several forms of accommodations on the train depending on the price of the ticket. Coach offers Pullman-style seating with two seats on each side of the center aisle. There is a snack bar available. First Class provides living room-style seating, complimentary appetizers, beverage service, a cash bar and a cozier atmosphere. All cars have restrooms and access to the open-air viewing cars.
The price for a coach adult is $35.95, coach child is $20.95 and coach senior over 65 is $32.95. The cost for the first class is a flat rate of $54.95, no matter what your age. Refunds will only be made if reservations are canceled at least 48 hours in advance of departure.
Please make sure you call in advance for the latest update on departure times and to place the required reservations. You may call 1.800-293-7245 or 520-639-0010.
You can get the Verde Canyon Railroad from Cottonwood by heading north on Main Street, past Tuzigoot. When you see the large green sign reading “Train Depot”, head straight across the bridge and park in the lot. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson take Interstate 17 north out of town. Continue on Interstate 17, until you reach exit 287. Turn left after taking the exit and head west on State Highway 260. Travel for approximately 14 miles, until you reach the third traffic light. At the light turn left onto Main Street, past Turzigoot. When you see the large green sign reading “Train Depot”, head straight across the bridge and park in the lot. It is approximately two hours from Phoenix. If you are coming from Flagstaff take State Highway 89A south out of town. Continue on to the town of Cottonwood and stay on Main Street and go through the old town of Cottonwood. You will go past Tuzigoot. When you see the large green sign reading “Train Depot”, head straight across the bridge and park in the lot. It is approximately one hour from Flagstaff. If you are coming from Jerome, you will take 89A east out of town to the town of Centerpoint. Here you will head toward the Clarkdale, where the train departs. You should look for signs directing you to the parking lot. The exact address is 300 North Broadway, Clarkdale, Arizona.
This railroad trip is a great way to see the sights. It’s not the destination; it’s the journey.
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area
The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area is 55,937 acres. It is a deep a 26-mile canyon sculpted out of sandstone. Sycamore Creek runs at the bottom of the canyon. The winding creek is surrounded by tree-filled side canyons and wildlife. The canyon runs parallel with Oak Creek Canyon, which is just to the east of it. This canyon is one of the most breathtaking spots in the area.
It is an ideal place for hiking and enjoying the sights. There are several hiking trails in the area. A popular hike in the canyon is Parson’s Trail. It is a 21-mile hike. The path will take you up the scenic canyon traveling by many cliff dwellings.
The canyon is a designated wilderness area, which means no wheeled or motorized vehicles are allowed.
You can get to the wilderness area from Cottonwood by heading north out of town toward Tuzigoot National Monument. Take the turnoff for the monument and follow the maintained dirt road past the golf course for approximately 12 miles. You will then come to the trailhead at the end of the road. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson, you will take Interstate 17 north out of town. Then take exit 287 off the Interstate and head west on State Highway 260. Continue on State Highway 260, until you get to Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood take the Main Street north toward the town of Clarkdale. On the way to Clarkdale, there are the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. Then take the turn off for the monument and follow the maintained dirt road past the golf course for approximately 12 miles. You will then come to the trailhead at the end of the road. If you are coming from Flagstaff, you will take State Highway 89A southwest out of town. Continue on State Highway 89A through Sedona and follow the signs into Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood take the Main Street north toward the town of Clarkdale. On the way to Clarkdale, there are the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. Then take the turn off for the monument and follow the maintained dirt road past the golf course for approximately 12 miles. You will then come to the trailhead at the end of the road. If you are in Jerome, take State Highway 89A east to the town of Centerville and then turn toward Clarkdale. Once you are in Clarkdale follow the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. Then take the turn off for the monument and follow the maintained dirt road past the golf course for approximately 12 miles. You will then come to the trailhead at the end of the road.
Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area is a secluded spot. You can also view this canyon from the northern point of the canyon, by heading up to the town of Williams, just west of Flagstaff. The Sycamore Canyon Point is a scenic view from the top of the canyon down to the Verde Valley.
Tuzigoot National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument was created to preserve the Indian culture of the area. The name Tuzigoot is an Apache word for “crooked water”. The site covers 42 acres and has so many things to offer its visitors. The Sinagua Indians built Tuzigoot in 1000 A.D. The Sinagua Indians worked the land and traded with other cultures. Then in 1400 the Indians just vanished. Tuzigoot is the remains of their village or pueblo. The Pueblo includes 110 rooms with second and third story structures.
Visitors will discover two popular trails when arriving at Tuzigoot National Monument, the Ruins Loop Trail, and the Tavasci Marsh Overlook trail. The Tavasci Marsh Overlook Trail is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs and strollers are not recommended on the Ruins Loop Trail. These trails are approximately a quarter mile long and give visitors a terrific opportunity to see the structures up close. Hikers are asked to keep pets on a leash and stay on the trail for their safety and protection. Due to the monument’s fragile state, visitors are also reminded that climbing or sitting on the pueblo walls is prohibited.
The Tavasci Marsh Overlook Trail goes to the Tavasci Marsh. This is one of the few freshwater marshes found in Arizona. The marsh is a habitat for birds and wildlife. Some of the different animals living in and around the marsh are beaver, muskrat, deer, javelina and a variety of birds. The Arizona Game and Fish Department manages this wildlife sanctuary. If you would like more information on this marsh, you may call 520-692-7700.
The Visitor Center has many artifacts on display. It has a special area dedicated to the culture of the Sinagua culture. There are talks and guided tours offered every day depending on the staff availability. Junior Ranger Program guides are also available on request. There are no concession or camping facilities offered at the monument
The monument is open every day, except Christmas Day. The hours vary depending on the season. In the summer the hours are 8:00 to 7:00 pm and during the winter the hours are 8:00 to 5:00 pm. The entrance fee is $2.00 a person and children under 16 are free. The Golden Eagle Passport is accepted at the monument. The most popular months to visit are March through September.
You will enjoy your visit so much more if you come prepared. Make sure you allow at least 45 minutes to take in the monument and wear comfortable shoes. If you would like more information on Tuzigoot National Monument, you may call 520-634-5564.
You can get to the monument from Cottonwood by taking the Main Street north toward the town of Clarkdale. On the way to Clarkdale, there are the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. If you are coming from Phoenix or Tucson, you will take Interstate 17 north out of town. Then take exit 287 off the Interstate and head west on State Highway 260. Continue on State Highway 260, until you get to Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood take the Main Street north toward the town of Clarkdale. On the way to Clarkdale, there are the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. If you are coming from Flagstaff, you will take State Highway 89A southwest out of town. Continue on State Highway 89A through Sedona and follow the signs into Cottonwood. Once you are in Cottonwood take the Main Street north toward the town of Clarkdale. On the way to Clarkdale, there are the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument. If you are in Jerome, take State Highway 89A east to the town of Centerville and then turn toward Clarkdale. Once you are in Clarkdale follow the signs to Tuzigoot National Monument.
This monument is a unique look at an ancient culture. It an interesting experience.