Arizona railroading is known for flat deserts, high mountains, and
trains that range from speeding loads of intermodal to slow drags of
coal, copper, agriculture, and wood products. It's history with trains
dates back to 1880 and whether directly or indirectly, the state's
tourist lines help keep alive this history. As mentioned above the
Grand Canyon Railway is one of top operations in the country offering
passengers incredible luxury on their trip to the park as well as
vacation packages if they wish to spend time there. Others like the
Superstition Scenic Railway and Yuma Valley Railway are more budget
friendly but still allow for a great experience taking the train.
Grand Canyon Railway
While the line the Grand Canyon Railway operates on today has had a rocky history since the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (the Santa Fe) gave up on its branch to the Grand Canyon in 1974, today the tourist line is one of the most popular excursions in the country with its top-notch services and stunning scenery of the Arizona desert and Grand Canyon National Park. As the popularity of the Grand Canyon Railway has certainly increased over the past twenty years since its inception in 1988 and today, the railroad's fleet of diesel locomotives carry you in a fleet of restored passenger equipment ranging from café and club cars to observations and domes for unparalleled enjoyment and spectacular views.
Old Pueblo Trolley
The Old Pueblo Trolley is not so much an excursion train as it is a fully operational trolley system serving University Boulevard and 4th Avenue in Tuscon. Along with the trolley the organization operates buses and also manages the nearby Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.
Paradise & Pacific Railroad/McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
The Paradise & Pacific Railroad is located in Scottsdale and
is part of the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. The train itself is
based from a Colorado narrow gauge railroad and is exactly 5/12 the
actual size, carrying passengers on a one-mile trip around the park.
Gadsen-Pacific Division Toy Train Operation Museum
This organization is based in Tuscon and offers free admission. They have a small collection of rolling stock on the grounds as well as a large, indoor operating train layout. The museum is closed July and August but is open every second and fourth Sunday the rest of the year.
Maricopa Live Steamers
This organization, based in Phoenix, offers scale train rides on the second Sunday in September through the second Sunday in May (due to the hot weather during the summer). The trips are free of charge although the group does welcome donations. Visit their website for more information.
Sierra Madre Express
The Sierra Madre Express is a unique, private rail tour that operates between Tuscon, crosses the Mexican border, passes through the country's breathtaking Copper Canyon, and operates as far as Creel/Divisadero.
Southern Arizona Transportation Museum
The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum is housed in the restored Southern Pacific/El Paso & Southwestern depot in Tuscon. Admission is free and among the displays is Southern Pacific 2-6-0 #1673.
Superstition Scenic Railway
The Superstition Scenic Railway is an often forgotten tourist
railroad located in Goldfield. The railroad itself is a 36-inch
narrow-gauge using a Plymouth diesel locomotive
retrofitted to appear as a steam locomotive. The railroad operates on
about a 1 1/2-mile of track which surrounds the Goldfield Ghost Town.
Verde Canyon Railway
The Verde Canyon Railroad is a tourist railroad operating over
ex-Santa Fe trackage in central Arizona,
near the very popular tourist destination of Sedona. And like Sedona
the Verde Canyon has become a popular tourist attraction itself since
it began operations in the early 1990s. Today the railroad offers
several different excursions and special trains for visitors and
although prices average a little higher than what you might find on
other tourist railroads the scenery afforded of Verde Canyon in
climate-controlled, comfortable coaches is well worth the cost! So, if
you are visiting Sedona, or Arizona
in general I would very much recommend a visit to the Verde Canyon
Railroad, especially since you can often witness Bald Eagles on the
journey and it is the only way to see Arizona's breathtaking Verde
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Tourist Train Information