Can’t Miss Gem: Clarkdale, Arizona

If Clarkdale, Arizona, was a social media trend, it would be one that gains slow and steady momentum until it’s popping up on screens everywhere. No one really knows where it started, but you definitely can’t unsee it or get it out of your head. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, the central Arizona town of Clarkdale has all the makings of the next big thing.
Prepared By:

Shannon Lowery

Writer & Traveler

At the crossroads of iconic Southwestern landmarks like Sedona, the Grand Canyon and the American Viticultural Area, you’ll find Clarkdale, Arizona. Brimming with exciting, unexpected activities, Clarkdale  has all the makings of the next big thing. So hurry now, before the cat’s out of the bag about this hidden gem of Arizona.

This story was created in partnership with Experience Clarkdale.

1. The Verde Canyon Railroad

The Verde Canyon Railroad is a year-round, can’t-miss thing to do in Clarkdale, Arizona. For a relaxed, fool-proof way to enjoy the area’s natural beauty, climb aboard the historic Verde Canyon Railroad. Rumbling through heart of the Verde Valley, named for the emerald tones of the Verde River which supports vibrant vegetation throughout the area, the railroad excursion is the perfect blend of nature and history.  Passengers soak in unparalleled views of Sycamore Canyon, considered to be Arizona’s other grand canyon. Combine these vistas with living-room style seating, open-air gondolas, appetizers, and a complimentary champagne toast for a luxurious way to see a rugged and untouched part of Arizona.

Verde Canyon Railroad in Clarkdale, Arizona

2. Clarkdale, Arizona’s Weather

Yes, the weather in Clarkdale is reason alone to visit. While summer temperatures can soar, low humidity keeps evenings pleasant. In winter, expect mild days with colder nights. In any season, the climate is ripe for outdoor activities, including water sports in the summer and hiking and mountain biking in winter. Road trips are another all-season way to embrace the epic Arizona landscape. Visit the Indigenous ruins and monuments in the region or sip your way across Arizona’s wine country. (Keep reading for more on that!)

VCRR Ales on Rails Open Air

3. Arizona Wine

Re: Arizona’s wine country, one of America’s best-kept secret wine regions. Arizona is famously an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. But, if kicking back with a glass of bottled entertainment is more your speed, you’ve come to the right place. One Clarkdale winery, Bodega Pierce Winery and Tasting Room, is continuing four generations of Arizona agricultural tradition. Grapes are locally-sourced from vineyards in the American Viticultural Area near Willcox, Arizona. Meanwhile, Chateau Tumbleweed Winery and Tasting Room features a dog-friendly patio and has a large, versatile space perfect for groups. Finally, the Southwest Wine Center is a winemaking resource and learning lab that houses a full production winery and tasting room featuring award winning student crafted wines. 

4. Indigenous History

Indigenous culture permeates Arizona communities. From art to architecture to cuisine, Indigenous influences offer vibrant cultural heritage and an authentic Native experience. At Tuzigoot National Monument, Clarkdale visitors can explore the ruins of a pueblo constructed by the Hisatsinom People 1,000 years ago. Visit the museum and information center, tour the park grounds, and stand atop the ancient pueblo to get a wonderful view of the surrounding landscape. Tuzigoot National Monument is also home to Tavasci Marsh, which is an Audubon significant area that attracts wildlife throughout the valley. 

Indigenous ruins in Clarkdale, Arizona

5. Downtown Clarkdale

Because Clarkdale was Arizona’s first planned community, its downtown was designed as a center of business activity. Today, Main Street continues to be a hub of fabulous local shopping, dining, and entertainment. Treat yourself to a refreshing pint at Smelter Town Brewery. Housed in a parked train caboose, Violette’s Cafe and Bakery serves French and Belgian fare inside one of Arizona’s quaintest cafes. Want to stay in the center of all the action? Book a room at the Clarkdale Park Hotel.

Downtown Clarkdale Arizona

6. Water Activities

Clarkdale’s proximity to the Verde River makes getting on the water easy. Kayak and stand-up paddle board tours are great for beginners or those who want to know more about the area’s natural landscape and history. Contact one of Clarkdale’s local outfitters: Clarkdale Kayak Company, Adventure Encounters, or the Verde River Institute for information about rentals and guided tours.

Verde River Water Activities in Clarkdale Arizona

Other Places & Experiences

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Photo by @delajetsette via Instagram.

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