Clarkdale, AZ: Cabernet, Cruising, Copper and Cabooses

Local wines, a scenic train and exciting water adventures await in Clarkdale, AZ, northern Arizona's hidden gem!
Prepared By:

Shannon Lowery

Writer & Traveler

Get to know Clarkdale, Arizona, through the town’s main “C’s”: cabernet, cruising, copper, and cabooses. It’s not all cacti and camping— there’s plenty more than meets the eye in Clarkdale, AZ.

This story was created in partnership with Experience Clarkdale.

Cabernet

The idea of Arizona wineries might surprise you, but Arizona’s wine region is one of the best-kept secrets of the American southwest. Much to the delight of wine enthusiasts, Clarkdale, AZ, is situated in the heart of Arizona wine country. Pleasant weather year-round means it’s never a bad season to sip your way through a sunset. Wineries speckle the region, but while in Clarkdale be sure to visit Chateau Tumbleweed, Bodega Pierce Tasting Room, and the Southwest Wine Center.

Clarkdale welcome sign and vineyard

Cruising Down the River

Watersports abound in Clarkdale, AZ. Kayaks and stand-up paddle boards are fantastic for exploring the nearby Verde River. Fishing and river tubing are also popular activities. Local outfitters rent all of the typical water toys you need, and many offer guided tours, too.

Images of river and kayaks in Clarkdale, AZ

Copper

Rust colored landscapes aren’t the only reason Arizona goes by the nickname of the Copper State. In fact, the copper industry was once one of the biggest economic drivers in the region. Clarkdale was founded by the United Verde Copper Company as a housing community for workers and their families, making it Arizona’s first planned community. The town boasts over 380 structures on the National Register of Historic Places, forming one of the largest historic districts in Arizona. While the valuable metal still has roots in the area, Clarkdale has flourished into a scenic community conveniently located near Sedona but far enough away to avoid the crowds. Today, visitors can explore the Arizona Copper Art Museum to learn more about the evolution and impact of copper in the region.

The facade of the Arizona Copper Art Museum on the left and a blue locomotive exiting a rocky tunnel on the right

Cabooses

Bringing up the rear, in typical fashion, are the cabooses of Clarkdale. Technically we’re referencing all things trains, but doesn’t caboose have such a nice ring to it? The Verde Valley is aptly named for the emerald tones of the Verde River and lush vegetation found along its banks. The best views of the gorgeous, winding river are aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad. Once a functioning shipping route for the local copper industry, the tracks continue to rumble with locomotives. Now, passengers get to enjoy family-friendly scenic rides deep into the surrounding canyon. Featuring living-room style seating, appetizers, and a complimentary champagne toast, experience Arizona’s rugged, untouched landscape in luxury. With complimentary open-air gondolas interspersed throughout the train’s quarter-mile length, everyone has two seats for the price of one. There’s also an adorable café and museum at the train depot. In Clarkdale, the locomotive love is real!

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Photo by @delajetsette via Instagram.

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