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Things to do in Clarkdale - Train Passing Trestle - Photo by Ellen Jo Roberts

Things to Do in Clarkdale

Many people know Clarkdale as home to the Verde Canyon Railroad, but that’s not all the town has to offer. From a historic downtown and copper museum to a national park, Clarkdale has enough fun to fill a few hours or a few days. Here are the top attractions you won’t want to miss on your visit.

Verde Canyon Railroad

Completed in 1912 to connect Jerome’s mines and Clarkdale’s smelters to the BNSF railroad at Drake, the Verde Canyon Railroad today transports passengers on vintage railcars to Perkinsville and back. Along the way, you can enjoy the beauty of the red buttes and Verde River from first-class level seating inside or from an adjoining, open-air viewing car. Trip highlights include traveling through a 734-foot mountain tunnel, crossing a trestle bridge that spans a 175-foot gorge, and possibly spotting a bald eagle.

The train operates year-round with most trips beginning at 1 p.m. In addition to its standard rides, the Verde Canyon Railroad offers special event rides such as its Magical Christmas Journey to the North Pole, Ales on Rails beer tasting, and Grape Train Escape wine tasting.

Arizona Copper Art Museum

Housed in the former Clarkdale High School on Main Street, the Arizona Copper Art Museum tells the story of copper throughout history and displays items made from the metal after it left the town’s smelters. Watch for American and Western European artwork, religious artifacts, cooking pots, drinkware, and distillation equipment on your visit. The museum even has a rare collection of “trench art” crafted by WWI soldiers from more than 600 discarded shell casings.

Unlike most museums, this one encourages you to touch its collection of more than 5,000 pieces, so plan to spend at least an hour strolling through its exhibits. The Arizona Copper Art Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Historic District

Clarkdale owes its existence to Senator William A. Clark, who owned the United Verde Copper Company. When he decided to move his smelting operations into the valley, he built Arizona’s first “company town” to house his workers. The remaining residences, business district, and other buildings now make up the Clarkdale Historic District, which was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1998.

You can explore the downtown, stopping in Stardust Books for a special gift or Violette’s Bakery Café for a treat, on your own. Or drop by the Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum on Friday or Saturday to learn more about the town’s past.

Tuzigoot National Monument

This national monument in Clarkdale features a 110-room pueblo constructed by the Sinagua people roughly 1,000 years ago. You can tour the site on your own by following the 1/3-mile loop trail around and through the ancient dwelling. To learn more about the pueblo and people who lived there, stop at the onsite museum, which displays the ceramics, textiles, and tools discovered during the pueblo’s excavation.

While the monument does charge admission, your receipt gives you free admission into nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument for seven days.


Clarkdale falls within the Verde Valley AVA, Arizona’s newest designated wine region, and offers several opportunities to sample local wines. Start at Chateau Tumbleweed where you can taste red blends, Spanish varietals, and a mix of white and rosé wines on its dog-friendly patio overlooking the Verde Valley. Just down the road, Bodega Pierce offers wines by the glass or by the bottle in its tasting room.

At the Southwest Wine Center, you can try wines produced by students at Yavapai Community College’s teaching winery for just $12. Reservations are required for the one-hour tasting.

Verde River

Flowing 170 miles from Northern Arizona to Phoenix where it merges with the Salt River, the Verde River is a designated National Wild and Scenic River popular with kayakers and wildlife watchers. You can access the river in Clarkdale at the Lower TAPCO River Access Point and kayak on your own or book a trip with a guide.

Several companies offer kayaking trips, including the Clarkdale Kayak Company and Verde River Institute. Because it’s a Class I river and only two to three feet deep, the Verde River is ideal for families and first-time kayakers. 

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