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Roger Naylor: The new voice of the Verde Canyon Railroad

Roger Naylor: The new voice of the Verde Canyon Railroad

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Since 1990, the “all aboard” call has beckoned passengers to cars of the Verde Canyon Railroad. Known worldwide as “Arizona’s Longest-Running Nature Show,” the train travels on tracks carved through the dramatically rugged Sycamore Canyon Wilderness area in 1912, promising passengers exceptional service aboard every journey. Now, nature writer and lifelong travel enthusiast Roger Naylor has added his folksy charm to Verde Canyon Railroad’s onboard narration.

Traveling along with passengers aboard this 3.5-hour round-trip journey through one of Arizona’s most scenic inner canyons, Naylor’s entertaining vocals add a special twist as he spins amusing tales along the 20 miles between Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back.

Known for his columns in the Arizona Republic, fun travel books on Route 66, Arizona State Parks publications and his wide selling book Boots and Burgers, Naylor, a resident of the Verde Valley, often shares area highlights in his writings, including frequent mentions of Verde Canyon Railroad.

“I’ve been fortunate to rack up a few special honors the last couple of years—inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame, author of the Grand Canyon National Park Centennial Magazine—and now the narrator on Verde Canyon Railroad,” Naylor said in a press release. “It’s been a rare privilege to earn a living as an Arizona travel writer and author. Now I’m starting to get recognized as a colorful Arizona character. Feels pretty good.”

The writer grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, but fell in love with the Southwest after arriving in Flagstaff to study at Northern Arizona University. Last year, Naylor released Ariona State Parks: A Guide to Amazing Places in the Grand Canyon State, citing in the afterword Marshall Trimble, official state historian; Dolan Ellis, official state balladeer; Bob Boze Bell, author, artist and Arizona historian; and Angel Delgadillo, a Seligman businessman who has been dubbed the guardian angel of Route 66 for all his work put in to save it; as some of his inspirations.

“They all have led these amazing lives based in Arizona and helped to make Arizona a better place. I want to leave Arizona a little better than I found it because, besides my wife, it’s the great love of my life,” Naylor said in a 2019 interview with Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine. “I like to celebrate the people that have that same kind of passion, that do good work here or try to spread the word about what an amazing place we live in.”

Recorded at Yavapai Broadcasting, Naylor’s narration for the Verde Canyon Railroad interweaves classic train tunes of every genre with the Canyon’s ancient geology, its namesake Verde River, 100-plus years of rail history and stories of the ancient dwellers, ranchers, and flora and fauna that have called this rare riparian wonderland home.

The rails of Verde Canyon Railroad share the amazing story of this canyon from the passenger cars’ distinctive vantage point which offers the best views of the geology and archeology of this Southwestern dreamscape. The towering red rock pinnacles and mottled high canyon cliff walls tell the tale, as do the many highlights: ancient Native American dwellings, multiple historic trestles and a 730-foot manmade tunnel carved through solid limestone. The winding Verde River, carved through a riparian ribbon of lush greenery, whispers a million years of history. Native critters, furry and feathered, large or small, evident or elusive, slippery or scaly, are all part of the cast of characters.

“Verde Canyon Railroad is proud to have such a celebrated Arizona voice as part of the customer experience,” Teresa Propeck, vice president of Passenger Services, said in a press release. “This train line has been an integral part of the infrastructure that built the Verde Valley and the great state of Arizona. We will continue this legacy by working with locally owned and operated businesses every chance we get.”  

Wrapping its passengers’ epic adventure in a beautiful bow, Roger Naylor’s voice is a fitting complement to the railroad

“I may not have been born in this state but there is no doubt that I lived, and lived well, in this amazing, astounding, astonishing state,” Naylor said. “What a journey it’s been. Now I’m ready for more. All aboard!”


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