Located in the heart of the Kaibab National Forest at an elevation of 6,770 feet, Williams is a small Northern Arizona mountain community. Just an hour south of the Grand Canyon, it has been host to world travelers for more than 100 years.
A Look Back
Founded in 1881, and incorporated July 9, 1901, Williams was named for the famous trapper, scout and mountain man, “Old Bill Williams.”
A statue of “Old Bill” stands in Monument Park, located on the west side of the city, and the large mountain directly south of town – Bill Williams Mountain – also bears his name.
On Oct. 13, 1984, Williams became the last town on Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by Interstate 40. However, the town continues to thrive, offering visitors much to see and do.
Activities Abound in Williams
Williams offers unlimited recreational opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast. Residents and visitors alike enjoy seven area fishing lakes, hiking trails up Bill Williams Mountain and into Sycamore Canyon, an alpine ski area and cross-country ski trails, four beautiful seasons, and an abundance of wildlife.
During the summer months, nightly shootouts featuring the Cataract Creek Gang are sure to entertain both young and old, and the Grand Canyon Railway provides a scenic and leisurely roundtrip journey to the Grand Canyon that’s great family fun. Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park, offers families an exciting and educational experience.
The town boasts a rich heritage that blends the Old West and the town’s Route 66 heyday years of the ’50s and ’60s with the trends of today. Williams’ Historic Downtown District covers six square blocks, and features many buildings that were constructed in the late 1800s.
Explore the Wild at Bearizona
Bearizona Drive-Thru Wildlife Park allows visitors to drive into the forest and witness herd and pack life from the safety of their private vehicle or motor coach. The park features North American mammals, including black bear, wolves and bison, to name just a few.
Bearizona showcases America’s conservation success stories in a natural setting. While enjoying a comfortable 2.5-mile drive through this beautiful 160-acre forest, families will find adventure around every corner.
At the end of the driving tour, visitors can leave their vehicles for a stroll through Bearizona’s outdoor educational center and to get a closer look at many smaller animals.
Located at 1500 E. Route 66 in Williams, the park promotes conservation and preservation through safe, affordable, memorable and educational encounters with North American wildlife in a natural environment.
All Aboard the Grand Canyon Railway
Located on Interstate 40 between Kingman and Flagstaff, Williams is just a four-hour drive from Las Vegas and McCarran Airport, and three hours from Phoenix and Sky Harbor International Airport. Additionally, visitors can arrive by train on Amtrak, or those with private aircraft can fly into Williams’ H. A. Clark Memorial Field (KCRM, formerly P32).
Williams is also just an hour’s drive from Grand Canyon National Park. For the ultimate Grand Canyon experience, board the Grand Canyon Railway at the Williams Depot for an entertaining trek directly to the canyon’s South Rim.
The daily ride offers travelers beautiful views of Ponderosa Pines, which give way to piñon and juniper forests along the route.
While at the South Rim, guests can enjoy El Tovar, a historic hotel designed by Mary Colter; the Bright Angel Lodge; and, of course, breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon.
The train departs the South Rim at 3:30 p.m. for the return trip to Williams.
Play Williams’ Elephant Rocks Golf Course
Hidden amid the tall Ponderosa Pines of Williams lay Elephant Rocks Golf Course, a local landmark since the early 1920s.
Elephant Rock’s original stone clubhouse has remained nearly unchanged for the past 75 years and now houses a fully stocked pro shop and snack bar to fulfill every golfer’s needs.
This great course, named for the elephant-shaped rocks near its entrance, offers 18 holes of play.
In 1990, the original nine holes were redesigned by Gary Panks and were given bentgrass greens. Nine years later, Panks again added his touch with an additional nine holes, turning the course into a true 18-hole, 6,695-yard championship course, and establishing it as one of the premier 18-hole golf courses in Northern Arizona.
The combination of old and new presents a great challenge for golfers of all abilities. The stunning course meanders its way through tall Ponderosa Pines, with ample bentgrass greens protected by deep bunkers and native grasses.
Along with the beautiful layout, Elephant Rocks offers top-notch practice facilities, with full-scale, scenic driving, putting and chipping facilities.
The addition of a banquet pavilion in 2005 created a perfect venue for meetings and parties. It is available to rent year-round through the golf shop. For more information call (928) 635-4935.
Plan Your Visit
For additional information that will have you visiting Williams again and again, contact the Williams and Forest Service Visitor Center at (928) 635-4061, or visit www.experiencewilliams.com.
Experience Williams – an extraordinary way to enjoy the Grand Canyon.
(Brought to you by Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce, (800) 863-0546, www.experiencewilliams.com.)