WILLIAMS, AZ

Grand Canyon from Williams, AZ

Nostalgia. Americana. Expansionism. When one first visits Williams, Arizona, you're immediately struck by these three themes. Williams is a small town on Route 66, forty-two miles due west of Flagstaff just off Interstate 40, and it's 60 miles south of Grand Canyon National Park, making it an ideal Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Most visitors will quickly associate Williams with the romance of the railroad and vintage cars; Williams is home to the Grand Canyon Railway that runs to the South Rim daily, returning each evening to the Grand Canyon Railway resort and depot. And because of its location along Historic Route 66, visitors will quickly become accustomed to seeing classic cars and trucks cruising along the Mother Road as it runs through Williams. Experience Williams' history as a railroad town (there is still an Amtrak station here) and even its former houses of "ill repute" turned bed & breakfasts and shops; enjoy the vintage signs preserved all over town; and make Williams part of your Grand Canyon vacation.

One musn't mistake Williams as a tourist town that simply sprang up to capitalize on its close proximity to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. On the contrary, Williams' history as a settlement began nearly half a century before the Grand Canyon was named a National Park.

Founded in 1876 by mountain man and trapper William "Old Bill" Williams, for whom the surrounding mountains are also named, Williams was a settlement run wild with traders, miners and ranchers - men who worked hard and played harder. Williams earned every bit of its Wild West reputation; at the heart of the city lay Saloon Row, a run of bordellos, gambling halls and watering holes frequented by the town's rough and rowdy residents.

By 1919, Grand Canyon National Park had been established and the Santa Fe Railway stretched from Williams to the South Rim. In 1926, Route 66 came roaring into town, with newly popular automobiles barreling into town on the wheels of progress. Rail service to the Grand Canyon ceased in 1968, but was revived and restored as the Grand Canyon Railway by Max and Thelma Biegert in 1989.

Today, Williams is more than just a place to board a train. Explore, challenge yourself and feel like a kid again in Williams; it's a year-round playground and a great jumping off place for all kinds of day trips around the region.  Get up close (safely) with spectacular animals at Grand Canyon Deer Farm or Bearizona.  Play 18 holes amidst the pines at Elephant Rocks public golf course or discover classic aircraft on display at the Planes of Fame Air Museum. Giggle and squeal as you swoosh down the snowhills at Elk Ridge Ski & Outdoor Recreation Area, or feel a chill run up your spine on the Saloon Row Ghost Tour of haunted downtown buildings.

Venture out from Williams to get in touch with its more ancient past; discover three national monuments where the earth's geologic past and remnants of early inhabitants lie exposed and ready for you to experience. Visit any of three area National Monuments: Walnut Canyon National Monument (44 miles), Sunset Crater Volcano (54 miles) and Wupatki National Monument (61 miles).

HOTELS & THINGS TO DO IN WILLIAMS

Grand Canyon Railway
Grand Canyon Railway
Visit the official website for Grand Canyon Railway. Book your reservation online for a train tour on one of five classes of service on our vintage train to the Grand Canyon. Or,select a vacation package that includes lodging at our own Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and in Grand Canyon Nation
Visit the official website for Grand Canyon Railway. Book your reservation online for a train tour on one of five classes of service on our vintage train to the Grand Canyon. Or,select a vacation package that includes lodging at our own Grand Canyon Railway Hotel and in Grand Canyon National Park.
Bearizona Wildlife Park
Bearizona Wildlife Park
Welcome to Bearizona Wildlife Park. We are a Wildlife adventure, open year-round. Located on 160 acres in the city of Williams Az. We are right off Route 66 on the way to the Grand Canyon, just a short drive from Sedona and Flagstaff. The park consists of a 3-mile drive-thru and Fort Beari
Welcome to Bearizona Wildlife Park. We are a Wildlife adventure, open year-round. Located on 160 acres in the city of Williams Az. We are right off Route 66 on the way to the Grand Canyon, just a short drive from Sedona and Flagstaff. The park consists of a 3-mile drive-thru and Fort Bearizona. In the drive-thru, you will take your own vehicle or our Wild Ride Bus through pristine Natural habitats for many North American Species. In these free-roaming areas, you will see wolves, bears, bison, and many other large species that can come right up to your car. Where the drive-thru ends Fort Bearizona begins. Park your car and come on in. This is where you will find our smaller animals like river otters and bobcats. The barnyard, which is our petting zoo and fun for all ages. The Raptor Free Flight program, where birds of prey fly right over your head. All Shows which include animal meet-n-greets and training presentations. Big Bear Gift shop, over 8,000 sq feet of treasures and also housing Arizona's largest model train, a historically accurate replica of the railroad from Williams depot to the grand canyon. For dining options, we have the Bearizona Grill for a quick snack or our themed Canyonlands restaurant where you can sit and have a hot meal and a cold beverage overlooking our remarkable jaguar enclosure. You can Hop on our website for all current show times and we hope you can come visit us soon. Not only will you learn about lots of Awesome North American animals but you will also have an amazing time while you're doing it.

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THINGS TO DO NEAR WILLIAMS

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