Williams is a small town about an hour’s drive from the Grand Canyon along the historic Route 66. This mountain-side community is tucked into the base of the Bill Williams Mountain, the westernmost mountain above 9,000 feet in Arizona, and offers visitors a uniquely old west feel. Surrounded by the trees of the Ponderosa Forest, Williams also presents a sanctuary for nature lovers without the hustle and bustle closer to the Canyon.
Both the town and the mountain are named after mountaineer Bill Williams, who was a local guide and hunter before being killed by the Ute Indians in 1849.
Williams Isn’t Just about the Grand Canyon
In addition to the Grand Canyon, visitors can find plenty to do in and around Williams as it is home to Bearizona, Elk Ridge Ski and Outdoor Recreation Area, the Grand Canyon Railway and within a leisurely drive from Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon.
- Bearizona – The Bearizona Drive Thru Wildlife Park in Williams connects visitors with nature in a way very much unlike traditional zoos and wildlife parks. It is here where visitors drive through the park, observing the wildlife in their habitats. Though the comfort of your own vehicle, witness a black bear eating breakfast or a pack of Big Horn Sheep jockeying for dominance. Open seven days a week, Bearizona offers single-use visitor rates and annual passes. Plan on at least two hours for your Bearizona adventure.
- Grand Canyon Railway – All aboard! Embark on a historic adventure (and ride into the park) aboard the Grand Canyon Railway. Since beginning its first trek into the Grand Canyon National Park in 1901, the Grand Canyon Railway has been a Grand Canyon mainstay and served as the lifeblood to the park in the early 20th century. With the rise of the railroads, the Grand Canyon Railway proved its worth as it commissioned and built most of the historic structures along the South Rim (that are still there)! Today, the railway shuttles more than 200,000 passengers aboard the rustic, restored, vintage train, providing an authentic experience. In the wintertime, the railway adds an especially magical feel as it turns into the Polar Express, a train ride experience based on the popular children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg. Each year, thousands of eager children, young and old, board the Grand Canyon Railway to take a magical ride to the North Pole. Lucky passengers are even treated to a visit from Santa Claus himself as well as hot chocolate and cookies.
In addition to these bigger attractions, Williams is also home to a number of mom and pop restaurants offering everything from southwestern barbeque, to Mexican cuisine to homemade milkshakes.
Staying in Williams is Easy on the Wallet
It is it’s distance to the Canyon that serves, perhaps, as its greatest asset as visitors find cheaper room rates from decent hotels all while staying close, but not too close to the park. All in all, you pay just about what you would in other, more distant locations and still have access to the park you came to see.
Hotels are two and three star basics, with the highlight likely being the Grand Canyon Hotel, which is a family owned and restored historic building downtown. True perks are few and far between but certainly all of the basics are found in plentiful numbers and in brands you recognize and trust such as the Holiday Inn, Days in and Travelodge, to name a few.
Find Williams, AZ lodging at these top properties
Quality Inn Mountain Ranch & Resort: An ideal hotel for business travelers, comfortable quarters and modern services are met at this pleasant hotel.
Comfort Inn Near Grand Canyon: This hotel offers guests an affordable stay not too far from the Grand Canyon.
Days Inn Williams: Affordability and basic accommodations, Days Inn Williams is an especially ideal choice for the budget-conscious.
Grand Canyon Railway Hotel: An exceptional hotel, the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” gives guests an authentic, historic experience in a picturesque setting.
Grand Canyon Hotel: Quaint, quirky and proud to be the oldest hotel in Arizona, the Grand Canyon Hotel does not disappoint guests seeking a uniquely Arizona vacation experience.
Williams Grand Canyon Travelodge: Serviceable and fairly priced, this hotel is an ideal choice for those traveling on a budget that prefers to rely upon nationally recognized brand names.
Econo Lodge Williams: No frills and budget-friendly, the Econo Lodge Williams is a decent place to bunk down for the night.
Holiday Inn Williams: Brand name reliability and comfort are delivered at this hotel located within one hour of the Grand Canyon.