Williams, Ariz., Gateway to Grand Canyon on Route 66

A wildlife park, a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon, a thrilling zipline adventure above Route 66, and a peaceful mountain retreat are waiting for you in Williams.
By Staff ,

Main street in Williams, Ariz. Photo by Grant Ordelheide

From cruising Route 66, riding the train to the Grand Canyon, visiting Bearizona, a drive-through wildlife park or shopping for that perfect souvenir, Williams, Ariz., is the place to do it.

Williams is a short, one-hour drive from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, making it a good spot to base out of while you are in the area. Plan your trip around one of the many signature events in Williams, whether it be a rodeo, BBQ festival, classic car show or a Wild West shootout.

All Aboard the Grand Canyon Railway

Don't miss this steamy adventure that takes off from Williams, Ariz.

The Grand Canyon Railway snakes itself through a forest south of the canyon.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts

Trade gasoline for French fry oil as you travel on the Grand Canyon Railway for the final 65-mile stretch to the Grand Canyon.

You'll board in Williams, Ariz., where you'll learn vegetable oil literally fuels the railway’s Locomotive No. 29 and No. 4960, also known as the French Fry Express. Collected from restaurants in the Grand Canyon, Phoenix and Williams, Ariz., the recycled oil emits 50 percent less carbon emissions than diesel fuel. In addition, passengers who take the train to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim reduce vehicle pollution and traffic by an estimated 70,000 cars per year.

But riding the train is also just plain fun. Back in the day, President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir paid $3.95 to ride on the rails. Today, the Old West lives on with staged train robberies and cowboy sing-alongs.

Fuel Up in Downtown Williams

Red Raven Restaurant in Williams, Ariz.

Courtesy Red Raven Restaurant

When you return to historic Williams, explore its vibrant Route 66 downtown that has 1950s and '60s music playing on seemingly each corner. Fuel up on lunch at Grand Canyon Coffee and Cafe. Or head to Cruiser's Route 66 Cafe to see Route 66 memorabilia and eat classic American food. For a fancy meal, head to Red Raven Restaurant downtown.

Thirsty for a cool brew? Savor a Sunset Amber Ale or celebrate Grand Canyon's 100th birthday in 2019 with a cold special Centennial beer at the new Grand Canyon Brewing Co. location, 301 N. 7th Street.

Route 66 Goes Through Williams

Pete's classic 1940's Ford sedan out front of his namesake Route 66 Gas Station Museum in Williams, Arizona.

Photo by Loco Steve via Flickr

Route 66 conjures thoughts of rich history, soda fountains, neon lights, classic cars, and fun.  Only in Williams, Arizona will you find a stretch of Route 66 with shopping, dining, lodging, and cowboy action. There's something for the whole family.

Route 66 is an experience, a feeling, a perception, a taste of sight and sound, and a mystery that can only be resolved by driving the pavement itself. The "super-highway", as it was thought of in 1926, represented unprecedented freedom to travel across the American West. The original paved highway was a narrow two-lane road (slightly wider than one lane of a modern highway) that spanned more than 2,300 miles from Chicago, Illinois to Long Beach, California.

For more information:

Williams-Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce
(928) 635-1418, www.experiencewilliams.com

Best Western PLUS of Williams
800-635-4445, www.bestwesternwilliams.com

Cruisers Cafe 66
233 W. Route 66, (928) 635-2445, cruisers66.com

Grand Canyon Brewery
301 N 7th St, (928) 635-2445, grandcanyonbrewery.com

1500 E. Rout 66, (928) 635-2289, www.bearizona.com

The Canyon Motel and RV Park
Grand Canyon Exit 165 off I-40, Route 66 and Rodeo Road, (800) 482-3955, www.thecanyonmotel.com

Grand Canyon Railway