Route 66 to Williams, Arizona
We have traveled Historic Route 66 across Arizona multiple times over the years, both eastbound and westbound.
Some of the journey is on I-40, which parallels the old Route 66 in many places. We always drive the segments of the Mother Road where it still remains. Exits to Route 66 are marked in many locales.
One of our favorite places and scenes along the Mother Road is Williams, Arizona, west of Flagstaff.
Founded in 1882, Williams was named for Bill Williams Mountain, the volcanic peak that rises above it. The mountain has long been important to native peoples of the region including the Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai and Hopi.
Williams is located just an hour south of the Grand Canyon and is known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon” because of the variety of lodging choices, activities for the whole family, its connection with Historic Route 66, and plenty of outdoor recreation to enjoy.
The historic Grand Canyon Railway ferries hundreds of thousands of tourists every year from Williams to and from the Canyon. The Kaibab National Forest and the Bill Williams Mountain area provide ample opportunities for camping, hiking and outdoor adventures.
A Route 66 Stopover in Williams, Arizona and the Grand Canyon
From Flagstaff Historic Route 66 passed through Williams, the jumping off point to the Grand Canyon, followed by Ash Fork, and then into Seligman. The last section of Route 66 nationally was decommissioned through Williams in 1984, replaced by I-40.
Williams, Arizona was founded in 1881, and is today known as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon".
Scenes Around Williams, Arizona
|Pete's Gas Station Museum
||Grand Canyon Hotel in Williams
|Williams Railroad Station
||Bearizona in Williams
Shown below is a mural in Williams ... Last town by-passed by I-40 on October 13, 1984.
|Visitor Information Center at 200 W. Railroad Ave||Shopping in downtown Williams
Side Trip from Route 66 to Grand Canyon National Park
|Map showing a road trip from Route 66 in Williams north to the Grand Canyon|
Grand Canyon National Park is located in Arizona near Flagstaff and Williams, and is centered on a Colorado River canyon that is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. The Park is one of the world's most popular natural attractions, with attendance exceeding 6 million visitors a year.
Many travelers on Historic Route 66 make a side-trip to visit the Grand Canyon as the park lies only 54 miles north of Route 66 from Williams. The park is also located about 75 miles northwest of Flagstaff.
There are two access routes to the Grand Canyon, the most popular one being Highway 64 north from Williams, located on Interstate 40 and Route 66.
Those visitors approaching the park from Flagstaff will take U.S. Highway 180 northwest from Flagstaff to Valle, and then U.S. 64 north to the park.
Another mode of transportation into the park is via the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from Williams directly into the park. The railroad has operated since 1901.
The South Rim of the canyon, with an elevation of about 7,000 feet, is open year-round, while the North Rim is open only part of the year, during the warmer months. Route 66 travelers typically visit only the South Rim.
Read more about a Route 66 Side Trip from Williams to the Grand Canyon
Lodging and Dining Options in Williams
Interactive Map of the Williams, Arizona Area
Earlier Times: Vintage Views along Route 66 in Williams
We have included below a sampling of our collection of vintage travel postcards dealing with Williams and Route 66.
What was Route 66 like in its earlier years, as visitors drove around and across Williams? What did all the service stations, motels and public buildings look like when they were new?
What did the traveling public experience on the Mother Road? We wonder such things when we travel Route 66 today.
Those earlier times in the 1930s, 40s and 50s were not always captured on film. But the use of colorful postcards was common in those decades.
These portray the historic road in its prime and help us to visualize, and appreciate, "earlier times" as we drive Route 66 today across Williams.
Arizona Route 66 Passport
The Arizona Route 66 Passport is your guide into the heart of America. Cruise along the Mother Road, collecting stamps at locations along the way. Each passport comes with a free Traveler's Guide.
It is published by the The Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona, a non-profit organization, dedicated to the preservation, protection, and promotion of both the surface, and the memories along Arizona’s portion of Route 66. Proceeds from the sale of Passports benefit this cooperative marketing initiative.
Purchase an Arizona Route 66 Passport online or pick one up at one of the locations where stamps are given.
Arizona Digital Route 66 Passport: Rock the Route
The Arizona Office of Tourism launched in late August of 2022 the Digital Route 66 Passport. From Topock 66 on the Colorado River in the west to The Painted Desert Trading Post in the east plus miles of famous sights, shops, eats and towns in between, the free digital passport makes planning a Route 66-centric road trip easier than ever.
There’s even the chance to win prizes by checking in and uploading photos through the passport.
Access to the free digital map and passport is delivered instantly to phones and mobile devices after a quick sign-up.
Read how the Passport works and how to get one: Arizona Digital Route 66 Passport
Read the Press Release here: Arizona Office of Tourism Launches Digital Route 66 Passport
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