If you’re going to the Grand Canyon, South Rim, and coming up from the south, there’s no reason why not to stop and see the small town of Williams, Arizona, on Route 66!
Williams is only 1 hour away from the canyon, and also has some of the most affordable places to stay at if you are visiting the Grand Canyon. There are plenty of hotels, motels, and even a hostel located right in town on Route 66. We stayed at the Grand Canyon Hotel, which is a old historic building built in 1891. It’s said to be the oldest hotel in Arizona, and even though it was updated slightly back in 2004, it retains that old fashioned charm with the decor, old wooden floors, and room styles.
People come all over the world and stay in it. We met a couple from Sweden, a man from Korea, and other visitors from different parts of the US. We sat and chatted with them for a while in the common room which was a lot of fun! Everyone there was super nice and friendly, the host even let us pick out which room we wanted out of those available(they’re all decorated a little differently with antiques and cool old time pictures)! So yeah, needless to say, I’d definitely stay there again!
Out on Route 66
After checking in at the hotel, we went outside to go find a place to eat and check out some of the shops. Everything was in walking distance, but it was chilly and getting late so we didn’t go too far. In each direction there are several restaurants, and gift shops. Stuff is a lot cheaper here by the way than at the National Parks–so if you want souvenirs, it’s a good place to get them–there’s a lot of the same items if you’re worried!
Another thing to note too, there is no on street parking from 2am-6am, so if you’re staying at a place right on Route 66, you’ll have to move your car for the night. The Grand Canyon Hotel had parking in the back so it wasn’t a problem for us.
As we were walking around, we did see some of the stereotypical Route 66 things, like this old gas station which said it was a museum. Also an old car which was advertising another gift shop that it was parked right outside of. And it was definitely working with people coming over to take pictures of, and with it!
Lastly, you can’t forget to walk over and see the Grand Canyon Steam Train! The Railway operates daily going to and from the Grand Canyon with diesel engines, but every first Saturday of the month you can catch a ride on the steam locomotive! More info here at their website.
There was a small visitor’s center right there by the train, but by the time we got to it it was closed for the day(arrive early!). However there were some signs outside giving information about the surrounding area. Including a place to buy your Grand Canyon park pass! Which I do recommend getting ahead of time as there can be long lines of cars at the entrance.
Kaibab National Forest
If you’re into hiking and nature, the Kaibab National Forest which is split into 3 sections(Williams, Tusayan, North Kaibab), can be another thing to check out. We didn’t have the time, however I’d have loved to check out the forest and Bill William’s Mountain Trail.
Overall, we had a good time seeing a bit of Route 66, just wish it was longer!