Grand Canyon Deer Farm
You can walk among tame fallow deer and hand-feed them at this well-run petting zoo (928/635-4073 or 800/926-3337, $6.75 adults, $5.75 seniors 62 and over, $3.95 children 3–13). Arizona wildlife includes the fleet-of-hoof pronghorn and dexterous coatimundi. You'll also likely see reindeer, Sitka deer, miniature donkeys and horses, buffalo, llamas, pygmy goats, wallabies, marmosets, and talking birds. Peacocks strut across the grounds. Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas: 8 a.m.–7 p.m. June–Aug., 9 a.m.–6 p.m. March–May and Sept.–Oct, and 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Nov.–Feb. (weather permitting). Head eight miles east of Williams to I-40 Pittman Valley/Deer Farm Exit 171 (24 miles west from Flagstaff), turn north, then make a sharp left onto Deer Farm Road and follow it west for half a mile.
Historic Route 66—Williams to Flagstaff Auto Tour
You can motor down the old highway for 22 miles one way between Williams and Bellemont, 10 miles before Flagstaff. The scenic drive, part gravel, has signs and crosses Route 66's highest point—7,300 feet. A brochure from the Visitor Information Center in Williams describes the history and things to see along the way.
Get Your Bikes on Route 66!
Abandoned sections of historic Route 66 have become two mountain bike trails west of Williams. You can ride a loop on each by following the unpaved 1922 and partly paved 1932 alignments. Devil Dog Bicycle Tour makes a five-mile loop in ponderosa pines south of I-40 Devil Dog Exit 157; it can be done in 30 minutes. Ash Fork Hill Bicycle Tour is a six-mile loop farther west in pinyon-juniper woodlands and takes about an hour; the ride begins just north of I-40 Welch Exit 151. Stop by the Visitor Information Center or Forest Service office in Williams for a brochure with maps.
Bill Williams Mountain
On a clear day atop this 9,256-foot peak, you'll enjoy views of the Grand Canyon to the north, San Francisco Peaks and many smaller volcanoes to the east, Sycamore Canyon and parts of the Verde Valley to the south, and vast rangelands to the west. If it's open, climb up the Forest Service lookout tower at the top for the best views. Hiking season lasts from about June to September; you should always carry water. Note that the entire Bill Williams Mountain watershed often closes in the dry months of early summer until the "monsoon" rains arrive. Pine, oak, and juniper cover the lower slopes, and dense forests of aspen, fir, and spruce grow in protected valleys and at higher elevations.
Three trails lead to the heights, or you can drive up on an unpaved road (high-clearance vehicle needed). From downtown Williams head 4.7 miles south on Fourth Street, then turn right seven miles on Forest Road 111. The road closes in winter. With a car shuttle, you can go up one trail and down another, or hike a trail just in one direction.
The eight-mile-roundtrip Bill Williams Mountain Trail climbs the north face of the mountain. You'll reach the road about a half mile from the summit; either continue on the trail across the road or turn up the road itself. The trailhead (elev. 6,900 feet) is near the Williams Ranger District office, 1.5 miles west of town; from I-40, take Exit 161 toward Williams, then turn right (west) 0.7 mile on the frontage road.
The nine-mile-roundtrip Benham Trail climbs the south and east slopes, crossing the road to the lookout tower several times. To reach the Benham Trailhead (elev. 7,265 feet) from Williams, go south 3.5 miles on Fourth Street, then turn right about 0.3 mile on Forest Road 140. The gentler grade of this trail makes it good for horseback riders as well as hikers; the trailhead has a corral and restroom.
The Bixler Saddle Trail climbs past majestic rock formations and good viewpoints on the west side of Bill Williams Mountain, then joins the Bill Williams Mountain Trail about half a mile from the top, six miles roundtrip total to the summit. Take I-40 west from Williams to Devil Dog Road Exit 157, head south on Forest Road 108, which turns left after 0.5 mile, then right in another 0.4 mile; continue 0.1 mile, then look for Forest Road 45 on the left—it's easy to miss. Take this road and follow it 3.6 miles to its end at the Bixler Saddle Trailhead (elev. 7,700 feet). The last bit requires a high-clearance vehicle; with a car you could park before the going gets too rough and walk. The Kaibab National Forest map (Williams District) will help to navigate the forest roads.
Keyhole Sink Trail
A pleasant stroll, also marked for cross-country skiers, leads through ponderosa pines to a seasonal pool in a little box canyon. Aspen, wildflowers, and lush grass thrive here; you're likely to see some birds, too. Prehistoric people left petroglyphs, estimated to be 1,000 years old, on the dark basaltic rock. The easy walk is about 1.2 miles roundtrip with little elevation gain. To reach the trailhead, drive east on I-40 from Williams to Pittman Valley Exit 171, exit north, then head east 2.4 miles on Historic Route 66; parking is on the right at Oak Hill Snowplay Area, which features picnic tables, a warming shed, and toilets. The trailhead is north across the road. Coming from Flagstaff, you can take I-40 Parks Road Exit 178, turn north, then west 4.3 miles on Route 66. Garland Prairie Vista Picnic Area lies just 1.1 miles east of Oak Hill Snowplay Area.
Dogtown Lake (elev. 7,100 feet) offers a campground, picnic area, and good hiking. Dogtown Lake Trail makes a pleasant 1.8-mile stroll around the lake from the picnic area. Davenport Hill Trail begins near the boat ramp on the east side of the lake, follows Dogtown Wash, climbs to a bench, then switchbacks to the 7,805-foot summit. You'll pass through ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, white fir, and aspen forests with some good views. The trail is five miles roundtrip and has an elevation gain of 700 feet. Ponderosa Nature Trail is an easy, level, one-mile loop that follows the first part of the Davenport Hill Trail; a brochure describes the forest environment at stops along the way. Dogtown Lake, named for the prairie dogs common in the Williams area, is 7.5 miles southeast of town; drive 3.5 miles south on Fourth Street, turn left three miles on Forest Road 140, then left 1.2 miles at the sign. You can make a loop back to Williams by following signs on Forest Roads 140 and 141.
Sycamore Rim Trail
This 11-mile loop near upper Sycamore Canyon takes you past canyon viewpoints, seasonal waterfalls, lumber mill and railroad sites, lily ponds (good swimming), and pretty forest country. Stone cairns mark the trail. Trailheads lie southeast of Williams near the junction of Forest Routes 13 and 56, at the end of Forest Road 56, at Pomeroy Tanks off Forest Road 109, and at Sycamore Falls off Forest Road 109; see the Kaibab or Coconino National Forest maps. If you're in the mood for only a short hike, walk 0.3 mile south from the end of Forest Road 56 to an overlook of Sycamore Canyon. The Visitor Information Center downtown at 200 W. Railroad Avenue and the Williams Ranger District office have a map and trail description.
Overland Historic Trail
You can hike sections of this old trail that connected Antelope Springs (Flagstaff) with Fort Whipple near Prescott. Twenty-three miles of the trail lie within the Kaibab National Forest. The Visitor Information Center and the Williams Ranger District office have information.
Two waterfalls near White Horse Lake create a spectacle during spring runoff and after heavy rains. From the White Horse Lake entrance, head north 1.7 miles on Forest Road 109 to the trailhead, about two miles south of the junction with Forest Road 13. A small waterfall is visible in a canyon just to the right, but walk ahead and a bit to the left to see a larger one, 80–100 feet high.
You'll enjoy a breathtaking panorama of Sycamore Canyon from this overlook 23 miles southeast of Williams. Elk, deer, black bears, and other wildlife inhabit the wild and rugged wilderness below. From town, drive eight miles south on Fourth Street, then turn left on Forest Road 110 and travel to its end, approximately 15 miles farther. The last five miles may be too rough for cars. No trails enter the canyon from this side, though you can spot a path going down the opposite side. See the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness section for ideas on exploring this area.
This pretty little reservoir lies 0.6 mile down Forest Road 105 from the Sycamore Point turnoff. A causeway leads out to the center. It's a catch-and-release trout lake, and there's good birding. Facilities are limited to a boat ramp and an outhouse. You could camp in the surrounding forest outside the fence.
Backroad Scenic Drive to Jerome via Perkinsville
Beginning as Fourth Street in downtown Williams, this road heads south through the pine forests of the Mogollon Rim, drops down to the high-desert lands of the Verde Valley, crosses the Verde River at historic Perkinsville Ranch, then climbs rugged hills to the old mining town of Jerome. The first 25 miles is paved, followed by 27 miles of dirt. Though dusty and bumpy in spots, the route is usually okay in dry weather. No vehicle should attempt the unpaved section after winter snowstorms or heavy summer rains. Allow three hours for a one-way drive, more if you'd like to stop to admire the views. Stock up on gas and water before heading down this lonely road. The Prescott National Forest map covers the entire route.
For more of a challenge, you can drive the Great Western Trail from just east of Williams and join the main road north of Perkinsville. Small signs mark the Great Western Trail, some sections of which are way too rough for cars.
The "Flagstone Capital of the USA," Ash Fork lies in high-desert grasslands at the junction of I-40 and AZ 89, 19 miles west of Williams and 50 miles north of Prescott. The town grew up around a railroad siding built near Ash Creek in 1882, where passengers and freight transferred to stagecoaches or wagons for Prescott and Phoenix. Ash Fork (pop. 650) now serves as a highway stop and center for ranching and sandstone quarrying. You'll see piles of flagstone along the road on the west side of town.
As in Williams, most of the businesses lie along two parallel one-way streets—Lewis Avenue for westbound traffic and Park Avenue for eastbound. Take I-40 Exits 144 or 146. Unlike Williams, the citizens here haven't been able to develop the town's Route 66 history, and nearly all of the travelers' facilities have closed. Still, you might enjoy a look at the old buildings downtown.
Ashfork Inn (west of downtown near I-40 Exit 144, 928/637-2514, $22 s, $29 d) is the only motel worth looking at, and it's fairly basic. Ash Fork Grand Canyon RV Park (783 Old Route 66, 928/637-2521, $9.50 tents, $18.50 RVs w/hookups, $18.50 cabins) provides a pool, store, and laundry, but showers cost $3 extra; turn south on 8th Street at the sign. Hillside RV Park (south frontage road near I-40 Exit 144, 928/637-2300) catches a lot of noise from I-40 and isn't as good a deal; $9 RVs no hookups, $25 w/hookups, plus $5/person for a shower; it also provides a store and laundry.
You may wish to bring your own! There's just the Picadilly Pizza & Subs (next to the Chevron station just south of the I-40 Exit 144) on the west side of town and a basic cafe on the east side. A park on Lewis Avenue has picnic tables.
Another old railroad town, Seligman (pop. 900) now relies more on ranching and tourists, and it has done a great job of playing up its Route 66 history. The first residents arrived in 1886 and called the place Prescott Junction, because a rail line branched south to Prescott. Though the Prescott line was later abandoned, the town survived. The present name honors brothers who owned the Hash Knife Cattle Company.
When I-40 bypassed Seligman, many local business people threw up their hands in despair, but not brothers Juan and Angel Degadillo. They organized a Route 66 association to promote the history and memories of Route 66 and, through dogged determination, succeeded. Juan operated his wacky Degadillo's Snow Cap for more than 50 years, before passing away in June 2004. You may meet Angel in the gift shop/visitor center/barbershop next door.
Seligman lies near the east end of the longest remaining section of Route 66. If coming from the east, you can join the historic highway at I-40 Crookton Road Exit 139, then motor over gently rolling hills for 17.5 miles into downtown. Or you can hop off I-40 at Exits 121 or 123. This former transcontinental highway takes a bit longer to drive across western Arizona, but it offers a change of pace and a glimpse of America's motoring past. It also gives access to the Havasupai and Hualapai reservations; see the Western Grand Canyon and The Arizona Strip chapter. Route 66 has its own museum in Kingman plus some spectacular mountain scenery farther west, described in Kingman and Vicinity of the Western Arizona Chapter.
You have a fine choice of Route 66-era motels in the compact downtown. Don't expect frills such as swimming pools or wireless Internet! Stagecoach 66 Motel (639 E. Route 66, 928/422-3470, $30 s, $34 d) lies out on the east edge of town, but offers a pizza restaurant. In downtown, Aztec Motel (312 E. Route 66, 928/422-3055, $27.50 s, $38.75-49.50 d) provides recently remodeled rooms around a courtyard. The 1932 Deluxe Inn (203 E. Route 66, 928/422-3244 or 800/823-0513, $31 s, $34 d) adds microwaves and fridges to its stone-fronted rooms, also facing a courtyard. Canyon Lodge (114 E. Route 66, 928/422-3255, $39 s, $43 d) also has microwaves and fridges, and it throws in coffee makers and a continental breakfast. Romney Motel/Supai Motel (122 W. Route 66, 928/422-7666, $29 d) is the cheapest in town, but inspect the rooms first. Historic Route 66 Motel (500 W. Route 66, 928/422-3204, $47 s, $57 d) fronts a large parking lot on the west side of town.
Seligman Route 66 KOA (just east of town, 928/422-0035 or 800/562-4017, $19 tent, $23.50-25 RV w/hookups, $33 cabin) features a swimming pool along with showers, laundry, and games.
Get your malts, sodas, fast food, and maybe a joke or two at the colorful Delgadillo's Snow Cap (301 E. Route 66, 928/422-3291). Enjoy Patty's flavorful Thai-American home cooking at the Mini Mart & Cafe (223 E. Route 66, 928/422-0014), open daily for breakfast and lunch and Mon.-Sat. for dinner. Patty's also offers a small grocery. The Copper Cart Restaurant (103 W. Route 66, 928/422-3241, daily for breakfast and lunch, closes 4 p.m.) offers a varied American menu. Meg's Coyote Pizza (639 E. Route 66, 928/422-4697, closed Mon.) lies east of downtown. A small park in the center of town has picnic tables.
Vast underground chambers and pretty cave features invite you to detour off old Route 66. The caverns (928/422-4565, www.grandcanyoncaverns.com) lie 25 miles northwest of Seligman, then one mile off the highway. A giant dinosaur stands guard in front. On 45-minute guided tours, you descend 210 feet by elevator and walk about 0.75 mile with some steps and inclines. The interior has been dry for millions of years and is now a comfortable 56ºF year-round with a humidity of just 6%. Tours operate 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily in the warmer months, then 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in winter (closed Christmas Day); admission is $13 adults, $10 children 4–12. Flashlight tours follow the same route, but offer an experience similar to what tourists had before 1962; call for times, $15 adults, $13 children. Explorer tours take you on an adventurous route off the main trail and last about two hours, by reservation only, $45.
At the caverns' entrance, you can see some cave exhibits, watch a video, peruse the gift shop, or visit the restaurant (open about the same hours as the tours). The nearby campground offers dry sites for tents and RVs ($12.50) and hookup sites ($18.50) including showers.
Grand Canyon Caverns Inn (928/422-4565, $62 s, $72 d, less in winter) offers year-round accommodations near the turnoff on Route 66.
On to Mormon Lake Area (South of Flagstaff)