Bill Williams Mountain, Above Williams, AZ


When you’re in Williams, take a look around, and find the highest mountain nearby–the one with all the TV and radio antennas on top.  That’s Bill Williams Mountain, and it’s the perfect place to get the lay of the land.  Surprisingly, it’s open to anyone who wants to drive the bumpy 6-mile road to the top.

Bill Williams Mountain is south of Williams on Perkinsville Road, AKA Coconino County Route 73.  If you’re coming from Dogtown Reservoir, as I was, take a left onto Rte. 73, headed south.  The road (Forest Road 111) is not well marked–the only sign is after you turn off the main road, so keep an eye out.

The drive up to the top of Bill Williams Mountain is a bumpy one–certainly rougher than the other dirt roads that cross National Forest land nearby.  Even so, it wasn’t difficult to handle in my rental car.

The road climbs steadily, with a few switchbacks.  Most of the time, you can see the towers at the top of the hill, so you know when you’re getting close.

Reaching the top is quite an accomplishment.  Here, you are at 9,256 feet, nearly a half mile above the city of Williams (2,490 feet higher, to be exact).  TV towers and microwave dishes surround you–so close you can touch them, which probably isn’t very safe.  There’s also a fire lookout tower with a sign inviting guests to climb to the top.

Who could resist?

I did discover that it’s not an easy climb, and a couple of times, I banged an elbow or knee into the maze of steel that supports the tower.  Sadly, the tiny room at the top was locked…

… but I still had a great view for miles in every direction.  This is what the entire city of Williams looks like from the Bill Williams Lookout Tower.

When do you ever get a chance to see all this radio antenna stuff, this close?  OK, I’m a bit of a radio/tech geek, I guess.

Remarkably, I didn’t see any signs of vandalism up here, nor any efforts to keep people from misbehaving.  I’m quite certain that this equipment would be repeatedly destroyed, in most other places around the country.  But the good people of Williams behave themselves.

Here’s a tip that seems to be an almost unknown secret about Bill Williams Mountain: in the summer months, Bill Williams Mountain is the birthplace of countless ladybugs.  So many are hatched here, that entire trees turn orange-red with the insects.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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