Exploring Williams, Arizona


I ended Day Zero, and began Day 1 in one of the best family-owned, old-style motels I’ve ever seen.  Simply named the “Canyon Motel and RV Park”, this place does everything right. The motel is just off old US 66, across the street from the Super 8 on the east side of town.  It kinda feels like it’s in the middle of nowhere, which makes it wonderfully quiet, but a bit hard to find at night.

When I made my reservation, I was told that the office would close at 9 p.m.  I told them I should make it, and they said if I didn’t, they’d leave the key by the front door for me.  After my picture-taking at Hoover Dam, and my sudden realization that I lost an hour crossing into the mountain time zone, I didn’t arrive until well after 10.  As I reached in the box for my key, the door opened.  The lady (most likely the owner–I should have asked) at the front desk had waited for me!  Not only that, but she had a bag of gifts for me!  We chatted for a few minutes, and she gave me some extra info on the area, which led me to some places I never would have found on my own (on the next page).

The Canyon Motel has two cabooses and one railcar that have been converted into motel rooms (the railcar is divided into three rooms).  They were all full, so I settled for a room…

… in their historic motor court.  Several old stone cottages (circa 1940’s, back in the Route 66 heyday) are divided up into 3 motel rooms apiece.  Everything was modern and clean inside.  I’d never stay in a chain motel again, if all the family-owned ones were this good.

If you want to stay at the Canyon Motel, reserve early to get a railcar or caboose.  Here’s their website.  You can also check out their rating on tripadvisor.com — they’re quite proud of it!

The motel is a mile or two from Williams, so after leaving the motel, and before setting out on the journey south, I drove into town. The motel owner suggested a good breakfast place, but I decided to stick with my in-car supply of snacks.  Instead, I wandered the streets.

Just like several other northern Arizona towns, Williams takes pride in its Route 66 heritage.  The old Mother Road is split into two one-way roads through downtown, with many of the city’s businesses lying in between.

Yes, there are plenty of souvenir shops and neon signs…

… but also quite a few empty storefronts.

The town may cater to tourists headed to the Grand Canyon, but it still maintains its old-west feel.

Note: This trip was first published in 2007.

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