Known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon and is in the heart of Kaibab National Forest.
It was founded in 1881. This was the last town in America on the Historic Route 66 to be bypassed by the freeway. Interstate 40 replaced the last surviving semanet in October 1984. This is our first stop on Route 66. We plan to visit the beginning and the end.
The Grand Canyon Railway is located here in this town. It only travels north to the Grand Canyon’s south rim, making one trip a day. It leaves at 9:30am and comes back at 5:30pm. It made it’s first journey in 1901. Before the train, people would arrive on the Sante Fe train and get off in Williams and travel north by stage coach or horse. It is a 65 mile trip so it would take them 8 hours, they would spend the night at El Tovar Lodge (which is still there) and then head back. Pictured below is an old Sante Fe train car.
Before you head on your journey, there is a cute little Wild West show and then the guy make an appearance again on the train to ‘rob us’. They also have musicians travel through the train cars to entertain us. It is a 2 hour train ride versus the 1 hour drive time in the Jeep. There are 6 different classes to chose from, we chose to ride up in First class and ride back in Coach. I actually preferred the coach class mainly because the train car attendant was friendlier and more informative. I’d suggest not spending the extra money.
Abby wasn’t feeling well so I sat on the porch of El Tovar and rocked in the rocking chairs while Chris and Mackenzie went to explore the Hopi House. We had lunch while sitting on the rim and then the girls got some ice cream. Abby couldn’t even eat the ice cream- that’s when I knew something was really wrong. Mackenzie took over the rest of her ice cream and double fisted it on the walk back to the train. She made them look so good people were stopping her to ask where she got them. Luckily we have two weeks in this area so we were able to visit the Grand Canyon 3 more times. (When we got home Abby’s temperature was 104!).
I have a separate blog just about the Grand Canyon so click here to see that. Link to older post.
We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway RV park which gave us access to the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. This was nice because we had access to the indoor pool and hot tub. This park is the only one in Williams that has paved roads and spaces and pull through sites available. We could walk to downtown Williams and Route 66 from our spot. There was a playground across the street. We did not enjoy hearing the train while we slept though.
The Hotel decorated beautifully for Christmas complete with an amazing outdoor light display. I will say that I called ahead to ask about the railway train schedule to ask about it interrupting our sleep and they told us the last train is at 5:30pm but then they do a Polar Express train during the holiday season, at 5:30pm and then again at 7:30pm (which we did not do), so the last train we would hear is at 9:00pm. Well… they failed to explain that the Sante Fe train still runs through town at all hours!! So for 2 weeks we had a train horn waking us up several times a night. I’m looking forward to our QUIET lake view site at Lake Mead .
Our first snow and hopefully last! The girls love it but Chris and I aren’t fans because it’s hard to keep the rig warm.
Get your kicks on Route 66
This was our first time on Route 66. We plan to visit the beginning and the end of it on this adventure.
We ate at a cute diner on Route 66, called Cruiser’s. The chili and banana split were amazing!
Took pictures in front of the downtown Christmas tree on Route 66.
My mom did this side by side photo comparison for me. The left is a ‘ top of the stairs picture’ on Christmas morning 7 years ago.
Christmas in the Big Rig
Things are definitely different this year; no fireplace, mantel, big tree with our personal ornaments but we made it happen. We wrapped our gifts in boxes from the pantry and opened them with oven mitts to make it last longer (someone may have used her teeth as well) .Grandparents sent gift cards, money and small gifts, they totally understand our small space and we appreciate it so much! Siblings and cousins decided not to exchange gifts this year. Traditionally we have a ‘top of the stairs’ picture, so this year it was a ‘on the edge of the unmade bed’ picture.
The girls wanted to do something different for Santa this year- they left him a Coca-cola and fudge striped cookies.
Abby got sick with the flu the day before so it was a low key day. We opened gifts and just took care of her. Chris and Mackenzie played the new Battlefront game on Xbox.
Santa found us!!
I also always make Monkey Bread- this is a tradition my mother started when I was a child. I had not packed the bundt pan on the rig because they only thing I use it for is monkey bread, well I decided I was going to make it so I bought a new bundt pan and all the ingredients. As I was preparing it Christmas morning I realized I didn’t have a small pot to boil my butter and brown sugar in, I didn’t think I could pull this off in the microwave or instant pot so I expressed my disappointment to the family. They had a solution… I just needed to open a gift right then. Yes, it was a new induction pot!! I was so happy. I meant to take a picture of the monkey bread when it came out of the oven but I didn’t remember until it was half eaten.
We gave the girls a California adventure pack with three experiences for Christmas and a scavenger hunt to figure each one out. They enjoyed that and no wrapping or storing to be done! Just like the national parks, only take pictures and make memories.
From Williams we visited Petrified Forest/Painted Dessert and Flagstaff,AZ the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater and Winslow, AZ click to read those posts.
We stayed 2 weeks, which was perfect to see all this and celebrate Christmas. We were able to receive mail which we LOVED!!!! It’s the simple things!
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