Top 8 Things to Do in and near Williams, Arizona, for Outdoor Adventurers

With ample things to do that range from hiking to biking, fishing, and kayaking, Williams, Arizona, is the ultimate playground for an outdoor adventurer.

Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations
Top 8 things to do in and near Williams for outdoor lovers

The 8 Best Outdoor Things to Do in and Near Williams, Arizona

Raw, almost unreal surroundings mystifies you. Long streets, mostly empty, seem to keep centuries-old secrets. The majority of the buildings on both sides of the streets look old enough to assume that they were built sometime in the 18-19 centuries. Nature surrounds the town, threatening to take over the human territory at any time.

Williams indeed looks and feels like a place from the past. Nestled in Northern Arizona, the historic town was established in 1881. Alluring its first residents with rich natural resources and outstanding beauty, the place hasn’t lost its charm since then. At the same time, it has never grown into something big and popular as nearby Sedona or Flagstaff.

Yet one thing you can’t take away from Williams is its close proximity to the largest and most prominent canyon in Arizona. Known as a gateway to Grand Canyon National Park via the Grand Canyon Railway, Williams promises a wide range of outdoor adventures that start in or right on the outskirts of the town. 

Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations
Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations
If you need a quick escape to the outdoor areas, head to one of the 7 lakes located near Williams

Williams in a Nutshell

Even the name of Williams is symbolic of all things outdoor. It goes deep into the now forgotten history when William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams, a famous trapper, scout, and mountain man, roamed the area. His dedication to nature and first of all the mountains didn’t go unnoticed. It was immortalized in the name of the city of Williams, a place that allures the outdoor adventurers as much as it did centuries ago.

The daring pursuits and outdoor things to do near Williams multiplied with time. Today you can find miles upon miles of designated hiking trails, 7 secluded lakes, and endless activities near Bill Williams Mountain.

And if you look for a real outdoor adventure, Williams seduces you with massive basalt walls and a myriad of hiking trails in the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness. So choose your favorite things to do outside in nature and plunge into these outdoor adventures in the Williams area.

Northern Arizona - Roads and Destinations
Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations


The magnitude of the outdoor pursuits and simple things that even the non-outdoor lovers can do in Williams is influenced by the town’s location. Hidden in the heart of the Kaibab National Forest at an elevation of 6,770 feet, the place brings nature to your doorstep.

Yet despite its rather secluded setting, Williams is just a short drive from some major cities in Arizona and Nevada. This certainly plays into the hand of the most avid nature enthusiasts. The latter combine such outdoor pursuits as hiking, climbing, boating – everything one can do outside in nature near Williams – with adventures in Sedona or Flagstaff, located 1 hour 10 minutes and 40 minutes away, respectively.

Phoenix with its cultural and natural attractions is 2 hours 40 minutes away. Even Las Vegas that sits 3 hours 20 minutes away can work as a perfect place to explore the outdoors near Williams on a day trip.

But the biggest attraction in the region is Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). The world-known canyon unveils its wonders just one-hour drive from the small town. Needless to say, exploring the great abyss is one of the main things that allure the outdoor lovers to the Williams area.

But once you’ve satisfied your thirst for all things grand and spectacular, get back to Williams and have somewhat simple, yet rewarding outdoor adventures nearby.

Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations
Outdoor adventures on the outskirts of Williams


1. Bearizona Wildlife Park

Unique in its own way, Bearizona is a wildlife and safari drive-through park. Home to a wide range of wildlife, it allows the visitors of Williams to get up close to the wild animals without jeopardizing their safety. Jump in your car and pass by wolves, bears, mountain goats, and many other inhabitants. Be sure to do it slowly so you can get a closer look at the “locals”.

Alternatively, you can use the park’s complimentary Wild Ride Bus Tour and dive deeper into the natural habitat and habits of the animals.

Those outdoor adventurers that hope for the more down-to-earth things to do in Williams should embark on self-guided walking tours through Fort Bearizona. The area with the winding walkways is located behind the drive-through section in the pristine ponderosa pine forest.

Bearizona - Roads and Destinations
Bearizona, Williams. Photo by Paul Ewing

2. Historic Route 66

Although not exactly the outdoor adventure, Historic Route 66 has plenty of things to do in Williams before venturing into the woods. Dotted with Americana-style shops and restaurants, the place is almost as old as the town itself. The historic buildings, most of which house those stores and eateries, date back to the early 1900s.

If you think that Historic Route 66 shouldn’t be on the list of the outdoor things to do in Williams, then think twice. Spreading for a few miles, it enables you to stretch your legs before the bigger adventures outside the town. Furthermore, if you think of a picnic by one of the nearby lakes, use it as an excuse to march the Route in search of takeout.

Last but not least, Historic Route 66 is where your Route 66 Zipline adventure begins. And this is certainly not one of the things that the most adventurous outdoor lovers can skip when in Williams. 

3. Sycamore Falls

One of the most enchanting seasonal outdoor places to visit near Williams sits approximately 15 miles from the town. Hidden within Sycamore Canyon, Sycamore Falls shows its full potential after a spring run-off and monsoon season. The rest of the time, this Arizona’s hidden gem looks like a trickle.

Its surroundings, however, inspire some of the best outdoor adventures and a myriad of simple things to do outside in nature on the outskirts of Williams all year round. Known for its basalt cliff walls, the place that is also called Paradise Forks provides excellent climbing opportunities during the dry season.

Hikers find more than enough things to do in this secluded Williams area as well. From trudging along the 11-mile Sycamore Rim Trail to watching wildlife, their outdoor endeavors here promise to be exciting.   

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Outdoor things to do near Williams: Sycamore Falls

4. White Horse Lake

Drive 19 miles southeast of Williams to try your hand at the different kinds of the outdoor activities. White Horse Lake with a shoreside campground enhances your nature-inspired trip with hiking, mountain biking, and wildlife watching.

The water enthusiasts can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards. Admiring the Williams surroundings from the water is among the favorite outdoor things to do in the area during the warmer months.

Swimmers, however, should look for another place to splash in the water. Swimming is not allowed at White Horse Lake. This rule applies to the majority of the lakes near Williams.

5. Dogtown Lake

The Kaibab National Forest where Williams is located offers enough outdoor activities to keep the locals and visitors busy. Following the lead of White Horse Lake, Dogtown Lake sets a campground on its shore. A series of nature trails nearby further entertain the outdoor adventurers spending a night outside Williams. One of the hiking paths even takes its guests to a scenic overlook on the top of Davenport Hill.

Apart from this, Dogtown Lake has another advantage. Nestled just 6.5 miles south and east of Williams, it’s a beautiful place to catch a sunrise or sunset. Yet be sure to restrains from such outdoor activities as swimming or floating that are not allowed at this elevated reservoir in the Williams area.  

Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations
Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations

The best outdoor adventures await those who leave Williams early in the morning for epic views and hiking pursuits in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). A 59-mile drive north takes approximately 1 hour 15 minutes. So start your day early, especially if you plan to photograph the sunrise near Mather Point.

But don’t let the outstanding views distract you from a profusion of other spectacular things to do farther away from Williams. Hit the 0.9-mile South Kaibab Trail that leads to Ooh Aah Point. For a longer hiking excursion, continue on for another 0.6 miles toward Cedar Ridge. Alternately, hike the Bright Angel Trail. Perfect for a day hike, the path stretches for approximately 9 miles.

TIP: Finish this eventful outdoor excursion by driving back to Williams. Those who intend to spend more than one day exploring the Gand Canyon’s natural wonders should consider booking a hotel room in Grand Canyon Village.

7. Kaibab Lake

Kaibab Lake offers its share of the things to do outside in nature just 4 miles northeast of Williams. Sitting at an elevation of 6,790 feet, it provides a primitive campground and ample fishing and picnicking opportunities.

The hikers are free to explore the forest surrounding the lake or stay close to the water while still stretching their legs on nature trails along the shore. In the summer season, Kaibab Lake allures the locals and visitors of Williams with its clear, starry sky, promising more than a day outdoor adventure can ever offer.

TIP: Keep in mind, though, no swimming is allowed at Kaibab Lake. So don’t even get tempted. 

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Outdoor adventures in and near Williams: Kaibab Lake
Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations

8. Cataract Lake

Hordes of anglers flock to Cataract Lake. Located about 1 mile northwest of Williams, the place fills your outdoor pursuits with seasonal activities. The charming lake with residential buildings in the background is open for day use only. Equipped with a few picnic tables, garbage bins, and a restroom facility, it works perfectly for a lazy day in nature right outside Williams. 

Map of the Best Outdoor Places to Visit in and near Williams, Arizona

The Best Time to Go on an Outdoor Adventure in and near Williams

The outdoor things to do in and near Williams differ depending on the time of your visit. With the four distinct seasons, the area amuses with a pop of color in fall, the perfect for hiking weather in spring, and snowy adventures in winter.

Normally, the snow blankets the Williams area from December through March, adding alpine skiing to the already impressive list of the outdoor things to do nearby.

In summer, the temperatures linger at 80-90 degrees during the day. The nights are much cooler, normally 50 degrees. While the weather contributes to a pleasant morning hike, afternoon thunderstorms force the outdoor adventurers to return to Williams by noon.

The monsoons occur mostly in July and August. On the other hand, it’s the best time to set off on a waterfall adventure near Williams. 

More Outdoor Adventures near Williams

If you look for more outdoor adventures near Williams, check out the following landmarks:

Outdoor adventures in and near Williams, AZ - Roads and Destinations

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