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Review Of Williams Camp (and e-Bike update)

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We’ve been in our Williams Camp for about 2 weeks so I thought I had better post a review of it. The RTR is coming up next week, so we will be leaving here in five days. I think it is better if I give you a camp report while I am still in the camp.


The Williams camp is in a large clearing surrounded by trees.

Before I do let me update you on the bike. I think this is a good time for that because the Williams camp is the perfect place to ride it. I have ridden nearly every day over to a nice little lake a mile or so away and it is a pleasant ride with just enough hills to push me. But the last two days were so busy I just couldn’t get a ride in. So today I decided to take advantage of the rest and ride into Williams. I turned on my GPS and clocked the ride as exactly 4.2 miles (round trip of 8.4) from the camp to the front door of the Safeway grocery store. It took me 24 minutes and I averaged 10 mph that one way. I returned a Red Box movie, bought a few groceries and rode home. It was a perfect trip! I saved on gas and really enjoyed riding around town! I’m still not fit, but I can already tell a marked improvement from my first trip into town. I’m very encouraged that this is going to work out really well and accomplish everything I want out of it: 1) Being healthier, 2) Saving on gas and wear and tear on the van 3) Being fun, 4) Being better for Sacred Mother Earth.

We have a nice (but muddy) pond surrounded by wildflowers.

Bottom Line: **** (4 Stars) Williams has been a great camp! It is much cooler than Prescott was and much more beautiful. We are in a tall Ponderosa pine forest (Kaibab National Forest) that is really wonderful and are close to a natural pond that the dogs all love to wade and play in. It is secluded with very little traffic and we haven’t seen a Ranger since we have been here. Williams is a really nice little town and it’s only 4 miles away. The internet has been great! Our only complaint is it is a little warmer than we would like. It’s hit the low 90s a few times and the 80 would be better. The best thing is it is only 50 miles from here to the Grand Canyon.
Date Visited: June 2013
Elevation/Season: 6900 feet. If the low 90s are okay with you then this is a great camp for the whole summer. Especially since if you don’t have solar, you can easily find a tall tree to hide under for shade.
Internet: **** (4 Stars) We’ve got a solid 4g signal on Verizon.

It is so close we made a run up to the Grand Canyon. BREATHTAKING!

Shopping: **** (4 Stars) I am satisfied with any town that has a Safeway grocery store. They are well-stocked, have excellent customer service, and have middling prices but generally very good sale prices. There isn’t a Home Depot, but there is a True Value Hardware, which is more expensive but still good good. I would have given it a an average 3 star rating but it is so close you will save a lot in gas and Flagstaff is only 30 miles away with outstanding shopping.

Lots of big trees you can tuck your van under. Notice the suitcase solar in the sun while the van is in the shade.

Ranger Enforcement: ***** (5 Stars) While the road into our amp is actually fairly poor, it has a gate and between the two people just don’t come back here, which means there is no reason for the Rangers to check on it. We haven’t seen a Ranger yet!
Scenery: **** (4 Stars). Arizona doesn’t really have much mountain scenery like the Sierras or Rockies, but the forests are still very beautiful. And Flagstaff is close to having mountains and is a beautiful town. When you include the close proximity to the Grand Canyon and to Sedona, it is much more than average in scenery.
Feel/Size of the town:*** (3 Stars)  Williams has two claims to fame, 1) It’s history with route 66 and 2) It is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. Those two things dominate the town and give it a very pleasant vibe. It is primarily a tourist town so there are lots of gift shops selling Route 66 and Grand Canyon memorabilia along with a large variety of restaurants and even a couple of very good little sporting good stores. It’s a nice town, I really like it. I knocked off a star because I couldn’t find anyplace to get UPS or FedEx packages.

Very nice forest to take great walks in.

Wildlife: *** (3 Stars) Steve saw deer and elk when he got here, but we scared them of because no one else has seen any. I haven’t even seen any small game. We did see a coyote up close, but that’s all.
Solitude/ATVs: **** (4 Stars) There has been very little traffic through camp at all. So I give it 4 Stars.
Hiking: *** (3 Stars) It’s very nice walking here because it is a very open forest, you can cut cross-country or stay on the roads. Also it is generally cool walking because of all the trees providing shade. But, the roads are rocky, so you have to be careful and pay attention to where you put your feet.

Gloria and I under a big Ponderosa pine.

Insects: **** (4 Stars) There are less than the normal amount, especially considering that we have too large ponds.
Dog Friendly: ***** (5 Stars) This is a great place for dogs. They all love to drink and wade in the ponds, which keeps them cool, there are no cactus and plenty of grass to keep their paws safe and they like to lie on. It doesn’t get much better than this for dogs!


  1. Calvin R

    I’m glad to know there’s a good camp this close to the Grand Canyon. The Canyon is on my bucket list, but I’ve read that close to the Park is pretty expensive.
    Arizona looks better and better.

    • Bob

      Calvin, there is a ton of really great camping just outside of the Park entrance, I mean within a mile or two! There is a very good chance I will go there after the RTR-almost a certainty! The country is just like here; it is in the Kaibab NF at about 7000 feet so the temperatures will be in the high 80s or low 90s. Lots of big Ponderosa pines. I bought a Parks pass so I get in free with 3 other people in the van. Also several of us have Golden Age passes so they get in free with up to 3 other people in the van.
      It’s only drawback is there is no good shopping nearby so we will have to go supplied up for a week or two stay, but that is no problem.
      Everyone is welcome to join us!

  2. john

    hi Bob: wonderful post, thank you! will be marking this camp site for later use. you said no big rigs, 26 feet to big? always fear getting high centered or stuck in deep soft stuff. 🙂

    • DougB

      Given Bob’s frame of reference, I suspect that a “fairly poor” access road is clearly impassable in 26-foot TT terms. I wouldn’t even think about it with mine. If there’s a ranger station in Williams, I’d stop in and get an opinion of other surrounding trails that might be more promising. I’ve found MVUMs nearly useless as far as implied accessibility goes – some areas are 4WD only, where only a pop-up truck camper would stand a chance. Mr. Steve tends to scout around, so he might know where to look further.

      • Bob

        Doug, I’m afraid you caught me, yes, it is impassable to 26 foot RVs of any kind. If I say no big-rigs, you can take my word for it! I told you that you could make it into Prescott, but then when you got there it was pretty obvious to me that you could not get in. Sorry about that. But you were pretty close!

        • Grace

          Oh, good to know! I’ve printed all this information out but now I know we’d never get in! It looks like a beautiful spot so we could camp fairly close to the road and then cruise around in our Samurai to find a more suitable place for us. Thanks for the clarification, Bob. Love your blog. Grace (in Tucson)

          • Bob

            Right, Grace, you could camp nearer to the road but not all the way back. We really like it because of the ponds. Homer and Zeke spend a lot of time in them when it is hot. So it’s worth it to us to put up with the bad road–and of course it is beautiful!
            But there are a huge number of roads all over the Forest so finding a great campsite will be easy for you. Plus it will be great fun running around in the Samurai! you can download the MVUM as a pdf or pick one up when you get here. It shows every road in the forest and is the best place to start exploring any forest.

        • DougB

          Hey, I made it right up to that last dip in Prescott, within 300 feet of camp! But, I didn’t want to become a billboard to draw in a ranger, so I moved back to a TT-perfect place a half mile down. I’d say, don’t change your point of reference now – keep it for 2WD vans. Otherwise you’ll be having to guess and post campsite access ratings for everything from truck campers to Class A motorhomes. Simply describing the trail as you’ve done in the comments here is most helpful. Now I know I could at least make it a short way in and that sheer size would get me, not ground clearance. Very helpful.

          • Bob

            Right Doug, I will add a “Road Access” comment to all future reports because that is very important. Live and learn eh!?

      • Steve N Zeke "Da Mountain Dog"

        An option for big rigs is to go to the South of Williams into the forest area of the Bill Williams…

        • Bob

          Right Steve, there is an unlimited amount of land here for big rigs.

    • Bob

      John, sorry I forgot to list that in the review! It’s a good road, but it is narrow and has one sharp curve where tree limbs are hanging out into it and over it. I have an extended van and a 10 foot cargo trailer and the limbs were grabbing at it at the narrowest point and Judy in the van behind me was worried for my solar panels because the limbs hung down over the road and rubbed on them. Width and height is the problem, not getting high-centered or stuck.
      I did have a friend with a pop-top slide-in camper make it in okay, but it is fairly narrow and low because of the pop-top. No, a 26 foot RV will not make it all the back in. However, there re several places before the narrow curve that you could make it to.

    • Bob

      Right Al, plus there is a spur line that runs up to the Grand Canyon that is very popular!

  3. Rob

    The Grand Canyon is always worth the trip just to look at it.

    • Bob

      Totally agree Rob!

  4. cozygirl

    What a wealth of information…. Thumb up on the bike ride…each time the easier it is and the farther you can go!

    • Bob

      Cozy girl, congratulations on selling your home! If you get out this way, be sure to stop by!

  5. Scott

    I’m glad the ebike is working out, Bob. Health is the best investment.
    Might you consider posting GPS decimal coordinates when you describe an area?

    • Bob

      Scott, I am so Geek impaired I’m not sure I could do it right. I have the cheapest possible Garmin GPS and the last time I tried to post coordinates I got it wrong somehow so I am gun-shy now. I should probably invest in a better GPS, but I don’t have time for the learning curve. I can learn if I have someone in person to teach me, but I have no time for books. If someone comes to camp and walks me through it I will do it. Interested?

      • DougB

        Bob, I have an old Garmin Nuvi and on the opening screen it includes a small wrench icon in the lower right corner. Selecting that opens several choices and among them is “Where Am I?” Choosing that presents your current coordinates and elevation. Minor detail: If you don’t like the form of coordinates shown, like degrees-minutes-seconds, you can change it to pure decimals by going back to the opening screen and selecting Where To? > Coordinates > Format > and picking which of three formats you prefer. Going back to “Where Am I? will then display your coordinates in the format you like. Whatever format you actually post, it doesn’t matter much because most GPS’s can accept any form as input, and there are also online converters we can use to translate ’em over. You should have that “Where Am I?” function in your Garmin unit somewhere, no matter how cheap it is, hey? All a “better unit” will do for you is add features you don’t need and won’t use. Say no to feature bloat!

        • Bob

          Thanks for that Doug, I’ll give it a try!

  6. Martin Hamilton

    Looks like that will be a spot for me later on. Easy to find and temp not too hot. 4G internet is awesome.
    Thanks Bob

    • Bob

      Martin, I really like this spot! But, temperatures are all relative. It’s pretty hot for me so my plan is to get up higher if at all possible. My current plan is to go to the Grand Canyon for awhile after the RTR, but then I want to get up to at least 8000 feet or even 9000 feet. The only place to do that in Arizona is over toward the Show Low area on the Mogollon Rim (close to the New Mexico border) so there is a fair chance I will head over there for the last half of July and August.

  7. Dennis

    Looks like a lovely spot Bob. I’m thinking a PU and 5th wheel would be considered a big rig?

    • Bob

      Dennis, that’s right, it wouldn’t make it all the way in. If you look at the map, there is a sharp curve right before the camp, you can’t make it past that. But until then you wouldn’t have any problem getting in, but it is only about 1/4 mile from the road.
      However, there is a ton of camping everywhere around here, you shouldn’t have any problem finding a spot.

  8. RT

    Got a question. At the bottom of your picture of directions to the Williams camp you state ” NO BIG RIGS”. Could you expound on that . Can a class C type motorhome get in most your campsites? BTW…great blog!

    • Bob

      Sorry RT, I should have put that in my post, that was my mistake. I tend to have a really skewed idea of where people can go, several times I’ve invited people to my camp who couldn’t make it in. I’m just used to thinking in terms of vans that can go a lot of places RVs can’t. For 2 1/2 years I was always alone and in a 4×4 pickup so I just went in as far as I could in 4×2 and then camped knowing 4×4 could easily get me out if something went wrong. I did that with my camp in Victorville, then I sold the pickup and bought the van and couldn’t get out of my camp. If Steve hadn’t been there with his 4×4 van I would have been up s**t creek. So now I am lot more careful, but I still go where RVs can’t.
      No, I wouldn’t try to bring a Class C into this camp. There is always a trade-off of comfort versus mobility, and RVs have huge comfort but very limited mobility. To me mobility is much more important, but I can understand why so many choose comfort.

  9. Bodhi

    That looks really nice! Sounds like a great site! Being from East Texas, I need some trees.
    Thanks Bob for all the great info.
    Peace, Love and Improved Cardio!

  10. JohnNTx

    Your camp is not far from Vanmoms land.

    • Bob

      JohnNTx, that’s good to know. Too bad she is back east!

  11. CAE

    I knew you’d start getting some health benefits from the bike. Good on ya.

    • Bob

      Thanks CAE! It’s hard to not improve if you are consistent! I know it may be hard to believe, but it’s hard for me to find time to ride. But I really want to make it a priority.

  12. Tom

    FYI, I spent a week with my 21′ B+ camped “on” the north rim of the Grand Canyon. The north rim, is accessible via Kaibab National forest and the forest roads within. This is the SWestern most area of the forest, just above the northern border of the national park boundary. I believe you gain another 1000′ in elevation on the north rim as well.

    • Bob

      That’s a good point Tom. I’ve camped on the north rim of the GC NP and it is fabulous! But (there is always a but) it is remote, the roads are bad, there is no shopping nearby, and cell and internet signal are very hard to find. I think the Flagstaff area is one of the best possible places because it is with a days drive of Los Angeles (all of So Cal) Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Denver, Albuquerque. It’s with a 2 days drive of even a lot more places. Once here it has great shopping, great internet, everything we could need.
      I found a wonderful campsite at 8100 feet 12 miles north of town, but it was difficult to describe how to get to it so I choose the other instead. All the factors have to be there

  13. Elizabeth

    looks so quiet, I think that is the biggest draw for me, where I live it is so noisy, that we bought a small retro camper 15 foot, just so on weekends we can get away from the noise, only to find campgrounds just as noisy, with their campfires and talking around it till late in the night…I might try one of these boondocks campsites just to finally be in silence, except for the sounds of nature.

    • Bob

      I totally agree Elizabeth! I NEVER stay in campgrounds because of all the noise and hyper-activity. I want my camps to be quiet and private!

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