The Bill Williams Mountain Men were organized by a group of local Williams’s residents in 1953. The mountain men group began with only 14 members and has grown since. At first, the group the just wanted to get away from it all by embarking on a simple horseback outing. But as time passed, so did their goal. Today, they represent the spirit of Old Bill Williams and the trappers from long ago.
The Mountain Men relive the history of the early 1800’s by dressing and acting as scouts or guides from the wilderness of long ago. The group wears buckskins, just as the old scouts. They also wear fur hats, belts and knives. By dressing the part, the group hopes to perpetuate the lore and memory of the mountain men.
Throughout the years since the group first organized, they have reached the ranks of Official Ambassadors for the State of Arizona. The group has traveled to Washington, D.C. several times for the presidential inaugural parade. Beginning in 1961, the Mountain Men rode in John F. Kennedy’s parade. They returned for Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton.
Not only do the Mountain Men participate in presidential parades, they also do a yearly 200-mile journey to Phoenix on horseback. Once in town the group visits schools and hospitals talking about the rich history of the mountain man. The journey concludes with an appearance at a Phoenix rodeo. The Bill Williams Mountain Men have also been in the Fiesta Bowl Parade and the Rodeo of Rodeos Parade.
If you are in Williams over the Memorial Day weekend, you won’t want to miss the Rendezvous Days Weekend. This weekend began out of a tradition from the past. At one time, mountain men would gather after trapping season and rendezvous with the fur companies to negotiate their price on furs. During the weekend, visitors will see the Bill Williams Mountain Men whooping it up in a parade in downtown Williams.