Williams Hill Recreation Area is located at the southern end of Monterey County, in the State of California. This Bureau of Land Management property is situated in the Salinas Valley, and has elevations of over 2700 feet, with gentle hills, and mountainous terrain. Vegetation in the recreation area consists of a mixture of pine trees, chamise, and scrub oak providing food and shelter for area wildlife. There are also shale formations jutting out of the hilly terrain that add interest to the region. The high hills and surrounding mountains create a watershed that supplies agricultural needs in the valleys below.
Visitors can enjoy excellent views of the surrounding Salinas Valley. The Williams Hill Campground accommodations overnight camping for small to moderately sized RVs in a natural setting. Hiking and wildlife watching are popular activities in the BLM recreation area and there are plenty of other activities in the region including water sports at nearby reservoirs, as well as nearby historical and agricultural sites and activities.
The climate in the southern part of the Salinas Valley where the Williams Hill Recreation Area is situated has more extreme temperatures with hotter summers and colder winters, so the peak season for outdoor activities is in the spring and fall.
While visiting the BLM Williams Hill Recreation Area, check out Pfeiffer Big-Sur State Park to the west, Pinnacles National Park to the north, and Los Padres National Forest to the south where numerous outdoor activities are offered.
To access the Williams Hill Recreation Area, take US Highway 101 to the San Ardo exit, then turn west onto the Paris Valley Road, and then left again onto the Lockwood-San Ardo Road. The BLM lands are about five miles down the Lockwood-San Ardo road after the turnoff. The Williams Hill Campground can be reached once you enter the recreation area by turning onto the W1 road south. The Lockwood-San Ardo Road is a dirt road and is very dusty in dry weather, and muddy in wet weather. When heavy rains have occurred recently in the area, this road surface can become rutted and may not be appropriate for larger RV units. Smaller RV units and tow vehicles will find the area more accessible. The campground is also naturally dirt surfaced and subject to weather conditions.
There is plenty of human and agricultural activity near the Williams Hill Recreation Area with several towns within a short drive such as Lockwood, and San Ardo supplying basic amenities and services. The major center of Salinas is about 70 miles to the north, and has more services and amenities for visitors in the region. Just over 40 miles to the south, Lake Nacimiento Resort and Marina provides additional recreational activities along the reservoir lake as well as restaurants, accommodations and a marina.
The Williams Hill Campground is located on the south end of the WIlliams Hill Recreation Area in the hills above the Salinas Valley. There are only seven sites at the campground and they are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The access road and campground is naturally dirt surfaced, and surfaces can be dusty or muddy depending on the weather conditions, so may not be appropriate for larger or low clearance RV units. There are no RV hookups, running water, or dump stations at this primitive campsite. Vault toilets are situated here for the convenience of overnight campers.
The campground is noted for being natural and beautiful, as well as secluded and private, and provides views of the surrounding wilderness and developed valley at an elevation of 2272 feet. Each campsite has a picnic table and fire ring and two of the sites are pull throughs. There is no fee for overnight camping. The campground can have quite a few insects, especially flies, depending on the season, so bring some bug spray to make your stay more comfortable.
The mountainous terrain around the Salinas Valley, near Williams Hill Recreation Area, provides excellent terrain for rock climbers. Outfitters in larger centers like Salinas can provide equipment and guides, as well as lessons, and there are numerous indoor climbing centers where you can practice your skills before heading outdoors to try the “real thing”. The peak season for activities like rock climbing in the area is during the spring and fall when temperatures are cooler but still mild.
Just over 40 miles to the south, Lake Nacimiento offers 18 miles of surface for water sports, boating, and fishing. There is a resort and marina situated here to accommodate visitors. Water skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, and paddleboarding are all popular activities on this large recreational reservoir lake.
Activities on the lake are available 365 days a year with the climate facilitating activities year around. Many fish reside in the lake, making it popular for fishing and angling enthusiasts.
The open hilly country in and around the Williams Hill Recreation Area makes excellent country for enjoying hiking activities. Take a camera to record the views of the surrounding Salinas Valley from the elevations in the hills, and keep an eye out for local wildlife.
Hiking boots are recommended as the terrain is rough and natural, and keep your eyes peeled for rattlesnakes which reside in the area. You will need to pack lots of water for strenuous hiking in the hills with significant elevation changes, especially when the temperature is high in the middle of the day.
The Salinas Valley, surrounding the Williams Hill Recreation Area and extending to the north, is chock full of wineries and agricultural activities. The River Road Wine Trail extends across the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains and has an excellent selection of ten boutique tasting rooms and wineries to explore.
Agricultural tours are also available in the region though local tour companies, and are an excellent way to discover the activities that take place in this rich agricultural region.
When the weather is uncooperative for outdoor activities, due to high summer temperatures or chilly wet winter conditions, there are numerous local events such as the California Rodeo Salinas and The California International Airshow, as well as local festivals to take in within a short driving distance from the Williams Hill Recreation Area.
Numerous museums are also situated in the area that highlight the unique history of the area, including the National Steinbeck Center which is located in Salinas and dedicated to famous author John Steinbeck.
The Pacific Coast is only 60 miles away. However, winding routes mean the trip will take you well over an hour. Still, the climate on the coast provides a good alternative for outdoor activities when temperatures soar in Salinas Valley during the summer months or are overly chilly in winter.
Enjoy beachcombing, surfing, swimming, and other activities on California's coast while staying in the Williams Hill Recreation Area. Beaches along the Pacific Ocean are well worth a visit, especially in the off-season when there are less tourists along the coast and you can enjoy the natural areas, wildlife, ocean, and scenery with more privacy.