We didn’t realize until we stayed in the Kanab area for a few nights that this small town is the perfect location to set up base camp for a vacation in southern Utah. Not only does Kanab have all the amenities you could need, but the possibilities for adventure seem endless. This list is by no means everything to do but we hope it provides some ideas for your itinerary. Kanab truly is a gem in the Beehive state and if we ever found ourselves moving to Utah this place would certainly make our list!
Less than One Hour from Kanab
- Kanab Sand Caves: Manmade sand caves located just north of Kanab off HWY 89 that can be reached by a short half-mile hike. The turnoff for the caves is between the Moqui Cave tourist stop and the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
- Sand Dune Arch: You’ll find this unique arch right off of Hancock Road, which is also how you access Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. You can drive to the arch with 4WD or hike there from the road.
- Belly of the Dragon: This tunnel was carved under HWY 89 to provide a route for drainage to the upper canyons. Though only a short hike to the tunnel itself you can continue up the wash for four miles where it ends at a slot canyon. The dirt road to access the Belly of the Dragon is located 16 miles north of Kanab off HWY 89.
- Kanab Hiking Trails: There is a network of hiking trails you can access pretty close to town, including the Squaw Trail, Toms Canyon, K-Hill, The Connector Trail and Pugh Canyon. A little further outside of Kanab, about three miles, you can hike the short one-mile roundtrip Dinosaur Tracks Trail to find 185 million year old dinosaur tracks. About six miles east of town is the Mansard Trail, a four-mile roundtrip hike to ancient petroglyphs dating back sometime between 0 AD to 1250 AD.
- Peek-a-boo slot canyon: This is NOT the more popular Peek-a-boo slot near Escalante. This Peek-a-boo slot canyon can be found nine miles north of Kanab right off HWY 89.
- Red Hollow Slot Canyon: Escape the crowds of Zion National Park and head 18 miles from its east entrance to the Red Hollow Slot in Orderville, Utah. It’s a 3.2 mile roundtrip out-and-back hike.
- Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park: These coral pink dunes are mesmerizing, but it seems that the best way to fully experience the dunes is by ATV or sand boarding. This state park is located on Hancock Road about 20 miles outside of Kanab. All of the dunes are open for hiking and exploring and about 90% are open to riding.
About One Hour from Kanab
- Wire Pass Trail to Buckskin Gulch: Hands down Wire Pass was one of my favorite hikes and I think is when I truly fell in love with slot canyons. It’s an easy and flat 3.4 mile roundtrip out-and-back hike. Honestly the beginning is a little boring but that will all be forgotten when you reach the slot. Wire Pass intersects with Buckskin Gulch — the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world — at 1.7 miles from the trailhead. From that point you can wander into Buckskin as far as you want. There are also some ancient petroglyphs carved into the walls near the intersection.
- Paria Canyon: There are a few ways to reach Paria Canyon and if you’re planning to hike overnight you will need a special permit. From the Wire Pass Trailhead to the intersection of Paria Canyon is a 13 mile hike. This is not a hike for beginners; there is no cell service in the canyon, typically hiking through water is required, and sometimes there’s quicksand. This is an adventure that requires some skill and planning.
- Coyote Buttes North, a.k.a. The Wave: Don’t count on just showing up to hike to The Wave. Permits for Coyote Buttes North are only available through a lottery system and are limited to just 20 per day! If you’re lucky enough to snag a permit this 6.4 mile strenuous hike will take you about half the day to complete. If you can’t obtain one of those coveted permits, check out the way less crowded and less hyped Coyote Buttes South instead.
- Cottonwood Canyon Road: Enjoy a scenic drive on this 47-mile unpaved road that connects HWY 89 to the Kodachrome Basin. Cottonwood Canyon Road is located 32 miles east of Kanab off HWY 89. This road is usually passable for 2WD vehicles, but during rainstorms can become impassable for even 4x4s. About 25 miles after turning off HWY 89 you’ll come to the Cottonwood Wash Narrows trail, any easy hike through a slot canyon. Another five miles up the road, or 30 miles from HWY 89, you’ll come to the Grosvenor Arch which can be reached via a short paved trail from the parking lot.
- Red Canyon: Located along the Scenic Byway 12 in the Dixie National Forest just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park is Red Canyon. It’s widely known for a large network of hiking trails and stunning red sandstone cliffs.
- Horseshoe Bend: The popularity of this place has blown up over the past few years and I’m willing to bet you’ve seen millions of shots of Horseshoe Bend on Instagram, and rightfully so, it’s stunning. The trailhead for this 1.5 mile roundtrip hike is located off of HWY 89 in Page, Arizona. Horseshoe Bend is an extremely photogenic view of Glen Canyon where the Colorado River has carved a severe bend in the sandstone 1,000 feet deep.
- Lake Powell and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Lake Powell is a manmade reservoir in the Colorado River located in both Utah and Arizona. I’ll be honest at first a “manmade reservoir” didn’t sound very cool, but given the fact it gets nearly three million annual visitors suggests there must be something pretty special about Lake Powell. It is literally a canyon with 200 ft. walls that’s been damned and filled with water to create a lake, a very gorgeous and unique lake with its blue water winding amongst the tall red-orange walls. This “fake lake” is popular for water sports, camping, climbing, hiking, fishing, house-boating and more. (Horseshoe Bend, listed above, is also located in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.)
- Zion National Park: Utah’s first national park is one of the Crown Jewels of the entire park system. Out of all the national parks we’re visited Zion ranks up there as one of our favorites, that’s why we’ve road-tripped there twice already! Something about those striking, massive red sandstone cliffs towering above you is impressionable and unforgettable. Some of the most popular hikes at Zion — and I’m willing to bet in the world — include Angels Landing, The Narrows, and The Subway.
Within 90 Minutes of Kanab
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Another stunner that’s not to be missed if you’re visiting Utah is Bryce Canyon National Park, home of the largest concentration of hoodoos in the entire world. A hoodoo is an irregular column of rock formed by weathering and erosion, primarily ice and rain. We’ve visited Bryce twice and highly recommend taking a hike amongst the hoodoos; the experience is unreal as you feel like you’re on another planet.
- Antelope Canyon: Located just east of Page, Arizona in the Navajo Nation lies one of the most famous and photographed slot canyons in the world, Upper Antelope Canyon. There’s also a Lower Antelope Canyon that’s slightly less busy and less expensive to visit than the more famous upper canyon. Guided tours are required to view both of these magnificent slot canyons.
- Cedar Breaks National Monument: Cedar Breaks National Monument is a natural amphitheater in Brian Head, Utah that looks very reminiscent to Bryce Canyon. Because its rim is higher than 10,000 feet in elevation snow can render parts of the monument inaccessible by vehicle from October through May. Cedar Breaks is far from any city light pollution which has earned it a Dark Sky Parks certification, making it an excellent location for stargazing.
- Grand Canyon North Rim: Located about 80 miles from Kanab in the northwest corner of Arizona is the less commercialized, less crowded North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which still delivers 100% awesome views with a fraction of the tourists.
- Snow Canyon State Park: Snow Canyon is a darling little state park located in the red-rock country of St. George, Utah. Imagine a magical landscape that features towering colorful sandstone cliffs, lava flows and slot canyons and you’ll understand how it’s so easy to fall in love with this place. Enjoy 38 miles of hiking trails, biking, horseback riding, camping and wildlife viewing at Snow Canyon State Park.
We haven’t visited all these locations yet, but for those we’ve been to I included some photos and linked to our blog posts. Please reach out if you have any questions, and let us know in the comments below if you have any recommendations of places to visit near Kanab. Thank you for reading!
You may also like:
- The Angels Landing Hike at Zion National Park is Awesome, But it’s Not for Everyone
- Getting Wet in The Narrows at Zion National Park
- Snow Canyon State Park is a Little Gem in Utah
- Drive Fast and Chase Sunsets at the Bonneville Salt Flats
- How to Start Packing for a Road Trip
Featured locations, in order: Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, Red Canyon, Wire Pass Trail, Horseshoe Bend, Bryce Canyon National Park, Snow Canyon State Park, Zion National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.