Are you wondering what the most underrated city in Utah is?! Kanab is one of the most scenic, non-touristy and adventure packed cities I’ve traveled to. Sure, it might not be one of those cities that you travel from all over the world to see, but it definitely has it’s charm! If you are on the west coast exploring other national parks, I think it is definitely worth it to take an extra day to visit this off-the-beaten path town.
I only spent 1 day in Kanab on my short road trip to Bryce Canyon, but I really wish I could have stayed an extra day (or two) to see more! This list covers all the best things to do in Kanab, most I did in just a short day there and others I thoroughly researched and will likely go back to do them another day.
Usually people stop in Kanab when they are doing an Arizona / Utah road trip! This city is very close to Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Lake Powell (you can kayak to Antelope Canyon), Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. A lot of people will visit all these famous sites, but skip over this hidden gem!
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Where is Kanab
Kanab is a very tiny town in southern Utah, on the border of Utah and Arizona. While it is not a “final destination” sort of place, it is a really fun stop over on a road trip to nearby sites like Zion, Bryce Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Death Valley, or Lake Powell!
The closest airport to Kanab, Utah is located in Las Vegas, around 3.5 hours away. Because it is so close to nearby sites, it is extremely popular to fly into Las Vegas, rent a car and road trip through Utah / Arizona. If you plan to do something similar, I think you’ll find the following guides extremely useful!
- One Day in Bryce Canyon
- Hiking Bryce Canyon’s Navajo Loop Trail
- Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Guide
- Kayaking Antelope Canyon From Lake Powell
- One Day in Death Valley National Park
Where to stay in Kanab
Even though Kanab is small, it actually has a ton to offer! The biggest thing that surprised me about Kanab was how AMAZING their food options were! I had some of the yummiest food during my time there, I am still dreaming about the food from Kanab’s french restaurant, Vermillion 45.
Okay, I’m getting off topic here… back to the hotel options.
I stayed at La Quinta and I have nothing but nice things to say about it! It was newly renovated, extremely modern, great breakfast, and extremely close to all the best restaurants in town (see, I knew I brought up Vermillion 45 for a reason!). Click here to view pictures!
Another option if you want to avoid a chain hotel is Canyons Boutique Hotel. It is a lot more expensive than La Quinta (like, double), but it has couches with fire pits out front, a great restaurant on the property and located close to restaurants and shopping. Click here to view pictures!
What to pack for Kanab
Kanab weather has all the seasons: a very hot summer, cool spring and fall, and snowy winters. Depending on the season you are traveling in, I would look up the weather before you go and dress accordingly!
Other than generic packing ideas, these three things are an absolute MUST when traveling to Kanab:
1. WINE Lol
Kanab is in Utah and if you like a drink after a long day of hiking, pack some wine or liquor for your hotel. There is one liquor store in Kanab that is not open on Sunday and closes extremely early. They also have a very limited selection, so if you forget to pack something, you will need to drive 20 minutes across the Arizona boarder for a drink LOL.
2. Baby Wipes
I would highly recommend bringing some baby wipes if you plan to hike and do multiple activities in a day. There is red dirt EVERYWHERE and it will get all over your clothes and legs. I did a three day Utah road trip, so I was hiking and exploring many times throughout the day. I would have been miserable if I had to get back in the car with red dirt all over my hands and legs! Click here to buy some before your trip!
3. A Good Camera
Kanab is known for its slot canyons and caves, which means getting a picture in those light conditions can be very tricky! I attempted to get a good picture on my IPhone in the caves and it turned out SO BAD. Every single picture in this guide is taken with my DSLR camera, which is extremely affordable and a great size for travel. Click here to check it out!
Things to do in Kanab, Utah
There are so many hidden gems in Kanab, so many that are so untouched by tourism. I found half of these spots by just clicking on random things on Google Maps and driving to them to see what they looked like, ha!
I spend 24 hours in Kanab during my Utah road trip, and I wish I would have stayed longer! A lot of these places are extremely close together, so you can see many things in one day. Okay, let’s get started!
Belly of the Dragon
This was such a unique spot and is completely hidden from tourism. I spend about 45 minutes exploring this cave and there was not a single soul in site… ON A SATURDAY!!
Belly of the Dragon is a man made cave that was originally made to be a a water passage under the highway, that is why the cave has a beautiful rippling effect. I would not recommend going on a day it is raining or just rained though, because the ground will be very muddy.
To get there from Kanab, you will take highway 89 towards Zion about 16.5 miles (15 minutes). Before you reach the turnoff for Zion (Mount Carmel Junction), you will make a left onto a dirt road. Once you turn off the highway, you will follow the road until you see the cave on your left hand side. The cave is extremely obvious from the road and there will be a small dirt area before and after the cave for you to park.
Belly of the Dragon comes up in Google Maps but not I-Phone maps for some reason! If you have trouble pulling it up in your maps, I would just plug in Thunderbird Golf Course into your map. This golf course is at the Zion junction, so the dirt road will be directly before you reach the golf course.
Once you arrive at the Belly of the Dragon, you will have to do a little climbing to get into the cave. Once you are inside, its a very short walk through the cave (maybe 10 minutes at the most) to the other side. It’s really dark inside the cave, so make sure you bring a flashlight!
Like how I edited this photo?! Click here to check out my one-click editing presets!
Moqui Caverns are another hidden gems that can not be found on either Google Maps or IPhone maps. There were a couple people here on a Saturday afternoon, but I still felt like I had the cave to myself.
To find the Moqui Caverns, do not confuse it with the museum, Moqui Cave. To find the caverns, you will need to take Hwy 89 towards Zion (same way as Belly of the Dragon) and park on the side of the highway to begin your hike. The caverns are exactly between the Moqui Museum and the turn off to the Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary, so once you pass the signs for the animal sanctuary, keep on the lookout for the caverns up in the mountain on your right hand side. You will easily be able to see these from the highway, so once you spot them you can park along the side of the highway on one of the many dirt pull outs.
Getting up to the caves area little tricky, but I saw a few dogs hiking it…. So if they can do it, so can you!
From the highway, you will need to cross the highway and walk through the desert towards the caves. You will see a “path” that is fairly easy to follow through the desert to the canyon wall. Once you reach the canyon wall, you will need to scale up the rocks until it is flat enough to walk across to the caves. I promise you, this looks harder than it actually is! I looks like you are scaling straight up the canyon wall, but it was surprisingly easy once you started to climb.
The caverns are fairly small and you can easily walk around them and take some pictures in under 15 minutes. I really fun and quirky spot!
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Coral Pink Sand Dunes are one of the most popular things to do near Kanab, and for good reason! Don’t let them name fool you and expect hot pink sand dunes though.. Even though there is a tint of pink in the dunes, they are more of an orange/red color.
The dunes are roughly 25-30 minutes outside of downtown Kanab towards Zion National Park. There are tons of things to do there like sand boarding, ATVing, visitor center, slot canyons and hiking. Unfortunately, there is only one tour company that offers ATV tours and they were closed on the day that I went. I saw other people who had their own ATV’s riding around the dunes and it looked like SO much fun! I would highly recommend signing up for the tour with Coral Pink ATV Tours.
If you don’t want to do an ATV tour, you can rent sand boards from the visitor center for fairly inexpensive. When I went, there was no one at the visitor center, but the sand boards were left outside the office (so, I didn’t need to pay!).
TIP: If you plan to go sand boarding, make sure you bring some wax! I, of course, forgot the wax so the board literally did not move. Imagine how miserable you would be if you hiked up the huge sand boards with a heavy board, excited to ride down the dunes, and when you stand up to ride down….. the board doesn’t move.
I have not personally done the Wave, but it’s definitely on the bucket list! The Wave in Arizona is a hiking trail near Kanab that has a very small amount of permits per day (like, only 20 people). You can request a permit FAR in advance online, or you can risk it and show up to the “Wave Lottery” where you wait hours in hopes to get a permit for the day. If you want to request a permit in advance, click here to find out more information.
I’ve met people who have done the Wave hike and had nothing but amazing things to say about it. If you want more information on hiking the Wave, I thought this guide was extremely useful!
If you already have your permit lined up, you will need to drive roughly 1 hour outside of town to the Wire Pass Trailhead. From there, it is a 5.2 mile round trip hike.
Moqui Cave Museum
Located just outside of town near the Moqui Caverns, you can stop by the Moqui Cave Museum. Located inside the canyon wall, you can learn about Utah history, see quirky things like dinosaur tracks, shop for souvenirs, and take a break from the heat because the museum never gets above 65 degrees! The museum is open Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm and it is very inexpensive to enter ($5-$10).
If you are a big history fan, I would definitely make this a priority for your time in Kanab. Things you would get to see are:
- Handmade jewelry from local tribes!
- Early pioneer antiques!
- Florescent mineral room – largest collection in the USA!
- Artifacts from Utah going back 1,200+ years!
- Dinosaur tracks that have been found 10-15 miles from the Moqui Cave Museum!
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Whether you’re on a long road trip and miss your pet or you are looking to adopt, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a perfect stop to add to your Kanab Itinerary. This large sanctuary is home to over 1,600 homeless animals ranging from dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, horses, pigs, goats, mules, sheep, burros, and much more!
They offer adoptions, visits to see/play with the animals, housing, or short term volunteer programs. If you want to just visit to see the animals, they offer free, 90 minute tours every day at 8:30am, 10am, 1pm, and 2:30pm.
This place can get surprisingly busy, so you will want to make a reservation in advance, especially during the high seasons. If you want to read more information about the sanctuary, click here!
Peek A Boo Slot Canyon
Peek A Boo Slot Canyon is a hike right outside of downtown Kanab, just past the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. You will need a 4×4 to access the dirt road that leads to the trail head, otherwise you will need to either hike the full 8 miles (round trip) in the loose sand or sign up for a tour.
The hike without a 4×4 or ATV is extremely strenuous, but once you reach the canyon it is a very easy and flat hike through the canyon. The directions to get there are extremely long and confusing, so I would recommend referring to All Trails for this one! Click here to read more about Peek A Boo Canyon and directions will be in the “Getting there” section.
If you want to do Coral Pink Sand Dunes as well, there is a tour that includes the dunes and the slot canyon! You can reserve a spot here for only $225.00.
Ready for the ultimate adventure?
There are so many slot canyons in Kanab that many are unknown to the public! My favorite part about tours is they are locals who know the area better than anyone and can take you to remote places you would have never found on your own.
In this tour, you get to use their equipment, transportation and local knowledge to find hidden slot canyons to repel down. Depending on the tour length you choose, you can repel into a slot canyon that is 120+ feet!
Only an hour outside of Kanab you can hike through the longest and deepest slot canyon in the world. This hike is not for the faint hearted though… to hike the main trail from Wire Pass Trailhead to Paria Canyon is over 20 miles long and takes anywhere from 10 hours to a full day to complete.
BONUS: Fun things to add onto your Kanab Itinerary!
Lake Powell (1 hour)
Lake Powell is the ultimate summer vacation spot where you can rent boats, jet skis, kayaks and more! It’s extremely scenic and a great party spot during the summer months.
Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon (1 hour and 20 min)
Located in Page, AZ you can check out both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon! Wondering what these locations are? I wrote a full itinerary all about it!
Bryce Canyon (1 hour and 30 min)
My all-time favorite canyon and national park is Bryce Canyon. Yes, even more than the popular Grand Canyon! The unique textures and vibrant colors made me absolutely fall in love with this place! Don’t forget to check out my One Day in Bryce Canyon and Navajo Loop Trail guides!
Zion (35 minutes)
Zion National Park is a hikers paradise! Some of best hikes are The Narrows (where you get to hike through a river) and Angel’s Landing (one of the most dangerous hikes in the USA). You can also camp at one of their many campsites that are unbelievably scenic.
Las Vegas (3 hours and 15 min)
I wouldn’t be a true Las Vegas local if I didn’t recommend it as an ad-on to your Kanab Itinerary! Las Vegas is the closest airport to Kanab, so it only makes sense to spend at least a day exploring this amazing city. I have WAY too many guides on my hometown, but here are ones I think you will love!
Okay, that’s a wrap! Kanab was seriously one of my favorite cities in Utah and I feel like it’s completely underrated. I would go as far to say it’s just as scenic as the expensive and crowded Sedona in Arizona.
This is my list of all the best things to do in Kanab, but if I’m missing any please let me know in the comments so I have an excuse to go back 🙂
Thanks so much for stopping by! 🙂
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