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Is Kanab, Utah Worth Visiting?

Kanab is a small Utah town that packs a big punch! It is an outdoor lover’s paradise and the gateway to East Zion.

Kanab features slot canyons, off-roading adventures, hoodoos, caves, tunnels, and more! It also is a quick drive from Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, the famous Wave hike, Lake Powell, Horseshoe Bend, and Zion National Park.

Kanab also is home to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and some truly amazing restaurants. It is one of our family’s favorite vacations in all of Utah for all of its outdoor beauty and small-town charm!

Keep reading to learn all about a place that bills itself as “Abra Kanabra!”

Kanab’s Outdoor Adventures

Kanab area map

The Wave

The Wave is an incredible geological feature that straddles Utah and Arizona. The 6.4-mile round-trip hike brings you to rocks that look like a wave, hence its name. This hike is incredibly popular in the hiking world and as such, you must be selected in a lottery process to be able to hike it.

The Wave hike Kanab Utah

The Wave is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is technically named Coyote Buttes.

The two options for getting tickets to hike The Wave are:

  • Or you can try for the daily lottery, two days in advance of your trip. You must apply for this on the recreation.gov mobile app. The app determines your location; you must be within close range of Kanab (basically between Mount Carmel, Utah, and Page, Arizona) when applying.

There is a good chance you will not be able to get a spot as only 48 people (or 12 groups) get selected in the advanced lottery and only 16 people (or 4 groups) get selected in the daily lottery each day.

Some things to know before you go:

  • The Wave is technical and difficult to hike. This is a backcountry area without a designated trail. You need to have a good map and GPS system or a tour guide to take you so that you do not get lost on your way.
  • To get to the trailhead 4-wheel drive vehicles are suggested.
  • Cell service is spotty or non-existent in the area.
  • Be prepared. Learn what gear we recommend.

White Pocket

White Pocket hike near Kanab Utah

Not sure you want to deal with the hassle of a lottery system? White Pocket is located in the Vermillion Cliffs area that The Wave is also located in, but this is a hike that does not require a lottery or ticketing system.

White Pocket is a mile-long area of swirling white, red, and multicolored rocks! It is an incredible sight and almost looks surreal.

While there is no lottery system for White Pocket, the difficult road to get there keeps the crowds from visiting. While some of the roads are dirt but driveable (as long as they aren’t rained out), there are some roads that require 4-wheel drive.

Some things to know before you go:

  • There are no designated trails and the exploring starts about 1000 feet off the end of the road.
  • Due to the lack of trails, it is important to keep in mind where you are and possibly bring a GPS system with you, if possible, so that you do not get lost.
  • Cell service is non-existent or spotty in this area.

Wire Pass

Wire Pass Trail near Kanab Utah
Wire Pass Trail

Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch confluence is one of our family’s all-time favorite trails in Utah!

This 3.5-mile out-and-back trail follows along a sandy wash until it brings you into a slot canyon featuring towering red walls and a ladder section. There is a trail that crosses over and spits you out after the slot canyon if you cannot do the ladder or have dogs with you. But don’t stop there, keep going after this first slot canyon a few hundred feet and you will be inside yet another slot canyon, but this time you will come out into a huge confluence.

Here there are towering rock walls, other trails for exploring, and the entrance to Buckskin Gulch. You can also find petroglyphs on the rock walls, and it is a great spot to sit in the shade and enjoy the views

Some things to know before you go:

  • To get to it, you have to drive on dirt and gravel roads for over 30 minutes. Most cars can do this, but it is bumpy and slow!
  • You have to pay a fee to hike this trail. You can pay at the parking lot, but the service is spotty. It’s best to pre-pay online for your tickets. Find out more about getting a permit.
  • This trailhead has a huge parking area and has multiple pit toilets.
  • Cell service is non-existent or spotty in this area.

Toadstool Hoodoos

Toadstool Hoodoos Kanab Utah
Toadstool Hoodoos

Prefer not to drive on dirt roads for miles to explore some cool rocks? No worries! Toadstool Hoodoos is such an amazing spot and the trailhead is located directly off the highway!

This 1.8-mile out-and-back trail is an easy trail, but like most of Kanab’s trails, is in full sun.

Walk along the desert trail until you reach the first set of hoodoos. These basically look like rock mushrooms. Further down the trail is a second set of hoodoos, and with more exploration, I am sure you can find others.

Our kids loved running around and playing in the shade of the hoodoos!

Some things to know before you go:

  • Bring plenty of water as the trail is in full sun and very hot in the summer.
  • There are no bathrooms at this trailhead.

The Nautilus

The Nautilus Kanab Utah
The Nautilus

The Nautilus is a unique rock formation that resembles a shell. It twists and curves in the same way a shell would, creating a super fun, natural slide and a fun place to play with your kids!

This 0.9-mile out-and-back hike is a quick and fun trail! Follow along the sandy wash and look for an opening in the rocks and a dead juniper tree on your right. These will be just past the white dome shapes that are streaked with orange. Disregard all domes you pass on the left!

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Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to the Grand Canyon’s 4 Areas!

The Nautilus Trail Kanab Utah
The Nautilus Trail

To find the Nautilus, begin driving towards White House Trailhead. Google Maps can help you with navigation. You do have to take dirt roads, but most cars should be able to make the trip.

Follow White House Trailhead Road for a little under two miles and through a few washes. Here the road will start to turn left and you will see the White House Trailhead in the distance. Instead of following left, pull straight forward into a small parking area (enough for 3 cars or so). Then turn and walk down into the wash you just came out of to start the trail. You will come to a small fence that you can bypass by going around the side near the rocks or climbing over it.

Some things to know before you go:

  • This trail is in full sun and can be very hot! Bring plenty of water!
  • There are no bathrooms at this trailhead, but if you go just a bit further down White House Trailhead Road to the White House Trailhead, there are bathrooms there.
  • Climbing up the Nautilus can be very slippery as it is a natural slide, so be careful!

The Carstacks

The Carstacks in Catstair Canyon are a truly unique feature to stumble upon in the desert!

These cars are stacked and bolted together in only two spots with the purpose of helping support the road above. Obviously, they were not super effective and the road had to be reconstructed. But it does make for a fun desert adventure now!

This 0.5-mile out-and-back trail is rated moderate only because of some climbing over and around rocks to get to the cars, but for most people, it is an easy hike.

To find the cars, go just over 38 miles east of Kanab on Highway 89. You will find a small pullout on the right if heading there from Kanab. Here there is only space for a few cars to park. You will see a survey marker sign in front of you and a trail leading out behind it.

Carstacks in Catstair Canyon Kanab Utah
The Carstacks in Catstair Canyon
Survey Marker along the Catstair Canyon Trail Kanab Utah
The Survey Marker along the Catstair Canyon Trail

Follow this trail down with the rock wall on your left. You will continue on to a wash where you will do almost a 180-degree turn as it curves around the rock heading back towards Highway 89. You will follow this along as the trail begins to get rockier. Climb around and through the rocks until you spot the cars.

Some things to know before you go:

  • This trail can get flooded in heavy rains and is a drainage area.
  • Be careful around the rocks as they can be slippery and harder to navigate for young children.

Sand Caves

Sand Caves Kanab Utah
Sand Caves, Kanab

These caves are manmade caves, once used for a glass making business. Now they are open for the public to hike up into. They give a unique view into Kanab and the surrounding areas.

Kanab has recently created a new parking lot and trailhead for these caves. The trail is 1.4 miles out-and-back. You wind from the parking lot, almost to the Moqui cave museum. From there you go onto the rocks to climb up and across over to the caves.

It can be tempting to cut the trail short and head up near the caves themselves, but this is a mistake to avoid! It is very steep and hard to climb this way. Going across and climbing from a less steep angle is the better choice to get up and down.

There is one section that is tricky and really requires good grip shoes. As shown below, you have to cross some steep sections where bad footing can potentially be very dangerous.

Sand Caves Trail Kanab Utah
Sand Caves Trail

Once you get into the caves, you can enjoy the cool sand and the views in a nice shady spot. This is a popular area, so you may have to wait your turn to stand in one of the windows of the cave for a photo!

Some things to know before you go:

  • Bring plenty of water, it is a full sun trail and hot during the day.
  • Wear shoes with a good grip.
  • Watch kids closely as this trail and the caves have cliff edges.

Belly of the Dragon

Belly of the Dragon Kanab Utah
Belly of the Dragon, near Kanab

Belly of the Dragon is an awesome, family-friendly hike that takes you through a manmade drainage tunnel underneath the highway in Mt. Carmel, Utah, just outside of Kanab.

That might not sound very cool, but trust me, it is so neat! It really does look like you are headed through the belly of a dragon!

It literally only takes about 1 minute to walk through the tunnel. There is a longer 1.8-mile trail if you want to continue further.

You can easily find this trail by using GPS and you will turn off the highway to a dirt parking area. There are no bathrooms here. It is located just south of Mount Carmel Junction.

Some things to know before you go:

  • Bring a flashlight! The tunnel gets dark.
  • Watch your footing as the ground is very uneven through the tunnel.
  • The rocks in the tunnel can be slippery so just be cautious as you walk through.
  • You do have to climb down some rocks to get to the tunnel, but this isn’t too hard for most.

Old Paria

Old Paria Kanab Utah
Old Paria

Old Paria is a beautiful area that used to be a small outpost until the late 1920s. This area has also been used as a set for many western movies. The colorful mountains of Old Paria give the area a unique and beautiful setting.

The ghost town is located in a portion of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Old Paria can be accessed from Highway 89, between Kanab and Page. The road down into Old Paria is dirt and can be tricky to navigate without 4WD.

While you can no longer see the movie sets here, due to a fire, you can still visit the old cemetery, enjoy the incredible views, and stop by the bathrooms and informational signs.

You should not attempt a visit when it’s rainy or expected to rain. The roads can be washed out and there is also the possibility of flash flooding.

Red Slot Canyon (Peek-a-boo)

Red Slot Canyon, also known as Peek-a-boo Canyon (not to be confused with the more famous Peekaboo Slot Canyon in Escalante) is an incredible slot canyon near Kanab. It is accessible through deep sandy roads leading to a 0.7-mile hike. If you do not want to attempt these roads in your vehicle, there is an 8.7-mile hike you can take.

It is one of the most beautiful slot canyons near Kanab and well worth the visit!

Many people bring or rent razors, side-by-sides, or four-wheelers to get to the canyon. Others book tours with adventure tour groups in the area to explore the canyon.

Things to know before you go:

  • Rainy weather is dangerous at slot canyons and can cause flash floods that can be deadly.
  • The rainy weather can also wash out the roads here.
  • There is little to no service and if you get stuck on the roads you could be stuck for a while.
  • Bring lots of water as it is hot and in full sun.

Museums & Other Must-Visit Spots in Kanab

There’s more to do in Kanab than just hike! Here are some great spots we like.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Entrance

Do you love animals?

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is a stop you have to make! Free tours will take you in a van around the expansive property to places like Dogtown, Catworld, Horse Haven, Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, and Wild Friends areas.

You can also volunteer to spend time with the animals.

Visit Angel’s Rest Cemetery, and the Gratitude Garden, or hike the trails inside the sanctuary. Don’t forget to make a stop at the shop. All proceeds go toward the animals.

The trails inside the sanctuary:

  • Hidden Lake is a 1.5-mile trail to a water-filled cave. This is a must if you are visiting!
  • Angel’s Overlook is another 1.5-mile trail that brings you to a beautiful overlook in Angel’s Village. You can also stop here for lunch at the cafe!

Make sure to stop by the visitor center first for tour information and to get started!

Little Hollywood Land: Museum & Trading Post

Little Hollywood Land Kanab Utah
Little Hollywood Land Western Sets

Did you know Kanab was once known as Little Hollywood?

This rustic museum is located in downtown Kanab and is FREE to visit! They do accept donations to keep the space going.

The museum preserves real sets from different Western movies and you can meander around and read about them. This is a fun place for kids to run around and play!

They have a trading post here to grab some fun knick-knacks and they also offer a chuckwagon cookout depending on the time of year.

The best movie set is from the movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales with Clint Eastwood.

Look for Movie Stars

Little Hollywood Land plaque of Gregory Peck Kanab Utah

Continuing with the Little Hollywood theme, the town has signs erected all over for actors and actresses who starred in movies filmed in Kanab. You’ll be surprised at the number of Hollywood movie stars who have walked the streets of little old Kanab, Utah.

Kanab Heritage House Museum

This is another FREE museum in Kanab. It is inside a beautiful house built by Henry & Mary Bowman from 1892-1894. It was the first “modern home” built in Kane County. Through the years, it was home to many prominent residents of Kanab. In 1975, George Russell Aiken convinced the city to buy the house and he got to work restoring the beautiful home to its former glory.

Today, you can take free guided or self-guided tours through the house to learn about its inhabitants and Kanab’s history.

Moqui Cave Museum

Moqui Cave Museum Entrance Kanab Utah
Moqui Cave Museum Entrance

This museum has been built right into an actual cave near Kanab and is a fun and interesting stop.

The cave was originally bought in 1951 by Garth and Laura Chamberlain. They turned it into Southern Utah’s first dance hall and bar.

Remember those Hollywood movie stars? This is where they came to drink at night. You can even see the bar they used to pull up to.

Since then it has been turned into a museum featuring Native American artifacts, interesting rocks, western movie memorabilia, and a gift shop.

Parry Lodge

This historic hotel has been here since 1892!

It was established by Chauncey and Gronway Parry – the Parry Brothers. These brothers played a big role in getting tourism to Zion National Park started, as well as, turning Kanab into Little Hollywood.

They hosted many Hollywood celebrities in their lodge: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ronald Reagan, and more.

Today you can sleep or eat where those famous stars once did.

Where Should I Eat in Kanab?

Peekaboo Canyon Wood-Fired Kitchen

Don’t be scared away by the vegetarian menu. This restaurant knows how to make incredible food! They are known for their wood-fired pizza and you don’t want to miss out!

Kanab Creek Bakery

Kanab Creek Bakery Pastries
Kanab Creek Bakery Pastries

If you want to start your day off right, head to Kanab Creek Bakery for coffee, pastries, and incredible breakfast sandwiches! This spot has some of the best French pastries and everyone around knows it, so you can expect some lines here.

Rocking V Cafe

This artsy spot in downtown Kanab is a town favorite and for good reason! They serve great food with staples like buffalo tenderloin, filet mignon, adobe chicken, creme brulee, and more!

Sego Restaurant

Sego is one of the highest-rated restaurants in town and features duck lo mein, scallops, noodle dishes, satay, tuna, pork belly, and more on its upscale menu.

Escobar’s Mexican Restaurant

Carne Asada Salad at Escobar's Kanab Utah
Carne Asada Salad at Escobar’s

This laid-back Mexican restaurant is one of our personal favorites in Kanab! The best part is that our kids DEVOURED their food here! You can expect to find all the traditional Mexican favorites, along with some fresh salads.

Big Al’s Burgers at the Junction

If you are looking for a traditional drive-in style burger and ice cream cone, Big Al’s is for you! They have some seating inside but have a huge dining space outside. This comes in handy because it is usually packed!

What Else Can I Do Near Kanab?

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is one of our favorite state parks to visit. We always tack this on to our Kanab trips. It is only a short drive from Kanab and well worth it!

Here you can camp, off-road, hike, play in the sand, and even sandboard or sled down the dunes!

Sand Sledding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Sand Sledding at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Entrance to the park is reasonably priced and there are campsites available to stay in as well. Sandboards and sleds can be also rented at the park on a first-come, first-served basis. For a list of entrance and camping fees, see the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park website.

There are bathrooms located at the parking lots and at the visitor’s center.

Some things to know before you go:

  • It is in full sun and hot, bring lots of water.
  • You have to walk a significant way to get to the dunes and it can get tiring walking to and from them through the deep sand.
  • Find out all you need to know about visiting Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

East Zion

Canyon Overlook Trail Zion National Park
Canyon Overlook Trail, East Zion National Park

About 30 minutes from Kanab is the East entrance to Zion National Park. The East section of Zion features some incredible sights like the Checkerboard Mesa and the Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel. As well as one of our favorite hikes, the Canyon Overlook trail!

The Canyon Overlook trail is a mile-long trail that brings you to sweeping views of Zion National Park.

You can easily drive to the visitor center on the south end of the park to jump on the shuttle and explore the rest of Zion National Park if you have time.

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Orderville

Red Hollow Slot Canyon Kanab Utah
Red Hollow Slot Canyon

Orderville is a tiny town 25 miles away from Kanab and is another spot worth visiting.

Orderville has a tiny rock shop that we love to stop at and browse.

It also has another incredible slot canyon!

The Red Hollow Slot Canyon is 1.2 miles out and back and begins with a walk through a sandy trail to a wash. You will see multiple trails heading from the parking area. Don’t worry! They all lead to the wash. From here follow the wash and keep left on the trail. You will see the canyon walls begin to tower around you and you will find the entrance to the slot.

Go as far as you like in the canyon. There are some very tight spots and a few rope sections. We only made it to the first set of ropes and turned around since we have young kids!

This trail is a good option if you do not want to hike the distance for Wire Pass or offroad for Red Canyon (Peekaboo).

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend Glen Canyon Recreation Area
Horshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is a wildly popular spot in Glen Canyon Recreation Area near Page, Arizona, and only a little over an hour away from Kanab.

To visit, you need to pay a small entrance fee to enter the Horseshoe Bend Parking lot. From here, hike the 1.5-mile out-and-back trail that leads to an incredible overlook of Horseshoe Bend. The trail is easy and relatively flat.

The views are incredible, but you may have to wait a bit to get the perfect photo of the bend, due to crowds. Make sure to stay behind guard rails as there are steep dropoffs.

Things to know before you go:

  • Bring lots of water! It is in full sun and hot.
  • Expect crowds! This is a popular spot!

Pipe Spring National Monument

Pipe Spring National Monument

Located only about 25 minutes away from Kanab, Pipe Spring offers some really interesting history along with some fabulous views of the Arizona Strip.

The natural springs here were once used by Native Americans, then by explorers, and then by settlers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

They have a nice visitor center, historic cabins, orchards, longhorn cattle, and a wonderful little hike to an overlook with panoramic views.

Does Kanab have Cell Service?

While Kanab has cell service, once you leave the city, cell service will be spotty. Make sure to download maps before you leave town to head on hikes.

Does Kanab have Hotels?

Kanab has many hotels and lodging options to choose from. Besides the Parry Lodge, mentioned above, there are many chain hotels and Airbnbs to choose from. Check out my article on The Best Unique Hotels & Resorts In Kanab, Utah for help finding somewhere to stay.

City of Kanab

Does Kanab Have a Grocery Store?

Yes, Kanab has two small grocery stores: Honey’s and Glaziers. This makes it handy for grabbing meals or things you might have forgotten for your trip!

Can You Rent 4×4 Vehicles for Off-Roading in Kanab?

Yes, there are many rental spots in Kanab for off-roading vehicles. These are especially needed if you are going to places such as Red Canyon (Peekaboo Slot Canyon).

Are There Any Tour Guides in Kanab?

Yes, there are many tour guides and tour options for Kanab. These tours will take you to places you can only reach via 4×4 or on more difficult trails that you may want a guide for. Kanab Tour Company, Dreamland Safari, and Expedition Kanab are just a few of the choices around town. Check their websites for tour options and pricing.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

A lot of people visit Kanab during their trip to the Grand Canyon. Many of the things we mention here are only 1-2 hours away!

We have included Kanab and what to do in the latest update of our Ultimate Grand Canyon Bundle Itinerary which also includes an audio guide with over 4 1/2 hours of stories and information about the area. Let us help you plan your vacation to Kanab and the Grand Canyon!

Zion National Park is also near Kanab and can be crowded with visitors, especially during peak season! Planning and navigating a trip to Zion National Park can be frustrating because of its popularity. The crowds and shuttle system can be confusing to navigate.

Lucky for you, we have you covered. Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still, avoid crowds (as much as possible). We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO THE
GRAND CANYON


WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist

GRAND CANYON GUIDE: Toread or watch all of our content about the Grand Canyon, Check out our Grand Canyon Homepage

AREAS: The Grand Canyon is divided into 4 areas: The South Rim, North Rim, Grand Canyon West, and the East Side of the Grand Canyon (Page, AZ). Learn about the 4 areas of the Grand Canyon with our Free Printable.

THINGS TO DO: There is much more to do than hike and look at viewpoints.  Explore Antelope Canyon or ride a mule.

WHERE TO STAY: Learn all about where to camp or stay when visiting the Grand Canyon.

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat and get groceries at the South Rim

WATCH: Enjoy videos of the beautiful Grand Canyon while learning our best tips by watching our Grand Canyon YouTube Playlist

MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO
ZION

ZION TRIP PLANNER: To read or watch all of our content about Zion National Park, check out our  Zion Homepage

THINGS TO DO: Don’t miss all that Zion has to offer including Emerald Pools, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, and Kolob Canyons

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat in and near Zion National Park

GREAT CITIES TO STAY OR CHECK OUT: Learn where to stay or camp when visiting Zion and explore some amazing cities nearby including St. George, Kanab, and Cedar City

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Find out if you need a reservation and how to use the shuttle system as well as if you can drive in Zion, which entrance to use, and how to avoid crowds

WATCH: Enjoy videos of gorgeous Zion National Park while learning our best tips for visiting by watching our Zion YouTube Playlist

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