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5 Reasons to visit Kanab Utah

Considering that I have visited the little town of Kanab, Utah six times in the past six years, I feel like I have become a bit of an expert on some of the reasons why Kanab is a great place to visit and use as a “home base” for any trip to Southern Utah or Northern Arizona.

Kanab is 3 hours from Las Vegas, 5 hours from Salt Lake City and 5.5 hours from Phoenix. It's a paradise for plenty of outdoor adventures and if you're anything like me, you'll find yourself returning year after year.

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Here are just a few of the regional highlights, their proximity to Kanab will entice you to visit!

The Wave

The Wave

The number one reason to visit Kanab is to see the Wave. This is a magical, and well-protected, sandstone rock formation on many photographers and hikers natural bucket lists. You access it via a 5-mile hike and you MUST have a permit.

There are only 20 daily permits given out. Ten are awarded via an online lottery conducted four months before the month you want. The other 10 are executed through a daily lottery at the BLM office in Kanab.

There are 2 BLM office in Kanab, the one that performs the Wave lottery is located at 745 East Highway 89. Generally, between 150  to 300 people are trying for a permit on a daily. The lottery is at 9:00 a.m., so get there early. It's easier to get a permit if you are a single hiker, also your chances are better in December, January, or February.

If you win a permit, it is for the next day.

So whether you are a lucky winner, or if you don't get a permit (the more likely scenario) you are in a prime position to head to all the amazing locations just minutes away. While visiting the Wave is pretty spectacular, there are still PLENTY of things to visit.

The Parks

White Pocket Sunrise

Locations like White Pocket and Coyote Buttes will make you forget the Wave altogether. The colors in these rock formations are equally as fantastical and you can explore for hours thinking you are on an alien planet.

The route to this area is rather difficult and you must have a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle. We generally went with a local guide, I highly recommend Dreamland Tours, we went with them several times, even for overnight camping.

Plus our favorite White Pocket, there's also:

  • Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
  • Pipe Spring National Park
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes
  • Kodachrome Basin
  • And do not miss an easy hike and fun photo opportunity at the Toadstool Hoodoos (GPS Coordinates 37.101310, -111.873169) 45 miles east of Kanab.

The BIG Parks

zion national park virgin river at sunrise

The big parks, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park are within 1-2 hours of Kanab. A little further is the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park 3.5 hours from Kanab and Capitol Reef National Park, which is 3 hours and 15 minutes.

If you leave early you can make it for a day trip. Kanab makes a great stopover road trip through these magnificent national parks.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Kanab
Photo credit: John Sibley

This animal sanctuary is known all over the world for its animal rescue training and its volunteer program. You can apply to volunteer online and even stay on the grounds in one of their guest cabins (reserve in advance!) There are many programs to choose from and your experience will be truly rewarding.

Besides the magnificent backdrop of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, there's a magical pet cemetery, Angel's Rest which is a sacred experience, and delicious vegan and vegetarian food in their cafe. If you have any love for animals, you will want to visit Best Friends.

Eat & Drink in Kanab

Kanab Food & Drink

Truth be told there are not a ton of dining options in Kanab. Thankfully there are a couple of gems. And these few make it worth it! You will also find several fast-food restaurants, 2 grocery stores to pick up picnic supplies, and a handful of restaurants, my favorites are listed below.

Willow Canyon Outdoor

This shop serves the absolute best coffee in Southern Utah. Sure you can pick up some great outdoor gear, or in my case new boots when mine literally disintegrated around my feet, and the owner is super knowledgeable about the area, he is an ex-geologist, but above and beyond that, that makes a really damn good cup of coffee! Located at 263 South 100 East.

Rocking V Cafe

This is my absolute favorite restaurant in Kanab and Mr. Misdaventures and I have eaten here several times. Rocking V serves slow food in a really cool setting, their building was a former mercantile shop dating back to 1892. Located at 97 W Center St.

Kanab Creek Bakery

Top-quality European-style pastries and bread. Great to start your day and add to your picnic lunch. Located at 238 W Center St.

Sego Restaurant

An eclectic mix of modern cuisine, great beers, and cocktails. Great small plates for sharing. Located at 190 N 300 West.

Houston's Trail's End Restaurant

Meat is king here, go for the pot roast or the fabulous chicken fried steak. Located at 32 E Center St.

Escobar's Mexican Restaurant

Classic Mexican fare with legit tacos and burritos. It's small and can get crowded. Located at 373 E 300 South.

Kanab Utah

See? Isn't Kanab awesome??!!! It's the perfect home base for all your Southern Utah and Northern Arizona adventures. It's got lots of parks and outdoor activities, great food, and awesome logistics.

And if you really, really want to be in the lap of luxury, you can stay at the 5-star luxury resort, Amangiri. You can go out and hike and get as dirty as you want, and come back to this luxurious retreat.

And here's a 6th reason! Kanab is #10 in Buzzfeed's “18 Surprisingly Cool Small Towns In The USA!”

How about you? Have you been to Kanab? Did you find it to be a great spot to visit? Do tell!

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  1. Kanab is a well kept secret, and good to know about, since you can get to so many other places, too, in a reasonable amount of time. What gorgeous pictures, and the food looks good, too. I’d go if I could, and again and again!!!

  2. I have never visited Utah but this area looks really amazing. I would love to take a trip there with my family and explore those really beautiful parks and enjoy some wholesome food. Thanks for sharing these reasons.

  3. Living in the midwest, where it’s nothing but flat and corn fields for miles, I am fascinated with anyplace that has hills, canyons, and mountains. This looks absolutely gorgeous. Definitely some place I would love to visit.

  4. OMG! These places are absolutely amazing! I love small places like Kanab to feel the real life and enjoy the beauties! These good reason to visit it! Everything seems perfect!

  5. Your images are BEAUTIFUL!! I have never been to Utah but trust me, I will definitely make sure to visit these places! Kanab would be a great place to visit with my family and the food looks so delicious! The Wave is AWESOME!

  6. The wave is one place that I will have to stop if I ever come to visit Utah. I want to take a road trip around the country and Kanab will be great to visit. Wonderful pictures.

  7. O wow, that wave looks absolutely breathtaking. Now I am going to have Utah on my list of places to check out because of this post. Thanks for sharing!

  8. I’m not far away in Phoenix, Arizona and Kanab is on my list for this year! I love your photos… I’ve never seen the Wave in the snow before, so cool! The landscape in Arizona and Utah really is a work of wonder, my breath is taken away every time I go to one of these natural landmarks. We often visit Sedona and have been to the Canyon but there’s a bunch of other stuff I want to see this year!

  9. Oh my goodness, that looks amazing! This is actually my first time hearing of this place, and you bet that it’s now on my travel radar 😉 I also just really love the photos you took. It really captures the beauty of the place very well!