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Kanab Utah: A Paradise for Outdoor Adventures!

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.

So What's So Special About Kanab?

Kanab is a special little city that tends to capture people's hearts so they keep returning year after year. Mr. Misadventures and I have been there so many times that it feels like a second home and we have watched in wonder at how its grown, expanded, and matured.

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When we first started going, there was hardly any infrastructure. Now there are so many choices and even more things to do. We never get bored!

The Kanab area is a great place for anyone interested in outdoor recreation, as it's famous for its unique landmarks, canyons, and red rock formations. There are many hikes in the area – including the famous hike to The Wave – and outdoor activities are available for people of all ability levels, from beginning hikers to those ready for more advanced adventures.

And if you don't hike, no worries – many of the national parks offer a scenic byway or drive so you can still bask in the beauty of the area.

Kanab Utah sign

Many people opt to stay in Kanab if they're doing a national parks road trip but it's also a great place to stay for several days, day-tripping to a different park or canyon and returning to your Kanab hotel each night.

Additionally, Kanab's self-proclaimed title is “Little Hollywood”, as it's made its appearance in more than one Hollywood western (actually more like 100) and there are still movie sets to visit.

Old Gunsmoke Movie set in Kanab
Old Gunsmoke Movie set in Kanab

Not to mention the local history and Native American artifacts that can be found at places like Moqui Cave and the Kanab Heritage House Museum.

Truthfully, Kanab is just a special place and deserves to be at the top of the list of places to visit in the United States.

Where is Kanab, Utah?

Kanab is located in Kane County, Utah, just over the border from Arizona. It's one of the best places to use as a home base when exploring the Southwest and the national parks, as it provides easy access to parks like Bryce Canyon and Zion – and even the Grand Canyon!

It's also within easy driving distance from several major cities. Here are some driving times:

  • Kanab to Las Vegas – 3 hours
  • Kanab to Salt Lake City – 5 hours
  • Kanab to Phoenix – 5.5 hours
  • Kanab to St. George – 1.5 hours
  • Kanab to Cedar City – 1.5 hours

Parks, National Parks, and Canyons Near Kanab Utah

One of the main draws to Kanab, Utah is the spectacular national and state parks and canyons in the area. It's an outdoor lovers' paradise, with the chance to hike slot canyons and sand caves and see some unforgettable rock formations.

If you love to be outside, you'll never run out of things to do in Kanab, Utah! Here are a few of the best canyons and parks you won't want to miss.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Kanab UT makes the perfect home base for Bryce Canyon National Park, located under an hour and a half away. It's one of the Mighty Five National Parks in Utah. Bryce Canyon, with its many amphitheater formations, is one of the top sites to see in Utah.

BRYCE CANYON-Rainbow-Point
Photo credit: Sel & Poivre Photography

There are many hikes at the national park, ranging from the easy Navajo Loop to the strenuous Fairyland Loop. Sunset Point is the perfect spot to catch the views, including of Thor's Hammer and Silent City, without much walking.

There are also opportunities in/near the park for horseback riding, mountain biking, ATV tours, and ranger-guided activities like full moon hikes and astronomy programs.

Zion National Park

Zion (another of the Mighty Five) is one of the most famous national parks in the United States and Kanab is the perfect place to base yourself for a visit, as the distance from Kanab Utah to Zion National Park is just 30 miles.


Within the park, you'll find mountains, mesas, slot canyons, natural arches, and more. Some of the most popular places in the park are Angels Landing and Echo Canyon. There's also the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, for those who prefer epic views without a hike.

Belly of the Dragon

If you're heading to Bryce or Zion from Kanab, you'll want to add a stop to the Belly of the Dragon. It's a short hike, just .5 miles, through a man-made tunnel. It was originally a water culvert under the highway but it's now a fun, family-friendly hiking path.

Capital Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is my personal favorite national park in Utah. It is one of the Mighty Five but I think it often gets overlooked. It is a bit of a stretch from Kanab, it is 3 hours and 15 minutes away, but if you started super early in the morning and got back to Kanab late, you could do it in a day trip.

Capitol Reef National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

Kanab, UT is a great base for those who want to explore the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, as it's just under a 2-hour drive. This is the least visited part of the park, so a great place to explore if you're hoping to escape some of the massive crowds.

North-Rim-Grand Canyon 2

Some of the most popular things to do in the Grand Canyon North Rim are the short Bright Angel Point Hike from the Grand Canyon Lodge and a scenic drive.

We also camped at The Toroweap Overlook which is 3 hours and 15 minutes away and has great North Rim views as well.

Pipe Spring National Park

Imagine finding an oasis in the middle of a vast desert. That's exactly what happened here in the Arizona Strip between the Grand Canyon and the Vermillion Cliffs. Pipe Spring National Park has been a gathering spot for centuries, attracting hunter-gatherers, Spanish explorers, and Mormon settlers fleeing persecution.

The park is 20 minutes from Kanab.

Covered Wagon Sits Next to Natural Spring Water

As you explore the area, you'll come across the traditional kahns, built with juniper branches and brush, that once provided shelter for the Kaibab Paiutes. There's also a fascinating ranch house known as “Winsor Castle” that housed the Mormon settlers.

And if you're up for a little adventure, take a stroll along the Ridge Trail. It's a leisurely hike that rewards you with breathtaking views of the Arizona Strip, Mount Trumbull, the Kaibab Plateau, and Kanab Canyon.

FAQs About Kanab & National Parks

How far is Kanab from Bryce and Zion?

Kanab to Bryce Canyon National Park is a 90-minute drive, while Kanab to Zion is a short 30-minute drive.

How far is it from Kanab to Grand Canyon?

Kanab to Grand Canyon is just under a 2-hour drive. You will be closest to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Can you enter Zion from Kanab?

You can't enter Zion National Park from Kanab but the entrance is just a short 30-minute drive away, making it the perfect base for your national park trip.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument spans over 280,000 acres in northern Arizona, bordering the Kaibab National Forest and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. It's about a bit over an hour's drive from Kanab and one of the top outdoor recreation spots.

Note that there is no visitors center in the national monument, so if you have questions or want more info, you'll need to check with the BLM Kanab Visitor Center.

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument - North Coyote Buttes
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument – North Coyote Buttes – looks a lot like Bryce Canyon, right?

Coyote Buttes

Some of the most popular attractions within the monument are Paria Canyon and Coyote Buttes. Coyote Buttes is broken down into two parts – Coyote Buttes South and Coyote Buttes North. Coyote Buttes North is home to the famous The Wave, which I discuss more below.

South Coyote Buttes
South Coyote Buttes

You used to be able to explore South Coyote Buttes on your own without a permit, but that is no longer the case. 10 people are allowed to visit Coyote Buttes South per day. Applications for the permits are available every day from 9:30 am-10 am. A drawing is held daily.

Like White Pocket (see more below) South Coyote Buttes is a remote area that requires a 4 x 4 high clearance vehicle to access. 2WD and AWD vehicles WILL get stuck. You need to be comfortable driving in deep sand and navigating a remote wilderness area (we recommend skill with Gaig maps as well).

The lottery is held in the BLM office. You will need to bring a pen or pencil, have your car license plate number, and an emergency contact person.

If you win the lottery, the fee is $5 per person and dog. They ONLY accept cash or checks – NO credit cards!

White Pocket

White Pocket, known as the “lesser Wave” is another popular attraction within Vermilion Cliffs and does not require a permit to visit. The stunning rock formations tend to have a white or tan cap, which gives them their name. A must-visit, especially if you can't get permits for the other sites.

Andi at White Pocket Arizona USA 5

We have been to White Pocket 7 times. Our visits have occurred at various times of the year. We have done single-day trips and camping trips.

Here is my full guide to White Pocket!

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 Wave

The number one reason to visit Kanab is to see the Wave in Arizona. We've been twice and are hoping for a third-times-the-charm situation on our upcoming trip in November (2023).

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 for the Wave.

photographer in the Wave

There are only 20 daily permits given out.

As of March 15, 2022, the BLM implemented a new mobile-based system for obtaining one of the daily lottery permits to hike the Wave. The new system is called the Coyote Buttes North Daily Lottery (The Wave).

All permits to hike in Coyote Buttes North are issued via an online lottery held by recreation.gov.

There are 2 BLM offices 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.

Winter at the Wave

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.

Angel Canyon

Angel Canyon is located just a few miles outside of Kanab and is most famous for being home to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (more on them below). However, within the property of the sanctuary, are a few different trails.

angel canyon utah
Photo credit: be OH be

Hidden Lake is a 1.5-mile trail that takes you to a water-filled cave underneath a cliff, as well as past Puebloan ruins and ancient pictographs on the rock wall. Angels Overlook is another 1.5-mile hike, over some steep inclines. You can start or end near Angel Village, where you can grab lunch.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous things to do near Kanab Utah. Located about an hour and a half away on private Navajo Nation land, Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon with stunning natural architecture that's been shaped by water and wind erosion.

To visit Antelope Canyon, you'll need to join a guided tour and get your entry ticket in advance. Most people hike the Upper Antelope Canyon, though the more adventurous may appreciate the challenge of the Lower Antelope Canyon, which requires navigating stairways and ladders to enter the canyon.

Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon

Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, also known as Red Canyon, is considered one of the most beautiful canyons in the area and should be at the top of your list of things to do in Kanab UT. It's a short, easy hike to access the canyon but it is prone to flash floods, which can change the landscape.

You should always check with the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center first.

Slot canyon in Grand Staircase Escalante National park Utah

Spooky Gulch

Spooky Gulch is located in the same area as Peekaboo Canyon Kanab and can actually be combined with it to make a longer loop hike.

Note that some scrambling is required to navigate Spooky Gulch and it does get quite narrow in some spaces, so if you're claustrophobic, this probably isn't the hike for you.

Lake Powell

Lake Powell is located 90 minutes from Kanab in Page, Arizona. It's an artificial reservoir the Colorado River and a very popular boating destination. You can even rent a houseboat to cruise around!

Alstrom Point Above Lake Powell Utah USA

While you're in the area, be sure to check out the famous hike to Horseshoe Bend as well. The parking lot is just 3 miles outside of Page.

Buckskin Gulch

Located just an hour from Kanab, Buckskin Gulch is one of the biggest attractions in the area. It's the longest slot canyon in the Southwest. While you can make a day trip out of it, serious hikers can go on a 4-day adventure to hike the entire 20 miles.

Hikers in Buckskin Gulch

It's found between the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kanab and the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Arizona, with multiple trailheads available.

The most easily accessible for a day hike is the Wire Pass Trailhead, which is considered “moderately easy”, while other parts of the canyon are prone to flash floods, quicksand, and other obstacles.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Located between Kanab and Zion National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is an underrated state park that you need to add to your list of things to do in Kanab! It's a unique destination as the sand dunes are moved by wind, so it's an ever-changing landscape.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah

In addition to hiking, there are areas for off-roading and sandboarding as well, so it can be quite the place for an adrenaline rush!

It is stunning at sunset. It is our favorite sunset spot when we are staying in Kanab.

Kodachrome Basin

This hidden gem, named after Kodak Film Corp, boasts vibrant sandstone spires, majestic red rock mountains, and breathtaking blue skies. It's an hour and 45 minutes from Kanab.

Kodachrome Basin

Kodachrome Basin is home to a mesmerizing array of rock formations in hues of red, yellow, pink, white, and brown. The towering sandstone chimney spires are remnants of ancient springs or geysers, standing tall against the backdrop of clear blue skies.

Check out the breathtaking views at Kodachrome Basin from the many short trails in the area. This picturesque area was rightfully named by the National Geographic Society, with the blessing of Kodak Film Corp.

The park is located at 2905 S. Kodachrome State Park Rd. There is an entrance fee of $8 per vehicle and is open year-round.

Don't miss out on this captivating destination that is only a stone's throw away from the famous Bryce Canyon National Park.

More Things To Do Near Kanab, Utah

Once you've hiked and explored the nearby canyons and parks to your heart's content, there's still more to discover near the small town of Kanab. Seriously – you could spend weeks here and not get bored!

Here are some of my favorite non-hiking things to do in Kanab, Utah, and other nearby attractions.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Kanab
Photo credit: John Sibley

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Kanab 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.

Toadstool Hoodoos

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.

Toadstool Hoodoos Entrance

Moqui Cave

A cool stop just 10 minutes from Kanab, Moqui Cave is a history museum filled with Native American artifacts and dinosaur tracks. Yes, an eclectic combination, which is part of what makes it worth a visit. They also have a unique collection of fluorescent minerals that you can see under UV light.

Moqui Cave sign

Hot Air Balloon Festival

You've likely seen photos of hot air balloons rising about the beautiful red rock cliffs. While hot air balloon rides happen throughout the year, there's one big annual event worth checking out if you'll be in the area – the Kanab Balloon Festival, also known as Kanab Balloons and Tunes Festival.

Hot Air Balloon Festival in Kanab

The 3-day festival takes place one weekend each year – in 2024 the dates will be February 16 to 18 – with about 40 hot air balloon pilots lifting off from the formal Coral Cliffs Golf Course.

In addition to the hot air balloons, there's live music and other fun activities throughout the weekend.

Kanab Heritage House Museum

To learn a little more about the Kanab area and its history, stop by the Kanab Heritage House Museum. Considered the, “first modern home in Kane Country,” it was built by Henry Bowman in 1892 and was the home of several prominent families throughout the history of Kanab.

Guided tours are available but if you stop by outside opening hours, you can still take a self-guided tour of the property.

Little Hollywood Museum

Kanab has the self-proclaimed title of “Little Hollywood”, with over 100 different Hollywood productions having been filmed in the unique landscape. “Deadwood Coach” in 1924 was said to be the first movie filmed in Kanab, but many others followed. Most recently, Disney Pixar's “John Carter of Mars”.

Little Hollywood Museum
Little Hollywood Museum, photo credit: Wayne Hsieh

As you might expect, Hollywood had a huge impact on the growth of Kanab – and that's what you'll find at the Little Hollywood Museum, including plenty of movie posters of Western legends and film set artifacts.

In addition to the museum, you can also find a gift shop, restaurant, and more. It's definitely with a stop!

Where to 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 and chains like Pizza Hut Kanab, 2 grocery stores to pick up picnic supplies, and a handful of restaurants.

Whether you're looking for fine dining or casual eats, 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!

Address: 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.

Address: Located at 97 W Center St.

Kanab Creek Bakery

This Kanab bakery offers top-quality European-style pastries and bread. Great to start your day and add to your picnic lunch.

Address: Located at 238 W Center St.

Sego Restaurant

An eclectic mix of modern cuisine, great beers, and cocktails. They're known for their selection of regional New American cuisine and for serving great small plates for sharing.

Address: 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.

Address: 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.

Address: Located at 373 E 300 South.

Fusion House Kanab

Fusion House offers up Asian classics with a twist, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. You'll find everything from Thai curry to Japanese bento lunch boxes to halibut fillets.

Address: Located at 18 E Center St.

Havana Cabana Kanab

Enjoy the taste of Cuba in Kanab at Havana Cabana. This family-owned restaurant offers up Cuban classics and Cuban-inspired versions of American dishes, from Cuban rice plates and tostones to burgers.

Address: Located at 310 S 100 E #1.

Best Hotels in Kanab Utah

Looking for the best Kanab hotels? Whether you're looking for a cozy but affordable chain hotel or something a bit more unique, this list of hotels in Kanab UT will help you find it.

Kanab Utah Hotel
Photo credit: Pray It No Photography

There aren't a lot of luxury or above-budget options, but there are certainly more choices these days than say 10 or even 5 years ago!

More Mid-range:

NEW! Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile at 30 North 300 West. We will be staying here in November and I cannot wait to stay at this new hotel that's part of the Best Friends family!

Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile Room

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.

What's The Weather Like in Kanab, Utah?

Weather in Kanab varies throughout the year. For most of the year, it's mild and dry as the small city rarely sees more than 5 days of rain a month (and many months are much less). Heavy rain can bring flash floods in the canyons so make sure to pay attention to weather conditions. Check with the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) office.

However, as you would expect in the desert – summer is HOT. Expect average temperatures in the 90s from June to August and sometimes into September. Always have lots of water with you.

flower in the desert sand

It's also important to be prepared for big temperature changes too, as the night-time average can be quite chilly, even if the days are hot.

Kanab weather in the winter is cold, with average lows in the mid-20s, but the average highs can still be in the 40s and 50s. It can snow which can impact your outdoor activities. If you are doing off-road activities during the winter I recommend that you hire a local tour guide/company as they know the roads and have the right equipment to deal with winter weather conditions.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Kanab?

The best time to visit Kanab is in the fall when the weather is still warm but not as hot as the summer months. The summer months can be incredibly busy too and the parks are much more enjoyable when they're not quite so crowded.

Kanab Utah

Late spring and into early June is also a pleasant time in Kanab.

One thing to note – be sure to check the opening dates of the national parks, as some do close in the winter.

Local Tours

Many of the outdoor activities include routes that are rather difficult and you must have a high-clearance 4×4 vehicle. We generally went with a local guide, I highly recommend Dreamland Safari Tours, we went with them several times, even for overnight camping.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Kanab is right on the Utah and Arizona border. They are in different time zones, so depending on your location you will need to pay attention to what time zone the meeting point is!

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 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. Surrreal fab views, and food to die for, two reasons alone is enough to get me to go

  2. 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!!!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. I loved Best Friends Animal Sanctuary! Definitely need to plan a trip just to stay in Kanab as I’ve always just passed through.

    1. @Leigh, me too! I can’t wait to stay in the new hotel – I am sure you and Bailey would love it!