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Utah Stops on the Way

Kanab, Utah’s Fab Four Things to Do

Base out of Kanab, Utah, to avoid the crowds, enjoy fantastic food and discover the hidden gems along the way to three of the Southwest’s most popular national parks.

 

Kanab, Utah's Perry Lodge in Kane County
Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Kanab, Utah, is one of those magical places where locals practice random acts of kindness on a daily basis. A stranger pumped up local Camille Johnson Taylor’s low car tire while she was in the Kanab Visitor Center. A Canadian tourist only had a credit card to buy her ticket at the cash-only movie theater, so a local standing behind her paid for her. Two travelers got their car stuck on the road to Peek-a-Boo slot canyon and a passing local lent a hand to get them driving again.

“These types of things happen all of the time,” Johnson says. “We’re just authentic and down-to-earth here.”

Which just adds to Kanab’s allure as a little-known world-class destination for some of the most gorgeous scenic drives, best outdoor adventures and incredible food in the Southwest.

Less Traveled Route to Bryce

Cottonwood Canyon Road in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Kanab in Kane County, Utah
Cottonwood Canyon Road. Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Start off at Kanab Creek Bakery that offers European-style dishes that are so gorgeous you hate to dig in.

“It’s so good you hear the people around you stop talking,” says Camille Johnson Taylor, executive director of Kane County Office of Tourism.

Afterwards, hike the five-mile Mansard Trail minutes from town or take a scenic drive on the 47-mile Cottonwood Canyon Road. It’s unpaved, so avoid it if rain is in the forecast. Along the way, stop at Grosvenor Arch and Kodachrome Basin State Park dotted by 67 rock spires. From there, it’s a 35-minute drive to Bryce Canyon National Park.

See The Wave and Best Friends

The slot canyon known as \
The slot canyon known as “The Wave” in Coyote Buttes North. Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Try your luck and join the enthusiastic crowd standing in line for a permit for The Wave, the iconic sandstone formation in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness. There are walk-up permits available for as many as 64 people (increased permits went into effect Feb. 1, 2021)  for the following day, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

The walk-in lottery for permits into Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (VCNM) at North Coyote Buttes (The Wave) and South Coyote Buttes takes place at the Kanab Center in a gymnasium, which is located at 180 E 100 N in Kanab. It’s in downtown and across the street from the Parry Lodge.

North Coyote Buttes applications are accepted at 8:30 a.m. and close at 9 a.m. South Coyote Buttes applications are accepted at 9:30 a.m. and close at 10 a.m. You have to present in the gymnasium if your number is called to receive your permit.

To ask questions about the lottery, call 435-644-5033 or 435-644-1300.

To ask questions about hiking The Wave, please call 435-688-3200.

Related story: The Wave vs. White Pocket

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Kanab in Kane County, Utah
Meet the residents of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Afterwards, stop at Kanab’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Visitor Center to book a sanctuary tour, take classes (like bunny yoga) and meet adoptable pets. For 30 years, it has been the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary.

If you have your pet with you, you need to stay at Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile Hotel in Kanab. It’s the most pet-centric hotel you may ever experience with built-in cubbies for pet sleeping, dog-washing stations and more. But the rooms themselves are also incredible with modern furnishings and trendy bathrooms. There’s a gorgeous, light-filled gift shop where complimentary vegan breakfast and coffee are served. 

The Quieter Side of Grand Canyon

A couple at the Grand Canyon
A couple at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon Photo by Tyler Cornell courtesy of Kane County Office of Tourism

Wake up early and head to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. This best-kept secret receives only 10 percent of the visitation as the South Rim. Kanab is a great base for the North Rim as its the closest town with a large number of hotel choices. For dinner back in Kanab, head to Sego Restaurant to taste Chef Shon Foster’s creations. He’s a former executive chef at upscale Amangiri. “When people eat my food I want them to find themselves in that moment, closing their eyes and letting their senses take them back to memories of their life,” he says.

Sego Restaurant in Kanab in Kane County, Utah
Sego Restaurant Photo by Ted Hesser courtesy of Kane County Office of Tourism

If the North Rim is closed, drive the 190-mile Marble Canyon Loop that hits everything from Vermillion Cliffs Overlook to Lees Ferry and Marble Canyon. This scenic loop takes 3 hours if you don’t stop, so you can be back in Kanab in time to have an amazing dinner.

Lee's Ferry area on the Marble Canyon Loop near Kanab in Kane County, Utah
Lee’s Ferry area on the Marble Canyon Loop Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

A Secret Near Zion

On the way to Zion National Park, stop at Moqui Cave just five miles out of town that has ancient Native American artifacts, cool bright-colored mineral displays and more than 180 dinosaur tracks. There is a fee to enter. But next to it, you can hike for free up to large natural caves that peer over the road.

Moqui Cave near Kanab in Kane County, Utah
Entrance to Moqui Cave Courtesy Kane County Office of Tourism

Then head to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park between Mount Carmel and Kanab.

“It’s like a giant sandbox,” says Johnson Taylor of Kane County Office of Tourism. “It brings out the kid in all of us.” The sand dunes are great for sledding, so rent a sand board at the state park office.

4-wheeler tracks at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah
4-wheeler tracks at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah Photo by Tyler Cornell courtesy of Kane County Office of Tourism

In Mount Carmel, you can visit Maynard Dixon’s home and studio. A 20th century painter who focused on the American West, Dixon and his wife muralist Edith Hamilton built their home in 1939. You can tour it in spring through fall or participate in artist workshops. It’s on 2200 South State St.

When you return to Kanab, kick back in Parry Lodge in a hotel room named after a Hollywood actor who stayed there, starting in the 1930s. Frank Sinatra starred in a 1962 western comedy film called Sargeants 3. Alongside Sinatra starred Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Dean Martin and Joey Bishop. John Wayne also filmed several movies while in Kanab. He not only requested that Parry Lodge build a pool, he paid for its construction.

More than 200 western movies and TV shows have been filmed in Kanab. The town first appeared on the silver screen in 1924, launching a decades long relationship with Hollywood, including Disney’s 2012 film John Carter. Discover the tales behind the films at 297 W. Center St. on the edge of town.

 

For more information:
Kane County Office of Tourism
(435) 644-5033; (800) 733-5263
visitsouthernutah.com