While exploring Southern Utah, Kanab can be your Homebase for dozens of adventures as it sits on the southern border halfway between St. George and Lake Powell. Kanab boasts easy access to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or you’ve been to Utah loads of times Kanab is the perfect place for your home base.
Where to Stay in Kanab
My family has stayed in Kanab 3 different times. Each time I booked a rental through Airbnb. We had really good luck doing this and each place was different, but they all had one thing in common….space. We had way more room than if we had stayed in a hotel. Our previous visits have been during the off-season in late December and early January and we appreciate the kitchens in the Airbnb because restaurants are either closed or not in full swing in the winter. If you don’t plan on cooking make sure and check restaurant hours.
Hiking in Kanab
There are hiking trails in the city of Kanab as well as the surrounding area. A great place to start is at the Kanab Visitor Center. The office is located at 745 East Highway 89. Inside the rangers have a wealth of information about the area. Because of the soft sand in the area, many of the trails in the area require 4wd to get to them, especially after wet weather. The rangers will be able to tell you about road conditions and if the hike you are planning requires a permit. The Kanab Visitor Center is also where you can try to get a next-day permit for the Coyote Butte North (The Wave.)
Coyote Butte North (The Wave)
If you want to hike The Wave you need to plan ahead and be very lucky. Permits are available online four months in advance, but each day only 48 people or 12 groups (whichever comes first) are awarded a permit. If you don’t score a permit in advance you can try for a same-day permit, but only 10 are given out each day through a lottery. The lottery is a process, but basically, you have to get to the office between 8:30 – 9:00 am the day before you want to hike. Please check with the office either in person or online if you are interested in the Wave. The office has different seasonal hours.
Finding Dinosaur Tracks in Kanab
Previously we had hiked out to see dinosaur tracks outside of St. George, but on this trip, we found a hike to dinosaur tracks in Kanab. Parking for this trail is at the Port of Entry off Interstate 89. You want to park in the gravel parking lot next to the port-a-potty. The trail is only ¾ of a mile, but there is some rock scrambling involved so it is rated as moderate. We were there when there was snow and you will be climbing on loose rocks so I recommend proper shoes and a hiking pole. The trail is marked by some cairns. When we got to the top in addition to the good view we also found some dinosaur tracks that are 185 million years old. We all thought it was well worth the hike.
Just 5 miles outside of Kanab on the way to Zion is Moqui Cave. It is a privately owned Museum and there is a fee to enter. It is a fun roadside attraction and they have over 180 dinosaur tracks that were found around Kanab, minerals, and Native American artifacts on display.
Belly of the Dragon
16 miles north of Kanab is a manmade tunnel that was originally built as a water culvert for Highway 89, but it is currently unused and it’s a fun side-trip. Finding the dirt road is the hardest part of the hike. There isn’t a sign, but the entrance is on the West side of the road ½ mile south of Carmel Junction along the 89. Follow the dirt road for ¼ mile to a small parking area. There is a 5-foot drop down into the tunnel, but our dog Jinx did it with no problem. There is no elevation gain on the hike, but where you walk in the tunnel is rocky. Flashlights and jackets are needed because it’s both cold and dark inside. It definitely looks like you are on the inside of a dragon’s belly.
Zion National Park
The east entrance to Zion National Park is about 30 miles from Kanab. Depending on the time of year you are visiting Zion, you may or may not be able to drive inside the park. Zion has implemented a shuttle system, because of the number of people visiting. We were able to drive through in December and the entrance fee is $35 for 7 days. Before visiting you should visit the National Park Website for Zion.
Bryce Canyon National Park
The entrance to Bryce Canyon is 80 miles north of Kanab. Bryce Canyon National Park is known for its red rock hoodoos, sweeping vista views, and endless outdoor activities. There is a $35 entrance fee and it is good for 7 days. Dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails and are only allowed 100 feet from the paved roads. Bryce Canyon is at a high elevation (starting at 8,000 ft) so some of the trails can be treacherous in winter and you might need micro-spikes or crampons. Sunrise and sunset are particularly beautiful when the light hits the hoodoos.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
Have you ever got to the top of a grassy hill and then rolled down it? If you answered yes, then this is the perfect stop for you. There are dunes as far as the eye can see and you can roll down them or if the ranger station is open you rent a sandboard. The dunes are one large playground. It’s possible to camp and ride your ATVs. The dunes are open during daylight hours and there is a fee to drive in.
45 miles East of Kanab are The Toadstools Hoodoos. There is no entrance fee and the area is dog friendly. It is an easy 1.5-mile round trip to see the Toadstools.
Page, Arizona is just 76 miles from Kanab and it is home to the iconic Horseshoe Bend. There are many computers that have a shot of Horseshoe Bend as their screensaver. This is becoming a popular destination and it is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. In recent years there have been improvements to the parking lot, bathrooms have been added, and the trail out to the view has been improved. There is a $10 fee to park. The view is amazing and you can look straight down to the Colorado River.
Antelope Canyon is only about 80 miles from Kanab in Page, Arizona. It is not possible to tour the canyons on your own so you will need to book a tour. There are a few different tour companies to choose from, but during peak seasons they fill up quickly. This is a place where you need to do your research and book your tour online. We followed the directions from our tour company and parked in a lot and then we all went as a group in their vehicles. We went to Upper Antelope Canyon and it was amazing. The guides told us about the area, made sure our cameras were in the best settings and took group pictures for us. The tour is pricey at about $100 a person, but I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime activity and well worth the money. It was amazing!
Lake Powell Canyon Tour
Lake Powell is in Arizona and only an hour from Kanab. There are several companies that are offering tours. Some included a view of Glen Canyon Dam and they also take you about 4 miles into Antelope Canyon via a boat. This tour should not replace the walking tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, but it is a nice way to get a different view. We took a tour on a small boat that left from the marina and we loved it. I took some amazing pictures of the canyon walls reflecting back on the water.
Not Enough Time
Southern Utah is one of our favorite places to visit and there are so many adventures to be had in and around Kanab that you can easily visit multiple times. Although Kanab is small there are restaurants and cute stores for shopping. Each season gives you the opportunity to explore something new and different.