Kanab is a desert lover’s dream in the southwestern landscape, with incredible sandstone rock formations as far as the eye can see.
Be sure to bring your hiking boots, because most of the things to do in Kanab, Utah are outdoor adventures, and you won’t run out of stunning places to explore here.
If you’re looking for recommendations for things to do in Kanab from someone who knows the Utah desert inside and out, you’re in the right place.
I visit Utah multiple times each year, so I’ve got all the insider info on all the things to do in Kanab, Utah.
About this Guide to Things to Do in Kanab, Utah
Inside this local guide to the best things to do in Kanab, Utah, you’ll find:
- Where is Kanab & how to get there
- What Kanab is known for
- Why & when to visit Kanab
- The best things to do in Kanab, UT
- What to eat & where to stay in Kanab
- Additional local Utah travel resources
Where is Kanab, Utah?
Kanab is located in southwestern Utah, right on the border with Arizona. While Kanab has a tiny regional airport, most visitors will fly into Las Vegas and rent a car to drive about 3 hours to Kanab.
Salt Lake City airport is just under 5 hours from Kanab, while Phoenix is a little over 5 hours away.
Local Tip: If you’re flying into Las Vegas, be aware that Nevada is on Pacific Time while Utah is on Mountain Time, so the time in Vegas is an hour behind Kanab.
Also, if you’re coming from Phoenix, you should know that Arizona doesn’t observe daylight savings time, so the time in Utah and Arizona will be different during part of the year.
Kanab is also a great stop on a Denver to Grand Canyon road trip or on a Utah national parks road trip.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is about an hour and a half from Kanab, Bryce Canyon is also an hour and a half away, and Zion National Park is only about an hour away.
What is Kanab Known For?
Kanab is famous for being one of the closest towns to the iconic Wave hike (even though that trail is actually in Arizona).
It is also known for lots of other excellent desert hiking and for being a good home base to visit both Zion and Bryce National Parks.
Is It Worth It to Go to Kanab?
It’s absolutely worth it to go to Kanab if you like hiking! The unique landscape offers some of the best hikes in Utah featuring a variety of interesting sandstone formations.
If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Kanab, you can explore a lot that Kanab has to offer in a long weekend, but you won’t run out of things to do in Kanab, Utah even if you stay a week.
When is the Best Time to Visit Kanab?
Since Kanab is in the desert, fall or spring usually offers the most moderate temperatures.
While winter can also be a good time to visit Kanab, snow is obviously a possibility. Visiting Kanab in the summer is not a great idea, because it will not only be brutally hot, but it’s also monsoon season.
The Best Things to Do in Kanab, Utah
Expect to get some red desert dust on your shoes as you explore these Kanab hikes, slot canyons, state parks, national parks, and all the unique things to do in Kanab.
1. The Wave
The Wave is by far the most famous of all the things to do in Kanab, Utah, and the hike to the photogenic “wave-like” sandstone formation is really worth all the hype.
It’s truly a magical landscape that’s so much fun to explore.
Because of its extreme popularity, permits are required to hike The Wave, and only 64 people are allowed to hike each day.
There is both an advanced monthly lottery and a daily lottery for permits. Find more permit info for The Wave here.
Local Tip: While the trailhead is in Utah, The Wave itself is just across the state line in Arizona.
2. Coyote Buttes South
Coyote Buttes South is part of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, but it is not nearly as popular as Coyote Buttes North (where The Wave is located), so the required permits are easier to get.
And it’s an incredible area to hike with a choose-your-own-adventure type feel since there are no designated trails.
3. White Pocket
Another awesome alternative to The Wave is White Pocket in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness.
The rock formations in White Pocket, with white puffs on top of the orange and red sandstone, definitely make it one of the best hikes in Arizona!
4. Toadstool Hoodoos
Wander around mushroom-shaped rock formations on this hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
This trail is easier than a lot of Escalante hikes, but it’s still a worthwhile family-friendly adventure.
5. Moqui Caverns/Sand Caves
An old sand mine created the Moqui Caverns aka Kanab Sand Caves in the rock face. The site is easily accessible along the side of US-89, where you can scramble up into the caverns to check them out.
Local Tip: Just up the road, you’ll find Moqui Cave, a quirky local museum featuring fluorescent minerals, dinosaur tracks, and Native American artifacts.
6. Belly of the Dragon
Head underground into the Belly of the Dragon in this man-made tunnel that goes under Highway 89. It’s just a short hike through this drainage, but it’s a fun escape from the desert heat.
7. Zion National Park
Only an hour away from Kanab, Zion National Park is home to some of the best hikes in Utah, including the iconic Angels Landing.
The towering walls of Zion make it an epic place to explore and an absolute must-visit when you’re in Kanab.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park
Since it’s just an hour and a half away, you can easily do a one day trip to Bryce Canyon from Kanab.
Hit trails on the best hikes in Bryce Canyon to marvel at the hoodoos here, which look especially cool covered in snow if you visit Bryce Canyon in winter.
9. Kodachrome Basin
Kodachrome Basin is worth a visit from Kanab, especially if you’re heading up to Bryce Canyon since it’s close by.
Kodachrome Basin is a Utah state park known for amazing sedimentary pipe formations and the colorful landscape (it was named after the Kodak color film).
10. Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Find one of the unique things to do in Kanab at Coral Pink Sand Dunes, a Utah state park in the only major sand dune field on the Colorado plateau.
Along with hiking around the dunes, you can rent sand boards and sand sleds to surf and slide on the sandy hills.
11. Kanab Via Ferrata
Book a Kanab via ferrata experience in Cave Lakes Canyon and climb the iron rungs up the canyon wall. From the top, you’ll rappel 60 feet back down to the base for an exhilarating experience.
12. Peekaboo Canyon
Peekaboo Canyon, also known as Red Canyon, is a lovely slot canyon of red and orange sandstone in Kanab (not to be confused with the other Peekaboo Canyon in nearby Escalante).
You’ll need a 4×4 with high clearance to drive through the sand to get to the entrance of the slot canyon.
13. Buckskin Gulch & Paria Canyon
Do it as a day trip to experience this seriously cool subterranean hike or go backpacking deep into Paria Canyon to spend a few days exploring this unique terrain.
14. The Nautilus
The unique Nautilus formation, also known as the White Wave, looks like the corkscrew pattern of a seashell. It’s a short hike that makes a nice alternative to the actual Wave.
15. Willis Creek Slot Canyon
Find some slot canyon seclusion in the Willis Creek Narrows. Even though this slot canyon is chill, easy to get to, and super enjoyable, it doesn’t draw the crowds of The Narrows in Zion or Peekaboo Canyon.
16. Inchworm Arch
Located off of Johnson Canyon Road just a bit outside of downtown Kanab, Inchworm Arch is a nice little hike to a neat arch formation that looks like an inchworm crawling along the rocks.
17. Mansard Trail
The Mansard Trail heads up the Vermillion Cliffs to an alcove filled with ancient petroglyphs.
The hike involves a little scrambling on the steep and sandy trail, which has gorgeous desert wildflowers in bloom in late spring.
18. Red Hollow Slot Canyon
For a very mellow slot canyon introduction, check out Red Hollow. A sandy wash leads you to a lovely canyon on a short hike, but you still get to enjoy the experience of canyon walls soaring high above you.
19. Cobra Arch
Near Buckskin Gulch, you’ll find the trail to Cobra Arch, a beautiful rock formation that does indeed resemble its reptile namesake.
The hike runs along the rim of Paria Canyon before dropping down to the slithery sandstone arch.
20. Grand Canyon North Rim
While the South Rim is a long drive from Kanab, the more secluded North Rim of the Grand Canyon is just an hour and a half away.
21. Wahweap Hoodoos
Another awe-inspiring attraction in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is the Wahweap Hoodoos.
These tall, thin, light-colored hoodoos are quite striking and have been referred to as “white ghosts.”
22. Dinosaur Tracks
The objective of this short, steep trail is to get to the top where you’ll find the 185-million year old tracks of a Grallator.
Expect to do some scrambling and squeezing through rocks in order to reach the dinosaur tracks.
23. Great Chamber
The Great Chamber at Cutler Point is a cave carved into a cliffside with a small sand dune inside.
The views from inside the chamber out into the landscape of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are breathtaking.
24. Paria Ghost Town
Paria is a ghost town a bit east of Kanab, which was an inhabited town in the late 1800s to early 1900s, before it became a popular Wild West filming location from the 1940s-1970s. Now you can visit what’s left of the town amid a gorgeous backdrop of colorful layered sandstone cliffs.
25. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country, and it is located right in Kanab.
You can take a free tour of the sanctuary and visit the more than 1,600 dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, and other animals who currently call the sanctuary home.
Best Friends also runs a pet-centric hotel in downtown Kanab offering lodging for you and your furry traveling companions.
What to Eat in Kanab
Even though it’s a small town, Kanab has a vibrant dining scene. Check out these local spots to fuel your Kanab adventures:
- Rocking V Cafe – A Kanab institution with an eclectic menu and friendly atmosphere.
- Kanab Creek Bakery – European-style cafe with tasty breakfast, pastries, and coffee.
- Sego – Upscale American cuisine featuring seasonal ingredients.
- Peekaboo Canyon Wood-Fired Grill – Vegetarian/vegan with burgers, pizza, & more.
Where to Stay in Kanab, Utah
Kanab caters to desert camping, and here are a few options nearby:
- Dispersed Camping – a few spots at Hog Canyon or Sand Springs
- Ponderosa Grove Campground – 26 sites for $12/night
- Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch – high-quality, safari-style glamping tents
- Land Beyond Zion Stars & Sunsets – Drive-in sites with amenities & community
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary also runs the Best Friends Roadhouse offering pet-centric lodging.
Additional Utah Travel Resources
Looking to explore the best of Utah like a local, not a tourist? Then check out these handy resources: