Expert’s Guide to 25 of the All-Time Best Things to Do in Kanab, Utah

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.

A view of Kanab represented by a blue dot and a map that shows where Las Vegas and Salt Lake City are with red dots in this Kanab Map.

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.

The unique patterns and lines of the Wave in Arizona. It is a deep red and contrasts with the dark blue sky.

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!

Person walking along the unique, wave-like rock formations that made White Rocket famous and one of the best things to do in Kanab.

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.

A group of mushroom-shaped hoodoos that are locally known as the Toadstool Hoodoos.

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.

View of the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon covered in snow. Be sure to visit as it is one of the best things to do in Kanab Utah.

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.

View of the expansive sand dunes that make up Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes at sunset, Utah

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

Hike Buckskin Gulch from Wire Pass Trailhead to enjoy one of the best slot canyons in Utah.

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.

View of the narrow slot canyons with Sandy bottoms that make up Buckskin Gulch and some of the most unique things to do on Kanab Utah.

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.

Check out some great Grand Canyon North Rim hikes and watch the sunset from Cape Royal, one of the best Grand Canyon viewpoints.

View of the stunning Grand Canyon as the sun sets in the evenings.

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.

View of a person standing by the water near a sandstone cave in Kanab, Utah.

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:

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:

Meg Atteberry
Meg Atteberry

Meg is a long-time Colorado local and outdoor industry professional. She's spent the last 15 years hiking, climbing, mountaineering, and canyoneering all over Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Nevada in search of the best views. She's written for Outside Magazine, REI, Backpacker Magazine, and appeared on the Weather Channel.

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Meg Atteberry standing on a mountain sticking her tongue out

Meg aka Fox is a 30-something who's born to explore. Toddler mom, queer, and neuro-spicy her favorite things to do are climb in the alpine and camp in the desert. Her mission is to get you out on your greatest adventure.