Kanab is an amazing place for outdoor adventure. In this post, you’ll find the best hikes near Kanab, Utah, and other things to do that you can’t miss while visiting the region.
The southwest region of the United States is one of the most unique places in the world. The stunning rock formations draw visitors from all over. In between the famous Zion National Park and Grand Canyon, sits a small town, Kanab, surrounded by amazing places to explore.
Is Kanab, Utah Worth Visiting?
Our answer: YES! Would we really be writing this post if it wasn’t? But we understand your hesitation.
Kanab, itself, is a small little town, with limited “things to do” within the town limits. However, it is a great place to base yourself for exploring southern Utah and northern AZ.
We visited Kanab during a winter trip to the area focusing on sights around Kanab and Page. We then made sure to come back with family while visiting some Utah national parks, Zion and Bryce.
Utah brings many outdoorsy visitors because of the stunning national parks. However, outside those parks are some of our favorite hikes in Utah! Kanab makes for a perfect stop on Utah/Southwest road trip or even a weekend destination.
Get outside the busier places like Zion, and escape into the colorful orange rock formations around Kanab.
What is Kanab Close to?
Kanab is located in southern Utah, just a short drive from the eastern entrance of Zion National Park, Dixie National Forest, and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
What is the closest airport to Kanab, Utah?
The closest major airport to Kanab is in Las Vegas, about a 3-3.5 hour drive. Salt Lake City is a bit farther, being a 4.5-hour drive north.
What other cities are worth visiting near Kanab?
St. George is a larger nearby city on the opposite side of Zion National Park. It is located roughly 80 miles from Kanab, about a 1.5-hour drive.
On our first road trip to the area, we visited Page, Arizona along with Kanab. There is so much to do and see along Highway 89 between these two cities.
What is there to see between Kanab and Page?
Kanab is just over 75 miles away from Page, Arizona, about a 1 hour and 10-minute drive. Page is home to the infamous Horsehoe Bend and easily accessible from Kanab for the day.
On Highway 89 between Kanab and Page, there are tons of trails and even some short stops. This small section of Highway 89 is filled with amazing views and unique rock formations from the Toadstools to the White Wave.
Many of our recommendations listed below are found in this area, which is why we are mentioning Page, AZ. It is a great addition to your Kanab, Utah trip!
Our 3 Favorite Hikes near Kanab, Utah:
- To the top of a coral pink sand dune in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
- Up the steep sandstone wall to reach the Sand Caves off Highway 89
- Walking through red rock slot canyons on the Wire Pass trail
Still On Our Bucket List:
- The Wave and Coyote Buttes North in Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
- Hiking the entire Buckskin Gulch Trail
- Otherworldly rock formations at White Pocket
Tips for Visiting Kanab:
When to Visit
Our Favorite Time: Early winter!
We went over Christmas in 2020 and had a wonderful, yet chilly, time exploring. It was amazingly peaceful during this time of year and the sunrises were stunning. We got up super early each day and had most of the places to ourselves.
If you can’t make it during the early winter, we recommend visiting in spring or fall. Summer is great too but the heat is too much for those not used to the desert. We visited in April and the weather was wonderful (just bring temperature-appropriate sleeping bags if you’re camping!)
No matter the season you visit, early morning is the best time to get out on the trails. With fewer visitors, you’ll get to see the desert as it is just beginning to stir and have a larger chance of seeing some wildlife.
What to Wear
Comfy athletic clothing of course! A loose shirt, sports bra, and leggings or hiking pants are best to explore the desert around Kanab.
Depending on the season you’ll be visiting in, make sure to bring warmer layers, hats, and gloves. The desert is not scorching year-round, and in winter you may even find some snow here. During our winter trip, Sam wore fleece-lined leggings, a fleece jacket, and a puffy coat. It can get COLD so make sure to check the weather ahead of time.
Our favorite hiking shoes: Teva Sandals or Hoka One One Hiking Boots
In warmer weather, we rarely go out without our Teva Sandals. They are amazingly comfortable and durable for miles of hiking!
In cooler weather or rougher trails, our favorite hiking boots that we have owned so far are the Hoka One One Sky Kaha Gortex Hiking Boots. Ty has found that his feet are fine in most boots but Sam gets blisters no matter what. These Hoka boots saved her feet and she’s never had a blister since!
What to Bring
- Daypack to hold all your gear
- Water bottle or bladder to insert into your daypack
- Camera to capture the gorgeous scenery. We now use the Sony A7iii but love our older Cannon Mark II 5D as well.
- Portable charger for long days on the trail
- Phone with the All Trails app downloaded
- Flashlight, for early morning or sunset hikes
- Snacks, our favorites to have on hand are Verb Bars or Lara Bars.
And if you’re camping don’t forget all your camping supplies and food. Need meal ideas? Check out our favorite camp meals here
Where to Stay When Visiting Kanab
- Camp at the Old Highway 89 Campground. This campground is free on BLM land. It has amazing views and is great for RV boondocking or tent camping.
Interested in learning how to find free campsites like this one? We wrote a post all about it for you. Find out more here!
Other Places to Stay:
- During our winter trip, we stayed at the Quality Inn right next to Red Canyon Cabins. You can get the same view for a lower price + free breakfast!
- Looking for something with a bit more flair? The Canyons Boutique Hotel is a charming place to stay with quaint Victorian-styled rooms.
Important Things to Remember
- Having a car (preferably 4WD) is necessary to explore Kanab unless you plan to explore by tour.
- Stopping at the BLM Office in Kanab is super valuable. Not only can you buy your parking permit for some of the trails, but you can also get great information from the staff!
- If a road/trail says you need 4WD this is not an exaggeration! We drove our 2019 Crosstrek and still had a few issues in some places (including a flat tire on our way to White Pocket). Don’t have 4WD? Don’t worry, we marked below if it is recommended!
- Drink lots of water! Hiking in the desert can be very dehydrating. Make sure to hydrate, even if visiting in colder seasons.
- Be respectful to nature. Exploring the great outdoors is our favorite pastime, however, make sure while on the trail you are respectful to the wildlife in the area and STAY ON THE TRAILS.
- Want more tips on hiking in the desert? Click here!
The Best Hikes near Kanab, Utah
5 Short Hikes and Sights You Can’t Miss:
Not all hikes have to take hours for a worthwhile view. These 5 hikes near Kanab, Utah include short walks or hikes with unique rock formations and sights you must see! All of these should be on your itinerary if you have the time while stopping in Kanab.
1. The Sand Caves
4WD: Not necessary
The free alternative to the popular MOO? Caves are such a neat site to visit. Park across the street and make your way up the steep sandstone wall. Once at the top you can walk through the caves.
Most of the cave is light enough to see, however, the back can be very dark so make sure to bring a flashlight!
2. Belly of the Dragon
4WD: Not Necessary
This long dark tunnel was actually man-made for water (lookup). However, it is still fun to explore. From the side you park, walk through the dark rock tunnel but watch where you step! At the other end, there’s a short trail that you can continue on for a bit. It was a fun little stop to explore.
3. Dinosaur Tracks
4WD: Not necessary
How cool are rocks? Frozen in time in the sandstone near Kanab are tracks from a 185-million-year-old dinosaur. To see them, find the location on our map below and park in the lot off Highway 89, and head up the rocky trail!
4. The Toadstools
4WD: Not necessary
Although this stop is a bit closer to Page than Kanab, it is still worth the visit.
The amazing sandstone layers create such a beautiful art-like view. Hike to the toadstools at sunrise to see some amazing colors shine over the vast landscape.
5. Nautilus aka White Wave
4WD: Recommended, not required
Park near the entrance to the wash and walk along the wash until you get to the large dragon-scale-looking rocks. The swirling white sandstone is an exciting find at the end of the wash. Keep an eye out on the trail so you don’t miss it!
5. White Pocket
Although the hike to this destination is shorter, the drive definitely isn’t. Sadly, we didn’t make it here because we got a flat tire on the way and couldn’t finish the drive. However, if you get the chance it’s a must-do. Isolated out in the middle of nowhere, this rock formation is stunning (Google it, if you’re in doubt).
DO NOT make the drive without 4WD because the backroads are very sandy. If you don’t have 4WD, look into booking a tour like this one:
The 3 BEST Slot Canyon Hikes around Kanab:
Kanab is famous for its slot canyon hikes. If you’re heading here for an outdoor adventure, you must add at least one of these to your plans!
1. Red Slot Canyon AKA Peekaboo Canyon
Another hike that we did not get to, even though we DID TRY. Remember earlier when we said if the trail says 4WD that it REALLY means it? Well, we tried to get here anyways in our Crosstrek but were not successful. The sand on the drive down is DEEP and we almost got stuck. With a bit of panic and some skilled driving by Ty, we made it out but didn’t make it to the hike.
If you’re wanting to do this stunning hike without 4WD, we recommend booking a tour OR you can hike all the way making the trail over 8 miles.
2. Wire Pass
4WD: Recommended, not required
This trail is a beautiful hike that weaves in and out of small slot canyons on the way to Buckskin Gulch.Most of the Out and Back trail is along a desert wash.
Depending on how far out you go, the trail can range from 3-5.5 miles.
3. Buckskin Gulch
4WD: Recommended, not required
Over 20 miles in the slot canyons, this trail is pretty well known. It is located in the Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument, connected to the trail listed above, and considered one of the top hikes in the U.S. This hike can be done as a long day hike or divided up over a couple of days. The layered sandstone makes for stunning features all the way through!
3 Hikes that Require a Pass or Guide:
Not all hikes near Kanab, Utah are free to visit. Some of the most famous sites, actually require a pass or a hired guide. Are one of these hikes on your bucket list? Make sure you plan way in advance!
1. The WAVE/Coyote Buttes North
A bucket list destination for many, the Wave and Coyote Buttes North require a permit to visit that can be hard to get. The unique patterns of layered sandstone bring visitors from all over in hopes of getting a chance to see it in person.
Sadly, we have not been lucky enough to score a permit yet. If you are looking for more information on how to get one, click here! Have some tips for visiting? We’d love to see them in the comments!
2. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is another hike that requires more than just showing up to the trailhead. Located on Navajo land, visiting this canyon requires booking a tour with a licensed guide. If you’re interested in touring this stunning canyon, make sure to book way in advance!
Looking into a tour? Here is a great resource
3. Coyote Buttes South
Although less popular than its counterpart, listed #1, Coyote Buttes South is home to stunning rock formations that require a permit to access. Some sites to see here include Lone Tree, Paw Hole, and Cottonwood Cove. Click here to get your permit
More Amazing Hikes Near Kanab, Utah:
1. Yellow Rock
4WD: Recommended for Cottonwood Canyon Road, not required.
A steep 2.6-mile out-and-back trail with a dome of yellow, white, and red-streaked sandstone at the top. To get to this trailhead, you must take a drive on Cottonwood Canyon Road (one of our other recommendations below
2. Squaw Trail
4WD: Not necessary
A 3.2-mile out-and-back trail with views of the surrounding landscape. It is said to be a workout because of the incline on the way up! Be careful while hiking because of some loose rocks and sand on part of the trail.
3. Tom’s Canyon Trail
4WD: Not necessary
3.5 miles with little elevation gain. Tom’s Canyon Trail is pretty flat but well-marked. It is a nice hike, especially for those that are not super active but want to get on the trail!
Other longer hikes include the slot canyon trails, coming up next.
Other Things to Do near Kanab, Utah
State Parks + National Parks nearby Kanab, Utah
4WD: Not required for a visit to any of these amazing parks! Home to many more hikes near Kanab, Utah, these parks are definitely worth adding to your itinerary!
1. Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
No need to drive far to get to this beautiful state park. Small but stunning, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is worth the visit. Watch the sunrise glow over the tall dunes like we did or wait until daylight and go sand sledding
2. Zion National Park
The eastern entrance of Zion is located just 30 miles from Kanab. Zion is a beautiful national park to visit and very popular. Hike up Angels Landing or through The Narrows while visiting Utah’s Southwest region.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
We have visited over a 1/4 of the national parks in the U.S. but Bryce has one of our favorite views. Walk through the otherworldly hoodoos and take in the amazing shapes of sandstone found there!
Bryce Canyon is located only 75 miles from Kanab.
4. Grand Canyon National Park
If you’re already heading to this region of the U.S. you have probably visited or plan to visit this well-known place.
Grand Canyon National Park is located ## from Kanab. The North Rim is the closest section to Kanab, however, almost any point is within a 4-hour drive.
More Unique Things to Do
1. Take a Scenic Drive along Cottonwood Canyon Road
Almost 50 miles of scenic driving stretches from Highway 89, just outside of Kanab, to Scenic Byway 12.
Drive along Cottonwood Canyon Road and be memorized by the sandstone rock formations or stop for a hike along the way.
Although 2WD is doable for this scenic drive, the road is unpaved and high clearance is recommended.
2. Go on an Off-Roading Tour
Get off the beaten path or explore Kanab in a new way! Take an ATV or Jeep tour through some of the most beautiful and hard-to-reach locations near Kanab.
Here are some highly-rated tour companies to check out when planning your trip:
3. Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Tour the shelter and make some new furry friends during your trip to Utah! At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, you can book a tour, volunteer, or even take a friend home for the night! For more information, visit their website.
Need more inspiration to plan your trip to Kanab? Check out some more of our favorite photos from our trip:
We hope you have an amazing trip and enjoy some of these hikes near Kanab!
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Have any questions about our trip? Feel free to send us a message!