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12 Epic Things to do in Kanab and Southern Utah

a lone UTV is parked on the dunes in Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park Utah

Deep in the heart of southern Utah is the often unknown but seriously epic adventure destination of Kanab, Utah. 

Located smack in the middle of the Southwest’s red-rock canyon country, Kanab is surrounded by National and State Parks, incredible slot canyons, and breathtaking hikes. 

There are virtually unlimited things to do in Kanab, Utah. Don’t get overwhelmed though. I put together this in-depth guide of my favorite things to do in Kanab, inspired by my many visits to the area over the years. I guarantee there’s something for everyone on this list! 

From family-friendly explorations of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, slot canyons, and day trips to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, this guide to the best things to do in Kanab, Utah has you covered. 

Disclosure: My guided tours in Kanab were comped by ROAM Outdoor Adventure Co. As always, all my opinions and experiences are 100% honest and totally my own! This page may also contain affiliate links, where I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These sponsorships help keep Brooke In Boots running.

Zion National Park is less than an hour’s drive from Kanab!

Top 5 things to do in Kanab

I’ve spent several weeks in 2023 – 2024 exploring all corners of Utah. And I may be biased, but there are so few other places that give you as much “Ohhs” and “Ahhs” per mile than Southern Utah – it’s an incredible place to explore!

If it’s your first visit to Kanab and southern Utah, these are the top best of the best activities you can’t miss:

  1. Visit Zion National Park and hike the Narrows or Angel’s Landing
  2. Hike the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park
  3. Ride the dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
  4. Explore Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon
  5. Score permits to The Wave (or visit the White Wave / White Pocket without a permit!)

This guide covers each of these incredible activities in more detail – plus a more ideas of my favorite things to do around Kanab, Utah.

Brooke exploring the Zion Narrows
Don’t miss the Zion Narrows – one of the best hikes in any National Park!

Explore Zion National Park

Kanab is essentially surrounded by National Parks, State parks, and National Monuments on all side – but probably none are as impressive, or as famous as Zion National Park.

Located less than an hour from Kanab, Zion is home to some of the most iconic hikes and views in the Southwest including Angel’s Landing (permits required) and the Narrows.

Check out my in-depth guides to exploring Zion National Park, whether you’re planning a 1 day excursion from Kanab, or want to spend multiple days exploring this iconic Park.

One of the best ways to explore the Park (and avoid the shuttle during peak season) is by renting an e-Bike and cruising the Zion Canyon Scenic drive! Bike rentals are available throughout Springdale, and there’s plenty of bike racks throughout the Park at all of the popular trailheads.

To reach Zion from Kanab, you’ll take the scenic Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway through the Park’s quieter East Entrance.

Note that RVs and vehicles over a certain size may be prohibited in the narrow tunnel to reach the Park. You can learn more about getting to Zion, and those regulations, here.

The incredible hoodoos at Bryce Amphitheater – hike the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop to get this view!

Hike the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is another stunning park located within a 2 hours drive from Kanab.

The main attraction here are the unique hoodoo rock formations that create a surreal landscape. Take a hike through these towering structures – the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop is one of my favorite bucket-list hikes in any National Park – or simply admire them from one of the many viewpoints along the rim.

Bryce Canyon is one of those rare parks that can really be thoroughly explored in one day, making it the perfect day trip from Kanab!

the dunes from the Observation Deck at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Ride the Dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park, located in Kanab, might be Utah’s best overlooked hidden-gem, and that’s saying something!

This incredible state park is famous for the unique vibrant rust-colored dune field that goes on for miles. Even if you’ve visited other dune-fields in Death Valley, Great Sand Dunes, or White Sands – I promise, you’ve never seen sand dunes like this!

At the park you can hike, cruise the dunes on an ATV or UTV, and even tackle some canyoneering rappelling and hidden slot canyons.

But of course, the most popular activity here is to ride the dunes on a sandboard or sand sled! Sleds are available for rent from the Visitor Center (arrive early to get a board!) and tour operators in town.

Brooke sliding down the dunes on a board in Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Riding the dunes at Coral Pink Sand Dunes! (Standing up on the board didn’t go so well for me 😜)

ROAM Outdoor Adventure Co. is the official tour provider, located inside the Park. In 2024, I went on their rappelling and dune boarding adventure tour, and it’s hands down one of the most fun things I did that entire year!

the narrow red rock walls of PeekABoo slot Canyon from below
Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon – One of my favorite experiences in Kanab!

Explore Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon (Red Canyon)

Don’t leave southern Utah without exploring one of canyon country’s legendary slot canyons.

Most people are familiar with Antelope Canyon in Arizona, but Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon (also known as Red Canyon) is equally as beautiful without all the massive crowds.

This lesser-known spot is one of the most epic things to do in Kanab. It’s just a short drive from the city and offers breathtaking views of vibrant red rock formations and narrow slot canyons.

The short trail through the canyon is less than 1 mile round trip, and doesn’t require any scrambling or technical canyoneering, It’s perfect for families and first time slot canyon hikers.

a hiker looks up inside PeekABoo slot canyon
Exploring Peek-A-Boo Canyon in 2024

The only difficulty is getting to Peek-A-Boo / Red Canyon. The trail is located at the end of an 8 mile dirt and sand off-road track, that is only accessible by true 4x4s and OHVs (ATVs & UTVs).

While it is possible for some SUVs and trucks to make it, depending on conditions, you definitely run the risk of getting your vehicle stuck in the sand.

Instead, rent a vehicle in Kanab, or take a guided tour that’ll handle it for you! Check out ROAM Outdoor Adventure Co, who took me on a combo tour of Peek-A-Boo and the nearby Great Chamber.

Learn more about visiting the stunningly beautiful Peek-A-Boo canyon, including driving directions, tips for hiking, and more suggested tour operators.

hiking to the sand caves is a popular family-friendly thing to do in Kanab
The sand caves are a short and popular day hike in Kanab

Hike to the Sand Caves

Hidden in the cliffs off Highway 89, the Sand Caves are a short and easy hike to some of the incredible, natural sand caves found throughout the Kanab area.

These hidden caves are made of soft sandstone and have been eroded over time to form intricate, maze-like passageways, with beautiful views of the surrounding canyon.

The hike is short and relatively easy, making it one of the most popular things to do in Kanab for families and non-hikers.

Make sure to wear closed toed shoes with good traction for the short scramble up the sandstone trail into the caves.

Parking for the Sand Caves is located at the turn-off for the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Find directions to the parking area, here.

the Belly of the Dragon - a manmade tunnel and popular photo stop in Kanab
the Belly of the Dragon in Kanab

Visit the Belly of the Dragon

This short hike to a man-made cave is a family-friendly adventure that also makes for a great photo opportunity. The “Dragon” here is actually a man-made drainage ditch created to funnel water under Highway 89, which runs above.

The cave is a short walk, about 0.25 out and back, with the option to continue on an unmaintained trail, but there isn’t much worth exploring once you leave the cave.

The cave is located in Mt. Carmel Junction, about 20 minutes from downtown Kanab. It’s a good spot to explore if you’re coming to or from Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, or combine it with trip to other quick things to do in Kanab, like Peek-A-Boo slot canyon, the Great Chamber, or the Moqui Sand Caves.

You can find trail directions and parking info on AllTrails, here.

Volunteers can help exercise and socialize dogs who need forever homes at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Volunteers can help exercise and socialize dogs, like Misty here, who need forever homes at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Cuddle A Puppy at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Kanab may be an outdoor adventure Mecca, but did you also know that it’s home to the largest animal rescue sanctuary in the United States?

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab is headquarters for the Best Friends Animal Society, a national nonprofit on a mission to make all US animal shelters no-kill by 2025.

The Sanctuary is located just outside downtown Kanab. They also operate the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantilea pet friendly hotel, and one of the best hotels in Kanab.

The Sanctuary offers tours to the public daily, where you can visit with the 2,000+ dogs, cats, horses, birds, livestock and wild animals that call the sanctuary home and learn more about their rescue efforts. You can also sign up to volunteer at the sanctuary, whether it’s for a day or an extended stay.

Volunteers can help walk and play with pups, help with feeding and cleaning the facilities and spread the word about this amazing place!

Visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is not only a fun and unique experience, but it also supports a great cause – if you’re an animal lover, this is an incredibly unique and meaningful thing to do in Kanab, and one of my favorite memories from visiting!

Looking out from inside the Great Chamber, near Kanab Utah
Cutler Point aka the Great Chamber

Visit the Great Chamber at Cutler Point

Visiting the Great Chamber was one of those “Instagram” photo spots that I was certain couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, except that it absolutely did!

The Chamber is a massive sand cave, formed by the fierce winds that can whip through this area. It’s one of those places that’s hard to describe in words, so I’ll let these photos I took from my visit do the talking:

A dark hiker stands on a sand hill against the bright light of the great chamber at culter point - one of the best things to do in Kanab
The Great Chamber at Cutler Point – one of the most “insta-famous” things to do in Kanab – but is, in fact worth it!

Reaching the Great Chamber requires a 4×4 high -clearance vehicle or OHV. Do not attempt to drive here in a regular vehicle – you will get stuck. You can find the location for the parking lot on AllTrails, here, but I’d strongly recommend visiting with a guide.

Several tour guide operators in Kanab, like ROAM and Expedition Kanab offer combo tours to the Chamber and Peek-A-Boo Slot Canyon nearby.

From the parking area, a short but steep 0.25 mile trail ascends the rock formation and takes you direction into the Chamber itself. Be warned that this trail is pretty much all deep sand.

The hike is totally exposed to the sun, so make sure to wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. This area gets pretty scorching hot in the afternoon, so a visit early in the morning or around sunset is best.

The rust-colored Toadstool Hoodoos in Grand Staircase Escalante
No off-road driving needed to visit these colorful Toadstool hoodoos near Kanab!

Hike to the Toadstools Hoodoos

If you’re headed south of Kanab, on US 89 towards Lake Powell and Page, AZ, don’t miss a short trip to the iconic Toadstool Hoodoos.

These unique rock formations are located in the Grand Staircase Escalanate National Monument and can be accessed by a quick 1.5 mile roundtrip hike.

The trailhead is located on HWY 89, about 40 minutes from Kanab. Look for the parking area with a sign that says “Toadstools Hoodoos”.

From the parking lot, the trail climbs into what feels like another world. Have fun exploring the sandstone hoodoos and colorful rock formations.

This trail is entirely exposed to the sun and gets very hot during the day, so I’d suggest visiting during the morning and late afternoon. Either way, bring plenty of water.

the vast and rugged Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
If you’re prepared with the right vehicle and equipment, there are limitless things to do in Grand Staircase-Escalante, just north of Kanab.

Explore Grand Staircase-Escalanate National Monument

The Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is a magnificently rugged maze of canyons and plateaus that stretch from Kanab to Bryce Canyon. The National Monument itself is massive, literally the size of the state of Delaware.

If you’re looking for more adventurous off-the-beaten-path things to do in Kanab, it’s worth researching the many backpacking trips through canyons like Buckskin Gulch, considered the longest and deepest slot canyon in the Southwest (possibly the world), or the miles and miles of dirt & sand off-roading routes.

Almost all roads into the Monument are unpaved dirt, gravel, and sand, and require a high clearance or 4×4 vehicle. There are limitless day hikes and backcountry camping opportunities here.

You can learn more about Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, here. Or visit the Bureau of Land Management Visitor Center in Kanab and talk with a Ranger to learn more!

Buckskin Gulch in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Explore more slot canyons like Buckskin Gulch in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Marvel at The Wave (Permits Required)

Absolutely no list of the best things to do in Kanab would be complete without mentioning The Wave.

Located 2 hours southeast of Kanab, The Wave is known for its unique swirling patterns of vivid colorful sandstone that have been carved over millions of years by wind and water. It’s a photographer’s dream and one of the most Instagrammable spots in the world.

Despite its popularity, The Wave is still relatively remote and requires a strenuous 6.4-mile round trip hike over unmarked trails through remote desert conditions.

the iconic Wave in Northern Arizona is one of the most sought after permits in the Southwest
Scoring tickets to the iconic Wave is a difficult, but epic thing to do in Kanab

The catch is, of course, that a permit is absolutely required to enter this fragile and beautiful area.

Scoring a Wave permit is notoriously one of the most difficult reservations to get in the National Park and public lands system. I’ve tried over half a dozen times, and never been successful.

The majority of Wave permits are issued by advance lottery, which runs monthly, 3 months in advance. For example, for May permits, applications are open January 1 – January 31, with winners selected on February 1. Learn more and apply for lottery tickets to the Wave, here.

A small number of daily lottery tickets are issued, 2 day in advance. In order to apply for the daily lottery, you must apply on your phone be within the “geofence” radius during the application period. Anyone staying in Kanab is already in the geofence – so submit an application and try your luck!

If you’re lucky enough to secure a permit, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect this delicate natural wonder.

colorful layers of rock at the White Pocket also called the White Wave in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
The White Pocket aka White Wave – no permit required, but you’ll need to know how to get there!

Visit the White Pocket aka White Wave (No Permit Required!)

Didn’t get a Waver permit? (Don’t worry, me neither!) Consider visiting the “White Wave” instead – also know as White Pocket in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument.

White Pocket has all the same other-worldly swirls of color and sandstone as the Wave – only no permit required.

Located about 2 hours southeast of Kanab, the White Pocket requires an OHV or high-clearance 4×4 vehicle and decent off-road navigation skills to access. Don’t worry, plenty of Kanab tour operators can rent you the right vehicle and help with directions, or take you there on a guided tour!

Check out ROAM Outdoor Adventure Co, and Kanab Tour Company, among others in town.

enjoying a morning cup of coffee at Cave Lakes Resort
Lodging in Kanab runs from budget to luxury glamping.

Where to Stay in Kanab

In Kanab, there are tons of great hotels, ranging from budget and pet-friendly to luxury glamping. Some of my favorite spots to stay in Kanab are:

Find more hotels in Kanab, and check prices using this map:

More Adventures in Southern Utah

Ready to explore more of the Southwest’s best adventure destinations? Check out my other guides on these epic Southern Utah destinations:

One Epic Day in Capitol Reef National Park

Ultimate 2 Days In Zion National Park Itinerary: Plan The Perfect Weekend In Zion

One Epic Day In Bryce Canyon National Park: 1 Day Itinerary

Exploring Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park In Utah: Sandboarding & More Things To Do

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