25 Best Things to Do in Kanab: Secret Hikes & Famous Spots (2022)

Best things to do in Kanab, Utah blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of the vibrant orange landscape at The Wave.

Kanab is a small city on the Utah / Arizona border that is situated smack dab in the middle of one of the most beautiful areas in the American Southwest.

The city itself provides a clean, historic, tourist-friendly vibe, but the reason so many visitors flock to this desert gem is because of the incredible natural miracles that exist in close proximity. These include world-famous sights such as The Wave and Wirepass Canyon, as well as a plethora of hidden gems.

In this guide, you will discover the top 25 best things to do in Kanab and nearby. This will include maps, descriptions, photography, tours, and everything else you may need to know prior to visiting.

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Best Things to Do in Kanab, UT Overview

Stunning photography from The Wave, considered the best thing to do in Kanab, Utah.

Each destination listed below will be covered in detail in its own section.

Further down in this Kanab travel guide, you will also find a map showing the exact location of each, as well as links to necessary tour operators or permit instructions when relevant.

Below is a list of the top things to do in Kanab as well as a photo gallery slideshow showcasing each incredible destination.

  • A photograph showing the swirling sandstone rock at The Wave, considered the best thing to do in Kanab Utah.
    1. The Wave

THE TOP 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KANAB ARE:

  1. Hike to The Wave
  2. Slide through Wirepass Slot Canyon
  3. Visit the Toadstool Hoodoos
  4. Sled down the Coral Pink Sand Dunes
  5. Day trip to Zion National Park
  6. UTV to Red Canyon aka Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
  7. Wander into the Moqui Sand Caves
  8. Enter the Belly of the Dragon
  9. Make a fur friend at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
  10. Explore Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument
  11. Go Stargazing at Bucktank Draw
  12. Road Trip to Page, Arizona
  13. Find the amazing and hidden Orderville Red Hollow Canyon
  14. Day Trip to Grand Canyon North Rim
  15. Watch sunset from Horseshoe Bend
  16. Explore the Vermillion Cliffs
  17. Visit Pipe Spring National Monument
  18. Go Canyoneering at Elkheart Slot Canyon
  19. Visit Lone Rock Beach & Lake Powell
  20. Get a history lesson at Moqui Cave
  21. Do some acting at Johnson Canyon Western Movie Set
  22. Discover the cliffs of Big Water
  23. See Lake Powell from the Wahweap Overlook
  24. Day trip to St George & Snow Canyon State Park
  25. Cool off at Lees Ferry Landing

Top 25 Best Things to Do in Kanab, Utah

1. Hike to The Wave

Stunning photography from The Wave, considered the best thing to do in Kanab, Utah.

Kanab is best known as the home of The Wave lottery. Hiking to this incredible natural feature is hands down the best thing to do in Kanab, Utah.

Because of its popularity and delicate nature, permits are required to visit and are difficult to get. Each day, a lottery is held in Kanab with only 16 permits being issued to lucky winners beyond another handful that are issued in an online lottery in advance.

If you are planning a trip to Kanab, you can and should apply online for a once-in-a-lifetime chance at hiking to this modern world wonder.


2. Slither through Wirepass Slot Canyon

Within the walls of Wirepass Slot Canyon; the longest slot canyon in the world and one of the best things to do in Kanab, Utah

Adventurous travelers will find a hike through the slender rock channel of Wirepass one of the best things to do in Kanab.

Wirepass Slot Canyon is an incredible narrow hallway within Buckskin Gulch.

At 15+ miles, it is the longest known slot canyon in the entire world!

Visitors not lucky enough to get a permit for The Wave should still make an effort to explore one of the best canyons in the US at Wirepass.


3. Go Stargazing at the Toadstool Hoodoos

Night photography from the Toadstool Hoodoos while stargazing in Kanab.

Just outside of Kanab is a short hike less than one mile long (0.8 to be exact) to one of the most fascinating landscapes in the Southwest, as well as amazing dark night skies.

The Toadstool Hoodoos are a collection of aptly-named and overlooked geological wonders that most visitors pass right by.

Located about 40 minutes outside of the city of Kanab, a star-filled trip to this enchanted desert is one of the best things to do in Kanab by any measure.


4. Sled down the Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Golden hour light on the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  Visiting these sand dunes is one of the best things to do in Kanab.

Just outside of Kanab is a special place where adults can find that childlike joy in playing in the sand.

Put these are not just any old sand dunes; these are the Coral Pink Sand Dunes!

While the color is admittedly more orange than pink, it does glow a most unusual hue that seems to change with the fading light.

Motor enthusiasts love the dunes for their soft landing and forgiving surface, but the best thing to do here is to grab a sand board and sled down the steepest slope you can find!


5. Day Trip to Zion National Park

Sunset from the most iconic spot in Zion National Park.

Zion National Park is the most famous, most visited National Park of Utah’s “Mighty 5.” Taking at least a day trip to this paradise of unspeakable beauty is an absolute essential for your Kanab itinerary.

From Kanab, the East Entrance is only a 30-minute drive!

Be sure to arrive as early as possible to avoid lines and find parking, and bring your parks pass!


6. UTV to Red Canyon aka Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon

Within the spooky walls of Peek a boo slot canyon, one of the best places to visit near Kanab.

Just north of Kanab is one of the most popular and famous slot canyons in Utah: The “Peek-a-Boo” Slot Canyon.

Reaching this incredible underworld requires either a long, hot hike through exposed desert, or a fun UTV ride!

As the Utah desert can be unforgiving and the day trips are so fun, we highly recommend going with a UTV tour.

This is truly one of the best things to do in Kanab as it allows you to see one of the best slot canyons in Utah while also getting to motor around with local experts.


7. Wander into the Moqui Sand Caves

Wandering around in the Moqui Sand Caves on a day trip from Kanab.

Continuing north to Carmel Junction, you may notice some strange holes in the canyon walls as you near the halfway point.

While they don’t look like much from the roadside, the colors and layout of these hidden caves known as the Moqui Caverns or Moqui Sand Caves are absolutely incredible to witness.

Be aware that the hike is very short, but VERY steep. It should only be attempted by physically fit individuals with proper footwear.


8. Enter the Belly of the Dragon

The entrance to Belly of the Dragon Cave outside of Mt Carmel Junction near Kanab, UT.

The Belly of the Dragon looks like a spooky, mythological cave. It is a fun scene to photograph and worth stopping on your way to Zion or Bryce NPs.

In fact, the cave you will find was originally constructed as water drainage for Highway 89.

While this project has long been abandoned, the Belly of the Dragon has become a thing to do near Kanab for visitors heading to the national parks nearby.

There is no hike required, though you will need to drop down a short distance to enter. Those with physical disabilities may struggle to enter the cave.


9. Make a Friend at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

While most of the best things to do in Kanab revolve around hiking and nature, there is one particular place in town that every animal lover needs to visit.

The Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the country. According to them, “Best Friends has become the heart of a collaborative no-kill movement, and a model for the future of animal welfare. “

On any given day, they are home to over 1600 animals! You can take a tour of the sanctuary, plan to volunteer, take an animal on an outing, or even have a sleepover.


10. Explore Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument

Beautiful colors paint the scenery of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, one of the best places to visit in Kanab, UT.

Anyone traveling to or through Kanab will enter the massive area which falls within Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

This massive region occupies most of the desert between Page, AZ, and Kanab, UT.

Out in this colorful desert lie some of the most spectacular painted landscapes, delicate arches, slot canyons, hoodoos, and generally stunning scenery.

You could spend a lifetime exploring its secrets and still would not have found all of the hidden gems lurking throughout.


11. Go Stargazing at Bucktank Draw

Night photography featuring the Milky Way over the colored cliffs of Northern Arizona. Night photography is one of the best things to do in Page, AZ.

Speaking of hidden gems, Bucktank Draw is one of the best things to do in Kanab that no one knows about.

Like much of the region, Bucktank Draw is comprised of striped sandstone that has been carefully carved by wind, sand, rain, and ice.

What makes this area so special is that there are no signs, permits, or restrictions. For now, it remains mostly unknown. This means dark skies excellent for stargazing and rarely a soul in sight!


12. Road Trip to Page, Arizona

Upper Antelope SLot Canyon is the most famous thing to do in Page Arizona.

Just across the state border is one of the most incredible cities in the entire US; it is truly the gem of the American Southwest.

Page is home to the most famous photography and tourist destinations in Arizona with the Antelope Slot Canyons and Horseshoe Bend.

While this is not technically in Kanab, the drive is only a little over an hour between them and this is a place you simply cannot skip if visiting Southern Utah.

Find the complete guide with 25 Epic Things to Do in Page here, or book a tour of the famous Antelope Slot Canyons using the button below.

*Note: Tours are the ONLY way to visit these special Navajo sites*


13. Find the hidden Orderville Red Hollow Canyon

A photo of the amazing colors and textures from within Orderville Red Hollow Slot Canyon outside of Kanab, Utah.

While Arizona’s sandstone slots get most of the attention, Utah is actually home to more slot canyons than any other place in the known world.

Among the hundreds scattered throughout, Red Hollow Canyon is one of the most accessible and photogenic of them all.

You will find this surprisingly incredible display near the small town of Orderville located on the drive between Bryce Canyon and Zion NP and less than an hour from Kanab.


14. Day or Overnight Trip to Grand Canyon North Rim

Sunset from Cape Royale on the Grand Canyon North Rim during a day trip from Kanab.

No one needs to be sold on the grandeur of Grand Canyon National Park; it is, after all, one of the official Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

What most people don’t realize, however, is how incredible the North Rim section of the park is. In fact, the vast majority of park enthusiasts who have visited both prefer the North Rim to the South for views, crowds, and peak season climate.

Time permitting, plan a day away from Kanab for the short(ish) drive south. While it is not exactly next door, Kanab is the closest city to the North Rim Entrance.

WANT TO VISIT? READ OUR
GRAND CANYON NORTH RIM COMPLETE GUIDE


15. Watch Sunset from Horseshoe Bend

On a day trip from Kanab UT to photograph Horseshoe Bend at sunset, perhaps the most popular free thing to do near Page AZ

Another one that is technically in Page but just too incredible not to mention, Horseshoe Bend has to be included on any Southwest road trip that stops at Kanab.

Though incredible any time of day, a sunset visit to this iconic sight makes for an extra special moment… and photo!

Horseshoe Bend is part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area but the parking is monitored by the Navajo tribes, meaning your parks pass will not get you into this one!


16. Explore the Vermillion Cliffs

The incredible balanced rocks of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument are one of the best stops between Kanab in Utah and Page in Arizona.

Much like Grand Staircase-Escalante, the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument protects a large expanse of desert between Kanab and Page.

Some of the monument’s best features are visible from the road side, including the physics-defying Balanced Rocks.

While this is not worthy of a trip from Kanab by itself, it is definitely worth including on a day trip to Page from Kanab.


17. Visit Pipe Spring National Monument

A covered wagon display from Pipe Spring National Monument.

The water oasis now known as Pipe Spring National Monument has been an important place to the desert dwellers that have called this place home for thousands of years, including human, animal, and plant life.

This preserve protects the important natural resources, but also the history of the region. It has remnants and stories of its earliest settlers including American Indians, Mormon ranchers, and beyond.

While Pipe Spring National Monument is not going to provide a lot of landscape photo ops, it is one of the best things to do in Kanab for those with an interest in the rich history of the great American Southwest.


18. Go Canyoneering at Elkheart Slot Canyon

Photography from canyoneering at Elkheart Slot Canyon near Kanab.

If you have never been canyoneering before but are looking for adventurous things to do in Kanab, a guided trip to the secret Elkheart Slot Canyon (aka Huntress Slot Canyon) should be at the top of your list!

Hidden in a remote section of desert near Carmel Junction, a colorful canyon with narrow walls awaits visitors prepared to climb, crawl, scale, and shimmy their way through the cascading tunnel.


19. Have a Beach Day at Lone Rock Beach & Lake Powell

A photo of Lone Rock Beach on Lake Powell in Northern Arizona.

What could be better than escaping the scorching hot Southern Utah temperatures with a day at the beach?

As so many of the best things to do in Kanab require long hikes in hot temperatures, taking some time to relax on Lone Rock Beach at Lake Powell is a welcome alternative.

Lake Powell is located within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area so, once again, be sure to bring your parks pass!


20. Get a history lesson at Moqui Cave

The entrance to historic Moqui Cave which has been one of the best things to do in Kanab for decades.

The Moqui Cave has become a Southern Utah landmark. This family-owned and operated historic roadside attraction has been teaching travelers about the rich history of the Native American tribes who once called this region home for decades.

Those looking for things to do near Kanab with a historical and cultural context will find no better place than this.

The Chamberlain family has created a piece of living history at Moqui Cave that is worth looking into on your way to or from Kanab.


21. Become an Actor at Johnson Canyon Western Movie Set

A photo of the remains of the western movie set at Johnson Canyon in Kanab.

The beautiful movie set of Johnson Canyon provided an idyllic Western setting for over 600 shows and movies, the most famous being Gunsmoke.

By day, this old stage still delights visitors with a serene setting and fun old prop buildings.

At night, however, the spooky remains of this fictional town have become a real-life ghost town destination for the superstitious.


22. Discover the Blue Earth of Big Water

Drone photo of the blue earth and golden cliffs of Big Water outside of Kanab, Utah.

From the ground, Big Water may not look like much.

At the right time of day and with a bit of aerial perspective, however, the blue earth and golden hills at Big Water are nothing short of mind-blowing!

The town of Big Water is barely on the map and provides very limited services. It is located a little over halfway to Page from Kanab along Hwy 89.


23. See Lake Powell from the Wahweap Overlook

Landscape photography from the Wahweap Overlook in Glen Canyon Recreation Area outside of Page.

The Wahweap Overlook provides a picnic area with an unbeatable view of the green and orange landscape of Lake Powell below.

If you don’t have the time or interest to visit the lake itself, at least be sure to stop by this impressive vista on your way to Page.


24. Day trip to St George & Snow Canyon State Park

A fiery sunset above the colored hills of Snow Canyon state park in Utah.

Most visitors get caught up in the fame of Zion National Park, never realizing that the best state park in all of Utah is located just a bit beyond it.

Snow Canyon State Park is home to a dozen incredible, diverse natural features that should be on every photographer and outdoor lovers’ itinerary. These include lava tubes, slot canyons, petroglyphs, and most notably, petrified sand dunes!

Thinking about adding this amazing stop to you to-do list? Be sure to read our COMPLETE GUIDE TO SNOW CANYON STATE PARK so you don’t miss a thing on your visit.


25. Cool off at Lees Ferry Landing

Photo of Lees Ferry Landing, one of the most popular places to visit and things to do in Kanab Utah

Lees Ferry Landing provides sweet relief with a cool fresh-water river for swimming.

It is also the launch point for those planning to raft through the Grand Canyon.


Map of the Top 25 Best Things to Do in Kanab

To find the exact location of the featured activities and destinations included in this list of the best things to do in Kanab, use the interactive map below.

Click here or on the map below to view it in interactive mode.

Map of all the best things to do in Kanab, Utah

Hikes in Kanab

In addition to the many wonders featured throughout this guide, there are a variety of hikes and nature trails in and near Kanab.

While these do not offer as grandiose a reward as those in the Top 25 Best Things to do in Kanab list, they are a great way to stretch your legs and may appeal to certain niche travelers with more specific, refined interests.

The best hiking trails in the city of Kanab are:

  • Kanab Dinosaur Tracks
  • Bunting Trail
  • Bearclaw Poppy and Snake Pit Trail aka Addison’s Poppy Falls
  • K-Hill Trail
  • Toms Canyon
  • Cottonwood Trail
  • Kanab City Trail

Best Things to Do in Kanab FAQs

Within the walls of Wire Pass Slot Canyon, the longest slot canyon in the world and one of the best things to do from Kanab, Utah.

Hopefully you have found all the information you need for your first visit to Kanab. However, below are answers to the most frequently asked questions new travelers have when visiting this region.

Simply click the dropdown arrows to reveal answers to each Kanab activity FAQ.

What are the best things to do in Kanab, UT?

THE TOP 25 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KANAB ARE:

  1. Hike to The Wave
  2. Slide through Wirepass Slot Canyon
  3. Visit the Toadstool Hoodoos
  4. Sled down the Coral Pink Sand Dunes
  5. Day Trip to Zion National Park
  6. UTV to Red Canyon aka Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
  7. Wander into the Moqui Sand Caves
  8. Enter the Belly of the Dragon
  9. Make a Friend at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
  10. Explore Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument
  11. Go Stargazing at Bucktank Draw
  12. Road Trip to Page, Arizona
  13. Find the amazing and hidden Orderville Red Hollow Canyon
  14. Day Trip to Grand Canyon North Rim
  15. Watch sunset from Horseshoe Bend
  16. Explore the Vermillion Cliffs
  17. Go Canyoneering at Elkheart Slot Canyon
  18. Visit Pipe Spring National Monument
  19. Visit Lone Rock Beach & Lake Powell
  20. Get a history lesson at Moqui Cave
  21. Do some acting at Johnson Canyon Western Movie Set
  22. Discover the cliffs of Big Water
  23. See Lake Powell from the Wahweap Overlook
  24. Day trip to St George & Snow Canyon State Park
  25. Cool off at Lees Ferry Landing
Kanab vs Page: Which is better?

Kanab in Utah and Page in Arizona are both incredible places to visit with natural miracles in every direction. Page, AZ has become the more popular destination due to globally-famous Antelope Slot Canyons, considered the most photogenic slot canyons in the world, as well as the equally picturesque Horseshoe Bend. Both cities are worthy of a visit but Page is considered the better of the two.

Is Kanab, Utah worth visiting?

Kanab is one of the best places to visit in all of Utah, especially for nature and outdoor lovers. It should be included on every American Southwest itinerary with world-famous sites such as The Wave, Wirepass Canyon, Buckskin Gulch, Toadstool Hoodoos, and more all within an hours drive or less!

What is Kanab UT known for?

Kanab’s claim to fame is being the location for lottery drawings to visit the world-famous natural wonder known as “The Wave.” Only 16 permits are issued daily on a lottery system that takes place in Kanab.

It is also the nearest city to the longest slot canyon in the world at Wirepass Canyon as well as a dozen other incredible scenic destinations such as Toadstool Hoodoos, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Vermillion Cliffs, and much more.

Are there slot canyons in Kanab?

Kanab is the nearest city to Wirepass Slot Canyon, the longest slot canyon in the world. There are also a few other slot canyons within an hours drive including Red Hollow, Peek-a-boo, Elkheart Cliffs, and Huntress. Most of the other famous slot canyons nearby are located nearest to Page in Arizona.

More US Southwest Travel Guides

If you found this travel guide to Kanab useful and enjoyed the photography, we have a lot of other guides to nearby destinations you absolutely do not want to miss!

Browse the titles below and check out some of our most popular guides to Utah and the picturesque American Southwest.

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