Kanab, Utah - This is the West
What is it?
The movie-making history of Kanab, a town commonly known as “Little Hollywood” because of its history in hosting the making of hundreds of Western films, began in the early 1920s and continued into the late 1970s. In fact, more Western films were made in Kanab, Utah, than in any other place aside from California. The first film made in Kanab’s long, movie-making history was “Deadwood Coach,” filmed in 1924 by producer Tom Mix. By 1949, one hundred Western films had already been produced in the Kanab, Utah area, with the film “Sierra” recognized as the one-hundredth movie. Though Western film production slowed in the latter part of the twentieth century, the Kanab area has hosted the production of films as late as 2001 and 2007, with the production of the films “Planet of the Apes” and “A Monster in the Attic.”
Where is it?
Kanab is the county seat for Kane County, the central, southernmost county of Utah. It is situated in the center of what is commonly known as the “Grand Circle,” a series of state and national parks and monuments, including Bryce Canyon National Park, The Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park.
What do you do there? What do you see there? What is most interesting about it? Why I would enjoy visiting this place? How do I get there? When can I go?
The movie-making history of Kanab has left a legacy of events and tourist attractions. Among the most popular are the Parry Lodge, Frontier Movie Town, the Western Legends Roundup Celebration, and the Kanab Canyon and Johnson Canyon movie sets.
The Parry Lodge was established by the three Parry brothers, Whit, Chaunce, and Gron. They assisted Tom Mix with his transportation and commuter needs in the production of “Deadwood Coach.” Convinced of the future, successful role Kanab would play in Western movie-making history, the Parry brothers targeted the film industry in Hollywood by widely publicizing the unique natural features of the Kanab area and its suitability for Western films. They almost singlehandedly began the sudden influx of Western movie making in Kanab, Utah.
In order to accommodate growing demand, the Parry Brothers established Parry Lodge, an old Victorian home, as the main source of accommodations for all parties involved in the Kanab movie industry. Still open for accommodations today, the Parry Lodge boasts former movie-star guests ranging from Ronald Reagan to Frank Sinatra. It is a blast from the past where any visitor can step back in time and consider himself part of the Old West. Parry Lodge is located just off Highway 89 on 89 East, Center Street. It is open year-round.
Frontier Movie Town invites visitors to explore remaining movie sets and memorabilia in a reconstructed, old-town setting. One enters through the gift shop and continues on to the movie town on the back lot. Though Frontier Movie Town offers free admittance, perhaps the most appealing attraction is the movie town’s genuine, Dutch-oven dinners served at the Chuckwagon cookout. Frontier Movie Town is located in Kanab at 297 West, Center Street and is open from March–December.
The Western Legends Roundup Celebration is an annual celebration held in late summer that celebrates the customs and traditions of the Old West. It includes a slew of visiting, old-time Western movie stars and proudly boasts a range of activities including wagon trains, cowboy poetry, country western music, dancin’, singin’, stompin’, shootin’ fiddlin’, quiltin’, and more. It is an event not to be missed!
Finally, any visitor should see the Kanab Canyon and Johnson Canyon movie sets. The Kanab Canyon movie set is located five miles north of Kanab and is the location for movies including Lone Ranger and The Apple Dumpling Gang. Johnson Canyon movie set, perhaps the largest Kanab set, can be viewed only from the road due to its state of general disrepair. It can be viewed from Johnson Canyon Road off Highway 89. Unfortunately, the famous Paria Movie Set became a victim of arson and is no longer available as a tourist attraction.