No Utah adventure is complete without exploring the national parks, national monuments, and state parks around Kanab. Southern Utah is home to some of the most eye-popping landscapes in the country, and there’s no better way to see the spires, canyons, arches, and cliffs than from a trail. Whether you just want to stretch your legs in the middle of a long day of driving, or the hike is your destination, you can’t go wrong with these options.
1. Yellow Rock Trail, Kanab
Distance: 2 miles
The out-and-back hike is short but steep, topping out on a tall, brilliantly hued yellow sandstone dome. The scramble to the top is worth it, with views in every direction, including Paria River Gorge, Castle Rocks, and Hackberry Wash. Make sure to bring water and keep an eye out for the cairns. The trail might be faint, but the direction is apparent. The trailhead is accessed 14 miles down Cottonwood Canyon Road.
2. Buckskin Gulch, Paria Canyon
Buckskin Gulch is easily accessed from Kanab.
Distance: 25 miles, with options for shorter distance
Hike into the Southwest’s longest slot canyon as far as you want, with the variety of terrain and incredible color of the sandstone walls renewing your excitement around every turn. The walls narrow to 10 feet in some areas—be ready to hike through the occasional pool of water. The trail is primarily level, but obstacles through some sections make the traverse more challenging. Buckskin Gulch is easily accessed from Kanab via Highway 89 to House Rock Valley Road.
3. The Wave, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Distance: 6 miles
The permit to hike to this natural feature is one of the most sought-after in the hiking world, and notoriously difficult to obtain. Only 20 people are allowed in this area at a time—most permits are acquired in advance, with a few reserved each day for walk-ins. The trail to the Wave begins with sandy, loose footing, then changes to hard sandstone approaching tall buttes as you near the site. The Wave itself consists of narrow “troughs” of eroded sandstone, forming fluid, intersecting formations that must be seen to be believed.
4. Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
This less-traveled loop hike in Bryce Canyon National Park offers incredible views.
Distance: 8 miles
If you want to see the best of Bryce Canyon’s dramatic landscape, this is the trail to hike. This less-traveled loop brings hikers through the most incredible scenery the park has to offer, including Fairyland Canyon, China Wall, and Tower Bridge. Hikers descend through red sandstone towers and wind around the easy-to-follow, well-signed trail before climbing back onto the ridge and looping back to the trailhead.
5. Willis Creek Slot Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Distance: 3 miles, with an option for extending
Perfect for all ages and abilities, this hike takes you from the wide mouth of the canyon right along Willis Creek, so you’ll be walking next to the water—prepare to get your feet wet! The canyon narrows quickly, becoming a more classic slot canyon with buffed sandstone walls and fun creek hopping. Hikers can choose to continue to Sheep Creek, but the canyon ends at about 1.5 miles, an ideal outing for families hiking with smaller children.
6. Observation Point, Zion National Park
You’ll find some of the best views in Zion National Park at Observation Point.
Distance: 8 miles
If you’re looking for postcard panoramas of the Zion’s incredible landscape, this is your trail. It has the same (or better) views without the crowds of the shorter park hikes, and the trail is built entirely with well-graded switchbacks, resulting in a steady climb gaining over 2,000 feet from trailhead to endpoint. The trail switchbacks up the cliff towards Echo Canyon before opening up again and continuing to the lookout. The views only get better as you near the top.
7. Bristlecone Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
Distance: 1 mile
Stretch your legs, escape the canyon heat, and enjoy the sweet-smelling forest on this scenic, mellow walk. You’ll see panoramic views of Bryce Canyon as you weave through towering spruce and fir on the highest hike in the park, skirting the edge of the canyon at 9,000 feet. Time your excursion to catch the sunset—you won’t be disappointed.
8. Huntress Slot Canyon, Kanab
Distance: 2 miles
Also known as Diana’s Throne Canyon, this is a short, simple hike perfect for getting the whole family into a slot canyon. The trailhead is easily accessed, and the canyon is frequently utilized by local outfitters for beginner canyoneering. You might even see some adventurous folks descending one of the rappel sequences. The hike begins in a sandy wash, narrowing at the end with the canyon walls lighting up at sunset.
9. Mansard Trail, Kanab
The Vermilion Cliffs, just outside of Kanab, is a relatively short hike that allows you to see a petroglyph panel as well as the panoramic views of the region.
Distance: 3 miles
This short jaunt takes hikers right to an alcove featuring ancient petroglyphs. You’ll start on a short, steep trail before topping out at Vermilion Cliffs before hiking to the petroglyph panel featuring some of the most unique petroglyph images in the world. This trail not only leads to the ancient designs but offers incredible views of Kanab and the surrounding vistas.
10. Panorama Trail, Kodachrome Basin State Park
Distance: 5.5 miles
This loop hike remains almost entirely level and offers a nonstop view of the amazing features in Kodachrome Basin State Park. You’ll see the tall, thin sand pipes, waves of color throughout the sandstone layers, and other out-of-this-world landscape features. This hike can be extended by 2.5 miles by taking the side trek onto the Bear Geyser Trail.