Surrounded by the dramatic red rock canyons, mystical landscapes of buttes and spires, and willow-lined rivers that typify the natural beauty of southern Utah, Kanab makes the ideal basecamp for an all-American road trip. This small but growing town just north of the Arizona state line offers everything visitors need for a comfortable stay, with exactly what other places may lack: an authentic, unspoiled sample of the Southwestern experience.

The unrivaled combination of Kanab’s approachable, friendly atmosphere with its proximity to world-class outdoor adventure—three national parks, two national forests, five national monuments, and two state parks lie within a day trip from town—make it the best place to stay when you’re looking to explore these natural wonders. Here are a few reasons why it’s so great.

At the Heart of World-Class Adventure

Bryce Canyon National Park – 90 minutes from Kanab

Every road in or out of Kanab is a scenic highway, byway, or backway. Heading north from town on Highway 89 and west on State Route 9 brings you to the immense sandstone canyons of Zion National Park, where sheer vertical walls of red and cream rock rising 3,000 feet above the Virgin River create the illusion of stepping into a fantasy world. Farther north on Highway 89 and east on State Route 12 leads to the equally surrealistic landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park, famous for the labyrinth of orange- and white-striped hoodoos that carve out the mountainside.

Kanab is one of the easiest access points to the sandstone domes, slot canyons, and natural arches of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Dozens of hikes explore this rugged terrain, while a drive on Highway 12 Scenic Byway takes visitors through the heart of this expansive desert landscape. Kanab is also the closest town to one of Utah’s most unique state parks, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, home to a mesmerizing network of windblown dunes perfect for hiking or off-road driving.

Buckskin Gulch, The Wave, and South Coyote Buttes top the list as some of the classic attractions that draw people to Kanab. All east of town, these natural wonders characterize the diversity of the southern Utah desert: Buckskin Gulch takes adventurous hikers on a wild journey through one of the nation’s deepest, longest slot canyons. A highly sought-after permit to visit The Wave treats the eyes with a formation of beautifully curved sandstone strata, and the South Coyote Buttes area features scenic hiking through a maze of slickrock domes.

Plenty of Places to Stay

Basecamp 37 – 8 miles East of Kanab

A variety of boutique lodges, glamping getaways, RV parks, and hotels provide plenty of options for spending the night in Kanab. Nationwide hotels like Hampton Inn, Travelodge, and Best Western offer quality accommodations in town. Meanwhile, places like Parry Lodge, a historic Victorian-style hotel where movie stars stayed during the film industry boom, and Canyons Lodge, a rustic inn with log buildings and cozy outdoor areas, bring unique offerings to make for a memorable stay in Kanab.

Just east of town in the Chocolate Cliffs of Grand Staircase-Escalante you’ll find two luxurious glamping tents at Basecamp 37, making the ideal choice for a digital detox under the serene night sky. Three RV parks conveniently located in town make it easy for those traveling with their own rigs or simply looking for somewhere quiet to pitch a tent.

The Perfect Spot for Families

Peekaboo Slot Canyon excites imaginations of all ages.

Spending a few days or a few weeks exploring Kanab and its surroundings makes an ideal vacation for families. With seemingly endless outdoor adventures right at the town’s doorstep, parents never have to look too far to find trails and parks suitable for children of any age. A family favorite not to be missed, The Toadstools Trail takes hikers into a world of balanced rock formations and sandstone dunes striped in brilliant shades of white and red. Located 45 miles east of Kanab on Highway 89, this easy, 1.8-mile out-and-back trail can capture the imagination of just about any youngster.

Another must-do on a family road trip is Kodachrome Basin State Park, with several easy to moderate hiking trails amongst an otherworldly landscape of multi-colored buttes, spires, and alcoves.

When the kids want to trade in the hiking boots for something a little different, Kanab delivers as well. Evening performances at the Redstone Theater in downtown delight audiences with distinctly Western-style entertainment, from fiddling to trick-roping to singing and dancing. Don’t miss Little Hollywood Museum, which preserves movie sets from Kanab’s thriving film production days that made this area famous as the quintessential setting for classic American Western cinema. To fully experience the town’s connection to Western culture, plan a trip in late August for the annual Western Legends Heritage & Music Festival, which features a film festival, wagon train trek, cook-offs, concerts, and tours.

Just five miles north of Kanab, the Best Friends Animal Society makes an ideal stop for kids who love animals. This shelter is one of the largest and most scenic animal sanctuaries in the country, providing shelter for dogs, cats, horses, goats, birds, pigs, rabbits, and other wildlife. It welcomes visitors all year to tour, adopt, or volunteer.

A Unique Food & Drink Scene

Sego Restaurant – Voted Best New Concept in Fine Dining and won the Taste Utah award for 2018

Local flavors you won’t find anywhere else served up with small-town charm define the budding foodie scene in Kanab. Start off with a morning trip to the town’s artisanal Kanab Creek Bakery. Handcrafted breads and pastries take center stage, alongside an extensive café menu of crepes, paninis, salads, and brunch plates all made with regionally sourced ingredients and perfectly paired with roasted espresso.

For dinner, head to Sego to experience the unique New American cuisine of this award-winning restaurant. Artfully designed plates take an eclectic twist on the classic comfort foods found coast to coast, while the spotlight on regional Southwestern flavors nudges a gentle reminder that you’re still in red rock country.

Fortunately for those choosing Kanab as their basecamp for more than one night, a new wave of eateries uplifting the town’s food and drink scene offers more than a few quality options. The effortlessly fun and family-friendly atmosphere at Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen hits the spot for a laid-back breakfast, lunch or dinner on the patio. Artisanal wood-fired pizzas are the restaurant’s claim to fame, while the Southwest-inspired burgers and salads satisfy as well. Save room, though, for one more dinner out at Wild Thyme Café, where the kitchen cooks up elevated comfort food showcasing ingredients grown in their own organic gardens—including one right on site.

Southern Utah is a place unlike anywhere else in the country. Take the time to explore all there is to see and take advantage of all that Kanab has to offer in making this a trip of a lifetime.