Staycations are all the rage in today’s United States of America, but they only make sense in Utah. Everyone, no matter where they live, likes the convenience and affordability of doing something close to home, but unless ‘close to home’ includes places like Kanab, why bother?
Access an endless bucket list of national parks, state parks, monuments, slot canyons, muddy river beds, campsites in the woods, rock shops, dinosaur museums, fossil quarries and an animal sanctuary from one little hub on the Arizona border. (You didn’t know ‘animal sanctuary’ was on your bucket list, did you?)
And yes, you actually can do every one of those — in only three days — if you follow this handy Kanab itinerary. Test it out. Find a long weekend and settle into Kanab, basecamp for Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Grand Canyon North Rim, Lake Powell, Paria Canyon and the entire Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
(But it sort of seems like bad luck to check every box on your bucket list, so maybe save at least one for later.)
Salt Lake City → Kanab: 312 miles, 4 hours 42 minutes
Las Vegas → Kanab: 199 miles, 3 hours
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
We can’t talk about this place enough — we add it to every conversation about Kanab. It’s a no-kill sanctuary for homeless animals, not to mention puppy-, horsey-, birdy-cuteness to the max. And if you don’t like cute animals, well then, you know… yeesh.
Fill up at their all-you-can-eat buffet for 5 measly, family-friendly dollars. And it’s delicious. Goodbye fast-food drive-thru; those freebie plastic toys got nothin’ on real-life animals.
Then take a tour of the sanctuary. 1:00 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. It’s two hours of squealing with delight over the cutest, saved-est animals you’ll ever see. And it will soften that heart of yours after hours in the car threatening your kids to stop threatening each other, or else.
For many of us, the cost of dining out can hamstring family travel. Save your dollars for the rock shops and grab some groceries at Honey’s Marketplace in Kanab. The locals boast it has the cleanest floors they’ve ever seen, so not only will you save money and eat healthy, you can track your muddy hiking boots all over them.
CAMPGROUND: Hitch-N-Post RV Campground (30/50 amp hookups, cabins, tent sites)
CABINS: Arrowhead Country Inn & Cabins
MOTEL: Redrock Country Inn
BED & BREAKFAST: Grand Circle B&B
HOTEL: Parry Lodge
Because kids like to run around and slide and swing and roast s’mores and scream and touch things with sticky hands and laugh while playing the best round of Freeze Tag ever. Playground, water park, restroom, picnic tables, pavilion, fire pit, tennis courts, water, electricity, and garbage cans.
"National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." —Wallace Stegner
Riverside Walk, Zion National Park
This paved trail traces the Virgin River with plenty of places for you and your kids to get close to the river as you walk beneath Zion’s towering sandstone cliffs. It can get crowded in the summer months, so the earlier you get started the better. Bring a lunch, snacks and water.
Emerald Pools, Zion National Park
Lower Pools for the littlest kids; Middle Pools for the tweens; Upper Pools for the biggest kids. Bring more snacks and more water.
Then check out a rock shop for a fun, local souvenir. There are multiple options in Springdale and all are good, but our favorite is Silver Bear at the edge of town.
Silver Bear Rock Shop, Springdale
Free ranger-led kids & youth activities
Junior Ranger program — grab a booklet at the visitor center with activities related to the park; not only will they love the badge they earn, it’ll keep them engaged while you’re exploring Zion Nature Center
Stick around town since you’ll be driving all the way home in the afternoon or evening. And Kanab’s got plenty to keep a family busy in the great(est) outdoors.
Toadstools –– 1.5 miles roundtrip/ easy / 45-60 minute drive to trailhead
The Toadstools are a little garden of otherworldly sandstone formations similar to the iconic Goblin Valley formations. It’s far less crowded and has giant sandstone caves in the surrounding cliffs. (Tatooine or Jaku come to mind…) You could spend hours and hours here.
K-Hill Trail Kanab
This trail is lovely and gentle and gives you a great view of the town all the way around. It’s great for a nature walk, for a race up to the K, or just a chance to get the wiggles out before packing the kiddos back into the car for a long-ish drive home.
Because you probably over-planned and over-bought and there’s plenty for the rest of the week.
Johnson Canyon Scenic Drive
Dinosaur Track Hunting (stop by the visitor center for directions and info)
Rent bikes and ride the paved Pa’rus Trail
Stick around to see the incredible stars in Dark Skies territory
Head to Bryce Canyon National Park where Hoodoos, Sinking Ships, and Fairylands await.