BestFriendsHeroImage - A woman pets a dog on a cliffside overlooking a desert canyon.

Vacation Volunteering: Kanab’s Best Friends Animal Sanctuary Is Your Destination for Scenery and Snuggles

By Brian Higgins
June 05, 2024

This article is sponsored by Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

The Antelope Ground Squirrel. The Side-Blotched Lizard. The Western Screech Owl. These are just a few of the incredible creatures that make their home in southern Utah.

But did you know you can also find the North American Snugglebug, the Long Haired Cuddlemonster, the Great Western Derp and the Desert Good Boi in southern Utah too? These one-of-a-kind critters (and more) are waiting for you at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab.

At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, you don't have to choose which ball to fetch.

A Scenic Safe Haven

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization working to end the epidemic of homeless pets in America. Its stated goal is to bring American shelters to no-kill status in 2025 (a save rate of 90% or above). 

Key to that mission is the animal sanctuary, tucked away in Kanab’s Angel Canyon. Part rescue facility, part destination, the sanctuary is a truly one-of-a-kind place. Not only is it the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the world — hosting over 1,600 animals on a given day — it’s also a place for travelers to experience the joy that these animals can bring. 

Because when you visit Angel Canyon, you can become an angel for animals in need. Best Friends has all kinds of exciting volunteer opportunities, and they might fit into your vacation plans easier than you’d think.

A sanctuary cat brushes up on her cultural history.

Prowl the Property

If you want to get a lay of the land before volunteering, or if you only have time to sniff around, take a sanctuary tour! Whether you’re taking the Grand Sanctuary tour or checking out your favorite furry/feathered friends, you’ll be able to get a closer look at places like:

  • Dogtown: Where nobody knows your name but is super excited to see whoever this is. 
  • Cat World: A safe place to be a cat. A dangerous place to be a glass of water at the edge of a table. 
  • Horse Haven: Meet the neigh-bors! (That includes donkeys, mules and goats, too.) 
  • Marshall’s Piggy Paradise: Looking for an oink, oink? It’s here. 
  • Bunny House: Where every day is Easter, minus the creme eggs.
  • Parrot Garden: Polly wants you to swing by.
  • Wild Friends Rehabilitation Center: A wild animal sanctuary where injured local wildlife heal before returning to their habitats.

Book a tour →

The G.O.A.T.

How to Help

In Angel Canyon, “volunteering” is code for “hanging out with animals.” While some tasks may involve cleaning and general maintenance, most of what you’ll do is spend time with these cuddly critters. Shifts are generally three hours long and may involve very stressful tasks like:

  • Dancing with birds
  • Making toys for bunnies
  • Reading to parrots
  • Feeding horses and goats
  • Playing with cats
  • Walking dogs

Volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Even the tiniest Wild Friends get the help they need at the sanctuary.

Go on an A-D-V-E-N-T-U-R-E

Sorry, we had to spell it out in case the Dogtown residents overheard us. That’s right, you can volunteer at the sanctuary by taking a dog anywhere within an hour’s drive. That could mean a hike in Angel Canyon, a trip to a nearby natural area or some snuggles in your pet-friendly hotel room. 

Here are some dog-friendly destinations nearby:  

  • Hidden Lake: Located right in Angel Canyon, this “lake” is actually a water-filled cave. You’ll find ancestral Puebloan cultural sites and stunning views along the way. 
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park: Picture “Dune,” but instead of riding a sandworm, you're chasing a sand(y) dog. 
  • Belly of the Dragon Hike: An adventurous local staple. Check out this unique little tunnel and explore the wash beyond. 
  • Jackson Flat Reservoir: A 3.5-mile paved loop around a swimmable and splashable reservoir. What more could a dog want?
  • Sand Caves Hike: A quick half-mile hike to some incredible man-made caves just outside of Kanab. 
  • Toadstools Hike: These mushroom-shaped hoodoos won’t give you a video game-style energy boost, but they are worth the 1.5-mile roundtrip hike.

Certain pups may have to stay on sanctuary grounds or may only be up for a quick excursion. But any time spent with new people will make a world of difference to these dogs. Sanctuary dogs are not allowed to join you for any outdoor patio dining, either, but we hear they love picnics in the P-A-R-K. 

Take a dog out for the day → 

We can't tell if this sanctuary dog is enjoying their adventure or not ...

Have Paw-jama Party

Looking for even more time with a cuddly new buddy? Sign up for a pet sleepover! It’s the most adorable altruistic endeavor you could possibly imagine. You get to enjoy a night of cuddling and playtime, and a sanctuary pet gets to do the same. It’s a perfect night for those who don’t have a pet, had to leave Fido at home or are looking to adopt.

To host a sleepover, a member of your party will need to volunteer in the appropriate animal care area (Dogtown or Cat World) for one shift. Afterward, you’re free to take your new pal back to your pet-friendly accommodations for a night of classic pet sleepover games, like pin the tail on the human. 

Sign up for a sleepover

These volunteers are really putting in some tough hours.

Enjoy the Aw-menities

Did you know that you can host a pet sleepover without volunteering when you stay at one of Best Friends’ lodging options? Did you even know that Best Friends even had lodging options? When you stay in Angel Canyon, you’ll have your choice between:

  • Cozy cabins
  • Spacious cottages
  • Scenic RV sites
  • A room at the Best Roadhouse and Mercantile

All options are pet-friendly and comfy as can be for your sleepover pet or full-time furball. And when you’re a Best Friends member, you can score reduced rates.

Stay at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

The pull-out bed is actually where you sleep.

Book a Room at the Roadhouse

The Best Friends Roadhouse is a purr-ticularly exciting option for pets and pet lovers. It’s got just about anything a canine or kitty could want out of a hotel room. Which means: 

  • Slide-out pet beds
  • Nooks for naps and cuddles
  • An on-site pet-grooming facility 
  • A dog park that features a splash pad in the summer!

It’s an unforgettable way for your personal pet or sleepover buddy to spend a night. Although you should make sure your own pet doesn’t get used to such luxurious accommodations all the time …

Sanctuary pets, on the other hand? They’re already spoiled. They’ve got a beautiful home, top-notch care, hero helpers and incredible visitors like you. Whether you’re stopping in for an afternoon or making a stay out of it, any time you can spare will make a difference. Your presence helps these animals stay happy and healthy until they can come back to Kanab and Angel Canyon with a family of their own. 

Plan Your Trip Today