woman in orange slot canyon in utah

Hikes in Kanab, Utah

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There are many things to do in Kanab and the surrounding area. We’ve visited the area several times and always seek out the best hikes in Kanab, Utah.

We visited Kanab in spring of 2021 for this post.

Eventually, I will get around to writing about other things to do near Kanab, but most of the activities are outdoors anyway – whether that’s motorized (think ATVs, ORVs, dune buggies) or self-propelled (hiking, biking, canyoneering).

two people at the bottom of a red slot canyon hike in Kanab Utah

Weather for Hikes in Kanab, Utah

Before you go hiking in Kanab, Utah, make sure you are ready for desert weather. Summers are hot and dry with highs in the 80s and 90s. That might not seem too hot, but the desert sun really beats down on you. Unless you are in Kanab slot canyon, you may find it hard to find shade. 

It’s also quite dry… unless there is a flash flood. Carry all the water you will need and check the weather forecast for any chance of rain.

Winters can be cold and snowy, with daytime highs in the 20s. We were there in March one year and found cold nights (in the 30s) and warm days (in the 60s). The days felt warmer since we were out in the sun under a bluebird sky.

Carry a lot of water and wear sunscreen and a hat. And snacks. Always bring snacks.

Here are some of our favorite hikes Kanab, Utah has to offer.

Hikes Near Kanab Utah

woman in red rock slot canyon peekaboo slot canyon utah

Peekaboo Slot Canyon / Red Canyon

There are at least a couple of Peekaboo Canyons so make sure you look for “Peekaboo Trail Kanab” when you are searching Google Maps. This slot canyon is also known as “Red Canyon.”

One of the highlights of a Utah red desert hike is winding through a slot canyon. Kanab has several nearby, including Peekaboo.

Kanab, Utah slot canyons are rightfully famous for their sheer grandeur and Peekaboo is one of Kanab’s best.

The walk through this stunning, orange, sandstone canyon is short, but filled with beauty. In addition to the water-carved walls, there are Anasazi Moqui Steps climbing the canyon walls.

Getting to the Peekaboo Trailhead can be challenging. It’s mostly ATVs and UTVs that travel the deep sand “roads” to get to the canyon.

We took two four-wheel, high-clearance vehicles and it was touch and go on whether we were going to make it and not get bogged down in the sand. In summer it may be inaccessible to everything but ATVs and UTVs.  Personally, I wouldn’t drive it, but a couple of the friends we were with had big trucks so they just gunned it the whole way.

Bright orange light through rocks in a slot canyon hike with two teens walking

Peekaboo Slot Canyon, Kanab Details

  • Distance: 0.7 miles round trip
  • Fees: none
  • Directions: Travel north of Kanab, UT for 9 miles and then make an eastern turn after the Peek-A-Boo sign along the highway. You will go up a small hill and cross a cattle guard before entering the large, graveled parking area. On the eastern side of the parking area, you will find BLM route 102. Follow Route 102 until you reach a wash, also known as a dry riverbed. Once you’ve reached the wash, travel west onto BLM route 106H and follow the wash until it dead ends at the slot canyon.
  • Peekaboo Slot Canyon Tours: If you don’t want to drive your own vehicle (or can’t) to Peekaboo Canyon, there are several options for tours. Some have you riding in a UTV and others inside a SUV. You can even combine a walk through Peekaboo with sand boarding (like snowboarding, but on sand dunes). See Peekaboo Slot Canyon tour options here

teen jumping off a sand dune hike near Kanab Utah

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park 

Another fun place for Kanab, Utah hikes is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We’ve been a couple of times and enjoy walking along the spine of the dunes and running down the faces. Walking back up can be a bit tougher.

The first time we went must have been the off-season (November) because there weren’t any ATVs and the campground was empty. In March, it was buzzing with motors whining up and down the dunes.

If you start at the main park entrance, you’ll see a platform to watch the action and can leave from there to walk on the dunes. BE CAREFUL if there are ATVs around because they may not see you until they are on top of you.

When we visited in March, we found a pullout north of the entrance and wandered to some smaller, but still very cool, dunes a little to the north of the main, huge dune. This way, we avoided a lot of the ATVs. 

There aren’t really any trails, so just wander as you will. Sand boards (stand-up) and sand sleds (sit-down) are available for rent at the park on a first-come, first-serve basis. 

It’s likely to be windy, so expect a full body exfoliation treatment.

seven kids on top of a coral pink sand dune near Kanab Utah

Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Kanab Details

  • Distance: Varies 
  • Fees: Day use = $10 per vehicle; $5 for Utah seniors 65 and older 
  • Directions: From Kanab, drive north on Hwy 89 for 7.5 miles. Turn left onto Hancock Road and continue 9.4 miles. Turn left onto Coral Pink Sand Dunes Road/N County Rd 1000/N K1000/N Sand Dunes Road for 3.2 miles to the park entrance on the left. We prefer to park in a pullout on Coral Pink sand Dunes Road north of the entrance.
  • Coral Pink Sand Dunes Tours: There are several tour options for the sand dunes, most of them include a trip to Peekaboo Canyon, too. See Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park tour options here. 

best hikes in Kanab include this red slot canyon with two people

Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch 

Perhaps the most famous Kanab slot canyon is Buckskin Gulch, accessed via Wire Pass Trail, Kanab. This hike was more effort than Peekaboo, though much easier driving. And the payoff is huge. 

You need a permit, which can be reserved digitally, but there is no cell service at the trailhead, so get it before you leave Kanab (instructions below).

There are a lot of ways to access Buckskin Gulch, but Wire Pass Canyon is the most direct route. It’s also a very lovely canyon in its own right. A lot of people go no farther than Wire Pass slot canyon.

But not us. We hiked to and through Wire Pass and then turned left into Buckskin Gulch. After a mile or so, we turned around and went back to Wire Pass and into Buckskin Gulch in the other direction for a couple of miles. After that, we retraced our steps to Wire Pass and exited the way we came in.

If you only have time to go one way, go right when you reach the intersection with Buckskin Gulch at the Paria River.

This giant gash in the earth is the longest slot canyon in the southwest at 23 miles. High sandstone walls and a narrow, twisting corridor create a playground that is both playground and church. 

Buckskin Gulch is one of the best slot canyons near Kanab and it isn’t a secret. Get there as early as possible to avoid some of the crowds.

We hiked in with trail shoes and changed into Chaco sandals once we were in the gulch ( you may have to walk through water in parts.) 

four people on a hike near Kanab in a bright orange slot canyon

Wire Pass & Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyons Details

  • Distance: 3.4 miles round trip to Wire Pass. From there you can walk as far as you want up or down Buckskin Gulch.
  • Fees: Permits are required for day-use and can be purchased in advance at recreation.gov; no fee required for children age twelve and under. The day-use fee is $6.00 per person and $6.00 per dog (you will have to carry your dog up and down ladders and probably lift it over rocks.)
  • Directions: From Kanab, UT drive 37 miles east on Highway 89. Turn south onto House Rock Valley Road and drive about 8.3 miles to the Wire Pass Trailhead. The road that accesses the permit area is unpaved and minimally maintained. Most of the time, it is possible to reach the trailhead in a two-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicle. However, four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicles may be required when the road is wet. During the rainy season and the winter months, the road may become impassable for all vehicles, even those with four-wheel-drive. We had no problem driving our AWD Honda CRV on the dry road to the trailhead. 

family hiking neat Kanab with towering red rock pillars in background

Kodachrome Basin State Park

I don’t know if this really counts as one of the Kanab hikes since it’s an hour and 45 minutes from Kanab, but we visited while camping near Kanab, so I say it counts.

There are several hiking options in Kodachrome Basin State Park. We chose the Panorama Trail while our friends went horseback riding.

Let me warn you, regardless of what you do in this park, that Simon and Garfunkle song will be in your head the whole time. And again, later when you write about it.

The Panorama Trail is a 6- mile loop that passes Big Bear Spire, Cool Cave, Ballerina Spire, Hat Shop, and Secret Passage, among other geologic beauties. To get a true taste of the park, this is a great trail and it’s relatively easy as it doesn’t gain much elevation. 

We also enjoyed the 0.3-mile spur to Panorama Point. You can make the Panorama Trail hike shorter as it’s made up of several loops. We walked counterclockwise (headed right at the start), but I recommend the other direction (left at the start) as you get the open, “boring” part over first that way.

It’s also open to mountain bikes and horses, though we didn’t see either.

two little people in a big red rock environment in Utah

Kodachrome Basin State Park Details

  • Distance: Panorama Trail is a 6-mile loop with shorter options.
  • Fees: Day use = $10 per vehicle; $5 for Utah seniors 65 and older 
  • Directions: From Kanab drive north on Hwy 89 for 60 miles. Turn right onto UT-12 East for about 25 miles. Turn right onto Kodachrome Rd/Main St in Cannonville and drive 7.2 miles. Turn left into the park

orange hoodoos with white snow on top from Bryce Canyon hike

Bryce Canyon National Park 

Since we passed Bryce Canyon on our way to and from Kodachrome Basin State Park, we decided to pop in and soak in the view of orange sherbet-colored pinnacles (and get ice cream).

I am counting this as hiking near Kanab, Utah even though it’s an hour and a half from Kanab and we didn’t really hike this time. That’s just how I roll. It’s only half an hour from Kodachrome Basin and on the way as you return to Kanab. 

It’s worth visiting Bryce even if you don’t want to hike. We went out to Sunset Point and walked along the flat Rim Trail to the Bryce Canyon Lodge and back, taking in the highly scenic view of Red Canyon and Bryce’s signature hoodoos.

In the past, we’ve hiked the Queen’s Garden Trail, which gets you right into the Hoodoos. It’s popular for a reason. There is a lot of up and down, but the trail isn’t long and it is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the park.

backs of two teens looking into a red hoodoo filled canyon

Bryce Canyon National Park Details

  • Distance: Sunset Point to Bryce Canyon Lodge – about 0.75 miles round trip. Queen’s Garden Trail – 2.1 or 2.2 miles depending on which side of the Navaho Loop Trail you use. 
  • Fees: 7-day private vehicle pass = $35, or use your American the Beautiful Pass
  • Directions: From UT-12 turn south onto UT-63 S and drive 3.8 miles to the Bryce Canyon Visitor Center.

family standing in front of giant red and white rock wall at Best Friends Animal sanctuary hike

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

This animal sanctuary was a surprise in terms of Kanab hiking trails. I knew about their animal rescue work and the huge campus just outside of Kanab, but I didn’t realize there were public-use trails.  

The no-kill sanctuary is home to 1,700 animals! There is a visitor center, restaurant, and of course, many animal facilities. 

If you’d like to take a tour of Best Friends you need to make a reservation. Unfortunately, we were not that forward-thinking. We just showed up and all the tours were full. 

Instead, we drove the loop through the sanctuary and stopped at the Hidden Lake trailhead. The trail is really an ATV road, but we only saw one on our walk. 

The 1.7-mile trail leads to a huge, colorful sandstone wall with an underground lake in its cave. Partway up the trail there is a short spur trail to a small cave with examples of handprints and other pictographs along with some pottery remnants representing the indigenous people that originally inhabited the area.

two teens in a brown  slickrock trail

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab Details

  • Distance: 1.7 miles
  • Fees: Free, but it’s nice to give a donation – they do really good work. 
  • Directions: From Kanab follow Highway 89 north for seven miles. Turn right onto Kanab Canyon Road at the southern entrance to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Stop at the visitor center for a brochure and map (and to make a donation).
  • Tours of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: Book a tour online. They are mostly free, but you should probably make a donation. 

More trails and other outdoor activities in Kanab coming soon! I have another trip planned in May.

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