A New Adventure Awaits
I have lived in Utah for over 30 years and have hardly heard anything about Kanab. More popular tourist attractions like Zions National Park, Arches National Park, and Bryce Canyon are discussed more frequently. Since I have been to the aforementioned places more than once, I thought it was time to see what Kanab had to offer. So Kimberly and I set off to a new destination. This was always exciting for us.
We left our home base, Nephi, Utah, late Thursday afternoon to get a jump-start on our trip. The driving distance was roughly 228 miles or approximately 3.5 hours. We took I-15 South, and then Exit 95 to Panguitch via UT 20 East. This section of our drive was very scenic, something I wasn’t aware of when planning this trip. We traveled through this area in the dark, missing the beauty that it had to offer. We were greeted with many deer, along the highway and often in the middle of the road after the sun started to set. The Tacoma’s brakes were exercised frequently as we avoided hitting them. This was a great concern all the way to Kanab.
Arriving in Kanab in the dark didn’t offer much to look at, it basically looked like a typical small town in Utah. This made me think maybe this was the reason Kanab isn’t very popular. We stayed at the Hampton Inn, which was nicely appointed in a modern/contemporary design. The hotel was very clean and well maintained.
Like many Hampton Inns, a free complimentary breakfast was offered every morning. The food did not match the hotel’s persona. There was a decent amount of variety, but the cooked food was not hot or even tasty. After breakfast, we departed the hotel with Lake Powell as our destination. This was an eye opener for us as we quickly noticed the beauty in the landscape. So many different colors in one place. It was unlike any other place we have been to in Utah thus far. Kanab’s beauty is unique and awe-inspiring.
Our itinerary for the day included stopping at Old Paria to see the place where many western movies were filmed years ago, including, The Outlaw Josie Wales and episodes of Gunsmoke. The original movie set was unfortunately burnt down by vandals and not much remains. It is still worth a visit, it is very unique and scenic. A high ground clearance vehicle is required in many places, as well as four-wheel drive. Do not attempt the drive if it is raining, and you don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle. It is common in the Kanab area to get stuck in the mud.
Lake Powell Resort at Wahweap Marina in Arizona
We had reservations for the Canyon Adventure Boat Tour at Lake Powell Resort at Wahweap, near Page, Arizona. The resort is very well maintained and clean. Our 3 hour boat tour took us to many popular sites on the south end of Lake Powell, including Glen Canyon Dam and Navajo Canyon. The tour boat has an open air top deck with an enclosed lower deck. It’s an old boat, but in good condition. Water, coffee, and tea was offered, and they also allowed people to bring their own snacks and drinks. Adult tickets were $78 each, in addition, there is a $30 fee, per car, to enter the Glen Canyon Park.
We found the tour to be very scenic. Lake Powell is a beautiful lake, surrounded with huge rock formations which draw thousands of people every year from all over the world. We had foreigners on board, lucky for them the tour caters to many languages by offering headsets to everyone, and you can select your native language. There is a lot of information given about the history of Lake Powell and the sites you are seeing. If you desire to hear the narration, make certain to grab a headset.
There are five other boat tours offered, including a dinner cruise. Lake Powell Resort also has lodging, houseboat rentals, powerboat, jet ski rentals, and an RV/Campground. If you find yourself vacationing in Kanab, Lake Powell is well worth the one hour drive.
After departing Lake Powell, our next stop was five miles north of Kanab to see Moqui Cave. Named after the Hopi Indian Tribe, it is believed they used the cave for food storage over 800 years ago. This cave was transformed into a tavern and dance hall in 1951. The original bar and handmade bar stools are still in the cave for your viewing pleasure. Many old westerns were filmed in the Kanab area, and many actors went to Moqui Cave for dancing and drinks, including Burt Reynolds. Today it’s a museum which is family owned and operated. It features dinosaur tracks, fossil minerals, Native American artifacts, and a gift shop.
The fee for the “tour” is $6 and consists of an employee briefly telling you some interesting details about the cave’s history. This “tour” takes about 3 minutes, and then you can walk around and view the three different rooms on your own. There is a lot of things crammed into the cave, if you are into history and artifacts you will probably enjoy it. Kimberly and I didn’t find it extremely interesting and questioned if the $12 we paid was worth it. But I feel it is worth stopping to see when in the area, it is unique, and one of a kind.
Rocking V Cafe
We had dinner at the Rocking V Cafe, it was Friday night and pretty busy. Their menu has many options, including healthy choices, and traditional fare. Our waiter was a little strange in the way he talked and stared at us while telling us what he likes on the menu. At one point I was wondering if he was going to try to sell us marijuana. We liked the food and do recommend this establishment.
Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch Hike
There are many hikes available in Kanab, we chose the Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch hike. This hike is 3.4 miles round-trip and rated as easy. It intersects Buckskin Gulch which is a popular 12.5 mile hike. When you reach Buckskin Gulch you can go up or down the canyon to extend your hike. The hike starts at Wire Pass Trailhead, a wide streambed, which was completely dry when we were there. Following the streambed, it takes you to the entrance of the slot canyon, this is where the hike gets interesting, as it displays its beauty. After a short distance into the canyon there is a drop off, around 8’ deep. Usually, there is a rope ladder to get down and back up. When we went the ladder was gone and a strap that was not secured very well was in its place. This appeared very unsafe, there is an alternate route to the east which bypasses this small section. Although the surface is slick rocks and requires shoes with good traction.
To get to the trailhead follow US 89 East to milepost 26, approximately 37.5 miles from Kanab. Turn right on to House Rock Valley Road and follow the road for 8.4 miles. This is a very rough dirt road with some washed out sections that are fairly deep. It is best to have a truck or SUV, but we did see some cars on the road. I suggest not taking a car on this road, chances are you are going to bottom-out the suspension and damage something and/or get stuck. Water is not available at the trailhead, but there are pit toilets.
Flash flood danger is extremely high in this slot canyon, DO NOT attempt if there is any chance of rain. Also, the dirt road between the highway and trailhead will require 4WD to make it out if it is raining.
This restaurant is located at The Canyons hotel and serves New American cuisine. It is rated over 4.5 stars on Google and other popular internet sites. Many reviewers state it is the best meal they have ever had. We had to find out for ourselves what all the hype was about. The restaurant isn’t very big and has some odd tables and seating. We had a bench seat with a very small round table, which made it awkward to eat on. The menu consists of unique small plates and they have vegan and gluten-free options. We found the food was good but nothing like the reviews. Kimberly and I are not professional chefs, but we are very good, evident by family and friends always looking forward to meals we make when they visit. We have also been to many high-end restaurants. A couple of the plates offered flavors that were indeed unique but not necessarily in a good way. I give Sego a 3.7 and would not dine here again. The food at the Rocking V Cafe was better in my opinion and lower priced.
Coral Pink Sand Dunes
Sunday was our last day in Kanab. We stopped by the Coral Pink Sand Dunes on our way home. We followed US 89 north for 10 miles to Hancock Road Scenic Backway, then followed the signs to the park, approximately another 10 miles. Open year-round, the entrance fee to the park is $8 per vehicle. The park is 3,730 acres and has over 2,000 acres open to OHVs. There are nice campgrounds which appeared well maintained. The dunes are enjoyed mostly by ATV and UTV enthusiasts, but hiking or just playing on the sand is also permitted. At 6,000’ elevation and its orange-red sand, this unique geological area is worth a look.
Hidden Gem Destination
Kanab is definitely worth seeing, the landscape is truly beautiful and unique. There are many things to do within close proximity of Kanab, including hiking, cycling, boating and off-road 4X4/ATV trails. It’s the gateway to the Grand Canyon North Rim and many other destinations, including Lake Powell, Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and Bryce Canyon. Add Kanab to your list of travel destinations, you won’t be disappointed.