Things to do in southern Utah

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is nestled in the sprawling red rock canyons of southern Utah, and is surrounded by some of the most spectacular national parks and outdoor scenery on earth. Whether you like walking, running, biking, hiking, boating, fishing, playing golf, horseback riding, scenic drives, photography or meditation (did we forget anything?), you’ll find just what you’re looking for on your next vacation.

Abra Kanabra!

The city of Kanab, where the Sanctuary is located, is fondly referred to as “the greatest Earth on show,” and rightly so. Centrally located within a 90-minute drive of nearly every attraction and adventure southern Utah has to offer, Kanab serves as the gateway to anything and everything visitors and adventure seekers can hope to do here.

Stop by the Kanab Visitor Center on Highway 89 for insider tips on how to plan your trip and to participate in the lottery for a permit to visit the North Coyote Buttes area of the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Located on the Utah-Arizona border, this area is home to “The Wave,” one of the most popular geological attractions in southern Utah.

Local activities and events include trail running, marathons, car shows, Western legend tributes and movie sets including Little Hollywood Land, and the annual Amazing Earthfest. And when you’re done with all of that, enjoy a bite to eat at one of the many dining experiences Kanab has to offer. We have lots of favorites, but are naturally partial to the “Best Friends Forever” at the Rocking V Cafe.

Bryce Canyon

Did someone say “hoodoo?” Bryce Canyon National Park is often described as a fairyland of sand and stone. Comprised of a series of amphitheaters that have been shaped into fantastic slot canyons and spires, called “hoodoos,” over the last 50 million years. This unique national park will leave your jaw dropping and your heart pumping as you explore the 50 miles of trails and unparalleled views. In addition to the hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, ATV riding, backpacking, camping, fishing and aerial tours available to enjoy here, Bryce Canyon is a popular destination for geology fanatics drawn to its erosion-inspired rock formations.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Up for a little sand boarding? Located just down the road from Kanab, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is 3,730 acres of sparkling salmon-pink sand dunes ripe for playing, exploring, riding and even sand boarding. The park includes a campground and is a popular destination for hiking, ATV riding and even outings with the Sanctuary dogs during the cooler months.

Lake Powell

As your southwestern vacation heats up, keep things cool with a trip to Lake Powell, the second largest man-made lake in the U.S. With its stunning scenery and endless water recreation opportunities, your experience here will be equal parts relaxation and adventure. Go houseboating, fishing, tubing, waterskiing, jet skiing, powerboating, kayaking or camping on the beach. Your perfect water world awaits!

The North Rim: Grand Canyon National Park

A scenic 80-mile drive from Kanab through the Kaibab National Forest lands you at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most popular natural attractions. Because the North Rim hosts only 10 percent of the Grand Canyon’s annual visitors, it offers a special, more personal experience for those who make the journey to see it. Camping, hiking and river trips abound, as well as plenty of opportunities to just stand there and take it all in.

Zion National Park

A must-see for outdoor enthusiasts and casual visitors alike, Zion is Utah’s oldest and most visited national park. Sweeping sandstone cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, sparkling pools and slot canyons can be found at every turn. Easy, enjoyable hikes as well as more challenging canyoneering experiences are available, including popular trails such as the Narrows, the Subway, the Emerald Pools, Weeping Rock and Orderville Canyon. Part of the Grand Staircase, which extends from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park covers 229 square miles of stunning natural beauty that can be viewed on foot or from the comfort of your own car.

Want to hear more? Wondering about the dinosaur remains at the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument or the resort community and recreation activities available at Cedar Mountain? For a complete and seemingly endless list of things to do and see in southern Utah, click here

Favorite videos from our Sanctuary