The most pet-friendly hotel in the country opens, proceeds to help make no-kill a reality nationwide by 2025

By Julie Castle

The Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile is now officially open for business, and I couldn’t be happier to share the news with all of you!

Pets are part of our families, right? That’s why I believe they should be able to travel with us just like other family members do. The Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile was born from the idea that you shouldn’t have to leave your pets at home, especially when visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah, the very heart of our organization.

A pet-centric hotel

Our vision for the Roadhouse was to create a unique, pet-centric hotel — the most pet-friendly hotel in the country. Until now, visitors to the Sanctuary traveling with their pets have been very limited in their pet care options and thus limited in what they could do and see at Best Friends. The Roadhouse offers a solution to that. Every feature is designed with pets in mind — from airlock room entrances, so that pet care staff can easily meet, greet and leash up dogs to take care of visiting pets while human guests leave for the day to volunteer at the Sanctuary or explore the various national parks, to hide-away beds providing a comfy night for their best friends.

An extension of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

It doesn’t stop there, because included in our vision is offering the quintessential Best Friends experience for our guests. We’ve heard time and time again that a visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is life-changing, but limited accommodations at the Sanctuary for visitors, coupled with high demand for lodging, was a challenge. We were inspired to design the Roadhouse to be an extension of the Sanctuary so our guests would feel fully connected during their stay, with the complete Best Friends experience that was previously only enjoyed by those staying in the cottages or cabins at the Sanctuary.

Starting with complimentary shuttle service to and from the Sanctuary, which reduces traffic and helps guests find their way around Kanab, the Roadhouse offers a fully curated stay from check-in to check-out. The Roadhouse grounds and our new performance stage will provide an in-town location with activities for our guests and the community — including concerts, lectures and discussions, art fairs, farmers’ markets, yoga classes and more.

Amenities for dogs and cats

I’m excited to share with you the awesome amenities we came up with just for pets, which got the oh-so-important Sanctuary animals’ “seal of approval” from a few lucky residents who had sleepovers with some of our staff.

Pet amenities include a dog park with a splash water feature for dog play and exercise, a dog-washing station to help clean off that stubborn red sand post-hike, and pet walking and monitoring services. And the Roadhouse is not just for dogs. We made sure to have rooms that accommodate feline family members, too! Whether you’re someone who likes to take your cat on vacation or you have dreamed of taking a Cat World (or Dogtown) resident on a sleepover, we’ve got you covered.

Animal sleepovers

Speaking of sleepovers, they are an incredibly important and special part of the volunteer experience at the Sanctuary. Sleepovers provide an opportunity for our animals to be in a home-like environment while helping us gather more information about how they behave outside the Sanctuary. Many of our residents have won the hearts (and consequently homes) of volunteers during sleepovers. Swing, for example, was adopted after volunteers took him on a sleepover. We hope the Roadhouse helps to create many more of these happily-ever-after stories.

Media buzz about the Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile

Check out how the Roadhouse is garnering some great attention around the country:

This did not happen overnight. A lot of hard work went into making our vision a reality. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for each person from every team across the organization who played a role in this incredible endeavor.

No-kill nationwide by 2025

And the absolute best part? Revenue from the Roadhouse will support our goal to end the killing of pets in shelters across the country by 2025. Can’t wait to see you and, of course, your pets there!

Together, we will Save Them All.

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society