A Special Visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, UT
If you’re an animal lover, chances are you might have heard of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary…but did you know that the sanctuary is located in southwestern Utah?
This incredible place in Kanab, UT is the largest sanctuary of its kind in the US and provides a home for well over a thousand animals, including dogs, cats, birds, bunnies, horses, pigs and others.
The gorgeous landscape of desert sandstone is a healing place for animals and the humans who visit. Along with homes for the animals, the sanctuary also offers several areas for peaceful contemplation during your time here.
I highly recommend adding a stop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to your Zion National Park itinerary when you’re visiting southern Utah.
Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Location of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in Kanab, UT, about an hour away from Zion National Park. It’s one of my favorite towns in southwestern Utah, and you’ll find tons of awesome things to do in Kanab along with visiting Best Friends.
The sanctuary entrance is at 5001 Angel Canyon Road, about five miles north of downtown Kanab on the right side of Highway 89. It’s marked with a big Best Friends sign so it’s easy to find.
Book a Tour of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
If you want to explore the grounds and meet the animals, you can book a tour of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. The tours tend to fill up, so making an advanced reservation online is highly recommended, but you can also visit the welcome center in person to book a tour.
At the Best Friends Welcome Center, you can get maps to public areas on the sanctuary grounds and pick up a souvenir at the sanctuary store, too. The Welcome Center is open from 8:00am-5:00pm every day.
Hiking Trails at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
You can explore the gorgeous red rock landscape in Angel Canyon on a few hiking trails at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Dogs are, of course, welcome on the trails at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary but must be kept on a 6-foot leash at all times (this policy is strictly enforced).
HIDDEN LAKE TRAIL
The Hidden Lake Trail takes you to a cave filled with water that sits under a red sandstone cliff with neat rock formations. The 1.5 mile (round trip) hike includes a side trip to an ancestral Puebloan ruin where you can see a pictograph of a human figure.
This trail runs from Angels Overlook to Angel Village, and you can start at either end. It’s a perfect hike to stretch your legs before or after lunch at the café. Be prepared for some rocky surfaces and a few moderate to somewhat steep ups and downs on this 1.5 miles round trip trail.
We have hiked Kanab Creek, starting at Alton Road. The trail heads up to a cool little slot canyon and is a really fun area for kids to play around in during the summer.
Stay at Best Friends Roadhouse
If you’re spending the night in Kanab, Best Friends Roadhouse provides pet-centric lodging that is a lovely place to stay for people, too. The Roadhouse is just 5 miles from the sanctuary in the heart of Kanab and makes a perfect homebase for other adventures in the area as well.
Plus, it has all sorts of amenities for your furry friends, including snuggling cubbies in the rooms and a dog park with a splash zone! The Mercantile also offers necessities, gear, and treats for both people and pets.
This is also the perfect place to stay if you are planning on doing an animal sleepover (see details below).
Our Experience Volunteering at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
The tour of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is wonderful, and if you want to do even more during your visit, you can sign up for a volunteer shift. Be sure to make reservations to volunteer in advance…the spots fill up fast to spend quality time with these awesome animals.
My kids and I recently spent a couple days volunteering at Best Friends and had the most amazing time with the animals! Here’s a rundown of our experience at the sanctuary, so you can get an idea of what to expect if you want to do this yourself.
Grand Sanctuary Tour
When we arrived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, the first thing we did was take a tour of the place to get a little overview of all the different areas of the sanctuary. Our tour guide was SO awesome…and even knew all the animals by name! She was clearly very passionate about her job and sharing the mission of the sanctuary with visitors like us.
MARSHALL’S PIGGY PARADISE
The first stop on our tour was Marshall’s Piggy Paradise. Here we got to walk around, go inside the pens and get up close and personal with the animals. My kiddos absolutely loved this! There were also some very sweet goats that we were able to pet.
The next stop on our tour was Horse Haven. Many of the horses were recovering from trauma so they were not up for petting, but we were able to go up and say hi to a few of the horses.
After Horse Haven, we drove around the absolutely stunning property that the sanctuary sits on. As we rode around, our guide told us all about the history of how the sanctuary came to be and the improvements that they have made over the years.
CAT WORLD/DOG TOWN/BUNNY HOUSE/PARROT GARDEN
Then we got the chance to visit Cat World, Dog Town, Bunny House, and Parrot Garden, which are all located near each other. We were able to get up close and pet all the animals at each spot. My kids were truly thrilled to pet all the sweet animals.
Lunch at Angel Village Cafe
At that point, it was time for lunch, so we headed to Angel Village Cafe. The café is located in the gorgeous lower canyon on the property and serves a vegan lunch every day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The menu changes daily and features options ranging from fettuccine alfredo to fake “meatball” subs to Korean street tacos and much more. Lunch is only $5/person for a main dish, two side dishes, fruit, a salad, and dessert.
We have actually been here a few times now, and it is such a beautiful spot for a meal. And we got especially lucky on this visit because, while we ate, a few of the employees from each area of the sanctuary gave updates about some of the wonderful animals that have been adopted and rehabilitated here.
Volunteering at Parrot Garden
After lunch, we were ready to do some volunteer work at the Parrot Garden. We were tasked with making "chop" food for the birds. While we were cutting up and blending the veggies, one of the parrots was hanging out with us, which made our experience such a blast! And our supervisor at the Parrot Garden was super awesome, telling us all about the birds and giving us tons of great information as we worked.
After making the chop, we helped in another area of the Parrot Garden by sorting through old toys for the birds and salvaging what we could to make new toys. Then we got to give the parrots a bath by spraying them with spray bottles.
If they hid from the water, we would move on to the next bird, but if they looked like they were enjoying it, then we would spray them until they were soaking wet. It was a good time for everyone, people and parrots alike!
Our last stop for the day (but not the end of our time at Best Friends) was picking up two bunnies for a sleepover. They gave us everything we needed to care for the bunnies for the night, and we stayed at Best Friends Roadhouse in Kanab, so the room was all set up to host animals.
It was such a treat to get two cuddly bunnies to be our slumber party buddies for the night! They were the sweetest bunnies, and I really wish we could have adopted them.
Volunteering at Cat World
The next morning, we dropped the bunnies back off, and then went over to volunteer at the Cat World, where we were assigned to the area with cats suffering from leukemia. Even though the cats were sick, they were so gentle and lovely. We cleaned out their home and spent quality time cuddling and petting them.
We even got to give some of the cats a stroller ride. It was too cute! The cats really loved it and so did my kiddos.
Angels Rest, Gratitude Garden, & Angels Overlook
We finished up our time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with a visit to Angels Rest and Gratitude Garden. We walked around the graves of animals lost, which are covered in little stones and mementos. It's a very peaceful environment, with wind chimes adding to the soothing feeling.
We then walked the short trail to Angels Overlook. There is a cool solar water fountain along the trail, rocks to scramble and climb, and plenty of exploring to do as you hike. The views are breathtaking as you overlook the sanctuary from this spot.
In my humble opinion, our time at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary was better than any zoo visit that I’ve done with my kids….and the whole experience was free. The sanctuary is such a special place, and I highly recommend a visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for any animal lover!