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The 12 Most Adventurous Things to Do in Kanab, Utah

Looking for an outdoor adventure paradise? You’ll find it in the southern Utah desert of Kanab, UT! The sandstone rock formations that make up the local landscape here offer the opportunity for hiking, canyoneering, paddling, off-roading, and so much more in a truly stunning setting. Believe me, you won’t run out of awesome and adventurous things to do in Kanab, Utah.

Where is Kanab?

The town of Kanab is in southern Utah, sitting right on the border of Arizona. Kanab is about an hour east of Zion National Park, an hour and a half south of Bryce Canyon National Park, and an hour and a half north of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.


12 Adventurous Things to Do in Kanab, Utah

Kanab has adventurous activities for everyone, no matter how you like to spend time outside. And with lots of great guide services offering tours, you can try tons of new things to do in Kanab, Utah, too.


Dive into Canyoneering

My number one favorite way to adventure in Kanab is canyoneering with All Ways Adventure. With so many otherworldly slot canyons to explore in this sandstone landscape of southern Utah, Kanab is an amazing place for canyoneering! Canyoneering should be a must on your list of things to do in Kanab, Utah. 


After my first time canyoneering over 8 years ago, I was hooked! It is such a fun way to see secret slot canyons that aren’t accessible just by hiking, and I love that it is a family activity that I can do with my kiddos.



While I love hiking, I don’t have a ton of knowledge when it comes to more technical outdoor skills, but if you go canyoneering with a guide, you don’t need much skill to feel like a legit adventurer! All Ways Adventure is a canyoneering guiding service based out of Kanab that can show you the ropes (literally, when you’re rappelling) and guide you through some of the amazing and off the beaten path slot canyons in the area.


The owners Nathan and Jillian have been guiding in Southern Utah for over 10 years and are experts at tailoring trips to all sorts of adventure levels. All Ways Adventure is hands down my favorite guide company in Kanab and all of Southern Utah for that matter.


I have gone on several canyoneering trips with All Ways Adventure from full day, half day and even a guided backpacking trip, and they have all been incredible! My kids and I did some rappelling in Red Cliffs Reserve, and on a solo guided adventure, I explored a cool off-the-beaten-path canyon and even got to rappel down a frozen waterfall!



I took my kiddos on a canyoneering adventure with Nathan recently that was all about squeezing and sliding through the tight canyons with a little less repelling. It was like a natural obstacle course and my kids loved the challenge. There are so many different ways to adventure with All Ways Adventure.  


For those who are wanting a full out adventure, a guided backpacking trip is the way to go! Explore the backcountry of Southern Utah with a guided backpacking trip. I went on a guided backpacking trip to Neon Canyon in Escalante with All Ways Adventure in May and it was the most magical 3 day backpacking adventure ever! 


I am not skilled at knowing what to pack and how to survive in the backcountry, I have only done one other backpacking trip, so going with a guide was a must for me. You can hire them to take you out and you can also join in on one of the trips that are already on the schedule.


When I was preparing for my trip, All Ways Adventure let me borrow all the gear I didn’t have, like a backpack, tent, canyoneering gear, and dry suit, and they guided me on everything I needed to do to prepare for the trip. They also provided all the food.....such a huge bonus! They were so helpful and made the whole process of preparing for the trip so easy and stress free.


The three day trip was filled with jaw dropping views, camping in a beautiful canyon, lots of laughter, canyoneering, hiking, and pushing myself to do things outside of my comfort zone in all the best ways. Find out more about their guided backpacking trip options here


If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Kanab, Utah, I highly recommend canyoneering + more with All Ways Adventure for an experience you won’t forget.


***Image from Shutterstock


Hike the Wave

The Wave is an iconic hike that truly tops the list of things to do in Kanab, Utah. You might have seen the unique undulating red and white sandstone formation in photos but seeing it in person is even more spectacular.


The trailhead for The Wave is about an hour outside of Kanab proper in the Coyote Buttes area of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. The Wave trail is a 6.7 out and back hike that’s pretty moderate so it’s a very doable epic adventure. The trail is really not a marked trail though, so you should have a GPS to navigate.


Honestly, the biggest challenge of hiking The Wave is getting the required permits to allow you to do so. There is both a Wave advanced lottery and a daily lottery for Wave permits, but it is extremely competitive, so you might have to try several times.


Note: The road to The Wave becomes a real washed out mess when it’s wet, and you might need 4WD to reach the trailhead. It’s a good idea to check the toad conditions before you head out.


Explore Buckskin Gulch & Wire Pass Trail

Hiking from Wire Pass Trail through the slot canyon of Buckskin Gulch with the light streaming in and illuminating the canyon walls is a highlight of things to do in Kanab, Utah. Wire Pass Trail starts from the same trailhead as The Wave, so it’s a great alternative adventure if you can’t snag a permit for The Wave.


While the beginning of Wire Pass Trail isn’t super exciting, once you enter the slots, it’s such a treat to explore. After about half a mile in the slots, the cliffs open up where Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch intersect. From here, you can go up both ways to explore all the beauty that Buckskin Gulch has to offer.


Note: Permits are required and are $6/person (and $6/dog). Service can be spotty at the trailhead, so purchase your Buckskin Gulch/Wire Pass Trail permit online ahead of time here.



Take a Jeep Tour to Peekaboo Canyon

Peekaboo Canyon is a stunning slot canyon near Kanab, and you can have a blast exploring it on an ATV tour!  We took an ATV adventure through Peekaboo Canyon with Kanab Tour Company, and our guide was awesome. Along with the thrills of off-roading over the desert terrain, we learned a ton about the area, too.


We also got to go sandboarding at the end of the tour, which was definitely a highlight for the kiddos. Plus, our pup even came along on this adventure, so it was truly fun for the whole family!


Drive Cottonwood Canyon Road

Take a beautiful scenic drive off the beaten path in southern Utah along Cottonwood Canyon Road. The dirt road stretches 47 miles from Kanab to Kodachrome Basin State Park, so plan a full day for exploring and hiking all along Cottonwood Canyon.


WARNING: Do not attempt this road if there is a chance of rain in the forcast. The road will quickly become a muddy mess and there is no cell service if you do get stuck.


There are so many hikes and adventure opportunities along the road. I recommend stopping along the way to hike Cottonwood Narrows North…the slot canyon is stunning, and it’s a quick and easy hike to get to it. Hackberry Canyon is another hike that I hear is amazing.


When we went at the end of June there were fields of sunflowers in bloom which was absolutely breathtaking!


Grosvenor Arch at the end of the road is a great spot to stop and explore before turning around. Or, after visiting the arch, you can head 10 more minutes down the road to explore Kodachrome Basin State Park.


Paddle Antelope Canyon

Paddling through Antelope Canyon was on my bucket list of things to do in Kanab, Utah for a long time, and when I finally got a chance to do it, the experience totally lived up to the hype! While you need to take a guided tour to visit the protected areas of Antelope Canyon, you can do this route without a permit or a guide.


Starting at the Antelope Point Launch ramp, we paddle boarded Lake Powell for 2 miles to the very bottom portion of Antelope Canyon. Then we hiked up Antelope Canyon for 3 miles until we came to a dead end where we turned around. Hiking through this section of Antelope Canyon is gorgeous with swirly sandstone cliffs and beautiful light streaming through.


Several guide companies in Page & Lake Powell will bring the kayaks/paddleboards and guide you up the canyon or you can rent the kayaks and go on your own. We recommend Paddle Lake Powell.


Get all the details about an epic day of paddling and hiking Antelope Canyon in this post!


Tour Great Chamber

The Great Chamber is a massive cave with a sand dune inside. It’s so cool to visit, but it’s hard to get to, which is why it makes for such a fun ATV adventure. The road to the Great Chamber is deep sand, very bumpy, and unmarked, so I highly recommend going with a tour like Expedition Kanab.


After your thrilling ATV ride, the actual hike to the Great Chamber is short (but seems long in the hot desert sun, so make sure you have sunscreen and water). Once you reach the chamber itself, have some fun playing around in the sand and make sure to get some super stunning photos of the unique, cavernous Great Chamber.


Go on a Horseback Ride 

I have done several horseback rides in Southern Utah, and riding in Cave Lakes Canyon with ROAM Adventures was by far my favorite. You’ll ride through a private canyon near Kanab that features the classic stunning red sandstone walls of the desert along with plenty of lush greenery.


Riding through the canyon, you’ll discover so many hidden cave lakes and alcoves to explore, and the open meadow at the end of the canyon is so stunning. Believe me, it’s just so beautiful every step of the way!


Find out more about taking an adventurous glamping getaway at Cave Lakes Canyon Ranch here!


***Image from Shutterstock


Visit White Pocket

White Pocket is a magical place across the border from Kanab in northern Arizona. It’s a long, rough road to get there, but once you step foot in the landscape of colorful sandstone formations, it will all be worth it! The striated rock of white, red, and orange is truly breathtaking, and White Pocket is much more secluded than The Wave.


Because of the complicated drive to get there, the best way to experience White Pocket is through a guided tour – check out Dreamland Safari Tours, Kanab Tour Company, Paria Outpost, or Coral Cliffs Tours to explore this special place.


Paddle Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is an iconic overlook about an hour outside Kanab in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area near Page, AZ. While the view from the overlook is even more stunning in person than in pictures, you can get a totally different perspective on this popular spot by paddling down the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend.


Horseshoe Bend is typically crowded and it's a short hike so not much of an adventure, but kayaking Horseshoe Bend is a full on adventure!



I did this adventure recently with adventure photog Sammie and am planning to take my kiddos soon, too, since I think they will love it! We rented our kayaks from Kayak Horseshoe Bend and used their backhaul services to launch into the river. That all went smoothly, but we made the mistake of going in the middle of the afternoon, so we were only able to go up the canyon 5 miles because of limited time. I recommend getting there early rather than later so that you can go all the way to Horseshoe Bend to make it a full day activity. 


While paddling in the intense summer sun is very hot, the water is so cold that you can easily cool off when you need to. Definitely bring a sun hat, more water than you think you could possibly need, snacks and lots of sunscreen though!


Hike and UTV Around Crimson Canyon

Get two adventures in one with a thrilling UTV ride and a spectacular slot canyon hike on a guided tour of Crimson Canyon with East Zion Adventures. The UTV portion is an absolute blast! Speeding through the desert and navigating the rocky path was a snap for our amazing guides, but it got our adrenaline pumping and my kiddos loved every second. 


Then you can calm down with a gentle hike through the slot canyon, which iss stunning from the first moment you step in. The deep red canyon walls rise over 100 feet high to surround you, with a narrow (but not too narrow!) gap to hike through. Plus, since Crimson Canyon is private access, we didn't see a single other soul the whole hike.


Take a Stargazing Tour (with S’mores!)

The perfect capper to your adventures in Kanab is a Campfire S’mores and Stargazing Tour with Adventure Tour Company. You’ll take a drive in a large open-air truck to a private canyon with an old fort where over 35 movies have been filmed.


Here you’ll spend time getting up close with longhorn cows, playing campfire games, and making s'mores with gourmet homemade marshmallows. And don’t forget to look up at the desert sky! Kanab is a dark sky destination, so if the clouds clear, you can soak in the celestial beauty.


Whichever one – or several! – of these adventurous things to do in Kanab, Utah you choose, you will have a fantastic time exploring all that this special section of the southern Utah desert has to offer!



Happy Adventuring,

Arika




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