Our Top 10 Destination Recommendations
Zion, Bryce and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are certainly enough to keep most folks busy on a vacation to Southern Utah but they are just a drop in the bucket compared to all there is to do and see in this area! We have listed a few of our favorites from our bigger bucket list. Some are well know, some not so well known. Keep in mind, we have ATV’s and usually drive close to our destinations then hike the rest of the way. Have a look around as we have included photos, videos, information and links.
1. Poverty Flats to Parunaweap at East Zion
Roughly 2.8 miles east of the Zion National Park border along Route 9, Poverty Trail is a meandering dirt road that heads south into the White Cliffs above Parunuweap Canyon. This one is for high-clearance 4WD vehicles or dedicated hikers. It is roughly 7.5 miles to the bottom of Parunuweap Canyon and the Virgin River. The descent is down a fun, sandy trail that falls off through painted yellow and red streaked sandstone walls.
Roughly 2.8 miles east of the Zion National Park border along Route 9, Poverty Trail is a meandering dirt road that heads south into the White Cliffs above Parunuweap Canyon. This one is for high-clearance 4WD vehicles or dedicated hikers as it is roughly 7.5 miles through soft sand to the bottom of Parunuweap Canyon and the Virgin River. The descent is down a fun, switchback trail that falls off through painted yellow and red streaked sandstone canyon walls. At the end is the Virgin River, an impressive petroglyph panel and short slot canyon. Of course, on foot you can keep going down the Virgin River through the magnificent Parunuweap Canyon into Zion or up river to the Barracks and Mt. Carmel Junction.
2. Hell's Dive Canyon
This one requires a 4×4 with high clearance. Hell’s Dive is by far my favorite place. Why? A couple reasons; one is the drive in is a bit challenging and I like that on my 4×4. Two is the views are incredible. Three is, I have seen alot of ancient Indian art and this is the only place I have ever seen green and yellow artwork. There is also red and white. It also holds the first ancient Kokopelli figures I have ever seen. There are two. Kokopellis are believed to have been fertility gods. Which makes sense for this location as it is believed it was a birthing spot for the Anasazi Indians. There are baby foot prints in red on the walls. There is also a large array of sandstone matates used for grinding seeds and grains into flour. Just below the grotto, a spring flows from the sandstone.
Eight miles north of Kanab take a left on Hancock Rd. Go three and a half miles to a wide dirt road on the left with a stop sign on it. This is 50. Take 50 about 3.5 along the sand dunes past the Indian Canyon Pictographs trail head until it forks. Stay straight. This is 51. The sign is gone but there is a forest road sign 1034. DO NOT take 52 to the left-it is really steep and rocky. Follow 51 for six miles in a big horseshoe arch to the left. The views are incredible. When the road T’s, stay to the left for another two miles until it dead ends. Leave your vehicle and hike down the right side of the canyon only about 100 feet. The trail cuts to the right along the cliff wall and leads to the grotto which is high above the creek.
3. Marble Canyon Loop- Paria Movie site, Catstair, Toadstools, Horseshoe Bend, Cliff Dwellers, Jacob's Lake back to Kanab
Here’s a day trip loop accessible by car with short, easy hikes or points of interest interspersed.
First up are the purple striated hills at the Paria Townsite. Then on to a short slot canyon hike to Catstair Detroit RipRap Wall. Back in the car and just two miles down the road to another quick excursion, the Catstair Pictograph Writings . After that short hike, on to a two mile round-trip hike into the Toadstools.
Then into Page to have lunch at Bonkers. After lunch catch the shuttle to the famous Horseshoe Bend . Next, drive on through the Gap to the scenic view overlook down to 89A and a quick dip of the toes in the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry. Then on to a photo op at the Cliff Dwellers boulder house. From here it’s just a beautiful scenic drive from desert to pines until you get to Jacob’s Lake. Stop at The Inn for one of their signature cookies or a milkshake.
If you have time, stop at the Forest Service office to get a map and drive a few of the back roads that loop back to the main road. You are sure to see some wildlife along with the beautiful scenery. When you have had your fill, Kanab is just 45 minutes away.
4. Duck Creek Mammoth Caves
In the heat of the summer, a visit to this cool cave and the higher elevations of Duck Creek is refreshing.
Bring flashlights and possibly even jackets for this adventure. On your way there you will pass a few other points of interest that are short excursions; the Sand Caves hike, Belly of the Dragon hike, and Mystic River Adventures which features zip-lines and wagon rides.
From Kanab, drive north on Hwy 89 for 40 miles until you get to Hwy 14. Take a left. Go 9.4 miles on Hwy 14 until you reach Mammoth Road. Take a right and go another 5.4 miles until you come to Forest Road 1609. Take another right. The road will T, go straight on road 950 until you come to the parking area for the Mammoth Caves. There are four different cave openings in the area.
After caving, head on over to Duck Creek Village for pie and ice cream at Sue’s Chalet or splash in the water at Aspen Mirror Lake, rent a boat at Navajo Lake or skip rocks in the stream that runs near the highway.
5. Wire Pass to Buckskin Gulch
Southern Utah has tons of slot canyons but none are as easy to access by car or with young children as Wire Pass.
Wire Pass is rated as an easy, narrow slot canyon hike. It is 3.5 miles round trip. There is one section toward the end where you either have to scuttle 8 feet down a log ladder or hike up the hill and around.
Wire Pass T’s into Buckskin Gulch which goes on another 20 miles. At the T, there is a large petroglyph wall panel. If you decide to hike down Buckskin, be prepared to get wet and muddy and as always carry plenty of drinking water.
To get there from Kanab take Hwy 89 east 37 miles to just past milepost 26. Just before the big curve there is a dirt road off to the right. It is passable to cars in dry weather. Go 8.5 miles past Fivemile Mountain, past Buckskin Gulch to the large Wire Pass trailhead parking lot with restrooms. Here is where you pay the $7 per person. It is often staffed.
6. Hog Canyon Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Trail System
Just beyond Kanab’s city limits lies 200 miles of dedicated OHV trails ranging from easy to extreme. And they are fun!
The trail system has six access points to the over 200 miles of trails, a number of which are loops. The easiest access to Hog Canyon is just 3 miles north of Kanab off Hwy 89 on the right before the Port of Entry or 10 miles out of town at the Peekaboo Slot Canyon staging area.
Each year around the first of May, the local ATV/OHV club puts on a three day Trail Riding Jamboree which includes guided rides of Hog Canyon and other nearby trails. Connect to the UT/AZ ATV Club to see more local rides. If you don’t have your own unit, rent one from Zion East Adventures in Orderville, Kane County Off Road in Glendale, or Kanab Tour Co, a local adventure tour company for guided trips.
7. Jacob's Lake
When the heat of the summer is upon us, we love to head to Jacob’s Lake area. The 3,000 foot elevation difference assures us it will be cooler and greener. There are a number of forest service roads that you can meander along until you find the perfect picnic spot. You’ll even be able to access some great hikes that follow the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Rising 3,000 feet in elevation and just 37 miles to the south of Kanab on Hwy 89A is Jacob’s Lake. The area has some wonderful pioneer history and landmarks that remind us not so long ago, there were people who’s livelihood was closely connected to the land.
From Jacob’s Lake Lodge, forest roads branch out in a dozen directions yet all interconnect. The old dirt highway, now forest road 22 extends all the way from Fredonia to the edge of the Grand Canyon in a number of overlooks and hikes. There are old mining sights, hunting cabins, cattle pens and geological oddities hidden in the beauty of the pines and aspen. Wildlife abounds. Deer and elk are everywhere. We once saw a fawn nursing her mother here. The white tailed Kaibab squirrel that dashes from tree to tree lives here and no where else in the world. A herd of domestic buffalo that was turned loose ranges closer to the Park. And though the entrance to the Park is barely 45 minutes away, you’ll be lucky to see two or three other groups of people traveling these back roads.
8. Dinosaur Tracks
Southern Utah was a popular spot for dinosaurs. There are a number of places you’ll come across tracks or even fossil digs but none quite as easy to get to as the Dinosaur Tracks just 3 miles north of Kanab by the Port of Entry.
This is a one mile hike round trip. While you can scramble up the steep stair-stepped hillside in a number of places it is best to start your ascent about 100 yards to the east of the highway. From the porta-potty, walk toward the hill then veer left along the base. There is a fence post with a white coffee mug marking the trail up. After you have made it up the first level, walk back toward the highway along the ledge until you see the trail heading up the hill. There are several sets of tracks on the very top and a great view of Kanab to boot!
Again, we like the road less traveled so the 60 miles of dirt road to reach this amazing overlook was worth being the only ones out there on a beautiful spring day. If you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, you can go all but the last 3 miles. There is a ranger station out there but no cell service so come prepared with water, good tires, a spare and sunscreen! Allow 3.5 hours one way.
From Kanab, take Hwy 89A south into Fredonia. Take a right onto Hwy 389 going west. Proceed about 8 miles and watch for signs. The turnoff is on the left. Area tour guides lower their tire pressure to stick to the graveled dirt road better and lessen incidents of flats. Though it is only 60 miles from this point, your speed will average 30mph. About a mile after you come to the ranger station, the road turns rocky and rough. The terrain is interesting so hiking the rest of the way is better than tearing your vehicle up. There is a campground and several trailheads but the ultimate is when you come to the edge of the canyon. The views are stunning. You are about 3000 feet above the Colorado River with a sheer canyon drop. You’ll be able to spot river boats running the rapids in a few spots but it is very likely no one else will be around.
10. Coral Pink Sand Dunes
These curious dunes are captivating in the way that they gather and shift. They are tons of fun too just to explore on foot. The sand is so incredibly soft and inviting. Of course, you can ride a 4×4 across them or better yet, rent a board and sandboard the steep dunes.
There is a beautiful loop you can drive that will take you past the dunes or you can choose the direct route in and out. From Kanab, head 8 miles north on Hwy 89 to Hancock Road. Take a left. Go 9.5 miles until you T into Yellow Jacket Road. Take a left. The park entrance is about 5 miles further on the left but you can access the dunes sooner at several pull-offs. To do the loop, continue south of Yellow Jacket Road through the unincorporated area called Cane Beds. The road through is all paved now. When you hit Hwy 389, go left to Fredonia then left again when you come to Hwy 89A on into Kanab.
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If you prefer, you may call us directly at 1+ (575) 313-4650 ~April