Kanab Caves

As you drive down Highway 89 north of Kanab, Utah, you may spot a group of vehicles parked on the side of the road in between the entrances to Best Friends Animal Society. High up among the rocks sits the Kanab Sand Caves, a man-made area originally built for mining. The sand from the caves was mined to make molds to cast iron in the 1930s, but the mining was short-lived. The caves have grown in popularity in the past few years, bringing in visitors from across the country.

The sand caves are about five miles north of the tiny Southern Utah town. If driving from Kanab, they are on the right side of the road. Most vehicles find a place to park off the shoulder on the left side of the road. The trek is short at about a half mile round trip but involves climbing and balancing. It is not for those afraid of heights.

Ascending the caves involves scaling steep slickrock. There is no set trail, and hikers should observe the area to decide which section appears most practical for them. While balancing on the rock is doable, individuals should be aware that there is not much to hold onto. Shoes with excellent grip as well as a patient, careful attitude are recommended. Children should be supervised due to the abundance of sheer drop offs. Dogs are allowed but it is not encouraged.

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The rock wall stretches from left to right towards the caves. Stepping into the spacious, light filled cavern, you are greeted with a spectacular view of the surrounding canyons. Delicate sandstone walls are covered in carvings of words; please do not add to the graffiti. The rooms themselves may be man-made, but the walls and ceiling are still a beautiful piece of nature. Stunning sun rays make for incredible photo ops, photos which would be flawless without the vandalism.

The caves are shallow and interconnected. The best part of the area is the incredible view, leaving most hikers inclined to mingle at the mouths of the caves. Despite being on a highway, the perch is quiet and peaceful. It is a perfect place to sit and take in the beauty of the red rocks arena.

Give yourself enough time for the descent before darkness settles. It is not very safe to fumble around in the dark near dropoffs. Crab walking and shuffling down on your butt is a great way to keep your balance. Take your time and take in the amazing backdrops. It is not often that one feels like they are on top of the world.

Written by Lauren Kehoe