From the moment we checked into the historic Parry Lodge in Kanab, it was clear why Kane County in southern Utah has long been the ideal backdrop for countless Western movies.
Everywhere in the hotel lobby, portraits of famous actors hang on the walls. And above some of the room entrances, there are names of celebrities that have stayed here overnight: Frank Sinatra, Rock Hudson or, like in my room, the legendary John Wayne.
Magical Sandstone Landscapes
The landscapes here in Kane County are truly something special for outdoorsy types like me. The area has several spectacular slot canyons, like the popular Peekaboo slot canyon just outside Kanab. As we arrive at the entrance of the narrow, towering canyon walls, I´m left speechless. In some places the sides of the canyon are less than a meter apart from each other. We walk into a natural labyrinth of elegant sandstone walls stretching in front of us, whose surfaces look like nature took a giant brush and painted curved lines into the soft stone. Depending on the time of the day, the light hits this canyon from different angles and showers it with a magical light on orange-red sandstone. You could almost believe you‘re on another planet. I certainly have not seen anything like this before.
The area around Kanab guarantees vistas that I can only describe as absolutely breathtaking. Besides the surreal and magical formation called "The Wave", whose wildly twisted sandstone can only be visited by a the few who win the daily lottery, I strongly recommend the local favorite: White Pockets, an undiscovered yet equally beautiful area of petrified sandstone and volcanic landscapes.
ATV Tour Through Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
We continue our journey at the nearby Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. More than 13 square kilometers of coral-pink colored sand dunes makes for one big adventure playground. We rent ATVs and jump right into the fun. Zipping up and down the towering dunes, we’re rewarded with awesome views onto surrounding canyons. This was so much fun I hoped I wouldn´t have to return my ATV.
Western History at the Little Hollywood Museum
Exhausted but super happy, we drive back to Kanab in the afternoon and stroll along the many shops and restaurants of this charming pioneer town. Afterward, we visit the Little Hollywood Museum. In its backlot, many original buildings and sets from Western films that were shot in the region are on display. Together with the adjacent rustic Chuckwagon Cookout Restaurant, this is also the setting for the "How the West was Lost" show put on almost every evening. Visitors choose from among numerous costumes and re-enact scenes from a Western against these original backdrops. I enjoyed taking on the role of a true Western sheriff, pacing along the dusty roads in my cowboy boots.
The next morning, our journey continued along the scenic Highway 89 to other natural wonders of southern Utah like Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Kanab is the perfect basecamp for a discovery tour of southern Utah that offers untouched nature and a chance to have real adventures in the American Wild West.