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Kanab Sand Caves

Updated: Oct 27, 2022

Location : Kanab, UT

Parking : Parking lot at trailhead, no fee

Trail type : Out and Back

Trail Length : 1.4 miles rt

Elevation Gain : 124 ft

Difficulty : Moderate - strenuous

Trails traversed : Sand Caves Trail

Pro Tip : Wear sturdy shoes with deep treads and ankle support. Plan for a picnic in the cave, but remember to pack all your garbage out with you.


The Kanab Sand Caves are off the beaten path from the more popular hikes and sights around Kanab, UT. They are located just 6 miles from the city of Kanab on highway 89. The caves are perched high on top of a rocky hill and can be seen from the highway. Although AllTrails has categorized this hike as moderate, we felt it was trending towards strenuous, as it required scrambling over a rock wall, which was almost vertical in some places.

View of the sand caves from the highway and parking lot

 

>> Got a question about the Kanab Sand Caves that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 

Parking : The no-fee parking lot is easy to find with Google Maps, and it is right by the side of the highway, next to the huge Best Friends sign. The lot is large and when we went on a Saturday in September, at 6pm, it was almost empty.

The Trail : Sand Caves trailhead right next to the parking lot and is marked by a sign. The first part of the trail is flat and is actually a wash, and meanders by the side of the highway. The trail is covered with fine, pink sand, reminiscent of the pink sand from the Coral Sand Dunes nearby. As you follow the trail, look to the right and notice the impressive striations along the hillside.

As you near the sand caves, it gets more and more difficult to follow the trail. At the bottom of the rocky hill that leads to the sand caves, the trail completely disappears, leaving you to trailblaze on your own.

This second part of the trail, which requires scrambling up a rocky hill, is strenuous, bordering at being dangerous and treacherous. I do not recommend climbing this rock wall with kids, or if you are not fit, do not have coordination or balance, or if you are not wearing shoes with good grip. The rock wall ahead of you is steep with many horizontal layers, with very little foothold. There is no easy way to climb this hill, other than scrambling up, sometimes on all fours. Watch your footing at every step, and place your foot where there is no sand.

Scrambling on all fours

Once you reach the caves, you will be rewarded with great views from the top. There are 7 caves in all, the floor of which is covered with sand. The caves are beautiful, but it was sad to see it vandalized with graffiti and carvings in the wall. There are beautiful yellow, black and white striations all along the sandstone wall. This is a great photo op and a nice picnic spot.


Entrance to the caves

Natural striations on the sandstone wall marred by human carvings.


View from each "window"

After you are done exploring the beautiful caves, make your way back the same way you came up. I found the easiest route down was to identify the areas with least angle and slide down on my butt.

The treacherous way back down


Unsure which route to take down

Once you have reached firm ground, it is easy to backtrack along the trail, to where you parked your car.

In summary, this is a super cool and fine hike, if you are in for some adventure and dont mind the scrambling. The place is hardly crowded, making it a great hidden gem of Southern Utah.

 

>> Got a question about the Kanab Sand Caves that you need answered quickly? DM me on Instagram @SolaraStills and I’ll be happy to help! I only accept DMs from followers, so hit the follow button before sending.

 

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