Southwestern Utah – May 2016

When Visited

  • May 22-31, 2016 

Getting Around

We stayed in Kanab Utah in May of 2016 as a central location from which we were able to easily visit three national parks – Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.  While I had personally visited both Zion and Bryce previously, I had only seen the Grand Canyon from the much more easily accessible, and therefore much more crowded, South Rim.  Visiting the North Rim while coming up from the south is much more of a challenge, which is why the North Rim has considerably fewer visitors.

We flew into Vegas and drove up to Kanab with a rental car – a very manageable total distance of about 210 miles.  After going about 140 miles northeast via I-15, you turn off on US Hwy 9 and then you have two choices.  You can continue on highways 59/389 which is the southern route to Kanab, or you can take the northern route staying on highway 9 almost all the way.  The northern route does take you right through Zion National Park, however, and there is a $25 entry fee per car that you cannot avoid, unless of course you happen to have one of the National Parks Senior Passes, which will let you into most any National Park or National Monument for free.

We took both routes and either one is fine.  The northern route is actually a bit shorter, but it does take longer precisely because it does take you through Zion.  But it certainly is a beautiful drive.

We rented a wonderful home in Kanab off of VRBO (Vacation Rental by Owner) – what I like to call “AirBNB before there ever was an AirBnB”.  Our very good friend Jackie, from Wisconsin, accompanied us on this trip so we rented a bit larger home than we normally do.  But we are so glad that we did.  There are a number of pictures on out of this rental home.  It was totally private.  The owners either live there or rent it out, so there is no one else with whom you share the home.  The home is slightly up on a hill and has basically a 360º view of the surrounding area.  All that and for less than $200/night.  If this specific home is of interest to anyone, please comment on this blog post and I would be happy to provide information on whom to contact.

Besides visiting the three National Parks, Jackie and I also took a short drive west of Kanab to see Coral  Pink Sand Dunes State Park.  There are also other locations within easy driving distance of Kanab, such as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

A note about Grand Staircase Escalante.  The quite famous, at least pictorially, Wave, is only hikable via permit.  You can either enter a lottery online or you can try what’s known as a “walk-in”.  That is where you go to the Visitor Center in Kanab the day before you want to take the hike, and sign up for a lottery.  We were told by the folks at the Visitor Center, and I have also read it online, that you only have a 25% chance of getting a walk-in permit.  Odds of getting a permit in the online lottery are much worse.

The weather did not cooperate quite as much when we visited both Bryce and Zion.  The Zion experience would definitely have been better in nice weather.  Bryce would have been as well, but if you have never been to Bryce, it is not to be missed even if the weather is not great.  It is truly a unique place although not a very large park at all.

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon was the highlight of this trip.  It is located only 80 miles straight south of Kanab.  Driving in from the north, we saw numerous wildlife although I am sure that even more and varied wildlife can be seen at other times.  The North Rim can be seen from numerous vantage points.  The main location, where the Visitor Center is located, is much smaller than on the South Rim.  When we were there, we never had the feeling of crowds at all, unlike the South Rim which can feel at times like Manhattan during the rush hour.  You do not need buses to get around the way you do at the South Rim.  Come to think of it, I don’t believe that I ever saw a bus, so they probably don’t even have any.

The vistas from the North Rim are all excellent and easily accessible via a short walk from the main parking area.  On your way into or out of the park, you can also veer off to take the slightly western road to Cape Royal.  That is about an 11 mile side trip off the main road into the visitor center.

Since we were visiting the North Rim, we were aware of the glass skywalk that had been built by one of the Indian tribes which juts out over the Grand Canyon.  Fortunately, I did my research ahead of our visit.  First, it is quite expensive – $50/adult and $40/child.  That alone would be a put off.  However, it is equally difficult to get to unless you drive there directly from Las Vegas.  It is about 120 miles east of Vegas, but if you are at the North Rim, it is over 400 miles via either the northern or the southern route.  Even if you are the South Rim, it is still over a 250 mile drive.

Regarding photographs, no personal photography is allowed.  You can only purchase professional photographs.  There are plenty of pictures out on Google Images so save yourself the trouble and the money.  The Hualapai reservation residents may need the money but this location richly deserves its reputation as a tourist trap.

One of the things that we particularly enjoy when vacationing to new locations, is the unexpected pleasure that almost always seems to occur.  It may have been an attraction that we noted during research for the trip, but may have not seemed all that special at the time, or perhaps it was something we only became aware of when we arrived on site.  Or perhaps it was something entirely different, such as our Pay It Forward experience that happened while on the mainland of Greece in 2009.  To view that post, from the fly out menu at the top left, select …

All Things Travel > International > Europe > Greece and the Greek Islands > Pay It Forward – Greek Style

During our visit to southwestern Utah, the unexpected pleasure was our visit to the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.  I had seen it while researching the trip but I wasn’t at all sure exactly what it contained.  It is located just a few miles north of Kanab on Highway 89.  Best Friends is a national, no-kill animal shelter which has its main location near Kanab.  Nearly 330 acres were donated to start this location over 30 years ago.  We took an interesting tour of the facility which includes separate locations setup for dogs, cats, horses, birds, etc.  There are a number of pictures included out on

Best Friends Logo

In addition, here are two links to You Tube videos that have information about Best Friends Animal Society.  The first is a short (1:59) promotional video.  The second is a longer (29.37) video hosted by Sam Waterston of Law and Order fame.


Picture Location on the Internet –

Pictures from Southeastern Utah …

Tips when Using Photobucket

  • The previous links will take you directly to a slideshow of pictures and collages, related to the locations, which reside on the internet on the website.
  • Once the slideshow begins, the display begins showing slides at a Medium speed.
    • Slow displays each slide for 10 seconds
    • Medium displays each slide for 6 seconds
    • Fast displays each slide for 3 seconds
  • To change the display speed, click on the word SlowMedium or Fast at the bottom right of the Photobucket screen.
  • To non-display the bottom toolbar, and thereby maximize the picture on your screen, click on the  Photobucket Pause Button  icon at the bottom right of the Photobucket screen.
  • To display, or to redisplay a specific slide, you may click on the thumbnail at the bottom of the Photobucket screen.
  • To Pause the display at a specific picture, click on the  Photobucket icon  icon at the lower left of the Photobucket screen.


One thought on “Southwestern Utah – May 2016”

  1. Saw the Grand Canyon as a 14 yr old and have always wanted to go back. Would love to do the skywalk but $50/adult is OUTRAGEOUS. Pictures of all the parks was the usual RWK perfection!


Please leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.