Kanab, UT: Best Friends Forever + A Mystic Encounter

Our three-month 2022 Summer Trip started in southern Utah, with a whole bunch of BEST FRIENDS!

Best Friends Animal Society – home to 1,600 critters!

Set on 6,000 acres in the Kanab Canyon, BEST FRIENDS‘ motto is “Save Them All,” and here they work to do just that … whether fur or feathers, old or young, feline, canine, porcupine … it doesn’t matter!

1,600+ horses, pigs, goats, parrots, rabbits, and of course lots of dogs and cats call Best Friends home. They offer free tours and a multitude of volunteer opportunities, one of which includes picking up an animal friend for an overnight sleepover and “returning” it the next day! (Ah-hah! We see what you’re doing, Best Friends … the “return” rate has got to be pretty low, no?)

NOT our new pet … we resisted. But he was sure sweet.

We took a behind-the-scenes tour of Old Dogtown, the section where the most highly reactive dogs, requiring the highest level of attention and work, are kept. They have big beautiful private runs and each has his own set of consistent volunteers working to make them adoptable. This is also the place where many of the Michael Vick dog-fighting-ring dogs had their second chance at a happy life.

To support 400 employees (a full 10% of this tiny town) and hundreds of daily volunteers, they provide a $5 all-you-can-eat, vegan lunch buffet at their Angels Landing Cafe. It was not only cheap but also scrumptious, with the most spectuacular views imaginable onver a beautiful natural rock ampitheater.

Best Friends is a great way to spend an hour, a day, a week, or a season! Bonus: their on-site RV area offers six fully-equipped sites nestled into Kanab Canyon, and of course their on-site hiking trails are all dog- (and cat-) friendly! If you are looking for an actual new best friend, this is a great place to look!

Shake! Good boy!

We also made some brand new human BEST FRIENDS about 30 minutes northwest of Kanab, during a group ATV outing at Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park is … well …. a state park … made of sand dunes … that are coral pink in color. Truth in labeling, for the win!

The main things to do here are walk in the sand, slide down the sand, or drive over the sand … 3,700 acres of sand, in fact. Since walking is hard, we took an ATV tour which took us back into the park far further than we woulda/coulda, if we weren’t in a gas powered machine.

It was just simply so much FUN!!!! Best advice we got from our new ATV’ing friends? “Scream with your mouth closed!” That fine red dust is ev—er—y–where!!!

The tour included a detour to a pretty “slot canyon” …

…. some unexpected sightings of two new BEST FRIENDS you do NOT want to have (one real, one not) …

… and sand-sledding, which is harder than it looks — both the getting up, and the sliding down! This is Star Dune, 100 feet tall, but the blanket of sand is so extensive that it pretty much looks like flat land in the picture! Trust me … it’s not flat! (huff, puff)

All in all, it was a great time and a super way to “go beyond the observation deck”!

Coral Pink also has RV camping, but no hookups and no cell service whatsoever, anywhere in the park.

If coral pink just ain’t your color, try White Sands National park in New Mexico instead!

Or if you prefer your shoes to be dusty brown … try Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado!

Behold the ultimate BEST FRIENDS: Lone Ranger and Silver! Kanab is known as “Little Hollywood” for the hundreds of Western movies and TV shows that have been shot in the area.

The original Planet of the Apes, Search for Noah’s Ark, One Little Indian, and hundreds of productions have found the Kanab area as their backdrop.

At the free-to-enter Little Hollywoodland Museum, many of the film sets and props have been relocated here, like this Kenny Loggins concert video, Live From the Grand Canyon, because Live from Kanab just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Of particular interest to us were the sets from The Outlaw Josey Wales starring Clint Eastwood, because we had watched it the night before in preparation. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the crosses in the doors and windows were very symbolic gunports during the final battle scene.

All in all, we found this quirky little museum a fun way to while away a lazy afternoon!

Our first couple days in the area were spent with two of our VERY very BEST FRIENDS, brother Jeff and sister-in-law Nicole, about 40 miles east of Kanab for some “boondocking.”

If you’re not familiar with the term, boondocking is where you camp for free on open land (usually owned by the BLM), with no utility hookups, and just hope for the best. (By definition, boondocking is when everything will suddenly go wrong with your RV, in the middle of nowhere.)

There is also something called moochdocking, which is when you camp in your friend’s driveway or in their yard, but that’s another thing altogether. This site was fabulous, with great views, peace and quiet, and wide open spaces.

Located near Old Paria, a former settlement, the dirt road we camped on ended a few miles down the road with scenery you just don’t expect in Utah … more like the badlands of South Dakota!

Many scenes from the aforementioned movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales, were filmed right here! And no wonder why! Oooh la la!

The reason for this location, far from everything, was its relative proximity to some new trails we’d been wanting to try. The Wire Pass Trail allows access to a small-but-beautiful slot canyon. This is also the trailhead for “The Wave,” which is highly-Instagrammable, but impossible-to-get-a-permit-for (yep, we tried, we failed).

At 3.7 miles round-trip, the price of admission is slow trudging through a wide sand wash, until you get to the slot. Then it all seems worth it!

It’s also Fido-friendly … until you get to a tall, steep ladder. Plan to hurl your pup down the chasm (and then lift him back up again!) to get to the wider canyon and close-up views of ancient petroglyphs.

If you have loose dentures or prefer the components of your car to remain attached, you can skip the 8 miles of a bone-jarring, washboarded dirt road it takes to get to this trailhead, and instead opt for the Toadstool Hoodoo Trail, an easy 1.7 mile round-trip stroll, right from a roadside parking lot.

Of course we invited our BEST FRIENDS Sprinkles and Finn to come along! NO, that white stuff is not snow … it was decidedly warm in mid-May. It’s just the color of the upper rock layer in that area.

The landscape truly feels like you’re on another planet, with all the colors and shapes and rocks and hoodoos!

The official explanation of a toadstool is a rock formation in which a boulder perches on top of a rock formation of a smaller diameter, like a mushroom. The less official explanation … “cool, man!!!”

If you’re of the mind that rocks make better BEST FRIENDS than humans, well, this is the place for you!

Can’t get enough of these adorable little rock formations? Goblin Valley State Park not only has cute rocks, but also a cute name!

Kanab is a great place for a stopover, primarily due to its central location to lots of other wonderful must-see locations, like Bryce, Zion and the Grand Canyon. It’s not the “Greatest Show on Earth,” it’s the “Greatest Earth on Show!” Niiiice marketing, Kanab!

If you know anything about us, it’s that we are obsessed with hot springs. Our journey northward from Kanab took us to Mystic Hot Springs, a completely funky place that was just our style!

Dumpy, hippie, weird and wonderful … hmmmm how best to describe it? How about with some pictures!

A bunch of bathtubs have been sunk into the hillside, and the rock continues to grow over the edges of them from the mineral water constantly flowing.

It’s an amazing feeling to be gazing up at the blue skies below, and down at the Utah ranch valley land below.

Varying levels of warmth (from tepid to scalding) are delivered to the tubs via diversion channels uphill.

You sign up for a two-hour window and can move from tub to tub as you please, and as the few other people there during your time slot do the same.

You can stay in your own RV at their on-site campground.

BUT WAIT! What is that row of vehicles across from the RV? Hey hey! Old busses have been converted into hotel rooms!

Old busses? To stay in? Pretty sweet! Which would you choose?

“I wonder what it’s like inside!?” I made Philip sneak in behind one of the cleaning ladies because I was dying to know!

“WOW that’s cool, and I’ve always wanted to doodle on the ceiling of my hotel room! But it’s kinda small … so where would I hang out? And where do I clean up?” Not to worry, there’s a communal living room and a shower, and you’re SURE to make some new best friends there! Step right up!

I’m just gonna say it … this property is dumpy. But somehow it adds to, rather than detracts from, the charm! The whole 1970’s, free-love, do as you wish, “drop out and tune in” vibe is everywhere, from the communal tent area, to the playground, to the critters roaming the property.

I can’t think of a better place to soak our cares away, than here, now, with my ultimate #1 BEST FRIEND Philip!

Lastly, a BEST FRIENDS themed post would not be complete without our newest canine best friend, Finnegan, sending a wish to all of YOU!

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