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How to Visit the Insta-Famous Kanab Sand Caves

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Exploring the Kanab Sand Caves, also known as the Moqui Sand Caverns, is a must-do adventure for anyone visiting Kanab, Utah.

These intriguing, man-made caves carved into the Navajo Sandstone cliffs offer a unique glimpse into the area’s history and natural beauty. With their smooth, sandy floors and stunning interplay of light and shadow, the caves are a favorite spot for hikers and photographers alike.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the short, rewarding hike to the Kanab Sand Caves and share tips on making the most of your visit.

Sarah in the Kanab Sand Caves

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

Kanab Sand Caves Hike At-A-Glance

  • Location: Kanab, Utah
  • Distance: 1.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 121 feet
  • Fee: None
  • AllTrails Link

What are the Kanab Sand Caves?

The Kanab Sand Caves, also known as the Moqui Sand Caverns, are a series of man-made caves carved into the Navajo Sandstone cliffs just north of Kanab, Utah.

What is the history of the Kanab Sand Caves?

The Kanab Sand Caves are actually man-made caves that resulted from sand mining operations that occurred here in the 1970s. The sand mined here was used in glass-making.

Mining of the caves has long ended, but the years of sand mining created this unique “cave” with windows looking out over the desert and Highway 89.

Moqui Caves vs Moqui Caverns vs Kanab Sand Caves

When people say Kanab Sand Caves or Moqui Caverns, they are talking about the same place.

The Moqui Caves, on the other hand, is NOT the same thing as the Moqui Caverns! They are frequently mistaken for one another because of not only the obvious name similarities but also proximity. Moqui Caves is just a few hundred yards past the Moqui Caverns.

The Moqui Caves is a museum showcasing Native American artifacts, rocks, and fossils found around the area. It costs $5 to enter and includes parking at the Moqui Caves. You can hike to the Kanab Sand Caves (aka Moqui CAVERNS) from here, as well.

This blog post, however, is about hiking to the Kanab Sand Caves from the free parking lot on Highway 89, so keep reading for how to get there.

Tim in the Kanab Sand Caves

Where are the Kanab Sand Caves

The Kanab Sand Caves are located 5 miles north of Kanab, Utah on Highway 89.

How to Get to Kanab

The closest major airports to Kanab are in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. These locations will have the best flight options.

  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS): About 3.5 hours west of Kanab, with numerous flight options and car rental services.
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC): About 4.5 hours north of Kanab, also with many flight options and car rental services.

You can search for a flight by clicking here or using the form below.

You should plan to get a rental car from the airport when you land, since there is no public transportation to get to Page. Having your own vehicle is pretty much a requirement for exploring the US southwest.

You can search for a rental car by clicking here or using the form below.

How to Get to the Sand Caves

The parking lot for the Kanab Sand Caves is located on Highway 89. Heading north from Kanab, the lot will be on your right. This is the same side of the road that the caves themselves are on. You do NOT need to cross the highway if you parked in the right place.

There used to be a parking area across the highway. Do NOT park there. It’s dangerous since you’d have to walk across Highway 89 to get to the Kanab Sand Caves, and you might also get a fine.

The GPS coordinates for the parking lot are: 37.11342, -112.55504

The GPS coordinates for the Kanab Sand Caves are: 37.11714, -112.56045

About the Hike to the Kanab Sand Caves

From the parking lot, follow the trail north towards the caves. Eventually you’ll be able to see the caves above you.

Once you spot the cave, you can start to gradually climb up the rock until you are at the same level as the cave’s entrance.

Then, walk inside the cave and explore!

You might be surprised by how large it is. Go all the way to the back to see how dark it gets!

Be careful near the edges of the windows. It’s a steep drop off to the ground below that would definitely result in injury or worse.

When you’re done exploring the caves, head back down the trail the way you came!

When you visit the Kanab Sand Caves, it’s hard not to notice the insane amount of carvings people have left in the sandstone walls. Please do not add to this grafitti! There’s no reason to carve into the walls, and it mars the cave’s beauty. Do not carve into the walls!

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Kanab Sand Caves Map from AllTrails

Tips for Visiting the Kanab Sand Caves

  • Wear grippy hiking boots for the steep climb up the slick rock. The rock can get slippery when covered in sand.
  • Bring water and a hat for sun protection. The trail is short, but dangerously hot in summer. There is no shade until you get to the caves!
  • The best time to visit the Kanab Sand Caves is in the afternoon, about 1-2 hours before sunset. This is when the sun casts a glow inside the caves.

Photography Tips for the Kanab Sand Caves

  • It can be tricky to get the exposure right when photography settings with extreme differences in light. When taking pictures in the Kanab Sand Caves, this is exactly the situation you have. The cave itself is dark, and outside your backdrop is in the bright sunlight. To fix this, tap on the washed-out area through the window to get your phone camera to auto-adjust brightness.
  • A wide angle is best for capturing the spaciousness of the cave and the views. Use 0.5x mode for an ultra-wide lens on your phone. If shooting with a camera, use a wide lens like this one.
  • If photographing in manual mode, experiment with exposure. You will likely need to brighten your exposure from your normal outdoor settings to compensate for the darkness in the caves.
  • Whether you photograph on your phone or on your camera, you can edit your photos for professional-level results using our Lightroom Presets!

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What to Wear and Bring

What to Wear:

What to Bring:

Where to Stay in Kanab

Kanab is the closest town to the Sand Caves, and is one of our favorite southwest bases! It’s a really cute town with lots of restaurants, shops, and hotels.

Our top recommendation for a hotel is Best Friends Roadhouse. The hotel caters to travelers with pets, but even if you don’t have a pet, it’s an awesome place to stay. We stayed there with our cat Mara and they treated her like a princess (rightfully so!).

You can use the map below to find other hotels in Kanab.

More Things to Do Nearby

Kanab is one of the best owns in the southwest for outdoor adventure, so be sure to check out these other awesome destinations near the Kanab Sand Caves!

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