A Pet-Friendly Paradise in Southern Utah

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Take the ultimate road trip with your pet to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary and Roadhouse in Kanab, Utah

Looking for a pet-friendly destination where your furry traveling companion will feel right at home? If so, the Southern Utah region is a spectacular, must-visit destination at any time of year.

Best Friends Animal Sanctuary

Located in scenic Angel Canyon, just five miles outside of Kanab, Utah, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is an extraordinary place that should be included on any animal lover’s bucket list. Founded in 1984, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the largest animal refuge in the country for homeless animals. On any given day, approximately 1,600 animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, potbellied pigs, horses, birds, and an array of wildlife make their home here. The animals are not only shown love and kindness at the Sanctuary, but they also receive medical care while they await the chance to find loving families of their own.

Best Friends Animal Society has always been at the forefront of the no-kill movement, and as one of their many initiatives, the animal welfare organization aims to bring the entire country to no-kill by 2025. Through their partnerships with animal welfare groups across the country and Best Friends’ various programs, which include trap-neuter-return for community cats, shelter foster networking, and online resource centers to provide neighborhood support, among others, the organization works tirelessly to achieve their 2025 goal.

Visitors to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary will discover a sprawling, 3,700-acre haven that features several different areas that can be explored on your own or through a guided tour. Guided sanctuary tours are free and offered seven days a week, beginning at the Welcome Center. (See full tour schedule at bestfriends.org/visit.) Driving tours and walking tours are both available, and some of the different animal communities you can visit include Dogtown, Cat World, Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, and Wild Friends, in addition to the peaceful Angels Rest and Angels Overlook, the final resting places for Sanctuary animals and beloved companions of Best Friends members and staff. The guided driving tour, which is highly recommended, gives first-time visitors a thorough, comprehensive look at the entire Sanctuary area as it winds through the stunning, red rock canyon landscape.

Personal pets are not allowed on guided tours or in animal areas, although leashed dogs are allowed on the Water Canyon Hike tour. Service animals are allowed on some tours; it’s best to check in with Best Friends ahead of time to confirm if you plan to bring a service animal on a specific tour. If you’re exploring the Sanctuary at your own pace, personal pets are allowed in all public areas, such as Angel Village, hiking trails and the Welcome Center, with the exception of indoor dining areas. Additionally, if you’re visiting the Sanctuary on your own schedule, you can participate in a Best Friends Scavenger Hunt, so be sure to stop by the Welcome Center to pick up a driving map before you begin exploring the Sanctuary.

For visitors who might not be traveling with a personal pet, the Sanctuary offers volunteers the opportunity to take a “sleep-over” pet “home” for the night. Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile in Kanab will happily accommodate these Sanctuary animals on a “sleepover” visit, so a dog, cat or bunny will enjoy creature comforts and feel right at home for the evening.

Volunteer experiences are available at the Sanctuary for anyone seeking a rewarding animal interaction, and the volunteer shifts typically run for a few hours. For this writer, a recent volunteer experience at Dogtown included sweeping and mopping kennel floors, washing dozens of dog bowls after the pups enjoyed their lunch, feeding treats to a cancer-stricken canine, and taking an extremely energetic, partially blind and completely deaf dog for a golf-cart ride. Taking dogs for walks on the various trails is another common activity while volunteering at Dogtown. Each volunteer experience is different, depending on what the daily needs are at each animal community. For volunteers at Cat World, you might find yourself taking a cat outside for an on-leash-walk or a buggy stroll, or some other activity.

If hunger strikes while you’re exploring the Sanctuary, there are two eateries on-site where visitors can grab delicious, plant-based cuisine. Canyon Grill, a food truck near the Welcome Center, offers a vegan meal for only $5, or you can enjoy breathtaking views and a vegan lunch ($5 all-you-can-eat buffet and salad bar) at Angel Village Cafe.

Overall, there is so much to see and experience at the Sanctuary that one day doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to take it all in. For visitors who are lucky enough to be able to spend a few days or more at this truly special place and really wish to immerse themselves in the experience, there are cottages, cabins and RV sites available for lodging on the Sanctuary grounds.

With so many beloved animals being cared for by kindhearted staff and volunteers amid the beauty of the red rocks, the Sanctuary is truly an awe-inspiring destination and one that should be experienced by any animal lover traveling through the Southern Utah region.

For more information, visit bestfriends.org/sanctuary

Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile

For people traveling with their furry friends, Best Friends Roadhouse and Mercantile provides the perfect place to stay while exploring Kanab and the surrounding area. Located in the heart of Kanab, this pet-centric boutique hotel features 40 modern, stylish rooms especially equipped for dogs and cats, including slide-out pet beds, pet feeding dishes, and a foyer designed to keep pets safely in the room as you enter and exit. Built-in cubbies and snuggling areas are also available in select guest rooms, in addition to pet sleeping nooks or beds that are placed right next to their owners. Cat owners, take note: If you’re traveling with a finicky cat who prefers to have its own space (and not have to share with a canine companion), there are two designated “cats only” rooms.

Each hotel room is named for a cherished Best Friends alumni animal, and large pet portraits adorn the walls. Be sure to look for the small sign posted on the wall that provides some background information on your room’s namesake animal. The Roadhouse property also features a fenced dog park, splash zone, a self-serve pet washing station, and a pet walking service provided by Best Friends volunteers and staff. If you need to leave your pet in your room while you’re out exploring the area, the Roadhouse offers pet visits by their staff during the day. In addition, the Mercantile provides pet treats, beds and Best Friends merchandise for purchase, as well as a satisfying complimentary breakfast (coffee, hot chocolate, baked goods, cereal, oatmeal) each morning. All food and beverages at the Mercantile are vegan, and snacks are available for purchase each afternoon and evening.

The Roadhouse is conveniently located within walking distance to several petfriendly restaurants, which allows the opportunity to dine outside on a restaurant patio or grab take-out and then have a relaxing meal back on the Roadhouse’s patio or at tables strewn throughout the property. As an added bonus, impressive views of the red rock landscape can be enjoyed from anywhere on the hotel property. Kanab is often referred to as “the greatest earth on show,” so the scenery is spectacular.

Best Friends also has a presence with two other properties located in downtown Kanab, including a Best Friends Visitor’s Center, where roaming, adoptable cats will likely greet you, and a Fitness Center.

Whether you’re visiting or volunteering at the Sanctuary, or an adventure seeker making Kanab your basecamp as you explore the many area attractions, the Roadhouse and Mercantile is the place to stay when road-tripping with your pet through Southern Utah.

For more information, visit bestfriendsroadhouse.org

Getting There

Kanab, Utah, is a seven- to ninehour drive from Southern California, depending upon the route you choose. But what if you prefer to get to your destination quicker? You could take a short commercial flight to the nearest major airport, Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive a little over three hours to Kanab. But there’s another option—one that will get you to your destination faster and with less stress.

Pet owners are touting the benefits of private air travel. A private jet offers convenience that is hard to put a price on—parking yards away from your departing plane, no security lines or long waits at the gate, and you and your travel companions (and your pets) will have the spacious cabin all to yourselves. We spoke with Desert Jet Director of Charter Sales Bradon Miller about the private flight advantage for people traveling with pets.

PCM: Which airport would Desert Jet fly into for guests visiting Kanab, Utah?

DJ: From Palm Springs, we offer a one-hour flight directly to Kanab Municipal Airport, located 3 miles south of downtown, so you can drive to the city center in just 5 minutes.

PCM: Are there car rental services at the airport?

DJ: Kanab Municipal airport does offer on-site car rentals, but our concierge team can arrange to have your rental car waiting for you upon landing, saving you even more time and effort.

PCM: How far in advance do you recommend making a reservation?

DJ: We are always happy to assist our guests with last minute requests, but demand for private flights is at an all-time high. To find the right aircraft at the right price, I recommend planning out your travel and securing an aircraft with as much advance notice as possible.

PCM: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DJ: Southern Utah is the perfect destination to explore with your furry family members, with its countless scenic hiking trails and slot canyons. Enjoy the journey and start having fun faster by booking your private flight to Kanab—it’s truly an unforgettable destination!

Pet Companion Mag
Southern California's Local Pet Magazine

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