Growing up as an animal lover, my childhood dream was to one day save all the animals. Part of that mission, naturally, was to create an animal rescue sanctuary. Even though I have since abandoned that personal mission (for now), imagine my excitement when I learned such a sanctuary already exists! With its mission to Save Them All, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah is truly one of the most special places I have ever visited.
Here are 8 reasons why you should absolutely visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary on your next trip:
#1 • Support Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is run by Best Friends Animal Society, a non-profit dedicated to pet rescue and animal advocacy. The organization’s mission is to bring about a time when there are no more homeless pets. By supporting community programs and partnerships nationwide, Best Friends Animal Society is creating a better world for animals.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals. On any given day 1,600 animals call the Sanctuary home. Visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to support the ending of the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. If you also want to donate, you can make a contribution that will go straight towards helping animals both at the Sanctuary and at rescue programs around the country.
#2 • Volunteer to Help Animals
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is unique in that the general public is allowed to volunteer (most shelters require training and extended commitments). The Sanctuary has different animal areas where you can choose to volunteer, including Dogtown, Cat World, Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise, Bunny House, Parrot Garden, Wild Friends, and more. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary volunteers are giving all these animals the personal attention and care they deserve. When I visited, I volunteered at Dogtown, Catworld, Bunny House, and Horse Haven.
#3 • ENJOY A Tour OF BEST FRIENDS ANIMAL Sanctuary
Tours are a great way to visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary if you are looking for less hands-on work. Enjoy a 90-minute guided driving tour to explore the beautiful Sanctuary grounds, including Dogtown and Cat World. Since the Sanctuary is popular, reservations are highly recommended for tours.
#4 • Partake in RESCUE Dog Sleepovers
My favorite part of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary experience involved choosing a dog to take back to the hotel for an overnight visit. By hosting a rescue dog overnight, you can help the animal become more comfortable socializing and being out in public.
In particular, make sure you book dog-friendly accommodation as not all hotels in the area allow dogs. If interested, you can also choose to host a cat for an overnight sleepover.
#4 • Visit Kanab, Utah
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located in Kanab, Utah. The town of Kanab is bustling with shops and restaurants, catering to tourists visiting the Sanctuary and local National Parks. Many of the restaurants offer vegetarian and vegan options (or are entirely vegetarian and vegan). While I was initially surprised by the variety, I quickly remembered Kanab is a town full of animal-lovers. I personally enjoyed Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen.
#5 • Step Foot in Arizona
The Arizona border is only a 10-minute drive from downtown Kanab. Hence, it’s a no-brainer to go step foot in Arizona, even if it’s just to stop for gas. Given it was my first time in Arizona, I made sure to get photo evidence of my border-crossing.
#5 • Visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park
A lesser-known attraction in Kanab, yet right down the street from the Sanctuary, is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. An impressive landscape in Southern Utah, the Coral Pink Sand Dunes are estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 years old. Although the Dunes are popular for ATV enthusiasts, they are also open to hiking and playing in the sand. Note that the Park fee is $10 per vehicle.
#6 • Explore Zion National Park
Located only 30 minutes away from Kanab, Zion National Park is a must-visit if you have the time. Indeed, I had no idea just how spectacular Zion National Park would be in person. Zion National Park offers a number of hiking opportunities. The hikes range from multi-day treks to simpler day hikes.
I am relieved that I decided to go to Zion National Park while most of my daytime vision is still intact. I was able to comfortably hike most of the popular day trails. However, I ultimately chose not to hike the famous Angels Landing trail. Angels Landing is supposedly one of the most picturesque day hikes in Zion National Park. With deadly drop-offs and extreme heights, though, I simply did not want to risk missing a step.
After spending the day hiking, settle in at Desert Pearl Inn (seriously can’t recommend this hotel enough) and explore the local town.
#7 • Hike Bryce Canyon National Park
On my initial drive from SLC to Kanab, I stopped at Bryce Canyon National Park. Bryce Canyon National Park is worth visiting, especially given how different the park is from Zion. Additionally, the visit was really fun and the weather couldn’t have been better. Bring lots of water and sunscreen as there is no shade!
#8 • Adopt A BEST FRIEND FROM THE ANIMAL SANCTUARY
Perhaps the best reason to visit Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is to adopt a new family member. There are many animals waiting for loving homes so visit Best Friends to adopt and change the life of a homeless pet.
Best friends animal sanctuary: TRIP GUIDE
To make planning your trip to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary as easy as possible, I also put together a quick guide to getting to Kanab and where to stay.
How to Get to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is open to the public for tours and volunteering. Located in Kanab, Utah, the sanctuary is within driving distance of Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. When determining which airport to fly into, it first depends on the best flights available from your local airport. It also depends on your goals for the days outside of your visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
Since I was flying from Boston, the flights were slightly cheaper going to Salt Lake City. By flying into Salt Lake City, I could visit Bryce Canyon National Park in addition to Zion National Park. If you fly into LAS, on the other hand, you can try to add a visit to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The drive is about 5 hours from SLC and 3.5 hours from LAS. Either way, renting a car is necessary in order to get to Kanab, Utah.
If you land in Salt Lake City, be sure to stop at Blue Copper Coffee Room for coffee before starting the drive!TRAVEL TIP
Where to Stay in Kanab, Utah
There are several options for where to stay in Kanab. For example, Best Friends Animal Sanctuary rents out nice on-site cabins. On the contrary, there are a number of hotels located off-site in Kanab. I was primarily interested in checking out the local town of Kanab after my volunteer days. I stayed at the Comfort Suites Kanab. The hotel is in the ideal location, has nice sized, clean rooms, AND allows dogs. Above all else, the pet-friendly aspect is key if you are looking to host a Sanctuary dog overnight.
Disclosure: I may receive a small commission should you decide to book directly through my accommodation links. Every dollar goes directly back to support Wanderlight Moments & Usher syndrome awareness.