I spent two years living in Kanab, Utah and would pass by these cliff caves every time I drove to work. When my parents visited, I decided now was the time to check them out. Safety in numbers, I guess?
The caves are very high up, right off the highway, and across the road from a set of caves with a No Trespassing sign. As far as I knew, people didn’t go to these caves; they were just something you saw off the highway. I wanted to explore them but I didn’t know if I was allowed.
A few things happened that made me rest easier. First, during the winter, I drove past a man who decided to ice climb the frozen waterfall not 10 feet from the highway. Second, the more I got to know Southern Utah, the more I discovered that people don’t care if you die. Third, I had yet to see a cop car on that highway. Fourth, with 4 national parks and landmarks surrounding the area, I figured no one would be watching the caves because they had other things to watch.
The cliff caves are between the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary main entrance and Moqui Cave (a tourist attraction that is less cave and more quirky history lesson – it’s $5, check it out). Coming from Kanab, they are on your right. Coming down from the north, they are on your left. You’ll see another set of caves on the other side of the road with No Trespassing signs. Those are privately owned and there is a house right next to them, and by all accounts, the owners most definitely do care if you try to check them out.
We just parked our car on the highway shoulder. You’ll see that a lot around here. People just get out of their cars and explore. There’s no trail to the caves so we walked through the juniper bushes toward the base. Once there, go left a bit and it becomes less cliffy and more hilly. We basically walked up and when we were level with the caves, we walked towards them. My mom was worried we wouldn’t be able to get back down. First of all, getting down is easy. Getting down alive is what’s more difficult. But again, the further away from the caves you get, the less steep it becomes.
The caves were quite a surprise. I knew they were big, but I never thought they were this big! And it’s actually one giant cave. The floor is pure sand. I tried to dig down to find the bottom but there’s no bottom as far as I can tell. I really wanted to get a leaf blower or something and see how deep this thing actually is. Like, it still haunts my dream. HOW DEEP IS IT?! Three years later and I’m still not over it.
The view, unfortunately, is not that cool because there is a canyon wall directly across from the caves and so all we could see was a nice shot of the highway. It felt strange watching the cars drive by, not knowing we were above them.
In the darker corridor, there were tiny animal tracks. Where do they get food and water? There were also these little pocket caves near the ceiling. My dad hoisted me up one and I took a picture to see what was back there. It is completely blurry but we could see that it only went back two feet and there was a tiny bat in it. We didn’t want him to complain about us to authorities so we left him alone.
It was obvious others had been there. There was a tiny amount of trash in the corner (come on guys), and the sand was littered with footprints (the only kind of litter that’s cool).
I am so glad I came to these caves. It would have bugged me if I never went there when I lived less than 5 miles away. Walking through them, I couldn’t help but feel like these caves were perfect in every way. They were high up, you could only access them from one cave entrance, they were very cool but not cold, and the canyon wall opposite the road would probably keep much of the weather at bay. Basically, the perfect house.
I cannot stress to you all enough how much I want to dig down into the sand. First, to see how deep they go. Second, to see if I could find anything historical/cultural. These caves were perfect in every way. They had to be used, right? This is going to bug me until the day I die. Someone get on this.