Driving through southern Utah and looking for a quick stop to stretch your legs? Check out the Moqui Caverns (a.k.a Kanab Sand Caves) a quick, half-mile hike located off Highway 89 near Kanab, UT. Originally, the Moqui Caverns were created as a sand mine, but today they offer a fun, short adventure with nice views looking through the “windows” to the rocky, orange cliffs in the distance.

Hi there! We’re Sarah and Matt, two nomads road tripping across the United States with our cat, Fitzgerald, making a new place our home month to month while working full time and adventuring as much as possible. We spend any free time we can get hiking, camping, backpacking, and exploring new places! We hope that our experiences will help you plan for your next adventure and inspire you to be an outlier!


let’s be friends

Two Outliers may contain affiliate links – we only recommend products we personally use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. For more information, see our privacy policy.

walls of the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves

Moqui Caverns: Kanab Sand Caves

The Moqui Caverns, a.k.a. Kanab Sand Caves, are a series of man-made sandstone caves carved out of the side of a cliff in southern Utah. Located just minutes from Kanab, UT on Highway 89, the Sand Caves are easy to access via a short half-mile round trip hike.

The Moqui Caverns are man-made, and are actually the remnants of a sand mine from the 1970’s. The sand mined from the caves was melted down to create glass products.

If you are wondering how the name “Moqui” came to be, the title refers to the Hopi tribe of Native Americans (previously known as the Moqui Native Americans) who inhabited the area centuries ago.

Remember to Leave No Trace. Pack out what you pack in, stay on trail, be well-prepared, leave nothing behind, take only photos and memories with you, treat the area with respect and help preserve this beautiful spot for generations to come.

Where are the Moqui Caverns?

The Moqui Caverns are conveniently located just 7 minutes outside of Kanab, UT. The Sand Caves are just under an hour from the Zion National Park Visitor Center and about 35 minutes from East Zion. If you are driving from Page, Arizona to Zion National Park, you will go right past the Moqui Caverns.

The southern section of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, which is one of our favorite federal lands, is also located nearby. We highly recommend checking out the Toadstool Hoodoos, which are about 45 minutes from the caverns.

The Belly of the Dragon, which is a massive man-made tunnel carved out under the road, is also located under 15 minutes from the Sand Caves. Belly of the Dragon has become fairly “Insta-famous” but wasn’t our favorite stop.

Are the Moqui Caverns worth visiting?

We personally thought the Moqui Caverns were a bit overrated, made famous by cute pictures on Instagram. That being said, they are quick and easy to access and worth a stop if you are driving through the area. We wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to get here.

Visiting the Moqui Cave Museum

The Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves are not to be confused with the Moqui Cave Museum, located just down the road.

The museum, which is itself a cave, houses a collection of artwork, fossilized minerals and rocks, a set of dinosaur tracks and various Native American artifacts. Even on hot summer days, the interior of the Moqui Cave Museum doesn’t exceed 65 degrees, making it a great spot to cool off!

  • Entrance to the museum is $5 per person, and you can find more information here.

Overview | Moqui Caverns Hike

Hike Stats

  • Hiking distance | 0.5 miles
  • Elevation gain | 100 feet
  • Total time | 1 hour
  • Epic-ness rating | 5
  • Difficulty | Easy
  • Fees | None

Find this hike on AllTrails: Moqui Caverns
Please note that the trailhead for the Moqui Caverns on the AllTrails link above is NOT correct. While the destination is accurate, the parking lot is actually just across the road from the caves.

How difficult is the Moqui Caverns Hike?

The hike to Moqui Caverns is about 0.5 miles round trip and gains nearly 100 feet of elevation. Because of the short distance, we’ve rated the hike as easy. However, be aware that there is a bit of scrambling to get up to the caves. The rock is sandy and a little slick, so you will want a pair of hiking boots or shoes with good traction. 

Once you climb up, you will walk along a somewhat narrow sandstone ledge, which may be troubling for those with a serious fear of heights.

Highlights

  • Easy, short hike
  • Cool views looking out the caves
  • Interesting patterns along the sandstone walls

Lowlights

  • Interior of the caverns is covered in graffiti
  • Short rock scramble required

Warning: Hiking to the Moqui Caverns requires crossing Highway 89 from the parking area to reach the trailhead. Please use caution when crossing this busy road, especially if you have children with you, as cars often speed.

windows of the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves

When is the best time to hike?

For milder temperatures, the best time of year to visit Moqui Caverns is during the spring and fall. However, since it’s such a short hike and the caves offer some shade, visiting during the summer would be doable despite hot temperatures. In the winter, the trail may be covered in snow making the scramble up to the caves more challenging and dangerous.

Things to know before you go

Below are a few important details to be aware of before you visit the Moqui Caverns in Kanab.

  • Unfortunately, the inside of the caves is covered in grafitti. Plus, the caves are man-made. If you are looking for an escape into nature, this is not it. 
  • This is a popular spot, so expect crowds. 
  • You can see the sand caves from the road. The parking area is just across Highway 89 from the caverns. 
  • Technically dogs are not prohibited, but we wouldn’t recommend bringing your four-legged friends due to the scramble required to reach the sand caves.
window of the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves

Moqui Caverns Hike Details

In the section below, we’ll give you the details on the hike to the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves.

Our experience

We ended up visiting the Moqui Caverns after our plans to hike Buckskin Gulch fell through due to recent snow, making the road to the trailhead impassable. Since we were in the Kanab area, we were looking for things to do and had seen photos of the Moqui Caves so we decided to check them out! We thought the sand caves were pretty and a nice way to spend half an hour in Kanab. That being said, we probably wouldn’t go out of our way to return.

views from the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves

Parking and getting to the trailhead

Finding the parking area for the Kanab Sand Caves can be a bit confusing. If you search for Moqui Caverns on GoogleMaps, it will take you to the parking area for the Moqui Cave Museum. AllTrails will take you to the same spot. This is NOT the trailhead and you cannot park here – parking at the Moqui Cave Museum is for paying guests only. 

The correct parking area is a small dirt pull off located just across the road from the Moqui Caverns. To find the right spot, search for “Sand Caves” on GoogleMaps and then look out for the pulloff across the street. Alternatively, we’ve provided the rough GPS coordinates here:

Map of Moqui Caverns

The map below displays the location of the Moqui Caverns/Kanab Sand Caves, the parking lot to start the hike, and the Moqui Cave Museum. Kanab and Zion National Park are also marked in yellow as reference points.

  • To email this map to yourself for future use, click the three dots in the upper right corner.
  • To view more details about each location, click on the marker on the map.

Starting the hike

From the parking area, you can see the Moqui Caverns carved out of the cliff face across the street. To start the hike, cross Highway 89 and look for a sandy trail that leads to the base of the cliff. From there, you will have to scramble up the rock until you are level with the Sand Caves. 

There are a couple different routes you could take to get up, but the most popular option seemed to be climbing up to the left until you are level with the caves, and then walking across the sandstone ledge until you reach the caves. If you have a really bad fear of heights, this may be a bit tough for you, but the good news is that you are never very high up. Take your time and you’ll be just fine!

Exploring the Moqui Caverns

Once you arrive at the Moqui Caverns you can spend some time exploring the different sections. The floor of the caves is sand and there are several carved out windows with nice views of the orange cliffs below. The cave continues back until you reach a dark dead end. 

We were a little bit disappointed by the amount of graffiti inside the cave. That being said, there are also some really beautiful natural patterns and colors along the sandstone walls!

Moqui Caverns packing list

In addition to your standard hiking gear, below are a few items to make sure you pack for hiking the Moqui Caves.

  • Sun protection (sunscreen, chapstick and sunglasses) | The desert sun is intense!
  • Hiking boots | It’s good to have some traction on your shoes for climbing up the sandstone cliffs.
  • Snacks, lunch and water | I always hike with my Camelbak Helena – it’s the perfect size for storing the essentials for a day hike and comes with a 2 liter bladder.

Other hikes nearby

Planning a road trip through Utah? Be sure to check out these other great hikes nearby:

For all things Utah: Utah Travel Guide

Looking for more great hikes in Kanab? We’ve rounded up everything you need to know about the best hikes in the area here:

Have you visited the Moqui Caverns in Kanab? Questions about visiting the Sand Caves? Let us know in the comments section below!

Save this article on Pinterest!

2 Comments on “Moqui Caverns: Exploring the Kanab Sand Caves

  1. Crossing Highway 89 to go to the Sand Caves is very dangerous. People drive 89 way too fast. I run a Tour business going up the canyon out of Kanab. I go every day and witnessed some very scary close calls. Use extreme caution Crossing the highway

    • Hi Ken, thanks for your note! It’s a good point. I’ve added a warning about crossing the highway to the article.

Leave a Reply