Little Hollywood? Movie history in a tiny town in southern Utah? And near Zion National Park, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area? And on our route home from a fishing trip. OK, we were in. Kanab, Utah — Ke-naab, not CANE-ab, as I was gently corrected by tolerant locals — is near the junction of scenic U.S. 89 and 89A just north of the Arizona border. It's a spunky little spot with a lot going on. The tab: We spent $121 for a deluxe king at Quail Park Lodge and $110 on trendy cuisine and spicy barbecue.
We liked the sound of a retro-cool motor lodge, and we hit the jackpot. The quirky, blue-hued Quail Park Lodge is part of the Canyons Collection, several area accommodations designed to fit a traveler's mood, whether it's rustic chic, in-town comfort or extended stay. Our updated, upgraded ground-floor room at Quail Park Lodge was Streamline Moderne, and the street bikes available for guest use begged us for a spin.
I had so many local restaurant suggestions for a town of 4,000 that it was hard to choose. I left my tired spouse, Paul, to rest and strolled to dinner at Peekaboo Canyon Wood Fired Kitchen. I started with a tasty quinoa-stuffed avocado, then tucked into a crispy-crunchy kale and arugula salad with glazed walnuts and roasted red beets. Peekaboo Canyon is popular and was booked solid that evening, but they made room on the outdoor patio for a solo diner. The next day, my hungry spouse appeared for lunch at the Rocking V Cafe, a restaurant/art gallery. I chose a chicken wrap called the Wave, named for a nearby iconic rock formation. We talked with other visitors about condors, history and beer.
The street bikes seemed like a great way to take in the 90-plus Walk of Fame plaques commemorating the movies and TV shows shot in Kanab and Kane County. A ride along the main street was interrupted by my frequent stops to read the memory-lane stories. I could hear my mother reminding me about watching 1973's "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing" — filmed here — and those black-and-white viewings of "Gunsmoke" and "The Lone Ranger." On the way out, we detoured a bit. Just across the border on the Arizona Strip, at a gem called Pipe Spring National Monument, natural water springs have bubbled to the surface for eons. The watering place in this desolate high desert region lured ancient peoples, the southern Paiute, Spanish missionaries and explorers, and, finally, Mormon settlers, who built a "fort" over the then-water source itself.
There's more than meets the eye in Kanab, which meant we were late getting on the road to Zion, so no leisurely walks there this visit. But we did get front-row seats to a showstopping bighorn sheep convocation on a main park road.
Rocking V Cafe, 97 W. Center St.; Kanab; (435) 644-8001, www.rockingvcafe.com. Wheelchair accessible.