Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill animal sanctuary, where more than 1,700 animals are cared for on any given day. Cats, dogs, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits and other animals rub shoulders with Angel Canyon’s other residents — the fauna that call the Southern Utah sanctuary home year-round. Wild turkeys, eagles and deer all travel the countryside, dotting the landscape with potential up-close-and-personal encounters. While many visit the Sanctuary throughout the year, most visitors arrive during tourist season (spring through autumn). However, off-season visitors are in on a secret — winter is the best.
With fewer crowds and those beautiful, pristine snowdrifts, Best Friends encourages folks to come out and experience this wintery wonderland, while taking advantage of special winter lodging packages. It’s a great time to reconnect with nature, animals and, quite possibly, one’s self.
Special time of year
From December through February, when winter is especially awe-inspiring, Sanctuary lodging rates for cabins, cottages and RV hookups are lower. Visitors also get free tickets for lunch and Best Friends T-shirts. It’s a great place for a romantic weekend or a week of family fun with the grandkids.
Just like during the tourist season, the Sanctuary offers tons of fun winter activities. Volunteering is always a visitor favorite, and the opportunities to work with the animals are even better this time of year. “There are more volunteer shift choices available during the winter months,” says Carrie Smith, marketing specialist. “Many of our visitors relish the more intimate winter experiences they have with the animals and staff too. Fewer people allows for more quality time in their favorite animal areas, including more one-on-one time with the animals.”
Fewer people also means shorter lunch lines at the Village, the Sanctuary’s hilltop café, and at the Welcome Center, where Best Friends merchandise is available at the gift shop.
For the love of nature
Located on thousands of acres of red-rock canyon country, the Sanctuary is in the middle of the Golden Circle of national parks. The location boasts sweeping views of mountains, majestic rock canyons and fields with horses (including one pasture with a barn featured in a Disney movie). It’s a perfect spot for avid outdoorsy folks, as well as those who might prefer to gaze at nature through a wall of windows while sipping a nice cup of hot cocoa.
"When it snows, the red cliffs surrounding the Sanctuary look like something out of a fairytale,” says Carrie. “And the excitement the animals feel when romping through the snow is contagious. It is my favorite time of year."
As the winter winds down so will the special lodging opportunities, learn more about visiting Best Friends.