Motel: The Parry Lodge

  • DÉCOR: in good taste
  • FIRMNESS OF MATTRESS: perfectly resilient
  • CONTENTS OF GIFT SHOP: jewelry, colorful T-shirts, hand made items
  • ANNUAL FESTIVALS: the Greyhound Rescue Festival, including a parade; Western Legends Festival, including cowboy poetry and old-time TV actors

The Parry Lodge, known as the place “Where the Stars Stay,” is located in Kanab, Utah, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. Kanab is a small town, isolated in Utah’s red rock desert country. Surrounding this quaint town are Zion and Bryce national parks and the largest hole in America, the Grand Canyon. Kanab was originally inhabited by the Anasazi, then the Paiute and Navajo Indians. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints moved in around the 1870s. Brigham Young sent the Mormon settler Levi Stewart down south to set up a Mormon settlement to spread the good word and raise livestock. With a current booming population of 3,289, Kanab has grown tremendously in the past years. A few years ago locals marveled at the insertion of a stoplight, and the increasing growth of fast food chains in their small, unique town.

One of the modern highlights in Kanab is the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which houses 1,500 animals, making the town’s human-to-animal ratio 2 to 1. The sanctuary is a temporary home to mostly homeless cats and dogs, but also houses horses, burros, various birds, rabbits, goats, and many other friendly creatures. One of the most famous animals at the sanctuary is a donkey named One-Eyed Jack, whose original parents let him live in a trailer. At Best Friends, they assure us that although he only has one eye, he is one of the loudest animals on the premises. The sanctuary has over 20,000 visitors a year, with the honorable goal of ending animal homelessness by the year 2005. Kanab is not only rich with historic, scenic, and needy pet beauty, it has been a hot spot for western movie-making since 1927. Kanab being a small town, there was one motel the western stars stayed in, the Parry Lodge.

The motel was built in 1929, and has been host to a variety of old movie stars, specifically Hollywood cowboys and western harlots. The Parry advertises the ability to stay in rooms that have housed “adventure,” “glamour,” and even “romance,” played out by stars such as Ava Gardner, Glen Ford, Charlton Heston, and the ever-so-popular John Wayne. Many of the rooms have plaques with the name of the specific star that may have slept in your bed, cleaned up in your shower, and simply relaxed at the pool after a hard day’s work. The lodge has a dining room for old-fashioned home-cooked breakfasts and dinners, a swimming pool to beat the desert heat, and even a gift shop. Surrounded by the towering red plateaus and high elevation desert foliage, it’s no wonder it became a Hollywood hot spot.

If simple imagination is not enough for your visit, there is The Old Barn Playhouse located on the property of the Parry Lodge. The show put on is the perfect melodrama, where viewers are encouraged to laugh and cry along with the heroes, heroines, and villains, and even, at times, participate. The Barn was originally used, as barns are, to house animals. When the stars came to town it became a storage facility for the camera gear and props and animals used in the films. This is where John Wayne stabled his horses, and Victor Mature kept his camels tied up here. Although the full story can only be revealed upon a visit to the Old Barn Playhouse, apparently Glen Ford once had a tooth pulled here once.

The Parry Lodge: 89 East Center Street Kanab, Utah 84741 (435) 644-2601


Megan Milks is the author of Margaret and the Mystery of the Missing Body (Feminist Press, 2021), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in transgender fiction, as well as Slug and Other Stories and Remember the Internet: Tori Amos Bootleg Webring.

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