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The Narrows- Zion National Park

Hiking the Narrows was on my bucket list of travel adventures for years. When we found ourself planning our trip to Utah and Zion I knew we had to plan this one in and it certainly did not disappoint. We were there in April and the water was pretty high but worth it all.

This is certainly a full day event. We started our morning by heading into Zion Guru to rent gear- we went with the dry bib package. This included waterproof bibs with built in waterproof neoprene socks. It also included water resistant canyon shoes/hiking boots and a walking stick. In my opinion the gear this time of year was absolutely necessary for how cold and high the water was. In the summer months when the water is not quite as high you may not need the full gear package but at a minimum I would always suggest neoprene socks, the boots , and a walking stick.

We then drove to the visitor center located inside the park and hopped onto the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop. This is the last stop that the shuttle goes to. The shuttle is free within the park but its important to note that they don't run 24 hours a day. The last shuttle leaves the Temple of Sinawava back for the visitor center at about 7:15pm but this changes based on the season so be sure to check the schedule when you arrive so that you don't miss it heading back. The park will stay open but its about a 45 minute walk from the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop back to the visitor center.

It is also important to note that you can drive in the park but parking spaces are always very limited. Further, if you plan to use the shuttle like we did there are limited spots that full up very quickly at the visitor center in the morning. If you plan to use the shuttle, plan to make sure you arrive early enough in the morning to get a parking spot.

The Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop features are river walk path that is a windy path right along the river. It is sandy and partially paved in some spots so it is accessible and anyone can walk this portion of the trail. The trail is the beginning of the Narrows trail. When the paved pathway ends, you find stairs down to the Virgin River where you see everyone getting in. The steps and area right as you enter the river were EXTREMELY crowded. The Narrows are a much more difficult river hike yet many people want the feel of doing this so they will wade in and walk the beginning portion of it if nothing else just to photograph.

Once you actually start hiking in the river the current is TOUGH and STRONG to walk against but you are actually hiking right in the middle of the canyon through the river. This is where the hiking stick comes in so handy. You are also able to use it to feel whats on the floor of the river ahead of you. The bottom is rocky and there are spots where is suddenly drops off. Walking from the bottom up as we did takes quite a bit of time and is extremely exhausting.

The Narrows trail is about 16 miles long however it becomes permitted at about 10 miles in. Since it is not a loop this is an out and back trail meaning however far in you go to the canyon you have to turn around and do the same distance back. This makes it nice because you can hike for 1 hour in and turn around or hike all 10 miles. I will say that the hike back moves MUCH, MUCH quicker as you are walking with the current as opposed to against it. Most people spend about 2-6 hours hiking the canyon on the Narrows trailhead.

We hiked about 1.5-2 hours in and it took us about 45 minutes-1 hour to hike back out. Most of the hike is relatively shallow water, even in the Spring when we were there however there was a good portion of it that came to my thighs (I'm 5'2") and a few spots that were about chest deep. Again this will all change depending on what time of year you plan to hike the Narrows trail.

It is very important to note that since this hike occurs in the river there are times of the year and days where it closes due to high water levels and strong currents. There is also always risk of a flash flood when you are in the canyon so stay alert and know the signs to look for. Keep an eye out for places you can get to higher ground if necessary as you hike. When we rented our gear from Zion Guru they had monitors and information on the tides and water levels in real time so they can hep advise you if of the water and safety measures that pertain to that particular day and time.

This was one of the most exhilarating things I've ever done and if you love adventure, outdoors, and thrill, I HIGHLY recommend you to try this hike if you find yourself at Zion National Park. Plan your trip accordingly and know the risks that go along with it.

  • Summertime generally has far less water and is warmer however the crowds are significantly higher

  • Spring there is always a higher risk for higher water level due to snow melt so you run the risk of not being able to hike it more frequently

  • Fall is supposed to be the most stable as far as water levels and warmer temperatures ins early fall but the days get shorter and sun sets earlier as well as later in fall the water temperature starts to drop.

  • Winter has the coldest water temperatures and even though most people do not think about hiking the trail in the winter it is doable- just dress warmly!

This is a must do hike if you are physically able and you find yourself in/near Zion National Park.

A couple things to remember:

  • Please always ensure you are safe and check water levels and adhere to all guidelines and suggestions based on the current too.

  • Plan a full day for this adventure if you want to hike the whole thing

  • Gear is a must!!

  • Pack a waterproof case or bring a ziplock or two for your phone- there are points it gets deep

  • Pack water and snacks!

  • Rest and take your time enjoying the stunning beauty!

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Maria Elizabeth

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