As you follow the rushing Virgin River instead of a normal trail, this route should be classified as a ‘wade’ not a hike. Going up a slot canyon formed in the Virgin River, you are bound to get soaking wet on this world famous trek!
Enter Zion National Park from the town of Springdale. If possible park near the visitors centre just past the park gates. If that lot is full, park in the town of Springdale and get the free shuttle bus to the visitors centre. From the visitors centre take the other free shuttle bus into Zion Canyon. For most of the year the canyon is not open to public vehicles. Exit the bus at the Temple of Sinawava bus stop.
|When to do|
Spring and Fall, avoid summer heat
Out and back
Begin the hike along the Riverside Walk. This popular, accessible trail leads alongside the river towards the Narrows. After following this trail for 1.6km you will reach its end. From here enter the river and start wading.
The river is often cold, and typically hikers will have to wade up to their waist. Frequently people have to swim certain sections too! Many outfitters in the town of Springdale rent gear particularly for hiking the Narrows, such as hiking poles, sturdy water boots, as well as waterproof waders. Decide based on the conditions what gear you need! We also don’t recommend taking any electronics with you, unless you have a waterproof (and we mean really waterproof) bag to keep them in!
As you head up the river you should also watch out for the extremely slippery rocks in the shivering cold water. The Park Service closes the Narrows when the water level is above 150 cubic feet per second, so if you’re visiting to hike the Narrows in particular, don’t go in early spring when the snowmelt is at its peak.
You can hike up the Narrows as long as you want. We normally recommend turning around at Orderville Canyon, from which another creek feeds the Virgin River. If you do not feel comfortable, turn around earlier. On this hike there are no wrong answers, as the views remain relatively constant for its entirety. Return the way you came, towel off, and hop on the bus.
Bring a dry bag with a change of clothes for after you’ve gotten out of the canyon.
The Narrows are typically much colder than the rest of the canyon. Compound this with the cold water, and hypothermia is a real risk. Bring plenty of extra non-cotton clothing.
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