The Narrows Hike
The Narrows Hike is an amazing journey through Zion Canyon that eschews following a normal trail to wade through the rushing waters of the Virgin River. Going up a slot canyon formed by the coursing waters of the river, you are bound to get soaking wet on this world famous trek; however, the breathtaking views and pure sense of adventure are well worth the effort!
To get to The Narrows Trailhead, 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
The Narrows Hike
The Narrows Trail Description
Begin the hike along the Riverside Walk. This popular, accessible trail leads alongside the river towards the Narrows. After following this trail for 1.0mi 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.
One of the most popular areas to explore within Zion National Park, The Narrows constitute – you guessed it – the most narrow part of Zion Canyon. The terrain was likely first discovered by European-Americans in 1858, when the Mormon pioneer Nephi Johnson was guided to the canyon by indigenous peoples of the Paiute Tribe.
The river here is only 20ft–30ft wide and the near-vertical canyon walls rise up a thousand feet, making for a dramatic landscape to trek through. Walking through the gorge is possible, although you will need to get your feet wet as there is no trail. Instead, keen adventurers will need to make their way through the flowing waters of the Virgin River to explore this beautiful canyon landscape.
Frequently asked questions about The Narrows Hike
How long of a hike is the Narrows?
The hike through the Narrows is a 4.9mi out-and-back journey that should take roughly 1.5-2.5 hours.
Is the Narrows a difficult hike?
The Narrows Hike doesn’t feature much elevation gain, although you will need to wade through the Virgin River. This somewhat challenging obstacle gives the route its moderate rating.
Has anyone died in the Narrows Zion?
Hikers have died in Zion Canyon due to the area’s susceptibility to flash floods. Make sure to follow all park guide lines and check the weather before setting out for a trek through the canyon.
Is it safe to hike the Narrows?
From a safety standpoint it is okay to hike the narrows, so long as all park guidelines are followed. The narrow slot canyons found throughout the area are highly susceptible to flash floods, so make sure to take every caution and abandon your hike if you feel the conditions are not right.
However, extreme levels of cyanobacteria caused by algal bloom have recently been found in the waters of the Virgin River. While the river is not closed, hikers should exercise caution and avoid wading through the water, as this toxin can affect the nervous system. Follow all park guidelines in regards to accessing the river.
How deep is the water in the Narrows?
Although there are a number of variables involved, the depth of the water in the narrows is approximately 2ft–3ft; however, you can expect to encounter some pockets where the water can reach chest height.
What should I wear to the Zion Narrows?
Planning what to wear along this hike can be a bit tricky, as you are going to get soaking wet along your journey. As a rule, moisture wicking/quick-dry materials work best, as they offer the best means to dry off after wading through the water.
Boots, poles, and waders are available to rent out for the duration of your hike; however, if you are looking to purchase your own footwear for the adventure, check out our guide on how to choose a pair of hiking boots.
Find other spectacular hikes in Zion:
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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