“The Narrows” is one of the most unique hikes offered at Zion National Park as you venture the Virgin River to explore the narrowest parts of Zion Canyon. Wading through the river can be strenuous as you may find yourself waist deep or even chest deep in water depending on water conditions and time of year.
I honestly did not prepare to hike “The Narrows” because it was closed recently due to flooding from snow melt, but as I was standing in line to board the Zion shuttle, I noticed “The Narrows” were not on the list of trails that were closed. I was stoked and ready to knock it off my bucketlist.
Here is my guide to hiking “The Narrows” bottom up from the Temple of Sinawava.
- Bottom Up Hike from the Temple of Sinawava (No Permit Required)
*Note: This post is based on the hike that requires no permit.
- Top Down Hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch (Permit Required*)
Best Time to Hike:
- Late spring and summer tend to be the times of the year that draws in the most people as the water is warmer and lower water levels, but flash floods are more prominent during this time of year. More information is available at the official Zion National Park website.
- Close Toed Shoes
- Hiking Pole**
- Water & Snacks
Zion Adventure Company, located in Springdale, UT, in the town around the Visitor’s Center of Zion National Park offers rentals for hiking the Narrows. They offer canyon shoes, neoprene socks, hiking poles, and gore-tex dry pants for reasonable prices. I would recommend renting at the minimum one hiking pole as it will assist you with movement through the currents of the Virgin River. Additionally, if you do not want to ruin your shoes, I would rent the canyon shoes as well. *Rental gear is also available at the entrance to Zion National Park.
If you do not want to rent any gear, that is fine as well. There were several people that did not have any rental gear, but most people had at least a hiking pole. Large sticks can be found near the entrance to the Narrows left by previous hikers if you want to snag one of those instead of renting a pole to establish footing in the river, but they are first come, first serve.
- Flash Flooding
- Rock Fall
Virgin River Conditions:
The water level fluctuates daily depending on factors such as rainfall and snowmelt. If the water flow is above 150 cubic feet per second (CFS), the Narrows are closed to travel. There are signs at the visitor’s center and near the shuttle bus that will provide current information on the water conditions and flash flooding dangers.
My Narrows Experience:
Due to the last-minute change in hiking plans, I hiked the Narrows from the bottom up starting from the Temple of Sinawava, which does not require a permit. There is no formal destination for this hike, but you can hike up to Orderville Canyon or the narrowest part of the canyon known as “Wall Street” before turning around to hike back to the Temple of Sinawava. The following were the weather and hiking conditions on the day of my trek.
- Flash Flooding Unlikely
- Water Flow 130 CFS
I hopped on board the Zion Canyon Shuttle around 1130 AM and shuttled to Stop #9 – The Temple of Sinawava.
**Make a pit stop at the restroom before embarking on this adventure as there are no restrooms available in the Narrows.
From The Temple of Sinawava, I walked a mile on the paved tranquil, leisurely Riverside Walk before jumping into the Virgin River. The first few steps are quite a shock as the water is freezing and most of the hike is in the shade. Water levels were waist deep and sometimes chest deep depending on where I was in the river.
At first, I did not have a walking pole and found myself struggling to walk against the current of the river. I lost my balance once and fell into the river, but I was able to wedge myself behind a large rock to keep myself from being swept downstream. My boyfriend had to pull me out of the water a few times as well. I am not sure if I have balance issues, but I was struggling to stay grounded in the river.
A stranger offered me a walking pole, which I was absolutely gracious for. I would highly recommend renting one. It made the entire trek up the remainder of the river and back so much easier allowing me establish water depth and proper footing to get across the river.
Rock fall is a real danger.* I literally heard a rock fall to my right as I was trekking up the left side of the canyon. It is important to be aware of your surroundings.
I continued my hike up to a fork in the canyon and chose the right side of the fork to experience the narrowest part of Zion Canyon, known to locals as “Wall Street.” After a mini-celebration for reaching this point of the hike, I started to head back to the Temple of Sinawava.
The trek back and with the current was expeditious. We were back to the Visitor’s Center around 430 PM (1630).
I left the Narrows with a few bruises, but it was well worth the experience.