The Narrows: Zion National Park

The Narrows

There really isn't any hike like it. Aside from the truly incredible views of the cliffs and flora, the experience wading upstream for several miles is definitely one to remember.

For the last three nights, Matt and I have been staying at the Zion Canyon Campground, which is roughly a two-minute drive from the entrance to Zion National Park. In order to beat the throngs of tourists who were sure to ruin our photos, we woke up early and caught the first of the free shuttles to the Temple of Sinawava stop. Here, we would follow the Riverside Walk to the entrance of The Narrows, then wade through the Virgin River upstream until we hit Wall Street.

Arriving at the Temple of Sinawava stop, there were eight others who got off the shuttle with us. About half didn't even attempt crossing the Virgin River to the entrance of The Narrows. After about a one-mile walk along the paved Riverside Walk, we reached the end of the pathway and were forced to cross water just above ankle deep. The water was cold, but not unbearable, and certainly seemed to get noticeably less cold as we continued our adventure.

Soaring vermillion towers and rippled canyon walls greeted us as we entered. The first rays of morning light had just begun hitting the tops of the cliffs above us and at times we paused, for photos or to take in the beauty of our surroundings, and it was as if we had the whole place to ourselves.

If you're a first-timer or have only a few hours to spend in Zion, the best way to experience The Narrows is to take the Bottom-up Hike. No day permit is required, though if you do wish to camp inside or hike the entire 16-mile trail from the top down, you will need to get a permit by way of the lottery.

Depending on water flow, water height, your hiking ability and how far you choose to go, this hike can be easy to strenuous as you are wading upstream for the better part of your journey. Remember that you can hike in as far as you feel comfortable with the option to turn back at any time and leave the way you came.

Pack List

-Hiking shoes (preferably with ankle support). Matt and I each wore our waterproof Merrell hiking shoes and regular socks. They worked beautifully but expect your feet to get wet no matter what footwear you have on.-Waterproof Bag to carry your essentials. Matt and I each used a Sea to Summit dry sack purchased from REI. His is 13L and mine is 8L. These housed our car keys, snacks/ lunch, camera equipment and a pair of dry clothes.-Water Bottle. Feel free to bring a filtration device if you plan on being in The Narrows for most of the day and don't want to be weighed down by multiple water bottles. We brought our Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter, but didn't actually need to use it.-Weather appropriate clothing. Because we took our hike in September, the water was fairly warm from the summer sun and we didn't need dry suits. Matt and I each packed a long-sleeve shirt and wore shorts and T-shirts during the hike. I would also recommend taking a light jacket (I brought a Columbia rain jacket) to fend off the chilly morning air. If attempting this hike in the colder months, definitely consider wearing a wet suit to keep your body temperature regulated.-Hiking Stick (recommended). Though a walking stick isn't essential, some of the rocks are a bit slippery and a sturdy stick helps with balance. Matt didn't use one and was perfectly fine, but I had a few close calls and having that one stick surely helped. If you start your hike early (before 8 a.m.), DO NOT rent a stick. There are plenty at the entrance to The Narrows that fellow hikers leave behind. Grab one and leave it when you're done.

Show More
RT Distance 8 Miles
Activities Photography, Hiking, Fitness
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back


Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Very unique—but beat the crowd

Highly recommend, as Hillary said it's a hike unlike any other. The water, the boulders, the cliffs all make it an extremely memorable spot. Water was very cold mid-fall but still not unbearable. Saw lots of people with gear from some nearby adventure outfitter (e.g. socks, shoes, splash pants, walking stick) and as far as I could tell unless you're getting a dry suit or something like that, it was a rip-off. Your feet are getting wet no matter what. Cannot stress enough how much I recommend going as early as you can. We caught the first bus and saw about 10 people for the first few hours, and then on the way back crossed paths with literally over 1,000 on our way back before we got back to the shuttle stop. It was worth being more cold to avoid that throng of people.

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