Hike the Narrows Top-Down from Chamberlain's Ranch

Duck Creek Village, Utah

Details

Distance

15.5 miles

Route Type

Point-to-Point

Description

Added by James Brady

15.5 miles of scenic slot canyon terrain without the crowds. The best way to really experience the Virgin River and the Narrows!

The best way to see Zion National Park’s fabled Narrows is to hike the Virgin River top-down from Chamberlain’s Ranch. Most visitors to the park experience the Narrows by hiking a mile or two upstream from the Temple of Sinawava¸ and therefore only see a small portion of this canyon. Hikers who are interested in fully immersing themselves in the Narrows should consider hiking the 15.5 miles along the Virgin River from Chamberlan’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava.

Starting from the trailhead at Chamberlain Ranch, the first several miles of the hike are very easy and allow for hikers to remain out of the river. After about 3 miles, the river banks rise and hikers must begin walking in the river in many areas. As hikers progress further along the river, they will marvel at the cliffs around them as they seem to grow taller and taller around each bend. Several rivers merge with the Virgin River along this hike and allow for opportunities to explore additional slot canyons. Wading shoes and a walking staff are highly recommended for this hike since hikers are required to wade through the Virgin River in many areas.

Hiking the Narrows top-down from Chamberlain’s Ranch requires a Zion backcountry permit, which can be reserved online through the parks service. Chamberlain’s Ranch is outside of the national park boundaries. Hikers with permits can drive themselves to the trailhead, however shuttle services seem to be the best option because the road can get rather rough and it allows hikers to avoid having to find a way back to their car after their hike. There are several shuttle services available in the area. These shuttle services also typically rent out equipment including wading shoes and walking sticks.

There are 12 campsites in the Narrows along this route and a backcountry permit is required to use them. These campsites can be very difficult to get during the peak season, so make sure you plan early. For well-conditioned hikers, or just hikers with limited time, the 15.5 mile hike can be completed in an entire day, however this will still require a backcountry permit. Beware though, much of this hike takes place in the flowing water of the Virgin River and therefore hikers often exert more energy and travel slower than they are accustomed to. Lastly, since slot canyons are prone to flash floods, all hikers should be aware of the forecast for the day of their hike and pay attention to the sky.

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