• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    10 Miles

River
Scenic

Enjoy one of the most unique experiences in a National Park. Hike for miles in a river at the bottom of deep slot canyon surrounded by waterfalls, trees, natural springs, wildlife, beaches, and the incredible colors of the sandstone walls.

Hiking the narrows in Zion National Park is one of my favorite hikes and something I return for almost every year, I can still remember my first visit as a kid. There's no other place like it in the National Park system and the stunning beauty of its towering walls and vibrant river make it a top destination for visitors to the park. 

Depending on the water level most of this hike is partially submerged in the Virgin River making for a refreshing summer hike or cold fall adventure. If you're visiting in the colder months you'll need to pack or rent a drysuit, dry-pants, waders, or wetsuit; there are a couple outfitters in town. The hike is easy-intermediate level in low water and intermediate in high water, water shoes will make a big difference in traction and safety but many people also use old running shoes. Don't attempt this hike barefoot as it can be painful and potentially hazardous.  During spring melt, high rain, and flash flood potential, the hike is closed for public safety; do not ignore closures, people have died in the Narrows. You can check water levels in advance, the Narrows will close at 150 CFS or greater.

There are two options to hike the Narrows: 1. From the bottom entrance up and back, 10 miles round trip. Most hikers travel 3-4 miles to Wall Street as the last mile requires wading deep pools and boulder obstacles. The mandated turn-around point is an area of natural springs called Big Springs. No permit is required for this route and it contains the most interesting sections of the canyon.  2. From the top of the canyon down, 16 miles total in 1 day or split if backpacking. This route requires planning, a permit, campsites, and crossing obstacles and deep pools.

To reach the trail, start at the Temple of Sinawava area and follow the 1 mile river walk. Depending on the time of year you'll most likely have to take the free shuttle from the Visitor Center to the trailhead, as the park gets busier every year the weeks allowed for personal vehicle access are reduced. Use the bathrooms at the beginning of the TH as there are none during the hike and you must pack out all waste. At the end of the paved trail is a sitting area and beach where you can put your wet gear on and start hiking in the river. When you finished you can grab a shower in Springdale for $5 at Zion Outfitter.

Pack List

  • Water shoes, sandals, or old running shoes
  • A day pack with dry-sack for electronics in case you fall or cross deep water.
  • Trekking poles or hiking stick for water crossings 
  • Wetsuit, Drysuit, Waders, Drypants if you decide to hike in the colder months.
  • Backpacking gear and permit for Top-Down hikes
  • Camera, Wide-angle lens, Polarizing Filter, ND Filter, Memory Card, Extra Batteries, and Tripod
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

I agree with all of the other reviews...definitely a must do if in Zion NP. Have hiked a half-dozen times. However, planning is everything for this hike! As noted to get into some of the most serene locations, need to hike several miles (3-4) upstream, which takes a while. Slow hike in water! Need to get there early (since the tram takes about 45 min. to get to the Narrows). I laugh at some of the pictures posted with NO people...the Narrows is always crowded (except maybe Winter). Walking stick a must! Also ALWAYS check weather in surrounding area...flash floods are lethal in this area (numerous warnings from Rangers..but weather is unpredictable). Again, highly recommend -- but thought I would throw out some reality-check information. Cheers, KCCO!!

about 2 months ago
about 2 months ago

Truly an adventure hiking through The Narrows. Experience hiking through The Narrows, is its full of extreme views. The virgin river runs insides the canyon.

3 months ago
3 months ago

Last week did a portion of this hike take the shuttle to last stop number nine bathrooms and water station are here first 2.2 miles along red dirt path of paved concrete. They say a wheelchair can go along this path. Beautiful hike alongside the virgin river. Shear cliffs running river, swamp land yes i said swamp! and plants and flowers hanging along the last 1/4 where the road ends and then stairs invite you down into the river. The forty degree water is cold! the rocks in the river are manageable bring another pair of shoes and dry socks i loved that people left wooden hiking sticks where the water begins .. The pictures up into the narrows are beautiful we went later in the day nect time i would begin much earlier for better light in our pictures.... Do it!

5 months ago
5 months ago

This was a stunning hike. But come prepared for freezing water!!!

5 months ago
5 months ago

Hiked this with our 9 year old, 4 year old, and 1 year old. Make sure you have a walking stick as it is definitely needed. We didn't really know where we were going and instead of going to wall street we went down a side route (into orderville canyon) that had some pretty cool waterfalls but also some deep areas. By far the best hike that we have ever done.

6 months ago
6 months ago

Hiking up a river is just cool. Hard on the feet and ankles after several hours but worth it! So amazing.

8 months ago
8 months ago

My wife and I hiked 8 miles of the narrows and loved every bit of it. It was crowded at the beginning but a lot of those hikers tapered off after a couple miles. Starting early would have been more enjoyable I'm sure. Even with the crowds they couldn't take away from the beauty of the canyons and the excitement/challenge of maneuvering through water on a hike. We brought our Bedrock Sandals to hike in the water and they worked out really well. We saw many people with water specific hiking boots from the rental shop. There were hikers that looked very confused and uncomfortable that they were hiking in water. Don't be fooled, we spent 80% of the time with our feet in the water. This is not a standard hike so you shouldn't take your standard hiking boots. I'd love to backpack the Narrows in the future.

9 months ago
9 months ago

Amazing hike! Bring a camera in a waterproof bag and bring waterproof shoes or waders. The best time to photograph is soon after sunrise.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Bring a jacket, temperatures fluctuate in shade & with water.

10 months ago
10 months ago

Gorgeous and a must do but it's not quite as easy as it looks. Although its looks nice and calm you will have to fight the current, slippery rocks, and icy cold water. I strongly recommend a walking stick to make it though!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

One of the most cherished moments in my life was hiking the narrows alone. Once you get far back enough (7+miles) in the canyon where you see people very few and far between you can truly soak in this world wonder. It was October 1st. Chilly water but tolerable in shorts and a pair of water sandals. You will find peace. You will gain strength and a life long memory of depending 100% on yourself and your self alone....don't be scared. All your fears get lost in the beauty. (My solo 31st bday trip sept 30 2016)

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

I would strongly suggest hiking, or if you have the time backpacking the Narrows in Zion National Park! I backpacked them form top down last June. It will forever be one of my favorite hikes and I cant wait to do it again!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

We did this day hike in late November, and the water wasn't as cold as we expected. We rented the dry suits (Zion Adventure Company) and had one layer on underneath and we were fine. Start early if you are taking the day hike. I would recommend getting your gear the day before so you can hit the trail as early as possible the day of your hike. One of the best hikes I have ever done, don't skip this if you are in Zion

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

If you're hiking any distance, you definitely need shoes. Dress sparingly on your legs and layer up on your torso. Hike as early in the morning as you can to avoid the crowds.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The Narrows are a must do if you are in Zion. Walking through the river is truly an unforgettable experience. There are plenty of places you can rent proper footwear and wetsuits too if you didn't bring your own (I suggest Zion Mountain School). Get a walking stick or bring your trekking polls, they really help with stability. Early November is a great time to visit also as the crowds are minimal and the water temperature is mid to low 50s.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Gorgeous and a must do but it's not quite as easy as it looks. Although you don't face steep inclines and sun exposure, you will have to fight the current, slippery rocks, and icy cold water.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Great hike, beautiful views. Most of the trail is uncrowded (going top down) but at the base in the park is a total mad house in busy season. I was not impressed by the narrows. Being a canyoneering lady, the "narrows" was not narrow at all, and hardly a slot canyon. I call it more a tourist trap than any. Growing up here, it's a must do, but if you are time crunched and a serious outdoorsman, find another off the beaten path trail. You won't regret it!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

[1] If you have had recent knee (or other ankle/leg) surgery, perhaps give yourself an extra month prior to hiking this; or have confidence that your knees are up for this hike, as often the water is thigh-deep and you are hiking over bowling-ball sized rocks that can be and are slippery. If your knee is not fully recovered, it could be painful. Just saying. Trekking poles help, or a hiking staff helps also to tripod yourself. [2] Camp overnight, approx half-way through, or hike all 16 - 17 miles in a day, do-able if you are fast and strong.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

If you are planning a trip to Zion National Park, this HAS to be on your list of things to do if you are able. I almost didn't due to minor time constraints. Man would that have been a mistake! There are many outfitters that can provide you with the necessary pants to keep you dry and warm through the waters. Trans-Zion Trek, Narrows, and Angel's Landing - the epic triumverate of the Park.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Just did the bottom up portion of the Narrows last weekend. We had permit for the Top/Down but because of the road conditions we couldn't get to the trailhead. Call the ranger station to see what the road conditions are before you get to the park. We had some crazy afternoon thunderstorms roll in and flash flood warnings were a concern. We ended up catching the Zion Shuttle Bus to do the Bottom up portion of The Narrows. Most of the iconic sections of The Narrows are in the last few miles. We saw "Wall Street" which is a narrower section of the canyon and it was incredible. Go early in the morning (first bus is at 7am) to capture the morning light! Also highly recommend renting shoes from Zion Adventure Company in Springdale. The shoes are designed for this hike and are great for maneuvering over the wet rocks. The neoprene socks are surprising warm and cozy. All and all one of the most epic and truly inspiring hikes I've ever been on. Enjoy!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

If you hike the 5 miles in to the waterfall along your way you will pass some really good jump spots probably about 5 or 6. They range from probably 8-20 feet. Nothing huge but they are still fun.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I did this hike in April and rented gear from a local outfitter and had a wonderful experience. There were plenty of other people around, but it didn't take away from the hike at all. This is definitely a bucket-list worthy adventure!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

You can either hike the paved trail or hike the river alongside of it. The paved trail is good for all ages! The river can sometimes be waist high, the youngest I suggest allowed to hike would be about 10 or 11. Beautiful hike! The water fresh and cold! The landscape so green and full! Beautiful! A must see!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Greatest winter hike I've ever been on hands-down. The rocks are very slippery so definitely use a hiking stick or poles. I went down more than a few times, saving my precious camera like an Olympic athlete each and every time Just make sure you wear the proper gear and don't assume it's safe to remove your sweaty shirt while eating a warm meal to cool off when it's 40 degrees out. That's what I did and developed hypothermia. Ruined the night, but not the trip. Plus, if you go in the winter the Zion Lodge is cheap, you have car access to every trailhead, and you don't have to worry about the crowds. I imagine hiking in the summer or fall is an even better (and safer) experience. Oh...didn't see any virgins in the water, so not sure why the river is named that. Park Rangers couldn't come up with a suitable answer. Maybe the lodge should stop serving beer after a certain time...

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Jason Hatfield Explorer

Adventure and travel photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. I teach photography workshops and offer private guiding around the west. More at jasonjhatfield.com

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

3 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves