Hike the Narrows, Zion NP
Utah › Temple of Sinawava Trail
Added by Jason Hatfield
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.
- 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
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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!
Had recent knee surgery? Coupla things to know prior
 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.  Camp overnight, approx half-way through, or hike all 16 - 17 miles in a day, do-able if you are fast and strong.
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.
The Magnificent Narrows
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!
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!
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!
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...
My friends and I did the bottom up day hike for about 5 hours and we will be going back again to do top down. The hike is absolutely stunning with red/orange/brown painted walls that create a spiritual environment. We could not stop smiling, laughing, and letting out our best animalistic impressions as we trekked 10 miles up stream, sometimes through chest deep water. There are a few key things to prepare for before the hike: 1. Rent equipment from Zion Outfitter's. The people that work there are some of the most down to earth, fun loving, excited people I have met. For $30 you get waterproof shoes, neoprene socks, a dry bag, and a walking stick; plus you are supporting a great local shop. 2. GO EARLY! The first shuttle leaves at 6 a.m and Zion Outfitter's lets you rent your equipment the day before so you can catch the first shuttle. This was extremely important for us... The Narrows becomes Disney Land later in the day; no joke, it is a zoo. My friends and I started Saturday morning and had a few people on the trail with us... a couple hours in and we were the only ones in the Narrows. On our way down hundreds of people flocked the river like fish out of water. 3. FLASH FLOODS! Check the weather before you go. Flash flood warnings are a real thing in this slot canyon. It is highly unlikely to avoid a flash flood by climbing to high ground.. your best bet is to get out of the slot canyon as quickly as possible. Most of the time there will be people in the area keeping you informed of the situation, but it is always good to know before hand. 4. There is great public land to camp on 10 miles before you get to Springdale. You will see a road sign called, Kolob Terrace Road (KTR) from there you can camp wherever you please. 5. Enjoy and Respect. The Narrows truly is an incredible place and if done right it will be a therapeutic, spiritual, and amazing experience for you, and whomever you go with. It is important to respect the land, so please take your trash back out with you. Zion, and The Narrows, are a special place, lets keep it that way! Have fun!
Best hike I've ever done. Proper gear really enhances experience.
My wife and I did the bottom up day hike for about 5 hours and had an absolute blast. We rented shoes, neoprene socks and a walking stick for about $20 from Zion Adventure Co. and it really made the hike better, I'd strongly recommend renting those things from somewhere in Springdale. The whole hike is gorgeous, walking in the river among the canyon walls... Can't recommend this enough. Also, I've seen The Narrows listed as "strenuous" and "for experienced hikers" but that's not the case. I thought it was pretty straightforward, especially if the river is a bit lower; anywhere below 100 cfs is fine. Totally doable for families.
Freezing, but Beautiful
We did this hike in March and didn't think we would have enough time to squeeze it in. But we ended up finishing previous hikes faster than intended so we made our way over to the mouth of the narrows. We weren't expecting to be hiking it, so we did not rent the equipment. Within a couple of minutes my feet went from full feeling to numb. After a while I couldn't tell whether my feet were hockey pucks or still feet. However, the hike was absolutely gorgeous and well worth feeling like your feet have turned into ice cubes. I strongly suggest renting the equipment or you will be absolutely miserable.
Great Hike in Spring
Went to the Narrows in March and it was amazing!! We rented the Narrows wetsuit package for $45 at Zion Mountain School (wetsuit, neoprene socks, water shoes, walking stick) and it was perfect for the 45 degree water temps. Wore a fleece and down jacket over my wetsuit in the canyon, it's a lot colder in there than out in the park. Went up about 2 miles until the fork and took the right for the Orderville track which added about 2 miles round trip, so about 6 miles total. Definitely recommend!
Narrows Hike Sept. 2015
For being relatively easy, this hike is so awesome! Must haves: good traction water shoes, neoprene socks, walking stick. The rocks are large, slippery and generally not visible below the water at all, so you have to feel out your footing almost every step. Gotta have that walking stick to help with stability! All in all, this hike was phenomenal. The only downside was how popular it is... Pretty thick crowds navigating the river with you but it thins out eventually. You won't get much peace and quiet on this hike unless you go a lot further in.
Avoid Flooding Season
We went at a perfect time in September. We were able to walk the narrows because the water was lower. It was a hot day and the cool water felt great. Note that several people crowd around the entry point, but they thin out as you continue to hike. Some great photography opportunities, but rocks are slippery, and you will get wet. Pack your equipment appropriately.
One of my top three favorite hikes in my life - there's really nothing else like it. Keep in mind that June through September is generally regarded as the best time of year to go due to warmer waters and longer days, but that monsoon season is mid-July to mid-September, meaning these are the most dangerous months for flash floods due to thunderstorms. Whenever you choose to go, be sure to pay close attention to weather in the region before you head out on this amazing adventure!
I hike this every fall and have yet to get bored. There's just no other experience like it and finding fall colors amongst the red canyon walls is incredible. You'll definitely need waders or dry-pants in the fall so hit it in the summer if you want to enjoy the cold water on a hot day.
Top down is worth it
True that going top-down requires more planning- you'll need to rent shoes (they have these waterproof boots; Chacos won't do it) and a walking stick for sure- but it's totally worth it. The bottom is way more crowded, and in the upper narrows you'll get more solitude, and the canyon is stunningly beautiful the whole way. Plus you get to camp overnight in the Narrows- so cool!
Best. hike. ever
Seriously, this hike beats any other hands down. Be sure to get those neoprene socks and a good stick to walk with. Can't recommend it enough - on that note, flash flood warnings are serious business. If there's even a slight chance of rain, even miles away, don't risk your life.
this is a super popular hike...for good reason, it's pretty unbelievable. do yourself a favor and don't go during the summer. it will be pretty packed. if you can, time it right to go in the late spring or early fall when the summer crowds are gone but the water isn't frigid.
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