Zion National Park is home to one of the world’s classic day hikes: The Narrows. Here, the North Fork of the Virgin River has carved through hundreds of feet of sandstone forming a narrow slot canyon, which thousands of people flock to each year to wade through. The cool water and the captivating warm orange light, make it a must-do on a warm summer day.
Most people access the narrows from the south using the "bottom up" approach – starting from the Temple of Sinawava Shuttle Stop which is the last stop on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The road through the canyon is closed to during the summer to vehicles, so you must take the shuttle which starts from the Zion Visitor Center. For more info on the Zion Shuttle see nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/shuttle-system.htm.
Its best to start in the morning before the afternoon crowds arrive, and its best to allot a whole day to the hike so you don’t feel rushed.
Before leaving it is imperative to check with the NPS to ensure there are no flash flood warnings. Do not go if there is rain in the forecast. For more info on current conditions see https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
Riverside Walk Trail
After getting off the shuttle, follow the paved Riverside Walk Trail for one mile until it ends at the river. At this point, the canyon starts narrowing and the wading begins.
The path up the narrows alternates between ankle to knee-deep water (on average) and sandy shoreline. Every bend of the river is scenic. Pockets of lush vegetation, ferns, giant boulders, and picturesque pools are all framed by the towering orange canyon walls. The slot canyon extends for miles, and it is up to you to decide where to turn around.
What to Wear
Part of the walk up the narrows follows a sandy and rocky river bank, but the majority of the journey is spent wading through water and it’s important to bring a pair of shoes that are fine to get wet. Several companies in Springdale (zionguru.com, zionadventures.com) rent special canyoneering shoes for roughly $20 per day. You can also rent walking poles, neoprene socks, and dry pants / suits which should only be necessary during the spring and fall when it is cooler.
What to Bring
Necessities: Sunscreen, Water, Shoes that can get wet, Camera, A plastic bag or dry-bag to put camera and wallet in to keep it dry even if you fall in the river.
Optional: Walking Poles, Neoprene Socks, Canyoneering Shoes.
– There are no bathrooms and little privacy in the narrows – the last restroom is at the shuttle stop, so it’s best to plan accordingly.
– Practice leave no trace principles. A lot of people visit the narrows. Follow the the river and trail and do not trample vegetation. Don’t leave anything in the canyon – especially carved initials or any form of vandalism.
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