One of the most iconic and classic hikes in Zion is the Narrows. This approximately 6-8 miles round trip trek into the virgin river will show you, arguably, the best of what Zion has to offer and what it’s really known for beside the big red rock formation.

Deep into the the narrows
Deep into the the narrows

overview

During the summer and early fall months, this trail is doable in shorts, tank tops, and regular hiking shoes. However, I did this in the spring and the water level was around 40 degrees, so I rented the dry suit, water shoes, neoprene socks from Zion Outfitters. The store is located right outside of the park pedestrian entrance, so it’s really convenient if you camp in either the south or the watchman campground.

The narrows trail is quite flat if you will be hiking up stream in water about half of the time, so every step is an extra effort.

caution & preparation

Don’t attempt this without checking in with the ranger the day of. Flash flood is a real threat and it can happens even on a seemingly nice day. Although flash floods in Spring is rare, it can happen. The prime months for danger would be early summer when the park gets most of its rain and the snow starts to melt fast due to higher temperature.

In the winter and spring months, it’s not a bad idea to rent appropriate gear from a store to keep yourself dry and warm away from hypothermia.

Also, the rangers may close off the trail if the water is too high, which is usually at 150 cubic feet. I did the narrow when the water is at about mid 70’s. Water tends to rise as the snow melt in the spring and early summer. Usually the trail will close from April to possibly May or June. I went late March right before when the water starts to rise. It was going up at about 10 cubic feet per day!

trailhead

The narrows is easy to find because it’s so popular. Take the shuttle to Temple of Sinawava, which is the last stop of the shuttle route, get off and hike the 1 mile riverside walk. At the end, the walk will dump you on the river bank. Then you will hike up stream into the narrows.

the hike

Magnificent is the word to describe this trail. It’s just unbelievably beautiful from beginning to finish. The water was just perfect. I wouldn’t want it to be any lower or higher. It was high and running fast enough to make me work for it, but not too strong that I can’t enjoy the hike.

Water was about my knee. Well i'm a pretty small man
Water was about my knee. Well i’m a pretty small man

The narrows start out pretty wide but soon enough you will find yourself towered by the height of the canyon walls on both sides.

At the beginning of the narrows. It's still pretty wide
At the beginning of the narrows. It’s still pretty wide

Water will get deep at some points. I tried to stay in the water as much as I could because it was more fun that way. There was one section where I had to carry my backpack over my head to keep it from getting wet.

Checking water level
Checking the water level

There three main point of interests along the narrows are, the Mystery Falls, the Wall Street and Orderville Canyon Junction.

Hiking along the narrows in the wall street section
Hiking along the narrows in the wall street section

The Mystery Falls is about less than a mile into the hike. It’s a small stream of water pouring down along the right side of the cliff. Passing that is the beginning of the Wall Street section, which is where the canyon rises up high and becomes more narrows.

Orderville Canyon is off to your right. You can choose to continue up stream the virgin river or explore the Orderville as a side trip.

I went up the virgin river for a mile or a mile and a half more and that’s where it got really narrow and beautiful. I highly recommend going up as far as you can.

The canyon is closing together
The canyon is closing together

It’s a demanding hike especially in high water, so make sure to save yourself some energy for hiking out.

Me in the narrow section of the narrows
Me in the narrow section of the narrows

Written by Snook

I do one cool thing every weekend!

18 comments

    1. Yes! i did! it was awesome. It was crazy how many people were doing it. I even saw a few toddlers. I was so scared. And a guy trying to cry his baby up the freaking thing! I was more nervous about other people than the hike itself. haha

    1. Oh that’d be terrifying. But i made sure to check in with the ranger the day of. Usually it’s pretty safe in the Spring. It’s summer when people need to be a little bit more concerned due to high precipitation and snowmelt.

  1. Hey i found your website from IG! So many questions lol. First, THANK YOU for your input. Also, did you have to obtain a backpacking permit the day before? Im concern by the time we get there the day before (since we’re coming from LA) that they don’t have any backpacking permits left for the Narrows.

    1. hey rochelle, thanks for visiting, and you are very welcome. You do not need a permit to hike the subway from bottom-up, which is just a regular hike along the virgin river. You will need permit to do canyoneering route from top-down, though. Let me know if you have any questions.

      1. Ohhh that’s so exciting! have fun and keep me posted.

        I camped at the first come, first served campground (South). if you are there anytime after 11am or noon, your chances of getting a site is pretty low. I didn’t get a campsite the first night and had to stay in a motel. I showed up the next day at 8am to get a spot. and there were only a few open which were quickly taken.

    2. Okay for permit, from what i know, the narrows is obviously popular especially on the weekend and there’s really only limited number of permits given. However, it is technical so it’s not as popular as the subway or other backcountry. I think you should be able to get a permit. I’m not sure though, so good luck!

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