Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park

One of the most commonly asked questions about hikes in Zion National Park is about the Narrows. It is one of the most unique hikes in the area. Prepare to be wet! Most hikers wade waist deep or even swim through portions.  It is a truly special place but one that you need to know a few things before starting to hike it. Plan on spending 60% of your time in the water and the remaining time walking on the riverbank.

It’s a pretty tough hike with uneven ground and walking upstream against the current of the Virgin River – so it is important to be prepared!

First of all, there are two ways/areas to hike in the Narrows:

1.Bottom Up Hike From the Temple of Sinawava (no permit required) (Best for first time river hikers/those with only a short time in the park!)

Hiking in The Narrows upstream as far as Big Spring does not require a permit. Doing the hike this way allows you to see some of the most spectacular and narrowest parts of the canyon. You can hike in the river for an hour and have a great experience, or you can hike as far as Big Spring, a strenuous, ten-mile round trip, all-day adventure. This trip starts in Zion Canyon – ride the shuttle to Temple of Sinawava (about 45 mins). This trip during the summer is OK for most kids 4 feet or taller. The nice thing about going this way is you can turn back at any point. From the parking lot, it is usually about 2-3 hrs till you get to the part of the Narrows known as “Wall Street”. Also note that most hikers say it takes 2/3 of the time to hike back as it did to hike in. If you want to take photos in this area, the best light is usually 10am-3pm, and you may need a tripod for lower lit areas. You can only hike as far up as Big Springs.

2. Top Down Hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch (permit required)

You can also hike sixteen miles downstream over one or two days, entering the park soon after starting the hike and then exiting at the Temple of Sinawava. Those who choose this option must get a permit and arrange transportation for the one and a half hour ride to start the hike outside the park at Chamberlain’s Ranch. There are 12 designated sites for hikers to stay overnight at. You are looking at between 7-8 hrs of hiking per day. Since you will be carrying all of your gear in the water, make sure to pack light!

**IMPORTANT: Flash floods are an EXTREMELY real hazard! Please ensure that you speak to a ranger for up to date information regarding weather **

Suggested Packing:

  • Comfortable, closed toed shoes
  • Walking Stick
  • Clothes for cooler temperatures – hypothermia is a risk at any time of year!
  • Water
  • SunscreenZion National Park

Have you hiked the narrows? What are your favorite tips?


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