Zion National Park – Narrows

The Narrows in Zion National Park is a popular hike. It is also a unique hike, because you are walking in the Virgin River almost the entire hike. There are two ways to hike the Narrows – “top down” or “bottom up”. To hike “top down” you will need to obtain a wilderness permit, find out more information here: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/narrowspermits.htm

The “top down” hike is 16 miles in length and is a strenuous hike that starts at Chamberlain’s Ranch. Some groups choose to camp in the Virgin River Gorge overnight, taking two days to complete the hike.

 Near the beginning of the hike, there are more crowds.
Near the beginning of the hike, there are more crowds.

You do not need a permit to hike “bottom up”. Simply take the canyon bus to stop #9 (the final stop, Temple of Sinawava) and start walking on the Riverwalk trail. This trail is paved and is approximately 1 mile in length. At the end of the pavement are stairs into the Virgin River.

**Be careful. Depending on the time of year and the amount of snowfall Zion experienced the previous winter, the water could be high, the current strong and swift. You will also be walking over uneven rocks in the riverbed, which could be slippery.

Young and old alike enjoy the Narrows!
Young and old alike enjoy the Narrows!

It is a good idea to wear sturdy shoes and carry a walking stick to help with your balance. If you don’t have this gear, or don’t want to travel with your own, there are several outfitters just outside of the Park from which you can rent the appropriate socks, shoes and sticks.

There are spots deep enough for the kids to jump off the rocks and swim, though most of the hike is in much shallower water.
There are spots deep enough for the kids to jump off the rocks and swim, though most of the hike is in much shallower water.

After about a mile of walking in the river, the crowds will start to thin out. You can keep walking and turn around whenever you want. Orderville Canyon is a junction approximately 2 ½ miles upriver and many groups try to make it to this point before turning around.

The Narrows is an awesome hike with amazing scenery, and if you are in Zion in the middle of the summer it is a good way to keep cool. We have taken the “bottom up” hike with children ages 10+ and adults of all ages. It is not the easiest hike once you get into the river but it can still be considered family friendly, because you can go for as short or long of a walk as you are physically able.

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