Hiking the Zion Narrows is yet another one of the Zion National Park’s incredible options. As long as you’re willing to get a little wet, you’re in for an incredible experience unlike any trail you’ve hiked before. This hike features large cliffs on either side of you, incredible rock formations and the beautiful Virgin River is your trail.
You can have an incredible experience only hiking a a short distance in the narrows, or you can take the entire day exploring traveling over 10 miles, so it is perfect for any level of experience.
There are two different routes to make this trip, one of which requires a wilderness permit, and another that does not. The most common route is from the bottom up, where hikers do not need to obtain a wilderness permit. Other options are from the top down, where a permit is necessary. If taking the top down approach, it is often split up into a two day hike. This article will highlight the more common route, from the bottom up, but will also quickly touch base on the top down approach.
Distance (bottom up): 5 miles roundtrip (more mileage available)
Duration: 4-7 hours (allow for 6-7 if you want to explore the coolest places)
The Narrows – Bottom Up | 10 Miles Round Trip
This is by far the more common route, and can be accessed by individuals of all ability levels. Starting at the Temple of Sinawava, hikers can walk to the “Gateway To The Narrows” on a paved and wheelchair accessible path.
Hikers will reach the end of the paved path 1 mile into the hike.
Beyond this point hikers will need to be ready to step in water and be wet the rest of the way.
2 miles later, hikers will reach the junction between Orderville Canyon and the beginning of the section called “Wall Street”. Here hikers can bear right or left at this junction. To the right is the path to Veiled Falls (a beautiful detour of the normal path), to the left is the main route to continue on through the narrows. This detour up Orderville Canyon is very narrow, has even higher canyon walls than the main section.
Wall Street is the narrowest section of the main path through the canyon and absolutely stunning.
By continuing left, hikers will be heading towards Paired Boulders, Big Spring, and the end of Wall Street.
Big Springs marks the end of the hike for bottom up hikers as a permit is necessary to go any further beyond this point. Hikers reach Big Springs 5 miles into the hike.
The Narrows – Top Down | 16 Miles Through Hiking
This is a 16 mile trek from Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park, and requires a permit. You will also need to arrange a ride to Chamberlain’s Ranch, located about an hour and half by car from the Zion Park’s entrance.
Many choose to utilize some of the 12 campsites located in the narrows.
This hike takes an average of 12 hours.
Map Courtesy of http://www.zionguru.com/hiking-the-narrows/
Narrows Current Conditions
The Narrows will shut down when river flows exceed 150 cubic feet per second. Check the current conditions here: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
Hiking from the bottom up, you will not need a permit. If you are hiking from the top down, you will need a permit.
There are a couple of ways you can obtain a permit. You can apply online, 3 months in advance of your trip with a $5 lottery fee (non-refundable). You can also apply for a last minute drawing 2-7 days in advance of the hike, or you can get a walk-in permit the day of or the day before your hike. This last is a risky option, but during less frequented months, you can almost guarantee a spot this way.
Walk-In Permits can be obtained at the Zion National Park Visitor Center
Want to apply online? See here: https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/narrowspermits.htm
$15 for 1-2 people
$20 for 3-7 people
$25 for 8-12 people
What Kind of Equipment and Footwear Do You Need For The Narrows?
You are absolutely going to get wet and stay wet in the Narrows. This is fantastic during the warmer months, but colder months can actually be quite cold. This part of the park is often 5-10 degrees cooler than the rest, and you will also be walking through the river. During high water, the Virgin River can be strong, making a walking stick a great tool. You should wear footwear that can handle getting wet and stepping on loose river rock. Many choose to rent waders that are available to rent outside the park.
If you are willing to be a little cold, or are used to this kind of thing, you can get away with just about any kind of shoe. Something with ankle support is recommended to reduce the risk of rolling an ankle on the loose and sometimes hard to see rock.
Temple of Sinawava: You will need to take the Zion Shuttle system to get here. It is the last stop.
Other Zion National Park Hikes
If you are a little nervous about hiking the Angel’s Landing trail, or maybe need a few extra hikes in Zion, you should absolutely check out the following: