Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park
The Narrows canyon is a very unique and beautiful backpacking route that will take you through a stunning narrow corridor of giant rocky walls while walking on top of knee deep, crystal clear water of North Fork Virgin River. This trek is mostly done as a two-day backpacking trip, but can also be attempted as a long day hike.
- Distance: 26 km (16 mi) one way downstream.
- Elevation Change: 300 meters (1,000 ft)
- Estimated Duration: 2 Days
- Directions: From Park Entrance to Zion Narrows Upper Trailhead
- Alltrails Map: The Narrows Top-Down Route
- Flash Flood Warning: The stream can turn into deadly raging river in matter of minutes. Please make sure to check the weather forecast prior to your departure or stop by the visitors center to check for current conditions and advisories.
- Permit Requirements: A wilderness permit is required for all “Top-Down” day hikes and overnight backpacking trips. In order to camp in the Narrows, you must book ahead and reserve a specific campsite months in advance (Only 12 sites available). If you’re planning to spend only few hours hiking in the narrows from south entrance near Temple of Sinawava, no permits are required. TIP: I highly suggest hiking for approximately two hours, in order to get to the narrowest part of canyon called the “Wall Street”
- Shuttle Information: Departs at 6:15AM and 9:30AM and costs about $37.00/person. For groups of 8+ (10% discount is available) Additional information is available here
- Canyon Shoes & Neoprene Socks: We’ve rented our Neoprene Socks and Canyon Shoes from Zion Adventures and Google Maps Address
- Human Waste: If you need pee, it’s actually recommended to go and do it in a river. If you need to more then pee, make sure to pick up a “Restroom foil bag” when you get your permits from Visitors Office. Please respect the nature and pack it out!
The hike starts at the Narrows upper trailhead. In order to get there, you must book a shuttle or find someone who will take you up to Chamberlain’s Ranch, which is an 1hr 30min away from Parks South Entrance. We were lucky to meet a group who also were doing an overnight hike at narrows. So we agreed to drop off one of the cars at Canyon Junction Bridge and drove in the other up to Narrows Upper Trailhead. We had 5 people with 5 backpacks in a small compact car. Somehow we made it work!
For the first 3 miles, you will be walking on the dirt road fully exposed under the sun. Make sure to bring a hat or a sunscreen with you. Once the road ends, you will hike along the North Fork Virgin River until the trail disappear and it’s time to get your feet wet!
The next six miles in the upper section of the canyon are fairly exposed and somewhat wider with calmer water compared to lower section of narrows up ahead. As you hike further into the canyon, the walls start getting bigger and the canyon deeper and deeper.
Once you reach the North Fork Falls, you can easily bypass it through a little passage on the south side. Soon after, you’ll reach the river junction with Deep Creek and the water volume will increase as you enter a much more impressive section of the canyon.
Over the next few miles you will pass by few other confluences with Kolob Creek and Goose Creek along with few designated camping spots. As I recall, there are poles with luminescent numbers at each of the campsites that can be spotted at night with headlamps.
During next section you will encounter deeper parts of the river. Depending on water level, you might have to walk through waist or chest deep water. Make sure to empty your pockets and put electronics into ziploc or dry bags. You might also have to scramble over few large boulders along the way.
When you reach Big Springs, right after campsite #12, there will be a beautiful spring surrounded by lush green vegetation. This is a very beautiful section as you can see from the photos below. At this point, you will most likely start bumping into some of the day hikers as you will be approaching the end of your route.
When you reach Orderville Canyon, the area will slightly open up and you’ll have approximately another mile until you reach shorelines where crowds of tourists will be asking you about your adventure.