The Narrows – an incredibly unique experience for any hiker!

The Narrows – an incredibly unique experience for any hiker!

Location: Zion National Park, Utah

Length: as long as you wish

Difficulty: Moderate

GPS Coordinates: N 37 17.798  W 112 56.895


Zion Narrows is among the most incredible and breathtaking adventures in the US. Thousands of people come to Zion National Park in order to challenge themselves with this scenic and adventurous hike. This unique hike at the bottom of a sandstone canyon, the walls of which rise thousands of feet vertically and come as close as twenty feet across at some places is a fantastic and exciting experience even for proficient hikers. Accepting the challenge of Zion Narrows means travelling along the Virgin River on uneven surface of river bed, consisting of slippery rocks. A thin curving strip is all you will be able to see of the sky as you hike this gorgeous “trail”.

The Narrows is situated at the northern section of Zion Canyon; its entrance can be reached by hiking a paved and accessible Riverside Walk Trail, a one-mile trail, starting at the Temple of Sinawava.

Actually there are several options as for how The Narrows can be hiked: as a day-hike from the bottom – upstream (you may choose the distance you are willing to hike, deciding when to stop and turn back), as a two days 16 mile backpacking trip from the top – down (with an overnight at one of several campsites, which is also a special, unforgettable experience). In this case your trip will start at Chamberlain’s Ranch, located in the northeast direction from the Main Canyon. Or you may hike the whole 16 miles from the top – down in one day if you dare and if your skill level allows you.

While hiking The Narrows you walk right in the river bed of the Virgin River and it is slow going every so often as the most of your trip is wading in water. The stones covering the river bottom are slippery, and if your hike takes place a day or two after the flash flood, the water can be murky, and without seeing the river bottom your hike becomes even slower. As the canyon walls tower even higher over your head, coming closer to each other, the sunlight merely shines to the bottom, thus making the temperatures lower inside the Narrows.

Walk inside a beautiful and majestic Zion Canyon which narrows near the end to what is called a slot canyon due to the vertical cliffs that are so close together. In approximately half a mile from the Narrows’ entrance you will see Mystery Falls – drips of water here fall from above and flow down in beautiful cascades over rocks. And in approximately a mile and a half you will get to a place known as “Wall Street” – the indication of the most confined section of this canyon, where the hike will continue only in water. Continue your walk and soon you will reach the entrance into Orderville Canyon. Most people use this place as a turning point of their hike. Some decide to explore the beauty and enchantment of Orderville Canyon. And few decide to continue exploration of Zion Narrows until reaching Bid Springs. Whatever you chose, try not to overrate your strength as you should remember that you will have to walk back not only through The Narrows, but also along the Riverside Walk Trail.

Due to the risk through the hike like this, proper preparation should be done before the trip to ensure your safety. The “must have” for the hikers in The Narrows are shoes with the closed toes (that can be even your ordinary hiking boots), and a walking stick or trek poles, which will really be helpful and useful not only to stay balanced, but to check the water depth ahead of you. You may rent all these from one of numerous rental places in the town of Springdale.

During planning your adventure into The Narrows, it is highly recommended to check the possibility of a flash flood. The thundershowers are possible here throughout the year, especially starting from the middle of summer, creating a probable hazard to people hiking not only The Narrows but also another slot canyons. During such thunderstorms the river turns pretty quickly into a powerful flow of rushing water, with double or triple volume. That is why you just must make a stop at the Visitor Center to ask a ranger about the most updated conditions and flash flood probability.

Take care and this hike will become the best experience of your life.

Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

Pictures taken: 11/1/16

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