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Blurred version of the feature image used to fill empty space behind the feature image Keith and Lindsey are hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park

Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park

  • Written by Lindsey Huster
  •  / 
  • 5 min read
  •  / 
  • Last updated 2 months ago

While picturing hikes at Zion National Park, there are a few images that will likely pop into your mind; Angels Landing, The Subway, and The Narrows.  The Narrows is one of the most popular hikes at Zion.

The Narrows

Even if you don’t hike The Narrows, you probably have the iconic scenery in your photos.  If you do nothing else at Zion, you probably have ridden the shuttle bus to the very last stop to walk along the Riverside Walk.  In the end, you arrive at the starting point for The Narrows at the Virgin River.  It’s a great place to get your feet wet and more importantly… get your picture taken at The Narrows!

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Quick facts about the hike

  • Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava
  • Length: The Riverside Walk trail is 2.2 miles, the start of The Narrows hike begins there and you can hike approximately 9.4 further.
  • Elevation Gain: 57 feet (Riverside Walk +  334 feet (The Narrows)
  • Difficulty: Listed at Strenuous in the park guide;  I would say depends on how far you go, water flow conditions, temperature, etc.
  • Words of caution: understand the water flow levels, risk of flash floods, hypothermia signs, etc before hiking the narrows. Learn more by clicking HERE.  You should also check conditions with a ranger at the visitor center prior to hiking.

Check out our video

Hiking The Narrows // Zion Trip 2019

Our hike

Keith and I were absolutely blown away by how fun and different The Narrows hike is.  Until visiting the area we had never hiked in water and this is the ultimate water hike!  We knew how popular this hike is so we expected there to be quite a crowd.  Although we usually prefer a less congested hike, it is a lot of fun to see and chat with other people.  The laughs, along with the oohs and aahs of the crowd add a certain excitement to the adventure.  It’s kind of like being at a party!

If you hike long enough to reach Wall Street, you can venture off to Veiled Falls.  This will likely get you a little further from the crowd.  Additionally, you might even find yourself all alone at the bottom of this canyon looking up at the towering walls.  Feeling small and having a deep respect for nature will probably consume your thoughts.  This is one of the reasons why Keith and I enjoy the outdoors.  It forces you to realize just how special the Earth is and how humbled you can feel.

Keith is hiking near a massive boulder in the Virgin River
Keith is hiking near a massive boulder in the Virgin River
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Keith’s knee did not like this hike

At this point in our trip, Keith was about 6 months post-knee surgery; ACL replacement with a lateral release, and cartilage repair.  He wasn’t physically where he wanted to be and subsequently wondered if there wasn’t still something not quite right.

He had already successfully completed hikes we thought might be too much.  It was quite surprising and yet not, that on this day his knee was in quite a bit of pain.  It actually all started with the shuttle ride!  After riding the bus to the back of the park, Keith went to stand up and he felt something wasn’t right at that point.  We walked the trail to begin The Narrows, which was just over two miles.  Not feeling too bad, he decided to continue into the water.

Keith and I hiked for quite a while and between wanting to get back before dark and not wanting to overdo it, we felt fairly accomplished with this day.  We also thought that maybe we’d give it another try if time permitted.  Although we didn’t have a chance to hike it again, we hope to in the future.

Overall, this ended up being the most pain Keith was in during the whole trip.  Although he needed a day off for recovery, he was able to do all the activities we planned.  Spending 6 weeks in the area also gave us additional time to have rest days.

Pro tips for the hike

  • Research options for clothing; you can rent gear in Springville
  • We chose to use our own hiking poles and boots.
  • We bought wool socks for this hike and several others we’d be doing on the trip.
  • Consider a waterproof phone case (I picked up one at the visitor center for about $20).  You are also fairly likely to slip/trip and be nearing shoulder-deep in the water.
  • Many hikers line their backpacks with garbage bags to keep food and additional clothing dry.
  • Check the weather and go during the warmest part of the day.
  • Be mindful of when the sun sets since you don’t want to be in the canyon after dark.
  • Have the map on your phone; you won’t have cell service.  We just took a picture on our phone from a website and referred to the mileage compared to our fitness watches.
  • There are actually two options for hiking The Narrows.
  • Bottom-up, which is what we did and doesn’t require a permit.
  • Top-down, which does require a permit, transportation arrangement, etc.
  • More information about The Narrows can be found on these two great sites.
  • Zion Guru – The Zion Narrows
  • Joe’s Guide to Zion National Park -The Narrows
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Have you hiked The Narrows?

What tips do you have after experiencing The Narrows?  Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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