Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park was everything I hoped it would be and more, I often sit and daydream back to the memories from this hike. This hike was one of the reasons my husband and I decided to visit Zion National Park, located in southern Utah. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Hiking The Narrows involves wading through the Virgin River, as there is no path. It is an amazing river gorge, 20 to 30 feet wide, with walls one thousand feet tall.
We were super excited, and a little bit nervous about what we were getting ourselves into. We began our hike by taking the shuttle to The Temple of Sinawava because hiking The Narrows in this direction you are not required a permit. This is referred to as hiking “from the bottom up”. We laugh now when we reminisce about hiking down the one mile Riverside Walk to the trailhead of The Narrows. We were looking at all the hikers and their gear, wondering and worrying if we were prepared enough. We saw some hikers in full waders, and super heavy waterproof gear. As well as some that seemed even less prepared than we were. It seemed there were people of all experience levels. We were not sure what to think!
We finished the one mile walk from the shuttle stop and got our first look at the start and we got instantly excited. We took a short look around and noticed there were walking sticks everywhere leaned up against rocks. It seemed like a good idea (it was) so we each grabbed one and we were off and running! Clearly, we felt prepared enough, there was no stopping us. Excited and giddy we took off into The Narrows! It was epic immediately. We were hiking against the current so it was slow, and the water was cold, but nothing unbearable. Along our journey there were plenty of dry places to sit, but also many areas where there were no dry places to sit. It was the adventure of a lifetime.
Shortly into the hike we came across a dead deer floating in the water, it was pretty gross for one thing. For another thing, this made us aware of what was above us, we don’t know if this deer fell in or waded in, but it was an area of the hike where there was no land around us so it may have fallen. Something to think about! Also, looking up was FABULOUS! Since this hike is very uneven and there are obstacles everywhere you end up looking at your feet a lot! Be sure to stop to look up to enjoy the amazing views. It’s a whole new world in The Narrows, make sure you take it all in!
We prepared a bit before the trip for this hike, we purchased three new items for this trip – and they all were GREAT. The first thing we bought were Keen water friendly shoes. These were perfect, if it was any colder we may have wanted the full waders, but the weather was quite nice for May. Also, the hike is all uneven surfaces so if you have ankle problems I would recommend considering a waterproof shoe with more ankle support. The second thing we purchased was a GoPro camera. We bought this specifically for this trip and this hike, as well as the Angels Landing Hike. It was perfect, we weren’t sure what would be ok for cameras and how hard it would be to keep them dry so we opted to only bring the GoPro and I’m glad. While you certainly could bring a DSLR, it was nice not having to worry about it, and we could have our hands free. The third thing we purchased were waterproof hiking shorts and it was really nice, I definitely recommend quick-drying shorts or pants.
My husband and I brought one backpack for the two of us and took turns wearing it as we hiked. We had it packed with a small first aid kit, a waterproof case for one of our phones in case of emergency, snacks, and water for a mid-hike picnic. There were points when we were chest deep in water, and we had to hold the bag above our heads as we made our way down the trail, but it was not that bad. Regardless, you need to bring some type of bag if you plan to hike a lot of the trail/river, because you will need snacks and water for energy. I recommend a small lightweight backpack and putting your snacks in waterproof bags.
After approximately two hours of hiking upstream we were delighted to arrive at Orderville Canyon, which was our goal destination. This is a BEAUTIFUL tributary creek and a very narrow canyon! We loved this section of the hike. From here we began to continue on towards Big Spring. It was unbelievable. A short while later the weather began to change on us and the sunny skies clouded over, it started to look like rain was heading in. It’s interesting when you are in a canyon because you can basically only see directly above you, making it hard to predict what is truly happening with the weather. At this point we were deep in the canyon, had no service to check the weather, and had not seen any other hikers in a while. Zion does a good job of drilling the risks of flash floods into your head during the shuttle rides, so we knew it was better to be safe than sorry! While we do a lot of hiking, we are certainly not experienced canyon hikers. We quickly made the choice to turn around and head back downstream. Hiking out was WAY FASTER than hiking in, it was unbelievable how fast we got out, which was good because it was raining full force by the time we caught our shuttle back to camp!
So, Let’s recap!
Here are five things that helped make this a great experience:
1. That free walking stick (or you could buy some)
4. Quick Drying Shorts/Pants
5. Lightweight Backpack full of snacks and water
I hope these tips help you take on The Narrows, it is an experience you will cherish for the rest of your life. Have you hiked The Narrows? What tips am I missing? Any recommendations for other epic hikes I might love? Please let me know! Also, Click here to find out what days you can visit Zion for free this year!
Much Love & Happy Travels,
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