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Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park – Tips From a First-Timer

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.

A look at the beautiful walls of The Narrows

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!

Just getting started!

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.

Giddy with excitement =)

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.

Great shoes for the hike!

 

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)

2.      Waterproof, Closed Toe Shoes

3.      Waterproof Camera or Camera Protection

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,

Lacey

I highly recommend this AMAZING hike!

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*This post contains affiliate links, this means I receive a small commission for the sales made. I only recommend products I myself would buy. Thank you in advance.

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34 Comments

  • Reply Brian

    Couldn’t agree more! This is an absolutely spectacular hike and should not be missed. We were very lucky to squeeze this in on the first day of our Zion visit right before the rains. Flash flooding closed the trail for the next several days. So, for anyone else who visits, make sure you keep an eye on the weather and prioritize this adventure so the rains don’t steal your opportunity!

    March 14, 2017 at 4:54 pm
  • Reply Minnesotayogini

    Yes! Certainly a hike you must plan for and be smart about! I also did it the first day of my trip and was glad! So rad! 🙂 Thanks for reading! Happy travels!

    March 14, 2017 at 8:35 pm
  • Reply Bay Mehl

    LOVE Zions. I live in Southern Utah so I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of hiking and site seeing. I’m glad you had so much fun. If you have a chance, you should also check out Bryce Canyon. It’s GORGEOUS. Can’t wait to see more of your adventures!

    March 15, 2017 at 10:35 am
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      I actually just visited Bryce about s month ago! I LOVED it! I can’t wait to go back to both! I’m kinda obsessed with Utah 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:17 am
  • Reply Bespoke Traveler

    This is indeed an amazing hike in an amazing national park. Summiting Angel’s Landing was another epic trail at Zion.

    March 15, 2017 at 11:53 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Yes! I loved angels landing too! I agree, it is such a great park!

      March 19, 2017 at 2:18 am
  • Reply Cassie

    I love this post, it makes me want to do this hike so bad! Thanks for sharing your tips and experience!

    March 16, 2017 at 11:47 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Thanks! You must! It is one of the coolest hikes I have ever done! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:18 am
  • Reply Julia Dent

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a hike in water before! Looks like a fun experience though!

    March 18, 2017 at 11:59 am
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      It was unbelievable! Super cool! Thanks for reading!

      March 19, 2017 at 2:19 am
  • Reply Erica Coffman

    I’m dying to get to Utah and this post gave me even more wanderlust for that area! Are there longer hikes available in the canyon, or is this one pretty standard?

    March 18, 2017 at 12:07 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      I believe if you do this entire hike it is something like an 11 hour hike, there are many different hikes of all distances and difficulties! Utah is like a hiking paradise! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:20 am
  • Reply Mary

    Great tips for visiting! I’ll be there hopefully in the Fall timeframe and your tips will most definitely help me! Especially on some things to bring with. Thanks 😀

    Mary @SVtipsygypsy
    http://www.maryandtharon.com

    March 18, 2017 at 1:29 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Awesome! Enjoy your trip! It is amazing! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:21 am
  • Reply Anisa

    Looks like a gorgeous hike. I don’t know what I would have done when I saw that deer though, that might have made me want to turn around. Glad you were able to get past it.

    March 18, 2017 at 1:56 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      It was surprising and gross fur sure! It had already been cleaned up by the time we passed that area on our way out though! So that was good! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:22 am
  • Reply Penny

    Your hike sounds really really interesting. I have to admit that I would probably have been scared. My husband has drilled the idea of flash floods in my head. It can get scary and for a person like me who can’t swim even more so. That being said I would still have tried it to test my limits. Loved your post and your photos!

    March 18, 2017 at 2:15 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Yes, it is somewhere you need to be smart and careful, but on a day with good weather i say – do it! It was life changing! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:23 am
  • Reply emily

    So cool! Would love to do this.

    March 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      It was great! Thanks for reading!

      March 19, 2017 at 2:23 am
  • Reply Megan

    I’ve been to Zion three times and still haven’t done this (the Angles Landing!) I definitely want to go back this summer to do them. I’ll be working in Utah for the summer so it’s way easier to go than from home, Wisconsin haha.

    March 18, 2017 at 7:27 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Glad to connect with a fellow midwestern 🙂 That’s awesome you will be working down there! Yay! Yes, do this hike for sure, you will love it! 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:24 am
  • Reply Kris Morton

    I’ve always wanted to take this hike!

    March 18, 2017 at 10:45 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      It was amazing! Definitely do it 🙂

      March 19, 2017 at 2:25 am
  • Reply Emily

    Thanks for sharing your tips! We were just there but The Narrows was closed (it was February so I imagine that wading through water up to your chest might be a little too cold) so we are already planning a trip back in summer time! This post made me feel a lot more prepared about what to expect!

    March 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      You are very welcome! Thank you for reading! I’m glad it made you feel more comfortable. It was less intimidating than I expected once we got started! A great experience! You will love it!

      March 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm
  • Reply Sylvanmist

    Oh wow I didn’t realize the water got up so high as your chest! I thought it was pretty much all wading. We went to Zion this past October but weren’t prepared and didn’t have the time to hike the Narrows. We just did the 1 mile paved hike to the start of it. It’s good you got out in time before the rain came. We also saw all the warnings about flash floods there it’s scary if you get stuck. I’d love to go back some time and do the whole hike though!

    March 19, 2017 at 11:43 pm
  • Reply Christina from Happy to Wander

    This looks like SUCH an epic hike! I’ve wanted to come here since forever (I blame Instagram and all its perfect orange photos haha). It sounds like you handled the dead deer situation alright too! haha I personally would have freaaaked out. Thanks for these great tips. Hope I’ll make it there this summer or next 😀

    March 20, 2017 at 8:17 am
  • Reply Caroline

    I’ve never heard of hiking through water! What an experience.

    March 20, 2017 at 9:42 am
  • Reply Stacey Valle

    I haven’t hiked there yet! I heard how it is insanely beautiful! I’m not quite an experienced hiker either, but it still fun to do so! Generally when I hike, I actually enjoy hiking in the rain, when all prepared and aware of your safety, of course! Two hours up is worth the hike for that view, I’m sure! 🙂

    March 22, 2017 at 7:56 am
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      Yes, I had certainly never done anything like this! It definitely made me want to hike more and more! It was amazing!

      March 22, 2017 at 5:27 pm
  • Reply Minnesota Yogini - 5 Tips to Help you Conquer Angels Landing - Zion National Park - Minnesota Yogini

    […] you Hiked Angels Landing? Did it change your life? Another favorite of mine at this park is, The Narrows. What other hikes are there, like this, that you think I should try?! Please […]

    March 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm
  • Reply Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate

    So jealous! Every time I’ve been to Zion, the Narrows is closed!

    July 7, 2017 at 12:13 pm
    • Reply Minnesotayogini

      It was amazing! I didn’t notice how lucky I was at the time, but now I’ve heard so many stories about it being closed during people’s visits! I hope you get lucky next time you are there! ✌🏻

      July 7, 2017 at 12:49 pm

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