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If you are planning a trip to Zion National Park, then hiking The Narrows needs to be at the top of your Zion bucket list because The Narrows is a legendary hike! Here is everything you need to know about hiking The Narrows for beginners to have an unforgettable experience.

Looking for more hiking ideas in Zion? Zion National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Here are 7 fun and easy hikes in Zion National Park where you are guaranteed to see breathtaking scenery.

Looking for more challenging hikes? Check out my post 13 Great Hikes in Zion National Park You Need to Explore.

There are other things to do besides hiking the ZionTrails! For a break from the hiking trails, make sure to put Zion Canyon Scenic Drive on your Zion itinerary. This scenic drive will take you to some of the best viewpoints in Grand Teton National Park.

If you are planning a trip to Zion National Park, then do not these helpful posts!

Complete Guide to Zion National Park – 13 Tips for First Visit 

13 Best Stops on Scenic Drive in Zion National Park (Maps+Tips)

Perfect One Day in Zion National Park (Itinerary+Maps+Tips)

Zion National Park can easily be combined with Bryce Canyon National Park for an ultimate 3-day road trip. Check out Zion to Bryce Canyon in 3 Days (Itinerary+Useful Tips).

Did you know that Utah has 5 national parks? Have you visited all of them? Let me know which park is your favorite! Get inspired by Epic 7-Day Road Trip Through Utah National Parks.

Without further ado, here is a complete guide to hiking The Narrows for beginners:

Zion National Park At-A-Glance

Before diving in, here are a few Zion National Park highlights to help you plan your trip:

  • Best Time to Visit Zion National Park

Zion National Park is a great destination to visit at any time of the year. And, it is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. I have visited Zion so many times at different times of the year and I have to honestly say that it is an awesome place to see no matter what month you visit!

Needless to say, April and May and then September and October, are my favorite months to visit Zion National Park. The temperatures are mild with daytime temps in the 60s and 70s F. You will see fewer crowds as well and have some serene experiences on trails and at viewpoints.

Summer is the high season. Expect a lot of companionship on the trails and everywhere throughout the park. The temperatures skyrocket as well ranging from the high 80s to 100s F.

Winter is a good time to visit Zion National Park. Above all, you will be able to find some solitude. Snow seldom reaches the canyon floor and that being the case, the scenic drive and some hiking can be enjoyed during that time. Temperatures can range from low 50s to sometimes low 70s F. However, make sure to check the weather and local snow conditions. Make sure that the trails you are planning to hike are clear and safe.

  • Where to Stay When Visiting Zion National Park

Hands down, nothing beats staying inside the park! However, accommodations inside the park are very limited and you will need to make reservations at least a year in advance. Zion Lodge is the only hotel inside the park. It is open year-round and has several different types of accommodations like cabins, hotel rooms, and suites.

Zion National Park has three campgrounds. South and Watchman Campgrounds are inside the Zion Canyon, Lava Point Campground is about 1-hour drive from Zion Canyon on the Kolob Terrace Road. Reservations are required at South and Watchman Campgrounds.

Springdale, UT is conveniently right at the entrance to Zion and it is the perfect getaway to Zion National Park. I stayed in Springdale several times and my two top choices are Hampton Inn & Suites Springdale/Zion National Park, and SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park. Both places are clean and comfortable, and the location is perfect.

  • How to Get to Zion National Park

The closest International Airports to Zion National Park that you can fly into are located in Las Vegas (LAS), Nevada, and Salt Lake City (SLC), Utah. There are smaller Regional Airports in St. George (SGU), Utah, and Cedar City (CDC), Utah. I use Skyscanner to browse flights and find the best price.

  • How to Get Around in Zion National Park

If you are visiting Zion National Park between the months of March through November, then you will have to use the shuttle. No private vehicles are allowed inside the park. The cost of the shuttle is included in your recreational use pass. You can hop on and hop off at any of the shuttle stops.

There are two shuttle routes: Zion Canyon Shuttle, which runs along the Zion Scenic Drive and makes 9 stops at viewpoints and trailheads, and Springdale Shuttle which stops at 9 locations in the town of Springdale and picks up and drops off visitors at the park’s pedestrian/bike entrance.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Vist Zion National Park

In order to visit Zion National Park, you need to purchase a recreational day-use pass, which costs $35 per vehicle and is good for 7 consecutive days. You can purchase the pass right at the entrance to the park. If you are visiting several national parks then make sure to get America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This $80 pass is valid for 12 months and gets you into all 400+ national park sites!

What Is The Narrows in Zion National Park

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park situated on the North Fork of the Virgin River and upstream of the main canyon.

The Narrows hike refers to both the 3.6-mile bottom-up hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs, as well as the 16-mile top-down hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch back to the Temple of Sinawava.

This guide is about hiking The Narrows for beginners and it goes into detail about hiking The Narrows bottom-up from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs.

The Narrows is a legendary hike. Notably, you will be hiking the Virgin River upstream. The river will be your trail. You will be hiking in knee-deep to waist-deep (depending on the season) water. The water is cold and the current is strong. The riverbed has sections of sand and sections of slippery rocks.

This is one of the most visually spectacular hikes! You are hiking in the canyon where in some areas the walls rise up to more than 1,000 feet, and they are only 20 feet apart. You will see waterfalls, huge boulders, hidden canyons, hanging gardens, and so much more.

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

When Is the Best Time of the Year to Hike The Narrows

The Narrows is open year-round. However, the National Park Service closes The Narrows whenever the water flow is above 120 cubic feet per second. You can check the current water levels at USGS National Water Information System for North Fork Virgin River near Springdale, UT

  • Generally, The Narrows is closed for much of the spring months (mid-March to late May) due to snowmelt and spring run-off.
  • Historically, the month of June has low water levels.
  • During the summer months, July and August, the North American Monsoon can bring on rapid afternoon rainstorms which may cause flash floods. Weather forecasts need to be taken very seriously. Do not hike the Zion Narrows if there is any kind of rain in the forecast. This hike can change into a monster within minutes with strong, rushing water.
  • The best option is to hike it in the fall. September, October, and November have the most stable weather.
  • Winter hiking (December, January, and February) is possible with the proper protection. It is cold and the water is frigid, you will have to wear protective gear.

What Is the Best Time of the Day to Hike The Narrows

  • If you plan to do the entire trail, then start The Narrows hike as early as possible. It takes 3-4 hours to hike to the Big Springs section of The Narrows. To complete the trail, it will take you at least 6-8 hours or longer depending on the conditions.
  • If you want to do just a section of The Narrows, then start later in the day when it warms up, especially if you are hiking in the spring, fall, or winter.
  • If you are hiking in the summer, it is nice to start in the late afternoon. It will feel good to hike in the water and most of the canyon will be in the shade.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds and have some solitude while hiking The Narrows, then start early in the morning. It gets very busy (especially in the summer) by about 9 or 10 am.

How Long Does It Take to Hike The Narrows

  • Distance and Lenght of Time to hike The Narrows Bottom-Up is 5 miles one-way (3-4 hours one-way).
  • The starting point for hiking The Narrows is Zion Canyon Shuttle Stop # 9 Temple of Sinawava.
  • The hike from the Temple of Sinawava to the Gateway to the Narrows is 1 mile (30 min). This section of the hike is an easy paved trail with very little elevation change.
  • At the Gateway to the Narrows, you start hiking the Virgin River upstream. It is no more than 0.5 miles (15 min) before you reach Mystery Falls.
  • From Mystery Falls to the beginning of Wall Street is about 1.25 miles (40 min).
  • From Wall Street to the confluence with Orderville Canyon is about .25 miles (15 min0.  – .25 mile (15 min).
  • Confluence with Orderville Canyon to Big Springs is 2.5 miles (1 hour 30 min).

What to Bring for Hiking The Narrows

The following items can be rented from Zion Outfitters, which is located right outside Zion National Park in the town of Springdale:

  • Warm Weather Package  – it is recommended during the summer months and includes canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, and a hiking stick. The canyoneering boots provide a great grip on wet or dry rock. In addition, they give awesome ankle support. Further, you need to know that your feet will get wet, but they will be kept warm by the neoprene socks. The wooden hiking stick is ideal for balance and stability. Believe me, you will need it!
  • Dry Pants Package – it is recommended during fall when the water levels are low but the water is absolutely frigid. Dry Pants Package includes dry pants, which are waist-high, canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, and a wooden hiking stick. The pants will keep all water out so you are able to wear your regular hiking clothes underneath.
  • Dry Bib Package – it is recommended during spring and winter. The water levels are high and of course, the water is icy cold. The Dry Bibs come up to the armpits providing more coverage than the dry pants. The package includes dry bibs (waders), canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, and a wooden hiking stick.
  • You can rent a waterproof backpack as well to keep all your documents, phones, cameras, etc safe and dry.

How Physically Fit Do You Have to Be to Hike The Narrows Bottom Up

The Narrows Bottom Up is a strenuous hike. You will be hiking the Virgin River up the stream. The water can be ankle, knee, or waist-deep depending on the season.  The current is can be very strong in deeper sections.

The bottom line is that you need to be in good physical condition to do this hike. You can hike to the Mystery Falls section and see how you are doing and make a decision as to whether to continue the hike or not.

Do You Need a Permit to Hike The Narrows

  • You do not need a permit to hike The Narrows Bottom-Up from the lower end of the Virgin River, up the stream.

Hiking The Narrows Bottom-Up is the best option for beginners. The step-by-step description of The Narrows Bottom-Up is in the next section of this post.

  • You do need a permit to hike The Narrows ‘Top Down’ in a single-day hike. This is a day hike from the upper end of the Virgin River down the stream. It is a 16-mile route that takes an average of 12 hours. The trailhead is at Chamberlain’s Ranch. It is a 1.5-hour drive from the Zion National Park Visitors Center to Chamberlain’s Ranch.

For this hike, you will need either two vehicles or you will have to use a shuttle service. Shuttle prices range from $35-$45 a person and depart either from the outfitter’s office or from the Zion National Park Visitors Center. Departure times vary, but I would recommend taking the earliest departure possible. You should call to reserve your space in the shuttle as you have your dates finalized. Shuttles fill up well in advance. There are several companies that offer shuttle services. The least expensive one that I found was Zion Rock and Mountain Guides.

It is a strenuous long hike and you need to be in a very good physical condition to be able to complete this hike in one day.

  • You do need a permit to hike The Narrows as an overnight hike Top Down. This is an overnight hike from the upper end with camping in the canyon. You will be able to enjoy the Zion Narrows at a more leisurely pace.

Keep in mind that only one-night stays are allowed, and overnight trips must start from Chamberlain’s Ranch. Again, as soon as you have your Zion Narrows hike date confirmed, make reservations for the campsite.

Now, if you are hiking in a large group, keep in mind that only two sites can accommodate groups of more than six people.

I think that getting the overnight backpacking permit is the most difficult part of planning your trip through the Zion Narrows. Here is the website where you can make the reservations: Zion Wilderness Reservation System

Complete Guide to Hiking The Narrows for Beginners - Step-By- Step

The Gateway to The Narrows

You will start your hike in the Virgin River at the Gateway to the Narrows.

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Gateway to The Narrows / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Mystery Falls

In less than half-a-mile from the Gateway to the Narrows, you will reach Mystery Falls. It is a very beautiful spot where the water falls down the walls. You can stop right at Mystery Falls and retrace your steps.

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Mystery Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Mystery Falls along The Narrows in Zion

Mystery Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Mystery Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Confluence with Orderville Canyon

Just a few minutes from the start of Wall Street is the confluence with Orderville Canyon. Orderville Canyon will be on the right. You can take a quick detour and hike to Vailed Falls if you are up to it, otherwise continue on Wall Street.

The Narrows in Zion

Veiled Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Veiled Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Veiled Falls / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Wall Street

Just a few minutes from the start of Wall Street is the confluence with Orderville Canyon. Orderville Canyon will be on the right. You can take a quick detour and hike to Vailed Falls if you are up to it, otherwise continue on Wall Street.

The Wall Street section lasts about a mile and it is stunning. It is the narrowest section of the Zion Canyon where the walls are only 20 feet apart.

As the walls begin to open, I would recommend this as the turnaround spot.

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Wall Street / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Wall Street / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Wall Street / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Wall Street / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Wall Street / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Big Springs

If your goal is to reach Big Springs, then it is roughly 2.5 miles from Orderville Canyon to Big Springs. It is a long and strenuous section, however, the scenery is amazing.

The Narrows in Zion

Big Springs / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

The Narrows in Zion

Big Springs / Hiking The Narrows for Beginners 

Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

Intrepid Scout's Tips for Hiking The Narrows for Beginners

  • Stock up on snacks and water, and fill up the gas tank. Get all your groceries (water, snacks, lunch) and fill up the gas tank before entering the park. You will save some money by packing your own lunch. There is a restaurant and a small store at Zion Lodge, however, be prepared to pay extra for food and water.
  • Be prepared for crowds. Zion National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. 4.5 million people visited Zion National Park in 2019. With that being the case, be prepared for crowds everywhere.
  • Park your vehicle in Springdale, UT, and then take the shuttle. Parking is very limited inside Zion National Park and private vehicles are not allowed past the Canyon Junction if the shuttle is operating. Park your vehicle in Springdale and then take the shuttle. There are nine shuttle stops in Springdale.
  • Arrive early. The shuttle starts operating at 6 am. Be the first one in the line to board the shuttle. You will be able to experience some solitude on the trails and not wait in line to take a picture.
  • A trip to Zion is perfect when paired with a side trip to Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, or Canyonlands, Capitol Reef National Parks.

Check out my post: Zion to Bryce Canyon: 3-Day Adventure (with Maps and Photos)

Did you know that Utah has five national parks known as ‘The Mighty 5‘. Have you visited any of them? Which is your favorite Utah National Park? Let me know in the comments below which one you think is one of the best Utah national parks. Get inspired with this Epic 7-Day Road Trip Through Utah National Parks.

Now, It Is Your Turn, I Would Like to Hear Back from You!

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Comments:

2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to HIKING The NARROWS for BEGINNERS


2019-11-07

This is interesting to me because I was at Zion and didn’t want to hike the Narrows due to the chance of flash flooding. Sounds like it’s fine if you plan and prepare. And what a fantastic hike!

    2019-11-11

    Hi Sharon!
    It is one of the most popular hikes in Zion. I definitely recommend checking the weather conditions before attempting to make this hike.

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