The first weekend in November we visited Zion National Park in Utah. The first day we spent exploring some of the easier, shorter hikes in the park (you can read about those here) and the second day we took the 2 hour trip to Bryce Canyon National Park (blog post on that here). Our third and final day we saved for hiking ‘The Narrows’ in Zion.
‘The Narrows’ is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon, accessible only by hiking up through the Virgin River. It is one of Zion’s most popular hikes, so we did it on a Monday morning to avoid the weekend crowds.
The summer temperatures in Zion reach over 100F, so walking upstream through the river is a good way to escape the heat and cool off. However we tackled it in November, so needed a little bit of extra kit. There are a few stores in Springdale where you can rent everything you need for walking through the river. We went early to Zion Guru and were kitted out with dry pants, canyoneer boots, neoprene socks, walking sticks and a dry bag. I’d say at this time of year it is essential to go for the dry pants as it would be pretty cold without them. At it’s highest, the water reached my upper thighs, and the pants definitely kept me warm (and dry), not the most flattering when you have your hoodie tucked into them though!
To hike the Narrows you have to get the Zion shuttle bus up to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. It’s easiest to park at the visitors centre which is just on the right as you come through the gate at Springdale. The shuttles come every few minutes, and take about 40 minutes to get up to the Temple of Sinawava.
We then took the trail ‘Riverside Walk’ to the beginning of the Narrows. It’s actually a really lovely trail to take even if you aren’t planning on hiking the Narrows. It’s paved and relatively flat so ideal for anyone.
After about a mile you get the end of the Riverside Walk and this is where you enter the Virgin River. I’ll be honest I was a bit nervous, and we took the first 10 minutes really slowly as we got used to walking through the water. The river bed is covered in rocks so it take a while to work out how to walk using the stick and find your footing under the water.
It didn’t take long before we felt confident in the water and really started to enjoy the hike. You don’t walk in water the whole time as there are sand banks and rocky areas through some parts of the canyon, but it was fun to try and find the best places to cross the river. We came across the most spectacular views and of course I took a lot of photos!
Some people spend the whole day hiking the Narrows, but as we still had a 6 hour drive home later that day we had to limit our time and move fairly quickly. We were aiming to reach Wall Street, the narrowest part of the canyon. Luckily it’s much quicker on the way back as you are going with the water rather than against it so we pushed on and made it to the entrance of Wall Street, before turning around and heading back.
The Narrows truly was amazing. I’ve never done anything like it and it was such an unforgettable experience I’m so glad to have done it. If you ever think of visiting Zion National Park then do! If you are planning on doing the Narrows hike then here are some of my tips and bits of advice:
- As one of Zion’s most popular hikes the Narrows can get very crowded on a weekend, especially a Saturday. When planning your time here aim to avoid the weekend crowds if possible.
- Hire the right gear. It may be different in summer, but especially in the cooler months having the right kit will make all the difference. I couldn’t have hiked through the river without dry pants and canyoneering boots.
- Take food and drink with you. Unsurprisingly there isn’t anywhere you can get food and drink on this hike, and you can spend all day in the Narrows.
- There are toilets and taps for drinking water at the shuttle stop at the Temple of Sinawava and this is the last chance you have to use these facilities before the hike.
- Take (or hire) a dry bag for things like your camera and phones. There is a high chance they could get wet, and did you even do it if you don’t have the photos?!
If you are going to hike the Narrows, you are going to love it! Enjoy!