The Zion Narrows is one of the most iconic features of Zion National Park. This majestic slot canyon is the section of the Virgin River upstream from the main Zion Canyon. With walls soaring thousands of feet high and only thirty feet apart in some portions, the canyon provides hikers a completely unique adventure. Experiencing the Narrows requires hikers to wade in the river as it meanders through the deep corridor of Navajo sandstone. The hike can be done one of two different ways:

Bottom-Up Narrows Hike

Trailhead: Temple of Sinawava (the final stop of the Zion Shuttle on the Scenic Drive). Trailhead can only be accessed by Zion Shuttle from March to November (see park shuttle schedule for specific dates).

Difficulty Rating: Moderate (Strenuous at high water flow)

Length: 3-10 miles round-trip. Hike is done as an out-and-back allowing hikers to turn back at any point.

Time Commitment: 4-8 hours

Permit Required: No

Preferred Season: With proper gear, this hike can be enjoyed year-round. Seasonal snowmelt can close the hike during the Spring (the river must stay below 150 cfs for the hike to remain open). Summer is a popular time to do the hike so getting an early start is recommended to avoid crowds.

Elevation: Mostly flat but rocky and wet terrain

Flashflood Warning: Check the weather and do not hike with rain in the forecast.

Route Description: The first mile of the Narrows is the paved Riverside Walk. At the paths end, hikers begin their trek through the river. The canyon is wider at first, providing many beaches and areas of high ground. 2.5 miles from the trailhead, a fork in the river is encountered. To the right, Orderville Canyon feeds into the Narrows which is continued by keeping left. This is where the canyon walls narrow and the especially iconic section of the hike begins. Most hikers try to at least make it to this point then turn back when they feel ready. All bottom-up hikers are required to turn back at Big Spring; a wide, 20 ft waterfall on the left-hand side.

Top-Down Narrows Hike

Trailhead: Chamberlain’s Ranch. Requires a second vehicle or paid shuttle; we recommend Red Rock Shuttles at (435)635-9104 Road to trailhead is dirt and can be rough, especially after rain. Hike concludes at the Temple of Sinawava.

Difficulty Rating: Strenuous

Length: 16 miles one way

Time Commitment: 12-18 hours (with backpacking gear) or 10-13 hours (as day hike)

Permit Required: YES! Zion Wilderness Permit is required for both backpacking and day hike trips

Preferred Season: Year-round. Summer and Fall are preferred seasons. Spring runoff can cause closures from about mid March to late May. Flow must stay below 120 cfs for the hike to remain open. Winter hikes can be done using dry equipment, though road conditions to Chamberlain’s Ranch may be unsuitable due to storms.

Elevation: Subtle elevation loss on rocky, wet terrain

Flashflood Warning: Check the weather and do not hike with rain in the forecast.

Route Description: From the trailhead at Chamberlain’s Ranch, hike west along a dirt road next to the stream for 3 easy miles. A shallow canyon begins to form and hiking in the river becomes necessary. The next 6 miles are characterized by sections of forest mixed with brief sections of shallow narrows. At mile 9, the rivers confluence with Deep Creek is encountered. At this point the water flow increases significantly and the deepest, iconic section of the Narrows begins. Campsites for backpacking groups can be found during the next 3 miles before reaching Big Spring; a wide, 20 ft waterfall to the right. Several sections after Big Spring can contain brief sections of deep wading (can be chest deep or deeper). 2.5 miles after Big Spring the Narrows junction with Orderville Canyon is encountered and the canyon begins to widen. Crowds of bottom-up hikers can be expected during the 1.5 miles between Orderville canyon and the paved Riverside Walk trail. Hike the trail 1 mile to the trailhead at the Temple of Sinawava where the Zion Shuttle will return you to the visitor center.

gear up

Zion Outfitter provides specialized gear that allows hikers to safely and comfortably explore the Narrows. Each year many hikers enter the Narrows unprepared for the terrain. Hiking the Narrows requires walking in the rocky, uneven, and slippery river bottom for a majority of the day.

All Narrows packages include canyoneering boots specifically designed for slippery conditions that maintain grip while wet and provide proper ankle support. The boots are worn with neoprene socks which insulate the foot and prevent the blistering and the discomfort accompanied with hiking in wet boots. Cold weather packages include dry gear to keep hikers dry and warm.

We provide a variety of options to accommodate each season and varying water levels. Each Narrows package also comes with a wooden hiking stick for stability and balance; these hold up much better in the Narrows than regular trekking poles. By taking the appropriate gear you will ensure that your experience in the Narrows is safe and enjoyable.