The Narrows of Zion National Park UT

The Narrows of Zion National Park in Utah is a captivating natural wonderland renowned for its majestic sandstone cliffs, vibrant canyons, and diverse ecosystems. Established in 1919, Zion encompasses over 229 square miles of breathtaking terrain, attracting millions of visitors each year.

Within this stunning park, the Narrows hike stands out as one of the most iconic and sought-after experiences. The Narrows is a narrow slot canyon carved by the Virgin River, offering a unique and awe-inspiring adventure. As you venture through the canyon’s towering walls, often only a few feet apart, you will be immersed in a stunning display of nature’s power and beauty.

Why are the Narrows at Zion NP so Popular?

Due to its remarkable beauty, geological significance, and immersive experience, the Narrows hike has garnered immense popularity, attracting hikers from across the globe. It has become an iconic symbol of Zion National Park, representing its amazing natural wonders and captivating draw.

hikers in the canon at the narrows in zion national park
Hikers navigate the beautiful, narrow slot canyons that make up The Narrows.

Geological Significance

The importance and popularity of the Narrows hike stem from several factors. First off, its geological significance cannot be overstated. Over millions of years, the Virgin River carved through the Navajo sandstone, creating a dramatic and narrow gorge that showcases the park’s geological history in a remarkable way.

Scenic Significance

The Narrows offers a profound sense of connection with the natural environment. With towering walls reaching up to 1,000 feet high and sunlight filtering through the narrow opening above, hikers are surrounded by a serene and otherworldly atmosphere. The cool waters of the Virgin River, which hikers traverse, provide a soothing and immersive experience, particularly during the hot summer months.

Recreational Significance

The Narrows hike appeals to adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. It presents a thrilling challenge as hikers navigate through the water, over slippery rocks, and around obstacles. The constantly changing conditions of the river add an element of excitement and unpredictability to the journey.

Finally, the Narrows embodies the essence of wilderness exploration. It offers a unique perspective on the park, allowing visitors to witness the intricate beauty of the slot canyons, observe the diverse flora and fauna that thrive in this environment, and create memories of an unforgettable adventure.

How do I Prepare for Hiking the Narrows?

Preparation is crucial before taking on The Narrows hike. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Obtain necessary permits (if required): Check with the park authorities if any permits are needed for hiking the Narrows. Certain times of the year may require a permit due to high demand or limited access.
  • Check weather conditions and water flow levels: Before heading out, monitor the weather forecast and check the water flow levels in the Virgin River. Flash floods can be dangerous in these narrow canyons, so avoiding hiking during or immediately after heavy rainfall is essential. Weather in Zion National Park, Utah, can change quickly.
  • Pack appropriate gear and clothing:
    • Sturdy footwear with good traction: Choose hiking boots or shoes with excellent grip and ankle support. The terrain can be uneven and slippery.
    • Neoprene socks or water shoes: Consider wearing neoprene socks or specialized water shoes to keep your feet comfortable and protected in wet conditions.
    • Hiking poles (optional but helpful): Hiking poles can provide stability and support while navigating through the river and on uneven surfaces.
    • Dry bag or waterproof backpack: Keep your belongings dry using a waterproof backpack or dry bag to protect your electronics, clothing, and food.
    • Appropriate clothing layers: Dress in lightweight, quick-drying clothing suitable for the prevailing weather conditions. Consider wearing a moisture-wicking base layer, a lightweight insulating layer, and a waterproof outer shell.
    • Water and snacks: Carry an adequate water supply to stay hydrated throughout the hike. Pack energy-rich snacks to keep your energy levels up during the journey.

The Narrows Trailhead and Access Points

These three key access points offer different options for starting the Narrows hike, catering to varying preferences and hiking abilities. Whether beginning at the Temple of Sinawava or opting for Chamberlain’s Ranch, both routes lead to the remarkable and breathtaking Narrows of Zion National Park, UT.

flowing waters of The Narrows surrounded by towering canyons
The cool, flowing waters of The Narrows, surrounded by towering canyons, make for a hiking experience unlike any other. NPS Photo

Temple of Sinawava

The starting point for the Narrows hike is at the Temple of Sinawava, which serves as the gateway to the canyon. This is where the trailhead begins, providing amenities such as parking, restrooms, and visitor information.

Riverside Walk

Before entering the Narrows, hikers must follow the paved Riverside Walk, a scenic path that leads to the canyon’s entrance. This tranquil walk along the Virgin River offers beautiful views and is suitable for all skill levels.

Chamberlain’s Ranch (optional)

Chamberlain’s Ranch is an alternative starting point for those seeking a longer hike. It requires arranging transportation to the ranch and embarking on a roughly 16-mile journey, providing a more remote and less crowded experience.

Wall Street Section of the Narrows

The Wall Street section of the Narrows is a gorgeous stretch that leaves hikers in awe of its dramatic beauty and striking geological formations.

It’s characterized by towering sandstone walls that soar hundreds of feet high, narrowing the canyon to a mere 20-30 feet wide at some points. These majestic walls create a sense of intimacy and immersion as hikers navigate through the canyon.

Notable Landmarks and Geological Features within the Wall Street section include:

  • The Narrows’ Narrowest Point: This section of the Narrows is known for its narrowest point, where the canyon walls press inwards. Hikers often find themselves walking through shallow water while surrounded by towering cliffs here.
  • Hanging Gardens: Along the walls of the Wall Street section, lush hanging gardens can be found. These gardens are formed by seeping water and create a stark contrast against the otherwise rugged and arid environment. The vibrant green vegetation adds a touch of tranquility and natural beauty to the scene.
  • Striated Rock Walls: The sandstone walls of the Wall Street section exhibit stunning striations, showcasing the region’s geological history. The sedimentary rock layers reveal millions of years of deposition and erosion, creating a visually captivating display.
  • Natural Arch: One notable geological feature within the Wall Street section is a natural arch formed by the erosion of the sandstone. This arch serves as a unique and picturesque landmark, highlighting the remarkable forces of nature at work.

Additional Points of Interest in the Narrows

  • Orderville Canyon (side trip option): Along the Narrows, hikers have the option to embark on a side trip to Orderville Canyon. This side canyon offers its own unique beauty, with narrower passages and intricate rock formations. Exploring Orderville Canyon provides a more secluded and intimate experience for those seeking further adventure.
  • Big Springs: Located within the Narrows, Big Springs is a notable attraction. This natural water source emerges from the ground, creating a tranquil oasis amidst the rugged canyon environment. The sight of clear water bubbling up amid the Narrows adds a touch of serenity and serves as a refreshing spot for hikers to rest and rejuvenate.
  • Mystery Falls: As you continue through the Narrows, you will come across Mystery Falls. This cascading waterfall adds an element of enchantment to the journey. The sight and sound of water plunging down the rock face, surrounded by the towering canyon walls, create a captivating and memorable experience.

Key Turnaround Points

Don’t have time for everything? No problem. There are key turnaround points where you may choose to end your journey:

Orderville Junction: This serves as a common turnaround point for hikers. This is where the side canyon of Orderville Canyon meets the main Narrows. You can explore Orderville Canyon before retracing your steps back to the starting point.

Wall Street: The Wall Street section, known for its towering canyon walls and narrow passage, is another popular turnaround point. You can choose to end your journey at this section before making your way back through the Narrows.

Safety Considerations when Hiking the Narrows

flash flood at the narrows in zion national park
Flash floods can happen quickly at Zion National Park. The Narrows is an especially dangerous place to be in the park if a flash flood occurs. NPS Photo

Flash Flood Risks and Weather Monitoring

Flash floods are a serious danger in narrow slot canyons like the Narrows. Be aware of the weather forecast and check with park rangers for flash flood warnings or advisories. Avoid hiking during or immediately after heavy rainfall. Keep an eye on the water level and be prepared to turn back if conditions deteriorate.

Buddy System and Hiking With A Group

Hiking the Narrows with a buddy or in a group is strongly recommended. Having companions ensures you can watch out for each other, share resources, and provide assistance if needed. If someone in your group encounters difficulties or an emergency situation arises, having others with you can be crucial for safety.

Proper Hydration and Avoiding Hypothermia

Staying hydrated is essential during the Narrows hike. Carry an adequate water supply and drink regularly to prevent dehydration, especially in hot weather. Additionally, be mindful of the water temperature in the river. Even during summer, the water can be cold, increasing the risk of hypothermia. Dress in appropriate layers to stay warm, and consider using neoprene socks or water shoes to protect your feet from the chilly water.

Safety Equipment and Gear

Ensure you have the necessary safety equipment and gear for the hike. This includes a sturdy walking stick or hiking poles for stability, a waterproof backpack or dry bag to protect your belongings, and proper footwear with good traction to prevent slips and falls on slippery surfaces.

Leave No Trace Principles

Respect the natural environment by following Leave No Trace principles. Pack out all trash, avoid damaging vegetation, and stay on designated trails to minimize your impact on the fragile ecosystem.

Final Thoughts

Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park offers an unparalleled and awe-inspiring experience. This unique adventure takes you through narrow slot canyons carved by the Virgin River, immersing you in a world of towering sandstone walls, pristine waterways, and stunning geological formations. 

The Narrows captivates with its natural beauty, from the incredible Wall Street section to the remarkable landmarks and geological features scattered along the trail. As you navigate the river, surrounded by the serenity of the canyon, a profound sense of connection with nature emerges. 

This wonder of nature draws adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts alike, providing a thrilling challenge as you conquer the ever-changing currents and slippery rocks. It is a testament to the power and beauty of nature.

Prepare wisely, prioritize safety, and embark on this unforgettable journey to witness the splendor of this unique park—a truly extraordinary experience in the Narrows of Zion National Park, UT!

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About Me

My husband and I have three precious daughters and live in the Kansas City, KS area. One of our favorite things to do is travel across the country visiting our extraordinary US National Parks!

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