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Hiking in the Narrows
Hiking in the Narrows was one of the best days of my life!! It was so different, beautiful, exciting, and adventurous. It was absolutely amazing!! I’ve done a lot of hiking over the years, but the Narrows at Zion National Park is my all time favorite hike!! The Narrows is such a “different” and “unique” hike, but don’t worry I’ll fill you in on all of the secrets I’ve learned. Below you’ll find all of my tips for hiking in the narrows:
Download the All Trails App
Before you go download the All Trails App and subscribe to their yearly membership. The membership lets you download trail maps to your device and gives you exact GPS coordinates according to the map. We didn’t have service most of the time but our All Trails App helped us view our location on the river. Super helpful if you want to hike to a certain spot.
Reserve Your Shuttle Passes
Don’t forget to reserve your shuttle passes in advance (try to get an early morning shuttle pass). The main stretch of the park is for “shuttles only” so you need a shuttle pass to get to the Narrows. Check their website for the details on reserving shuttle passes (it changes so I don’t want to mislead you). Once you know the date/time for purchasing shuttle passes, set an alarm and mark your calendar. There are hundreds of shuttle passes available for each day but they still go pretty fast!! I recommend an early morning shuttle pass so you can avoid the crowds while you hike and you’ll be able to park for free at the visitor center. One morning we arrived at 9:30am and the free parking at the visitor center was already full (FYI: you’ll have to park in town then). If you aren’t able to get a shuttle pass reservation, then I recommend reserving an electric bike or a shuttle through one of the outfitters in town. They’re A LOT more expensive but at least you’ll be able to get into the park.
Invest or Rent Waterproof Shoes and Socks
Rent some waterproof gear from Zion Outfitters!! I promise you it’s worth it!! If you don’t rent the gear, then you’ll have to pack extra gear just for this hike (you’ll have to pack extra hiking shoes and some neoprene socks). I should warn you, waterproof shoes/socks aren’t necessarily waterproof. Your feet are going to get wet but the material is meant to get wet (unlike my normal shoes/socks). Neoprene socks are really just a way to help insulate your feet and avoid getting blisters.
Pack a Waterproof Cell Phone Case
Pack your waterproof cell phone case!! Y’all they’re cheap and protect your super expensive phone…better safe than sorry!! I saw a lady screaming on her hike because she fell in the water and ruined her cell phone…don’t be “that lady”.
Invest in a Waterproof Backpack
If you’re worried about your gear getting wet, then you should invest in a waterproof backpack. I didn’t pack anything expensive with me so I just used my normal hiking pack. But if you’re planning to take your DSLR or any other expensive gear then it would be worth it to invest in a waterproof backpack. You could rent a waterproof backpack but you can buy one for the same price. Never know it might come in handy in the future.
Pack Your Hiking Sticks
Hiking sticks are a must have!! In the past I would’ve told you that hiking sticks are for old people (sorry). But for this hike specifically the hiking sticks were so helpful!! It can be hard to keep your balance while hiking in a river. Your hiking on rocks, you can’t see where you’re stepping, and the water is pushing you around. The hiking sticks helped me keep my balance and saved me from falling into the water multiple times. Also we passed a ton of hikers because we were moving faster than them. I promise you we weren’t faster because we’re in better shape. We were faster because we could keep our balance with the hiking sticks. You’ll make better time with the hiking sticks and you’ll be less likely to fall in the water. Get them!! If you rent gear, a hiking stick is typically included but it’s literally just a wooden stick. It’s still helpful but not as comfortable and lightweight as the hiking sticks we purchased.
Look at the weather reports and make a mental note that it’ll be colder in the Narrows. I don’t know if it just feels colder because of the water or maybe it’s the lack of sunlight in the Narrows….but it is noticeably colder on this trail. This may not be a problem if you go in the summer, you might love the relief from the heat!! Also try to wear some quick drying clothes so that your clothes don’t stay wet all day.
Pack Plenty of Snacks and Water
There’s no place close to grab lunch after your hike so be prepared!! We found a big rock to sit on for a picnic, such a nice break in our hike!! Our favorite hiking snack is Duke’s Smokes Sausage (Duke if y’all are reading this don’t you think it’s about time you make me a sponsor??). Seriously though it’s the perfect hiking snack because it doesn’t melt and it’s filling.
To get to the Narrows you’ll take the shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. When you first get off the shuttle, head to the restroom because there won’t be another opportunity on the trail. Then you’ll hike the Riverside Walk Trail, which is about 2 miles round trip (1 mile each way). Once you get to the end of the trail, you’ll see the beginning of the Narrows hike (basically you’ll just hop in the river and start hiking up river).
Be Prepared to Get Wet
You’re going to get very wet!! Very wet!! The water’s going to come up to your waist and mid thighs multiple times. So don’t do this hike thinking just your feet are going to get wet, your whole lower body is going to get wet!! And if you go super far into the Narrows (past Wall Street), then you might be lifting your bag over your head as the water gets chest deep!! The water levels vary throughout the year so keep that in mind (we went in October which is supposed to be low water levels).
Hike as Far as You’d Like
The great thing about the Narrows is that you can hike in as far as you feel comfortable. If you only want to go for a half mile that’s fine. If you want to go to for 6 hours like we did, then that’s fine too!!
Hike to Wall Street
After about 2 miles of hiking in the river, you’ll come to an intersection in the river. If you go to the left of the intersection, you’ll see the beginning of Wall Street. Wall Street is the “famous” part of the Narrows, it’s where the river gets narrow(er) and everyone stops for that Intagram photo. Luckily most people are tired at this point so they take a photo and turn around but you gotta keep going!! After about a half mile you’ll have the whole place to yourself!! Enjoy it!! Wall Street ends when you see two large boulders in the river and the river widens. I know that’s not specific but I recommend you just go until your heart is content.
You’re Going to be Sore
Remember that it’s tiring walking in the water, it’s extra resistance and it uses muscles that you don’t typically use. You’re going to get sore if you go all day, so listen to your body and turn around whenever you need too.
It’s Faster Hiking Back
It’ll be much faster on the hike back down the river, you’re going with the flow of water instead of against it. Most people can hike down in 1/2-3/4 the time it took them to hike up.
Hike on Your Last Days in Zion
I recommend hiking the Narrows one of your last days in Zion. You might end up sore in places you’ve never been sore before and you might get blisters from having wet gear (hopefully not but ya never know).
There’s No Need to Hike “Top Down”
You can hike the Narrows “top down“, which is where you take a shuttle to the top and hike down river only. The problem is that takes a lot of planning (reserving special shuttle passes), buying more gear for camping overnight, and it’s a little more intense (longer hike). It’s not necessary in my opinion. You can enjoy the Narrows hiking bottom up without all of that added planning and enjoy it just as much!!
I hope these tips help you plan an amazing day in the Narrows!! Be sure to check out my recommended 2-3 day itinerary for Zion National Park. And tag me in your photos y’all so I can enjoy the adventure with you!!!