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9 Things to Know for the Zion Narrows Hike

March 12, 2018

Around the World with Justin
Last May I stepped foot in Zion National Park for the first time and completely fell in love. When I was asked by Visit St. George and Travel Mindset to return for the Zion Narrows hike, my answer was an easy YES! I then found out that the dates for #InstaMeetStGeorge were in mid-February and I was confused why we were exploring Zion in the middle of winter. After two days my answer was clear. Winter is actually an awesome time to hike Zion!

Here’s 9 things to know for the Zion Narrows hike.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Justin WalterZion National Park Narrows Hike

1. WHEN TO GO

The Zion Narrows hike is accessible year-round, depending on weather. If you’re willing to handle lower temperatures in exchange for smaller crowds, I highly recommend visiting in winter! In 2017, Zion National Park welcomed over 4.4 million visitors, most showing up late spring through early fall. When I did the Zion Narrows hike in mid-February, it felt like we had the place to ourselves!

Zion National Park Narrows Hike

Photo by: Brian Christ

Zion National Park Narrows Hike

My friend Michelle (also on the trip) from Live Like It’s The Weekend  previously hiked The Narrows in the summer and told me the difference was night and day: in winter there are A LOT less people to deal with on the actual hike, shuttles, parking lots, etc. During our visit the temperatures were in the 40s in the morning and warmed up to the 60s by afternoon. With proper clothing, cooler temps were definitely a good trade-off for a more private experience.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Justin WalterZion National Park Narrows Hike

2. WHAT TO WEAR

No matter what time of year you do the Zion Narrows hike, it’s important to understand you’re literally hiking in the Virgin River. Your feet (and body) are going to get wet! Make sure to have close-toed, sturdy shoes that you’re comfortable hiking in water with.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Justin Walter

If you’re hiking in the winter, get suited up! For all your clothing and gear rental needs Zion Adventure Company has EVERYTHING you’ll need no matter the time of year. I went with their “Dry Suit Package” that included a dry suit, canyon shoes, neoprene socks and a hiking pole. Underneath my dry suit I wore leggings, a dry fit short sleeve t-shirt and a long-sleeve pullover. If you plan on bringing camera equipment I would also recommend renting a waterproof bag.

Zion Adventure Company

Zion National Park Narrows Hike

Photo by: Brian Christ

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Zion Adventure Company Justin Walter

The only time I was actually cold was when I stripped down to become the first ever merman to hike The Narrows. Mer-MAN!

Zion National Park Narrows Hike MermanZion National Park Narrows Hike Merman

3. HOW TO GET THERE

Zion National Park is located in southwestern Utah near a small town called Springdale. Upon arrival there is an entrance fee that varies depending on your car and group size. During peak seasons, parking lots fill up fast! If you can’t nab a spot within the grounds you’ll have to park in Springdale and then take a shuttle or walk to the entrance. Within the park, Zion has a free shuttle system. For The Narrows, get on the bus at the Visitor’s Center and take it to the very last stop, Temple of Sinawava.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Temple of Sinawava

4. BOTTOM UP

There are 2 main ways to do the Zion Narrows hike. “Bottom Up” begins within Zion National Park at the Temple of Sinawava. It allows up to a 10 mile round trip hike in the Virgin River hiking north up to Big Spring. Visitors have the freedom to choose how far they hike in before turning around. Every step offers jaw dropping views of the park’s thousand foot tall canyon walls.

Zion National Park Narrows HikeZion National Park Narrows HikeZion National Park Narrows Hike

After nearly 2 hours hikers will reach a junction. The path on the left takes visitors to the narrowest part of the slot canyon known as “Wall Street” and the path on the right down Orderville Canyon.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Orderville Canyon Wall Street

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Wall Street

Photo by: Brian Christ

5. TOP DOWN

Another option for exploring The Narrows is a 16 mile hike downstream that starts outside of Zion National Park at Chamberlain’s Ranch. This his takes 1 day or 2 with an overnight. Hikers must arrange their own transportation to the start which is about a 1.5 hour drive outside of the park.

Zion National Park Narrows HikeZion National Park Narrows Hike

6. PERMITS

A permit IS required for Top Down, but not for Bottom Up. Reservations are available online during a three-month time frame.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike

Photo by: Brian Christ

7. SAFETY

The Zion Narrows hike is one of the most difficult hikes within the park along with Angels Landing and Observation Point. It is EXTREMELY important to be aware of and cautious of flash flooding in The Narrows. During a storm (that could be miles away), runoff funnels through The Narrows and water levels can rise instantly to levels above 12 feet high. Before hiking, examine the forecast and don’t risk it if there’s potential for bad weather. It’s important to know the signs of flash floods and how to protect yourself in case of an emergency.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike

8. WHERE TO STAY

During both of my Zion trips I stayed in St. George, Utah which is less than an hour drive from Zion National Park. I highly recommend St. George as a convenient home base for the Zion Narrows hike. There are plenty of accommodations from budget to luxury and it’s also in close proximity to other jaw-dropping parks.

Zion National Park Narrows Hike Visit St George Utah

Here’s 8 things to know for the Zion Narrows hike:

Photo by: Brian Christ

9. MER-MAN!

Bring or wear something fun or goofy! Be a “fish out of water” on the Zion Narrows hike… and send me your photos!

Zion Narrows Hike

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Zion Narrows Hike

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6 Comments

  • Reply How to Survive the Angels Landing Hike at Zion National Park | Around The World with Justin WalterAround the World with Justin March 12, 2018 at 12:16 am

    […] recommend Zion enough!!! Hiking the Zion trifecta (as I like to call it) – Observation Point, The Narrows & Angels Landing – has put Zion at the top of my U.S. National Park list. While each hike […]

  • Reply Brianna Simmons March 12, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Gorgeous pictures from the Narrows! I much preferred hiking in the winter compared to the crowds of summer. Plus we got a sighting of the elusive Merman!

    • Reply Justin Walter March 13, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Winter crowds, or should I say LACK OF crowds is so much better than summer for sure. I’m glad you got to see the Merman of Zion… he doesn’t show his scales often…

  • Reply Sivan Scherier May 4, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Hi! Thank you for the tips, they are really usefull. I’m planning a trip with my mate to the narrows during September and I was wondering, should we take a guide or can we do the hike alone? Also, what is the difference between bottom up to top down? Why we need permit to one and the other one does not require a permit? Does it mean that top down is better than bottom up? Thanks ahead, Sivan

    • Reply Justin Walter May 4, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Sivan, I’m glad my blog helped! As for hiking with a guide, you don’t need to hire a guide. A lot of people hike without them. I would recommend stopping at a store like Zion Adventure Company to get good maps and ask any last minute questions you may have. As far as Top Down vs Bottom Up – one isn’t better than the other. Bottom Up starts within the park while Top Down you have to have a permit and starts outside of the actual park and then you hike in. You need to have a permit to access this. Hope this helps!

  • Reply David June 8, 2018 at 2:46 am

    Such a wonderful view from down the narrows. The scene of two gigantic walls is just breathtaking!

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