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Put The Narrows Hike at Zion National Park on your bucket list!

Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park was on my trip bucket list. It looked so gorgeous from all the pictures I had seen and I was really excited to see such beauty in person. It’s listed in National Geographic’s Top Ten Outdoor Adventures. The river hike exceeded all my expectations and I highly recommend everyone get this on their bucket list if you haven’t ever been here. It was absolutely breathtaking and really a unique experience. All of us really enjoyed it!

Kids hiking Narrows

What exactly is The Narrows Hike? The Virgin River has carved an amazing gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon. The Narrows river hike is definitely an unforgettable experience with its soaring walls, sandstone grottos and hanging gardens. You access the river hike by taking the Zion National Park shuttle from the Visitor Center to the last stop The Temple of Sinawava. From there you follow the signs for the River Walk and hike one mile down on the paved path until it ends at the Narrows and wade on in! We had the kids wear their regular tennis shoes to hike the  River Walk and then change into their water shoes once they got there. We just left our tennis shoes and socks up on the banks while we were in the river. The kids were very happy to have dry shoes and socks to put on at the end. Keith and I hadn’t brought a change of footwear and wished we would’ve.

walking through the narrows

What can you expect on the hike?

The Narrows isn’t necessarily easy by any means, but it can be as leisurely or strenuous as you want to make it. The majority of the time is spent wading, walking and sometimes swimming in the cold river. There is no maintained trail because the route is the river! How awesome is that? When we first all stepped into the water, we were freezing and wondering how we would ever make it. Perseverance pays off for sure and you get acclimated to all of the elements quickly! Hike up as far as you want to go and then turn around and retrace your steps. The round trip hike is 5 miles if you go all the way to Orderville Canyon and Wall Street, but really there is not a formal destination. It gets pretty strenuous fighting the currents and slippery rocks toward the end. We spent about 5 hours doing this hike. We took sandwiches, energy bars and lots of water in our backpacks to picnic on the banks here and there.

 mom in the narrows

What should you wear to do The Narrows?

There are several companies in town that you can rent proper gear from, entailing walking sticks and special shoes. I don’t even know what it costs to rent these, but we saw a lot of people who did that. We feel it’s important for the kids (and us as well) to make do with what they have and learn to be uncomfortable at times. (Life lesson teaching: Life isn’t always going to be full of perfect comfort. It’s good to learn to work through some discomfort and see that you are just fine in the end. Off my parenting soapbox now and back to the hike….) The kids just wore their water shoes, while I wore my waterproof hiking boots, as that was what was recommended footwear. I’m not sure if that was the best idea though as I felt like I had ankle weights on a majority of the time. The boots did provide good support and had ideal tread on the bottom, where the kids definitely were able to feel the rocks through their thin water shoes. The rocks underfoot can definitely be very slippery as well but you will slip around no matter what shoes you are wearing! We saw people doing the hike barefoot too, even though you really should have some type of closed toe shoe on.

We did not take walking sticks with us, although a lot of people had them and were voicing to me that I really should have one as I tried to get my footing in the beginning. It’s all in your preference and families abilities. I don’t mind a challenge so I went without.  It is definitely cooler in the Narrows compared to other areas in Zion, so you may want to have a long sleeve shirt with you too.

Morgan in the narrows

Have you ever hiked The Narrows? What was your experience?


5 replies
  1. Steph Stirniman
    Steph Stirniman says:

    Hi there!

    Loved reading about your hike in The Narrows …. it looks and sounds amazing. We have never done it, but would love to. It’s so much fun seeing what you guys are doing and it’s great Summer reading! Can’t wait for the next installment…. have fun! Steph x

    • admin
      admin says:

      This was a little nerve-wracking for sure. I just took my iPhone in a Lifeproof case. I kept it in my backpack most of the time, but I just had to have pictures of this gorgeous scenery! I know they make lanyard type cases for around your neck too, which could work. Just make sure you have a totally waterproof case and hope for the best!

  2. Will Russ
    Will Russ says:

    Hi Amy,

    I am researching Zion and I’m trying to pic the best time of year to visit. THe Narrows hike seems like a “Must do” and I was wondering what time of year you went and how cold was the water? I’m thinking late September and it seems to be a delicate balance between hot afternoon temps and cooler water temps later in the year.

    • Amy Carney
      Amy Carney says:

      Hi Will! Zion is amazing! Unfortunately, I don’t know what the temps will be like there in late Sept. We were there in June and it was perfect!! Sorry, I can’t be of more help!


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