Zion is one of my favorite hiking locations. It’s close to Las Vegas and it has plenty of beautiful hiking options. I’ve visited Zion many times but one hike has always been bookmarked for another time… until now! I have finally had the opportunity to hike in the famous The Narrows!! 😀 The Narrows refers to a section of canyon on the north fork of the Virgin River. The complete hike is very lengthy (about 16 miles one way) and usually requires a permit if you want to hike top to bottom. I, however, did the “beginner” and most common way and hiked bottom up. I honestly didn’t know too much about The Narrows, other than it was hiking in a river. So, to help other out there who may also be a bit clueless in the river hiking department, here are some of my tips for those of you, who are like me and want to enjoy The Narrows and still be finished in time for dinner and your 10pm bed time.
Prepare to walk
When you enter Zion take the shuttle bus to the last stop called the Temple of Sinawava. Then prepare to hike! It’s one mile from the shuttle stop until the start of The Narrows. (Don’t forget that means it will be another mile hike back to the shuttles!) Once in The Narrows there are limited areas to sit down. That means you will spend most of your time walking in the river. You do see plenty of wildlife along the way…. given if you count squirrels as wildlife. But you came to hike anyways right?
The rocky road
I have been to a beach and know what it is like to walk in the sand. I however, did not know what walking in the river would be like. Apparently bumpy is an understatement. The rocks range in sizes from dinosaur eggs to bowling balls to rocks the size of a giant tortoise. The water is muddy which means you can’t see where all the rocks are hiding. Bring a walking stick to help you out. It’s functional and you look like Gandalf.
You are in water
You will get wet! Shocker. I know. Even if you don’t plan on getting wet past your knee caps, if you slip and fall… you are getting soaked. Since we live in a land of electronics, make sure you plan accordingly. A backpack may not be enough to protect your valuables. Bring water safe containers and be logical when taking pictures or videos.
It’s not a swimming pool
We’ve established the river is water, but all water is not a swimming pool. What that means is, The Narrows are no place to live life like a Las Vegas party pool. I would advise against only wearing a swim suit and flip flops. Instead, I recommend you opt for quick drying workout clothes and mesh shoes.
The Virgin River is no virgin
Lastly… Don’t let my serene, and tourist empty photos fool you. That took an extreme amount of patience on my end paired with perfect timing to make these happen. Many people have been in this river (HEY O!!). There will be many people in the river at the same time as you… It’s a bit overwhelming at first, having to make your way around so many bodies, but if you keep walking, the people begin to trickle off. I walked about 3 miles and there were still a good handful of other tourists in the area but I am told that the 5 mile mark is the sweet spot. Also, it probably didn’t help that it was in the middle of summer. Just something to keep in mind when planning your trip.
All observations and tips aside, the most important thing is have fun and really take a moment to appreciate how freaking awesome The Narrows are. It’s obvious why it is the most popular destination in Zion. I know it took me awhile to find time to hike in them, but now that I have I may have to make it a yearly adventure. If for nothing else, than to keep coming back for more pictures.