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The Narrows – Zion National Park
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Overview
Location

Zion National Park, Utah

Sights

The Narrows, Temple of Sinawava, wildlife, towering sandstone cliffs

Distance

About 2.5 miles roundtrip if you hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Mystery Falls. If you hike from the top of the narrows down to the bottom it is about 16 miles.

Parking Lot Elevation

4434 ft

Summit Elevation

Top of the narrows in Chamberlain's Ranch is 5861ft. The end of the paved trail elevation is 4507 ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

Chamberlain's Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava is about 1427 ft
End of the paved trail to the Temple of Sinawava is about 73 ft

Time Required

About 2 hours if you are hiking just the paved trail hike. If you hike the entire Narrows from top to bottom you can do it in 12-15 hours or take two days.

Pets

Not allowed

Fees

Yes. Entrance fees are required. If you hike from the Top Down Approach you will need a permit. If you are hiking just the paved section of the Narrows and hike up to Big Springs you do not need a permit.

Water Info

Bring plenty of water

Best Season

Late spring, summer and fall

Hours

Open year round

Sun Exposure

Not a whole lot of sun exposure once inside the Narrows

Trail Condition

Good 1-mile paved trail then you must walk the rest of the way on river rocks and through the water

Restrooms

Yes. At the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop

Visitor Center

Yes.

Camping

Allowed by permit only

Food

Bring food and snacks as needed

Equipment

Bring a backpack, hiking poles, hat, sunglasses, good hiking shoes that can get fully wet.

GPS Coordinates:

Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop: 37.285268°, -112.947426°
End of the concrete footpath: 37.296456°, -112.948185°

Trail Map

Driving Directions

Bottom Up Approach – RIVER WALK TRAIL

Park at the Zion National Park Visitor Center and take the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop.

Top Down Approach

You need a permit to hike the entire Narrows from top to bottom and you will also need a two-car shuttle system or have someone drop you off at the top.  Follow the map to the Top Down Approach trailhead for the Narrows. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from St. George to this traillhead.

The Trail:

You can hike the narrows in two ways.  You can either hike Top Down or Bottom Up.

Top Down Approach

If you plan to hike the narrows from the Top Down you will need to reserve a permit from the park service.  It is a 16 mile trek which some people do in two days – it took us about 13 hours to do.  I have only hiked from Top Down one time and it was completely exhausting but we had a lot of fun doing it.  Unfortunately, when I hiked from top down, I didn’t bring a camera and I honestly don’t remember too much except for my feet and ankles killed by about half way through because I rolled my ankles walking through all the river rocks.  It took us the entire day and it will require a shuttle system so you can be dropped off at the top of the narrows and you will end at the Temple of Sinawava.

The Top Down approach will require good hiking shoes that can get wet and dirty.  When I hiked this way back in 2008 I had only my crock-like shoes that I used – not recommended.  Bring a water filter, lots of food and snacks, flashlights and walking poles.  Also, bring a big enough backpack to fit all of your gear. You will need to pay careful attention to the water levels and always check with the park to make sure there are no flash flood warnings.

The trailhead begins at Chamberlain’s Ranch.  Again, you will NEED a shuttle system with two cars or have someone drop you off at the top.  It is about an hour and a half drive from the park to the ranch so keep that in mind if you are using a two car shuttle system.  You will then follow the creek all the way down the 16 miles to the Temple of Sinawava.  Let the fun begin!

Top Down Starting Point – (Chamberlain’s Ranch): 37.385288°, -112.838964°

Bottom Up Approach

If you hike UP the narrows you will begin by taking the Zion park shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava stop (it’s the last stop at the end of the road in the park).  You will then hike about a mile on a concrete trail to where you will need to hike through the water.  Many people simply hike up the concrete trail and hang around at the end then hike back.  Bring your shoes that can get wet and hike up a little ways!  You are allowed to hike UP the narrows to Big Springs but you cannot hike passed that point.  Some people hike up to Orderville Canyon and turn around – it is about a 2 hour round trip hike.  Depending on your skill level and who is part of your group, you may just want to hike to Mystery Falls which isn’t that far from the end of the concrete trail.

Here is the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop

Here is the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop

The trail begins at the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop.  Here there are restrooms, benches and plenty to see!  The concrete trail starts here and makes the 1 mile trek up to the canyon.

The Narrows

On our trip we saw lots of wildlife.  There were plenty of deer hanging around eating all the grass near the creek and we saw a few very tame squirrels picking up crumbs from hikers’ food – please don’t feed the wildlife!

The Narrows

The Narrows

Don't feed the animals! We saw hikers dropping seeds and food for them to eat

Don’t feed the animals! We saw hikers dropping seeds and food for them to eat

The path winds up and down but you won't really gain too much in elevation

The path winds up and down but you won’t really gain too much in elevation

The Narrows

The Narrows

Along the 1 mile trail there are many areas where water comes right out of the rock walls and creates beautiful gardens all over the canyon!

The Narrows

Once you come to the end of the paved trail you will see a large open area where people usually leave their shoes and walk barefoot up the Narrows.  I wouldn’t recommend walking barefoot because there are more chances for you to slip or roll your ankles.

The Narrows

From here on out you will be hiking through the creek.  Many people bring walking sticks and if you plan to hike up a ways through the Narrows I would suggest you do the same.  The canyon begins to narrow exceedingly here and it makes for some incredible photographs.  If you look up it’s crazy to think that the canyon rim is about 2000 feet above you!

The Narrows

The Narrows

The Narrows

The Narrows

The Narrows

Mystery Springs

Mystery Falls ends near here

The Narrows

We hiked a few hundred yards up to Mystery Falls and then came back down.

The Narrows

This is Mystery Falls.The Narrows

If you are interested in Canyoneering, one of my favorite canyons is Mystery Canyon which ends right at the base of Mystery Falls. You can check out the Trek here for more information.

The Return:

Head back the same way you came up.

Personal Thoughts:

The Narrows is an incredible hike which offers some of the best Zion has to offer.  I always enjoy hiking up the canyon and then hiking through the creek and seeing the sandstone walls towering thousands of feet above you.  I always see little children on this hike and they seem to be having a ton of fun too – bring the whole fam!

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Difficulty
3.0
Technicality
3.0
Enjoyment
7.0
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

7.4
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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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