Hiking The Narrows At Zion National Park: Ultimate Guide (2024)

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Want to know how to have the best experience hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know in this ultimate guide.

Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park is one of the best National Park experiences we’ve ever done.

It is actually very simple to plan for and almost anybody can do it.

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Hiking The Narrows At Zion National Park

The best part about this hike is that you can hike as little or as much as you’d like.

Many visitors only take the mile walk down to the river and hang out right there at the trailhead.

But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can venture down to as far as permit-free hiking allows.

✓ Getting To The Narrows

When you visit Zion National Park outside of Winter, you have to take a shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava stop to get to The Narrows.

You can’t just drive up to it.

Plan to arrive in Zion National Park by no later than 8 am and park at the Visitor Center.

If you arrive later, the parking lot may be full and you’ll have to park in the nearby town of Springdale and be shuttled in.

From May 21st through September 17th the first shuttle of the day leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 6 am.

Then from September 18th through November 26th the first shuttle of the day leaves the Zion Canyon Visitor Center at 7 am.

The Narrows at Zion

✓ Starting Your Hike at The Narrows

The Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop is the last one on the line.

Almost everybody on the shuttle will be going here, so it’s very hard to get lost and end up at the wrong shuttle stop.

When we visited, we stopped at the Zion Lodge first because they have Zion National Park branded walking sticks, which are essential for hiking The Narrows.

You can bring your own walking sticks or rent some for a day from local vendors, but every hiker needs to have at least one.

Once you get off the shuttle, the trail to The Narrows is about a 20-30 minute walk.

On the day we did this hike, we got into the river around 10 am and we didn’t make it back out until about 1:30 pm.

We didn’t have a set distance that we wanted to hike, but we knew we wanted to try to make it as close to the end as possible that didn’t require a permit.

hiking The Narrows

Tips for Hiking The Narrows

There are a few things you want to be prepared for before hiking The Narrows, but nothing too difficult.

The Narrows

1. Bring Food And Water

When hiking, it’s important to actually increase your salt intake and to consume electrolytes to keep your body nourished.

So be sure to bring your salty snack of choice with you and have something like Gatorade or your electrolyte drink of choice with you.

You’ll also want to bring at least 2 cups of water for every hour of hiking, which is basically 1 bottle of water for each hour, per person.

If you plan on spending the majority of your day hiking The Narrows, then you’ll want to bring more than a couple of snacks.

Some easy foods to take on a hike like this include tuna salad cracker kits, sandwiches, or protein bars.

tuna salad and cracker kits

2. Wear Proper Footwear

Many bloggers recommend renting special socks and shoes for hiking The Narrows or wearing water shoes, but honestly it’s perfectly fine to wear regular socks and gym shoes.

I recommend bringing a pair of flip flops with you on the hike to change into once you get back to the shuttle stop.

Then in your car have an extra pair of socks and shoes to change into once you get back to your car at the end of the day.

From there, all you’ll have to do is let your gym shoes and socks air dry overnight.

You don’t really need the special socks and shoes, but if you can afford them and you really want them, then I say go for it.

hiking The Narrows

3. Beware Of Chafing

Wear compression shorts or anything that keeps your thighs from rubbing together.

Since you’re in and out of water all day, you’re way more susceptible to chafing then you would be on a regular hike.

Make sure to pack Hydrocortisone with you to apply after your hike just in case it still happens.

The Narrows

4. Read Warning Signs

When we went there was a deadly bacteria in the water so there were many signs saying not to swim in it, not to put your head in the water, and not to let it get into your eyes, nose, or ears.

There were signs everywhere with how to stay safe.

The park rangers were also reminding people at the visitor center, the shuttle stops, and the trailheads.

The Narrows

5. Plan Ahead

Lastly, this hike can only be done seasonally, so check before you plan your trip.

It’s pretty much inaccessible in the winter because the trail to The Narrows is completely iced over.

There are also times where the current is too strong and the river is too high, so it will close temporarily under those types of conditions.

Recently we did The Narrows hike again the day after a massive flash flood that wiped out most of the park and surrounding town, so flash floods are another major event to look out for when planning this hike.

The Narrows

Highlights of Hiking The Narrows

The crowds tend to thin out the further you hike The Narrows, which is kind of nice.

The water levels also vary all throughout the hike.

There were times when the water went up to my ribs and other times where we were just walking through puddles of water.

It’s also mostly in the shade because the canyon walls are so high.

One time we hiked The Narrows it was over 100 degrees outside, but we really couldn’t tell because of the shade and the water cooling us off.

deer at The Narrows

Fun Things To Do After Hiking The Narrows

After hiking The Narrows, you’ll want to do something fun and relaxing with the rest of your day, if you’re not already taking a nice long nap.

Drive The Scenic Byway

You can take Scenic Byway 12 from Zion to Bryce Canyon or onto Capitol Reef after hiking The Narrows.

We personally did this on our first visit because we were road tripping to a variety of National Parks.

We drove from Zion to Bryce Canyon on this one day and the following day visited Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef National Parks In One Day.

✅ Dine At Thunderbird Restaurant

If you start driving on Scenic Byway 12, you’ll come across Thunderbird Restaurant.

What really caught our attention was their sign that said “Home of the Ho-Made Pies”.

We later found out the backstory of this sign.

Back around WWII they were creating this sign and didn’t have enough space to write out “homemade” so they shortened it to “ho-made”.

Because when you say it out loud it kind of sounds the same, especially depending on the accent.

It wasn’t until recently that the sign started getting a lot of attention, so they decided to just go with it.

It’s a very cute old-school kind of restaurant and there was so much on the menu that it took awhile to decide what we would do.

We decided to share an appetizer, entree, and dessert, which even still ended up being too much food and we ended up not even cooking dinner at our campsite that night because we were too full.

But after a long day of hiking The Narrows you deserve to indulge!

We started with an order of Cowboy Corn Bites because it sounded interesting.

You get 12 breaded balls with sweet corn, pepper jack cheese, and bacon.

They were a little spicy for me, but dipping it helped cool it off.

For our entree we had Cajun Shrimp Alfredo which was just incredible in every way.

For dessert, we had the Hot Apple Pie with Buttered Rum Sauce.

This was honestly such an amazing, unexpected meal practically in the middle of nowhere after hiking the Narrows for 3 hours.

Where To Stay At Zion National Park

If you’re able to grab a camping spot, I highly recommend doing that at least once in your life.

You can also stay at the lodge or in a cabin if they’re available.

We stayed in one of the cabins during a Winter trip to Zion, which made for an entirely different experience from visiting in the Summer.

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Zion Lodge

Generally all of these book up well in advance, so as long as you plan your visit several months out you should be good to go.

If you’re not able to get lodging in the park, the nearby town of Springdale has nearly limitless hotel options.

They all tend to be a bit pricey in peak travel seasons like Summer, but the convenience can be worth the cost.

If all else fails, St. George, Utah is also a great area to stay in or you can move on toward Bryce Canyon and get lodging near there.

In St. George, we recommend Tru by Hilton.

If you’re driving on toward Bryce Canyon, we recommend camping at the Panguitch KOA.

Panguitch KOA

Conclusion: Hiking The Narrows At Zion National Park

Hiking The Narrows at Zion National Park is such a fun bucket list experience everyone should try to do at least once in their lives.