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Zion’s Narrows (Bottom-Up) / Riverside Walk

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This week on July 1 shuttle service resumed in Zion National Park (advanced reservations required). One of the most iconic part of Zion National Park is the Zion’s Narrows. The Virgin River has carved a path through the canyon that in some places is 1,000 feet high and as as narrow as 30 feet across. To get the base of the Narrows get off at shuttle stop #9 and hike the Riverside Walk. It is a 1.9 mile round trip trail and the first part of it is paved and wheelchair accessible. The end of the Riverside walk and base of the Narrows is called The Temple of Sinawava.

This is a great place to let kids play in the shallow water and get a small taste of the Narrows. The Narrows are actually 16 miles long, but to hike the entire stretch you need a permit. A tributary of the Narrows is Orderville Canyon. The last 1/4 mile can be hiked from the bottom, but to hike the full 11 1/2 miles of the canyon to the base of the Narrows, you’ll also need a permit. It requires canyoneering and must also be done from the top down.

The most popular way to hike the Narrows is from the bottom up. It doesn’t require a permit and can be done by more skill levels. The full hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs and Imlay Temple is 8.6 miles round trip and difficult. This is fully flexible though. You can wade around in the river for a couple minutes or for hours. Be sure there is no rain forecasted as dangerous flash floods can occur in this or any slot canyon.

I have hiked parts of the Narrows a few different times, but these photos were taken a few years ago in April. Local outdoor adventure companies rent equipment to make hiking the Narrows a lot easier. For $25 you can get hiking water shoes, neoprene socks, and a hiking sticks. If the weather is cooler you can get dry pants for an extra $16. We felt like it was well worth it for our hike, but when I’ve been there in August when the water is lower and warmer it wouldn’t have been as needed.

There are parts where you don’t need to walk in the water, but at least 60% of the hike of the hike requires you to walk in the water. It was mostly only to our knees or below, but there could be parts that you would need to swim.

Even though the water wasn’t that high, it was still somewhat tiring to walk through because of the flow pushing against you and having to step over rocks to find good footing.

It is an amazing place to be with so much beauty! Here is a packing list.

Riverside Walk Trail

Stats: Distance – 1.9 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time – 1-2 hours
Elevation gain – 193 feet
Difficulty – Easy (first 0.4 mile is handicapped accesssible)
Trail – paved/well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – At trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year-Round
Permits needed – $25 for 7-day pass or National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – No

Zion’s Narrow’s (Bottom-Up)

Stats: Distance – 0-8.5 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time – 1-8 hours
Elevation gain – 0 – 4163 feet
Difficulty – Moderate/Difficult
Trail – walking in water that is mostly ankle deep, but can get several feet deep in spots, some trail and rocks
Bathrooms – At trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year-Round, best April-October
Permits needed – $25 for 7-day pass or National Parks Pass
Pets allowed – No


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