Zion National Park's The Narrows canyon hiking trail.

How to Hike The Narrows

by | Jun 29, 2023

Didn’t get a permit for an Angels Landing hike during your visit? Or maybe you simply want to check out Zion National Park’s other iconic hiking trail? Whatever the case, a hike on The Narrows is certain to be a highlight of your stay in the best hotels Virgin Utah has to offer.

While the trail might not have the same elevation change as an Angels Landing hike, it may be even more challenging. That’s because the trail requires hikers to trek up or downriver in the Virgin River. The riverbed is uneven and full of loose stones and the water can be cold or fast-flowing. At certain times of the year, bacteria in the water can make drinking or swimming in the water dangerous. At its full length, the trail is 16 miles long, though you can hike any portion of it as a regular day visitor. But despite the challenges, The Narrows is truly a bucket-list-worthy trail.

If you’re thinking about taking on this incredible hike during your stay at Zion Wildflower Resort, keep reading. We’re breaking down what you need to know about hiking The Narrows.

The Narrows: Zion’s Most Unique Trail

While an Angels Landing hike might be the park’s most famous trail, The Narrows is a close second and is certainly the most unique. There are actually two options for hiking The Narrows. 

The Top-Down Through Hike

The first option is the challenging, 16-mile through hike. This trail requires gear and a lot of hiking experience to complete. You’ll also need to obtain a Wilderness Permit from the National Park Service and arrange transportation to Chamberlain’s Ranch, where you can access the start of this trail. 

From there, you’ll hike downstream on the Virgin River. The trail ends in the Lower Canyon, where you’ll exit the river and hike the short Riverside Walk back to the main road, where you can catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle.

A Bottom-Up Hike

Because of the experience and gear that it takes to complete a Top-Down hike on The Narrows, a Bottom-Up hike is a popular alternative. This option is a popular hike for families and other visitors staying in hotels near Zion National Park. There’s no need to get transport outside the park, get a permit, or even bring special gear, assuming that you’re hiking in the summer when temperatures are warm.

Instead, you’ll ride the Zion Canyon Shuttle to the last stop, and hike the Riverside Walk. At the trail’s turnaround point, you’ll find a few steps down to the banks of the Virgin River. From there, you can hike as far upstream as you’d like, before turning around to hike back down.

What You Should Know About Hiking The Narrows

Even if you’re thinking about enjoying a short bottom-up hike on The Narrows during your stay in our Zion accommodation, there are a few things that you should know. 

Because you’ll be hiking through the Virgin River, it’s important to be aware of the water levels. Flash floods following heavy rain can make the trail dangerous. It doesn’t have to be raining in the park for a flood to strike. If you’re unsure about weather conditions, it’s a good idea to stop by the Zion Canyon Visitor Center when you get to the park to talk to a ranger about conditions. The Narrows often closes in the spring and fall when water levels rise. During these times, no one can hike on the trail.

Another thing that’s important to know is that toxic cyanobacteria can sometimes be present in the river. This bacteria occurs naturally in lakes, rivers, streams, and reservoirs around the world. Cyanobacteria is sometimes present in the Virgin River, especially in the summer months. When warnings about the bacteria’s presence are posted, it’s important to avoid submerging your head or drinking the water while in the park.

While swimming in Zion in the Virgin River might not be possible this time of year, when you stay at Zion Wildflower Resort, you’ll have no trouble cooling off on a hot day. Our brand-new Zion pool is an oasis in the red rock desert and the perfect spot for the whole family to relax on a hot summer day.

Planning Your Visit to the Best Hotels Virgin Utah Has to Offer

If you’re looking for a unique experience during your stay at the best hotels Virgin Utah has to offer, The Narrows is a great choice. This trail is one of the best hikes in Zion. Consider adding a Bottom-Up hike during your stay at Zion Wildflower Resort.

Thinking about booking a stay at hotels near Zion National Park this year? Now is a great time to start planning your visit! When you book a stay of two or more nights between now and July 31, you’ll receive a 20 percent discount on your stay. Book today to take advantage of this deal!

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