If you love hiking in America’s national parks, you’ll find that one of the most adventurous and unique trails can be found in the state of Utah at Zion National Park. It’s a 16-mile trail known as the Narrows which begins just north of the park and then takes you down into it. Along the way you’ll have to swim or wade through water though as you need to cross the canyon that’s been carved out by the Virgin River.
You’ll see plenty of sandstone, limestone walls, waterfalls, springs, and arches during the hike, making the scenery quite diverse. There are 2 basic ways to enjoy the hike. If you’d like to travel the entire length of it you’ll need a permit, but if you just want to try out the day hike then it’s not necessary to obtain one. The shorter day hike begins at the park’s Riverside Walk Trail.
(photo by hllewellyn)
You need to be a pretty experienced hiker to tackle the Narrows as parts of it can be pretty tricky. The Narrows are basically slot canyons and can be prone to flash flooding during heavy rains and after storms. You’ll be able to check the weather conditions and potential of flooding from the park service before you start the hike. A good part of the trip will take you over greasy rocks and quick-moving water, so it’s important to make sure you have the proper type of footwear, which includes neoprene socks. It’s also a good idea to take along a dry pack and trekking poles.
If you want to try the day hike you can start out at the Temple of Sinawava, which can be reached by the park’s shuttle bus service. The first mile or so of this trail takes you alongside the Virgin River and the ground is quite level. At one point you’ll need to cross the river to hike along the other side. You’ll need a dry pack because the depth of the water is close to four feet. However, later on you’ll find yourself back in the water. It’s not too strenuous, but just make sure you watch where you’re stepping at all times since the rocks are slippery and sometimes unstable.
After traveling for about four miles you’ll come to an area of the Narrows which is called Wall Street. From here the view of the slot canyons is quite amazing and beautiful. If you have a camera with you there will be plenty of opportunities to capture some fantastic shots, especially at this juncture. Every time the river turns you’ll see something new and memorable.
If you’d like to hike the entire 16 miles of trail be aware that the park releases just 80 permits each day. On the shorter hike from Riverside Walk down to Wall Street, where you don’t need the permit, it’s not uncommon to see a couple of thousand people visit it each day.