Zion National Park

Hiking Thru the Narrows – Zion National Park

Zion National Park, UT – Hiking Thru the Narrows

Base Town: Zion National Park, UT | Trailhead: Temple of Sinawava, ~6300 ft | Type of hike: easy canyoning/hiking along the river

Special notes: take the shuttle bus to Temple of Sinawava trailhead – no car access in the summer season

Zion National Park, UT

The Narrows – Zion National Park, Utah

It was a gorgeous September weekend in 2001 when I met with Curt and Deb and their two sons Eric and Jon at the Zion National Park in southern Utah. We spent the night at one of the campgrounds in the park.

The next morning after breakfast we got prepared for a day hike into the Narrows. The Narrows is a long and deep canyon on the south side of the park. It is hikable at lower water levels and stable weather conditions. The ranger station was forecasting a perfect day with no thunderstorms and rain showers. For us a perfect day to explore the river trail through the canyon.

The northern part of the road is closed for public motorized traffic and shuttle busses are shuffling the huge crowd of tourists to the ‘Cul De Sac’ at the Temple of Sinawava. The trailhead for our hike into the Narrows begins right at the bus stop. The first mile is a paved trail and many of the sightseeing tourists are walking along the river on that comfy trail. If you want to go further into the canyon you have to start wading through the cold river. Many people turn around and only a few continue. The river is still shallow and wide and often the river bank is a better choice of waking.

Maybe after another half mile the first narrow section harness the river through a kind of hourglass-shaped solid rock funnel and the water level rises up over the knees. This place is also a point for some other hikers to turn around and the hike gets quieter again. From now on the canyon winds, it’s a way through tall steep sandstone cliffs and some with boulder covered riverbanks in narrow coves. Curt and Deb carried a special load on their backs. Jon and Eric were enjoying a ride in Mom’s and Dad’s backpacks.

Maybe after one-hour hiking upstream at a small but deep lake, Deb decided to take a break with the boys and to wait until Curt and I will return from our journey deeper into the canyon.

After about one-hour hiking into the narrow and deep canyon, we arrived at a fork. At that moment the sun was standing at a perfect angle above the gorge, lighting up the vertical walls of blackened sandstone. It was an amazing picture of shadow and light. The rock, ground and sanded down for thousands of years had an almost surrealistic texture of black and white. Curt and I decided to take the right fork to continue our venture into this incredible world of vertical rock.

A maybe 20 feet tall cliff created a barrier for the two of us. It might be possible to climb it on the other side of the cascading river but we were running out of time to return to Deb and the Kids, waiting an hour downstream for us. We shot some more pics from the bottom up and after that, we rushed back.

Planning Your Trip Into Utah’s Canyons

If you plan a hike into the canyons in southern Utah, please check the weather forecast very carefully. A thunderstorm even far away from the anticipated hike can fill up the canyon with rising water immediately. Flush floods are deadly traps in a canyon and they kill hikers immediately. The visitor centers in the National Parks are good reliable resources for hikes into one of the many canyons in that area.

Come check out my other trips