Tag Archives: Zion Narrows

Is The Zion Narrows Hike Open? A DIY Guide

Every day now, we hear one question more than any other: “Is The Narrows hike open?” We are always happy to answer this question for our store visitors, but we’d also like to help you answer this yourself at home, on the road, or wherever you may be. If you want to see whether The Narrows is open, just check the USGS website. The data you’re looking for is in the areas highlighted in the red boxes below: USGS Narrows Stream Flow Data for the Virgin River Narrows The upper red box (the graph) usually shows continuous cubic feet/second (CFS) data. (For some reason, the data has large gaps over the last few days; this is not normal.) The Narrows is OPEN, if the CFS level has not exceed 150 CFS for the past 24 hours. Even with the gaps in this current graph, we can see the CFS level was around 165 yesterday morning, so The Narrows is closed today. The lower red box indicates the current CFS level. While the data is current listed as “unavailable,” there is typically a CFS number here indicating current conditions. Remember, however, that the current CFS level is less important than the 24-hour … Continue reading

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Zion Narrows Hike Limit Raised to 150 CFS

Shelley called the Park this morning and confirmed a rumor that the Bottom-Up Hiking limit for the Zion Narrows has been raised to 150 CFS. Woohoo! That’s a big deal! But what does that mean, exactly? Until the early 2000s, The Narrows was ALWAYS open, making it a do-at-your-own-risk activity: You looked at the river, maybe you got some advice from the rangers, and then you decided to hike or not. About ten years ago, however, the Park’s lawyers decided the liability of this policy was too great, and ZNP should take measures to protect unwitting Narrows hikers. The Park implemented a system that uses Virgin River water volume (measured in cubic feet per second (CFS)) to determine whether the Zion Narrows is open to hiking or not. The Park set the Top-Down limit at 120 CFS, and the Bottom-Down limit at 140 CFS; if the current CFS is ABOVE the limit any time in the last 24 hours, the hikes are closed accordingly. The upside of this closure system is very few people enter The Narrows when it is unsafe. The downside, however, is The Narrows is closed at levels where athletic hikers could have a lot of fun enjoying … Continue reading

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Video: Winter Hiking in The Narrows, Zion National Park

Long-time ZAC client Jerry King visited us again in January and, as usual, he brought his A/V equipment along. Jerry always makes some sort of video of his Zion escapades, and this time his video focuses on the world-famous Zion Narrows hike. Hiking The Narrows is unique no matter what time of year you do it – how many hikes force you to walk IN a river? – but exploring The Narrows in the winter is even more special. First, you must use a drysuit to stay warm enough (you can see Jerry and his companion in the big zippered suits in the vid). While it may seem uncomfortable to hike in a big waterproof glove, it is worth the trouble when you get to ENJOY wading through 40-degree water all day. Second, since hiking in a 40-degree river DOES sound a little nuts, you usually get the whole place to yourself. The peace and grandeur of The Narrows is incredible particularly striking when it is just you and the canyon… it really feels like another world. Thanks to Jerry for sharing his video with us. If you have hiked The Narrows during winter and have any tips, reflections, or … Continue reading

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Trip Report: Zion Narrows Top-Down Thru Hike

I ran (ok, trotted) through the Zion Narrows from the top last Sunday (7/13/2011). Here is what I found: 1. I had never done The Narrows from the top in highish water. It was MUCH more difficult than I expected. There are many obstacles in the upper part of the Narrows (above Big Springs) that require quite a bit of hunting around to find a reasonable route. With water high, plunging into the river was not always an option. 2. There were maybe five required stream crossings that were thigh-waist high with strong current (i.e. where being swept away was a real possibility). 3. I ended up taking about five swims. I would say two were mandatory. The water was nice and warm-ish, so shorts and (Sport Science) tee shirt was fine, and the air temps were high enough to not require stopping and warming up. 4. I was somewhat concerned about the other 11 hikers on the 6:30 am Chamberlain shuttle. But, I guess they did OK. It is a BIG DAY, I hope they all realize it. I was hoping to match my time of 15 years ago, six hours. No way! About 15 minutes of breaks, moving reasonably well, … Continue reading

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Alternatives to Hiking the Zion Narrows During Spring Flood

Extraordinary precipitation this winter/spring has resulted in high water levels in The Narrows this spring, closing the world-famous hike for the last two months. Since the snow pack remains significant in the watershed’s higher reaches, we expect The Narrows will remain closed another 2 to 4 weeks. So many Zion visitors plan to hike The Narrows, and we have the ugly job of telling all these folks, day after day, they can’t explore this place they’ve heard so much about and have travelled so far to see. Visitor reactions fall across the board: mad, sad, frustrated, crestfallen… a few hesitant hikers are even glad to have an convenient excuse to miss The Narrows. But the upside of this whole situation, the thing we try to help everyone see, is there are TONS of world-class activities in Zion that can be just as rewarding as The Narrows hike. If you are bummed to miss The Narrow on your current or upcoming trip, please peruse the following ideas for ways to turn that frown upside down and make the most of your visit. Fabulous Day Hikes 2- to 4-hour hikes like Angels Landing, Observation Point, Emerald Pools, and Hidden Canyon offer breathtaking views, great … Continue reading

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The Best River Hikes in Zion

“What is the BEST hike in Zion?” Many visitors ask this question when planning a visit to the Zion area. There are many rewarding hikes, but many share one popular theme: the meeting of clear, cool water with the famous red Navajo sandstone. Don’t miss witnessing the story of this amazing journey of water and how it shapes the rocks over time during your visit. The amazing Zion watershed begins far north, at 10,000 feet in Cedar Breaks National Monument. Snow and rain begin their journey down mountain creeks and streams to eventually meet the Virgin River, which carves Zion Canyon. To see various windows into this river’s journey, you can choose from a variety of hikes appropriate for for various ability levels, time allowances, and degrees of preparation. Zion showcases an amazing visual story of the meeting of water and rock, and many of the hikes and activities in the Park showcase the Virgin River and its tributaries throughout the area. I wrote this short hiking guide to showcase the best views of the river and help visitors choose a river hike that suits their goals and hopes for their day. Have fun out there! PA’ RUS TRAIL Time … Continue reading

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