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Zion Adventure Company became the experts on the Zion Narrows by finding the answer to every question that comes through our doors. Whatever answers you're looking for, we're excited to help. And we love a good stumper, so don't hold back. Over the years, we've heard some questions more than others, so we've assembled a list of the most common questions we hear about The Narrows each day. If you have a question not covered here, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we'll get back to you within 24 hours!

  • 1. What is "The Narrows"?

     The Zion Narrows is unlike any other hike on Earth. Imagine walking upstream through a river, picking your way past slippery, round river rocks as you delve into a narrow, towering canyon. 1500-foot walls of smooth sandstone rise on each side of you, drawing your gaze upward and your mouth agape. You follow the serpentine path the river has carved over millions of years, passing waterfalls, deep green pools, and dark, secret alcoves. The Zion Narrows is a place of mystery, beauty, and solace. It beckons the heart of explorers everywhere.

    2. What is the hike like?

    The Narrows is a river hike. 60% of the hike is in the river; 40% of the hike follows rocks and sandbars next to the river. You make your way up the Narrows by walking along shoreline, crossing the river to a new shoreline, on so on.

    3. Should I worry about flash floods?

    Yes. Flash flooding is the most dangerous risk you encounter in the Narrows; fortunately, it is also the least likely to occur. Before you hike the Narrows, learn how to identify and manage a flooding event. By preparing yourself for the possibility of a flood, you can manage the risk safely and still have a great day in the Narrows.

    4. Does the Narrows hike require good fitness?

    The Bottom-Up Hike is ideal for anybody who enjoys a walk through stunning beauty. River hiking requires concentration, but is not very strenuous because the topography is very flat. Remember, you can turn around at any time, and the return trip is always easier because it’s downhill AND downstream.

    5. Do I really need special boots to hike The Narrows?

    Our 5.10 Canyoneers are the simply the best river hiking shoes on the planet. Patented super-sticky rubber helps your feet grip slippery rocks, while a stiff mid-sole and toe box protect your feet from rocks and sand. Combine these shoes with a cushy, warm pair of neoprene booties, you have the ultimate river footwear. Instead of cringing in foot-pain all day, you can enjoy what you came for – the awesome splendor of the Zion Narrows.

    6. What should I wear?

    Synthetic, quick-dry clothing helps you stay warm and dry. Cotton clothing has no insulation value when wet, and dries slowly; you are better off naked than wearing wet cotton. During summer, wear a swimsuit or nylon shorts and a T-shirt; take along a warm fleece top and a hat for the cool afternoon shade. During colder months, wear synthetic layers underneath a drysuit for optimal comfort and bring extra layers along in your backpack.

    7. How much time does the hike require?

    The Narrows Bottom-Up Hike takes anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, but most people spend 4-6 hours in the river. The Thru-Hike takes one long day (10-14 hours) or two moderate days (8 hours each) to complete.

    8. Where do I go to the bathroom in the Narrows?

    Peeing: Pee onto sand or gravel, when possible. While peeing in the river is ecologically sound, it is somewhat offensive to those hikers downstream of you. Please avoid peeing on green vegetation, as the acidity of human urine kills plants.

    Pooping: All solid human waste must be carried out of the Narrows. Bring a plastic bag and toilet paper in case you need to poop while in the Narrows.

    9. How deep is the water?

    Water depth varies greatly with annual precipitation patterns. The highest water levels occur during the spring snowmelt. From June through February, most Narrows hikers encounter water no higher than their waists.
  • 1. What can I rent at Zion Adventure Company?

    We rent a variety of equipment to help your Narrows visit be more safe, comfortable, and fun.

    River hiking shoes for sure grip, abrasion protection, and warmth in the river.
    Walking sticks for maintaining balance and probing river depth.
    Drybags and backpacks for carrying gear and protecting it from getting wet.
    Dry pants and drysuits for staying dry in the river.
    Fleece tops, bottoms, hats, and gloves for staying warm in The Narrows.

    2. Do I really need special hiking boots?

    Our 5.10 Canyoneers are the simply the best river hiking shoes on the planet. Patented super-sticky rubber helps your feet grip slippery rocks, while a stiff mid-sole and toe box protect your feet from rocks and sand. Combine these shoes with a cushy, warm pair of neoprene booties, you have the ultimate river footwear. Instead of cringing in foot-pain all day, you can enjoy what you came for – the awesome splendor of the Zion Narrows.

    3. What should I wear?

    Synthetic, quick-dry clothing helps you stay warm and dry. Cotton clothing has no insulation value when wet, and dries slowly; you are better off naked than wearing wet cotton. During summer, wear a swimsuit or nylon shorts and a T-shirt; take along a warm fleece top and a hat for the cool afternoon shade. During colder months, wear synthetic layers underneath a drysuit for optimal comfort and bring extra layers along in your backpack.

    4. Why bring a walking stick?

    Tripping and falling is the most common accident in the Narrows. The walking stick helps you stay on your feet AND test the water depth before you. It is a good friend.

    5. Can I bring my trekking poles?

    Yes, but consider…
    a) Trekking poles are expensive.
    b) Trekking poles are generally too short for river hiking.
    c) Trekking poles bend and snap easily in the river.
    d) Our walking sticks are inexpensive and burly.

    6. Do I need dry pants or a drysuit?

    When the water drops below 55 degrees Fahrenheit, waterproof clothing offers significant protection from hypothermia. Because water cools your body 25 times faster than air, Narrows hikers can get very cold very quickly when they are wading in cold water all day. During the transitions from spring to summer and summer to fall, some people need dry pants or drysuits, and some do not. Consider your experience in the outdoors and make a conservative decision regarding your dress.

    7. What do I wear under the drysuit?

    Synthetic layers (polypropylene, Capilene, fleece) are best because they maintain insulation value when your perspiration dampens them.

    8. Do I need a drybag?

    If you fall in the river without a waterproofed backpack, your belongings will likely get wet. Dry clothing, food, and electronic equipment are at risk when they are not protected from water.

    9. Can I keep my camera dry AND accessible?

    We put our cameras in a small drybag and attach it to the front of our backpack arm strap. Here, the camera is accessible and safe. To be extra safe, place your camera in a sealable plastic bag first, then into a drybag.

    10. Can I wear a wetsuit?

    Wetsuits work well when you are IN the water for extended periods. In the Narrows, however, you enter and exit the water often. Each time you leave the water, warm water leaves the wetsuit; each time you enter, cold water enters the suit again. We do rent wetsuits, but recommend drypants or drysuits for Narrows hiking.

  • 1. How long does the hike take?

    The Narrows Bottom-Up Hike takes anywhere from 2 to 10 hours, but most people spend 4-6 hours in the river. The Thru-Hike takes one long day (10-14 hours) or two moderate days (8 hours each) to complete.

    2. How do I get to and from The Narrows?

    Bottom-Up Hikers: During high season (April – October), Bottom-Up hikers ride the free Park shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava. From November through March, Bottom-Up hikers are free to drive their own vehicles to the trailhead.

    Thru-Hikers: Reserve a commercial shuttle or arrange your own shuttle to Chamberlain's Ranch. Most feel a commercial shuttle is worth the money, saving them a 3-hour round-trip journey and some logistical headaches.

    3. Does my group need a permit for the hike?

    The Bottom-Up Narrows Hike does not require a permit. Thru-Hikers must purchase a permit at the Visitor’s Center inside Zion National Park. Alternatively, those planning ahead can secure a limited number of permits on-line.

    4. Where do I go to the bathroom in The Narrows?

    Peeing: Pee onto sand or gravel, when possible. While peeing in the river is ecologically sound, it is somewhat offensive to those hikers downstream of you. Please avoid peeing on green vegetation, as the acidity of human urine kills plants.

    Pooping: All solid human waste must be carried out of the Narrows. Bring a plastic bag and toilet paper in case you need to poop while in the Narrows.

    5. Do I have to Thru-Hike to spend the night?

    Yes. You must hike down from the Chamberlain's Ranch to camp overnight in The Narrows. Bottom-Up hikers are not permitted to camp in the Narrows.

    6. Are there any restrictions on group size?

    Those hiking Bottom-Up have no limit on their group size. Park rules limit Thru-Hikers, however, to parties of 12 or less.
  • 1. Should I worry about flash floods?

    Yes. Flash flooding is the most dangerous risk you encounter in the Narrows; fortunately, it is also the least likely to occur. Before you hike the Narrows, learn how to identify and manage a flooding event. By preparing yourself for the possibility of a flood, you can manage the risk safely and still have a great day in the Narrows.

    2. Does the Narrows hike require good fitness?

    The Bottom-Up Hike is ideal for anybody who enjoys a walk through stunning beauty. River hiking requires concentration, but is not very strenuous because the topography is very flat. Remember, you can turn around at any time, and the return trip is always easier because it’s downhill AND downstream.

    3. Can I get lost in The Narrows?

    It is nearly impossible to get lost in the Narrows. There is only one possible turn (Orderville Canyon) and the way "home" is always downstream.

    4. Do cell phones work in the canyon?

    No. All cell service ends past the Zion Lodge.

    5. Can novices try the overnight backpacking trip?

    The Overnight Thru-Hike can be a good first overnight experience for a prepared party. Those who bring ONLY the essentials and EVERYTHING essential will have the greatest success on this hike. Pack to stay warm, well fed, and well hydrated. If you do not feel informed, seek out more information before you try an overnight hike.

    6. Can young children do the hike?

    When the river is under 60 cfs, the hike is reasonable for most young children. Over 60 cfs, the river may challenge small people and make their hike unsafe. Use your best judgment and experience to decide how challenging you want your day to be.
  • 1. What is "The Narrows"?

    The Zion Narrows is unlike any other hike on Earth. Imagine walking upstream through a river, picking your way past slippery, round river rocks as you delve into a narrow, towering canyon. 1500-foot walls of smooth sandstone rise on each side of you, drawing your gaze upward and your mouth agape. You follow the serpentine path the river has carved over millions of years, passing waterfalls, deep green pools, and dark, secret alcoves. The Zion Narrows is a place of mystery, beauty, and solace. It beckons the heart of explorers everywhere.

    2. What is the hike like?

    The Narrows is a river hike. 60% of the hike is in the river; 40% of the hike follows rocks and sandbars next to the river. You make your way up the Narrows by walking along shoreline, crossing the river to a new shoreline, on so on.

    3. Is the Narrows more fun with a guide?

    It can be. Zion National Park allows us to guide the Bottom-Up day hike into the Narrows, but forbids us from guiding the Top-Down Narrows hike. If you like the idea of a guide enhancing your Narrows visit with natural history interpretation, technique instruction, and great photography, check out our Guided Narrows trips. If you prefer to go on your own, we offer equipment and information to help make your Narrows hike a safe and fun self-guided event.

    4. How deep is the water?

    Water depth varies greatly with annual precipitation patterns. The highest water levels occur during the spring snowmelt. From June through February, most Narrows hikers encounter water no higher than their waists.

    5. What is the water temperature?

    Water temperature ranges from 65°F in the summer to 38°F degrees in the winter.

    6. Do you have to swim?

    Swimming is rarely necessary when the Virgin River flows less than 120 cubic feet of water per second (cfs). To check current river levels, consult the USGS gauge for the Virgin River. By using your stick and good route-finding skills, you can easily avoid deep pools. If you want to swim, however, there are always opportunities.

    7. Are there animals in The Narrows?

    Narrows fauna includes many species of birds, reptiles, insects, and fish. Occasionally, a few deer make their way into the Narrows.

    8. What's the best time of year to hike The Narrows?

    Autumn offers the best combination of comfortable temperatures, small crowds, and good daylight. However, any time of year is beautiful in The Narrows. Check out Best Seasons to Hike the Narrows for in-depth details.

    9. What is Orderville Canyon like?

    Orderville Canyon is the only tributary canyon of the Lower Narrows. It is much narrower than the main canyon and has less water flowing through it. Orderville is full of obstacles for explorers; boulders, pools, and waterfalls block the way. Many people have fun solving these problems together and pushing as far as they can into Orderville Canyon.