The Narrows in Zion
It was the last day of our southwestern adventure, and while I was bummed to go back home that evening, I was also ready for a decent night’s sleep in my own bed. We had been running on very little sleep and our days were action-packed with little resting time. We woke up at 5 this morning to start our hike of The Narrows. The Narrows is a section of the Virgin River in Zion National Park that runs through a narrow canyon. You walk in and out of the river for a very unique hike.
We were all packed up by 6 and drove to the park with plans to be the first ones on the shuttle. I did not want to wait in line for over an hour like yesterday. We ended up having to wait about 30 minutes for a shuttle, because there were still a quite a lot of people there and shuttles don’t run as frequently in the early morning. I was okay with that, because when we got off the shuttle to start the hike, it was still cold outside. We were told that the high temperature in the canyon for the day was 70 degrees F (at least 10 degrees below the rest of the park that is exposed to the sun), and the water in the river was 50 degrees. I was not looking forward to getting in the cold water.
The Riverside Walk is a trail that takes you from the shuttle stop to the beginning of the Narrows hike that is about a mile long. We started at 7:30 am. Since we had to be back in Vegas by 5 pm for Jessie to make her flight, we knew we needed to be back on the shuttle by 12:30 pm. We planned to go as far as we could in 2.5 hours and then turn around.
We speed walked to get our blood flowing and warm ourselves up. The trail was really pretty, and handicapped accessible for awhile. I wore my tennis shoes down this part of the trail and brought the water boots I’d rented yesterday from the Zion Adventure Company to change into. The boots allow water to flow through them so they don’t get weighed down. We got to the trailhead (place where you get in the river) and changed our shoes.
The Narrows Hike
I was excited and nervous to get in. I had warmed up a little on our walk so the water didn’t feel too bad. It actually felt great after we started moving. The thing I was mostly afraid of was falling and getting my backpack soaked along with my camera inside. The camera was in a dry bag, but you never know for sure that dry bags will work. I also really didn’t want my backpack to get wet, because I had to fly with it on the plane that night.
I was extra cautious, and super thankful I had rented a walking stick to maneuver over the slippery rocks. Someone had told me it was like walking over greased bowling balls, and the metaphor was perfect. The parts with shallow water weren’t too bad, but when it was waist-deep, the current almost knocked me over a few times. The rental company had warned us that the currents were strong today, and unsafe for children and small adults. That didn’t stop us.
The hike was slow-moving. I was glad to see so many out-of-water sections that let us avoid wading through chest-deep water and gave us a balancing break. After about two hours from the shuttle stop, we got to the split in the canyon where you can choose to go to Wall Street or Orderville Canyon. We chose the path to the left, Wall Street. At this point, most of the hiking is only in the water. Wall Street is the narrowest part of The Narrows and is where all the classic pictures are taken.
We stumbled through Wall Street for 30 minutes before turning around. I thought fighting the current on the way up was difficult, but the way back was even worse. Walking with the current was challenging because it kept pushing me over in the direction I was walking. I somehow managed to not fall in at all. Probably because I was super cautious and slow!
There were also a ton of people walking up when we were on the way back. It was later in the day at that point, and much more crowded than when we started. I’d recommend starting as early as possible.
We arrived back at the shuttle stop at exactly 12:30, right when we needed to get on the shuttle. We picked up our car, dropped off the rental gear, and changed. The drive back to Vegas was easy and we stopped at In-N-Out to get lunch on the way. This hike was so different from anything I’d done. I loved it, even though it was challenging and I was worried about falling the whole time. If you’re in Zion, I would 100% recommend this hike!
See my video below on our Narrows hike.
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