Narrows Up-and-Back

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 37.29686°N / 112.94718°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking, Canyoneering
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Sign the Climber's Log

Trailhead & Directions

Zion Narrows

Your hike begins and ends at the Temple of Sinawava: There are two ways to access the parking area there, each dependent on the time of the year:

Temple of Sinawava via your car:
This method is to be used from November until early April, when Zion National Park's public shuttles are shut down. From Springdale head north on Highway 9 beyond the park entrance, and past the visitors center (which will be on your right). Take your first public left onto Valley of the Floor Road, where you'll see signs for Zion Lodge. Drive until the end of the road, several miles later. There you will find ample parking and a lot of tourists :)

Temple of Sinawava via NPS shuttle:
This method is to be used from early April until the end of October, when it is not permissible to drive your own vehicle on Valley of the Floor Road. From Springdale head north on Highway 9 until just past the Zion National Park entrance gate. On the right you will see the visitors center with plenty of parking - park there (if full, park in town and take the bus to the visitor's center). The shuttle system runs to the Temple of Sinawava every 15-20 minutes.

Route Description

Zion NarrowsBig Springs

This hike is considered more casual than its top down sister-hike. You can spend anywhere from a couple hours to more than 10 hours hiking and admiring the Narrows. From the Temple of Sinawava parking area head north 1 mile on the paved and packed trail until you reach the river. Jump in! You will frequently be up to your knees, wading, or even swimming as you make your way (especially as one of the deepest parts is only a couple hundred feet from the path). Now hike in and out of the Virgin River while continuing upstream through canyons that will grow in height, as well as narrow in width, as you progress. The river and canyon are yours until you reach Big Springs (most do not go this far), Orderville Canyon (a good half-way point on the right), or wherever you see fit to turn around and come back. This canyon is a photographer’s dream, but also an overweight or out of shape tourist’s – go early when they’re all still asleep or traveling!

When to go?

Water Flow
Water Temp
(degrees f)
Narrows Traffic
Flood Danger
Bottom Up
Top Down
January 2-4 40-45 1 1-2 Mostly Rarely
February 2-4 40-45 1-2 1-2 Yes Rarely
March 3-7 40-45 3-5 1-2 Yes Rarely
April 4-10 45-50 4-6 3-4 Mostly Sometimes
May 3-7 50-55 5-7 3-4 Yes Mostly
June 2-4 55-60 6-8 3-4 Yes Yes
July 1-3 60-65 7-10 5-8 Yes Yes
August 1-4 60-65 7-10 5-10 Yes Yes
September 2-4 55-60 5-8 5-10 Yes Yes
October 2-3 50-55 4-7 3-4 Yes Yes
November 2-3 45-50 3-5 1-2 Yes Mostly
December 2-4 40-45 2-3 1-2 Yes Sometimes

Essential Gear

Zion Narrows


Hiking the Narrows is like walking on slippery bowling balls. It requires balancing on algae-coated rocks in and out of a swiftly flowing river. A sturdy canyoneering boot is recommended, as it will allow water to flow freely through, yet still remain "sticky" underwater. These are available for rent in Springdale, as is almost anything you may need for a successful Narrows hike.


Even in mid-summer the Narrows are chilly. The water is cold, breezes blow steadily, and very little sunlight penetrates to the canyon floor. Although in the heat of the summer the hike can be completed in shorts and a tee, you will surely need warmer clothes for an overnight stay in the cold canyon. A wetsuit will be needed in the cooler weather. In the winter months a drysuit and a change of clothes will become a necessity

Drinking Water

Water in the Virgin River and its springs is not safe to drink untreated. It has passed over rangeland and may be contaminated with an illness-causing bacteria called giardia. Either treat the water you collect by filter, tablets, or by boiling, or carry in all the water you'll need.

Walking Stick

Sounds silly to you? To help maintain your balance, a walking stick is highly recommended. Hiking the Narrows without one increases your chance of injury and fatigue. Also, it is handy to probe the riverbed ahead for holes. Cutting trees or bushes to make a walking stick is strictly prohibited, both in the park and at Chamberlain's Ranch.


Even the most experienced hikers fall occasionally in the Narrows. Several drybags are a good idea for your camera, maps, clothes, etc.

Potential Extras

Headlamp, even for day travel

First aid kit

Trash bags for packing out food scraps and toilet paper

"Wag Bag" for packing out "other" organic material - NPS usually distributes...

Sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat - there is some mild sun exposure

Topographic map (available for purchase at Zion Visitor Centers)

Red Tape

Back Country Permits are required for any travel beyond Big Springs. The NPS limits permits to 40 per day, and parties no larger than 12. This is strictly enforced; violators will be cited.

Weather & Flash Flood Potential

Flash Flood Warnings

Local Upfitters

Zion Adventures



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