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Zion Narrows - Zion National Park

Summary: Spectacular hike through a magnificent canyon.  One of the best hikes around.    Do not attempt this hike if heavy rains threaten.
Directions: The Zion Narrows can be accessed from either the top or the bottom of the canyon.  The Park Service requires a permit to hike through this canyon from the top, mainly to ensure no flash flood conditions exist.  Permits are available at the Visitors Center and must be obtained the day prior to your hike.  A limited number of permits are issued each day so arrive early to have the best chance of getting one (the Visitors Center opens at 8:00am).   No permit is required for day hikes up from the bottom.
To access the bottom of the canyon, take the shuttle bus to the Zion Canyon Road end.
To access the top of the canyon, drive east out of the park on route 9 for 2 miles.  At mile post 46 turn left onto a paved road marked "North Fork" towards Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort.   After a few miles the road becomes well graded dirt.  Follow the road all the way to the end at Chamberlain's Ranch.  The park service also has a shuttle which leaves from the Zion Lodge and drops you off at the ranch, allowing you to have your vehicle waiting for you after a hike through the narrows.  Fee is $12 per person for the shuttle service (as of this writing).
Road Conditions: Bottom: Passenger Car - paved all the way
Top: Passenger Car or park shuttle
Navigation: Easy, follow the stream
Length: 12 miles
Date Hiked: May, 1999 & September, 1999
Weather Conditions: Cool in the morning, then perfect
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the bottom, follow the paved walk way from the Zion Canyon road end to it's end (approximately a 1 mile walk).  From there, walk in the water upstream.  Return the way you came.
From the top, follow the dirt road through Chamberlain's Ranch to it's end.   From there, simply follow the stream.  You can usually find a path on one side of the stream or the other for much of the hike which will allow for easier walking.   Otherwise the stream itself is the trail.
No swimming was required during either of the author's visits, however, portions of the narrows reached waist deep.  The rocks in the water are quite slippery at times and can also shift under your feet as you walk.  A walking stick is very effective in maintaining balance as you hike.  Camera gear should be kept in a dry bag when not in use to prevent unintentional drowning.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author has hiked twice in the narrows.  On his first trip the Park Service was not issuing permits for the narrows so he hiked up from the Zion Canyon road end almost to Big Springs then returned.  On his second trip a permit was obtained and he took the park shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch and hiked back to his car at the Canyon road end (in 8 1/2 hours).  On both trips the water was quite cool, neoprene socks were quite effective in keeping feet warm on both trips.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Zion National Park
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Narrows near the Orderville
Looking upstream into
the narrows.