Zion Narrows Hike in Zion National Park

The North Fork of the Virgin River is a slot canyon called The Narrows in Zion National Park which many consider among the best hikes in the world. The Zion Narrows hike can be undertaken from the top-down or bottom-up. The National Park Service requires a permit to proceed top-down through the Narrows.

Do not attempt the Narrows when there is rain in the weather forecast or if there has been rain upstream. A rain storm can send rushing water downstream in a flash flood and there may not be sufficient high ground in the area to avoid being swept downstream.

The Zion Narrows is typically closed to hiking between mid-March through late May. Record snowfall may delay the opening of hiking until as late as mid-July.

Hiking the Narrows in fall and winter is possible but requires cold weather preparations. To do a top-down hike in the winter, there is not enough daylight to safely complete it in one day so the Park Service will not issue a one day top down permit.

Top Down Narrows Hike

This is an 18 mile two-day backpacking trip that is sometimes completed as a long day hike. It begins at Chamberlain’s Ranch and proceeds down the North Fork of the Virgin River to the Temple of Sinawava stop of the Zion Canyon Shuttle. It takes approximately 10-13 hours as a day hike and more than 12 hours with backpacking equipment. A permit is required by the park service for all top-down hikes through the Narrows. This is also a leave no trace area so please bring materials to pack out even solid human waste.

Bottom Up Day Hike

This is the best route for tourists or a casual hike. It does not require a wilderness permit. Start at the last stop of the Zion shuttle (Temple of Sinawava) and travel up the Riverside Walk trail. Continue hiking up the North Fork of the Virgin River, before retracing your steps to return to the departure point. The last turn around spot for day hikes is Big Springs, which is 4.5 miles from the start of the hike. Allow at least six hours for your adventure up the Narrows.