The Narrows

The Narrows is a unique hiking experience at the end of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. The Zion Narrows gets its name from a narrowing slot canyon carved by the Virgin River and surrounded by towering walls created over time. The bulk of The Narrows hike requires explorers to walk through the rocky river bed. There are several variations for hikers of all skill levels and interest in this unique but cold and wet adventure.
Zion Ponderosa

The Hike

There are three ways to access The Narrows at Zion National Park. The most popular of the three is Bottom-up starting at the Temple of Sinawava. The Narrows Bottom-up begins as a one mile paved river walk (Riverside Walk Trail) along the Virgin River and transitions into traversing through the river itself with towering canyon walls surrounding. Below we will outline a step-by-step guide to help you make the most of your experience in The Zion National Park Narrows.

Riverside Walk

The River Walk begins at the Temple of Sinawava. It is a one mile paved path that follows alongside the Virgin River. This trail is wheel-chair accessible and suitable for all ages. Those who aren’t equipped to walk through the river and into the Narrows usually turn back when the trail meets the Virgin River. This is a hike not to be missed with the peaceful sights and sounds of the Virgin River nearby, hanging gardens, and more.

Narrows Bottom-up

This the most common way to experience The Zion Narrows, it is an out-and-back choose your own adventure hike. All hikers of the Narrows Bottom-up will begin at the Temple of Sinawava continue one mile up the Riverside Walk trail until it ends and converges with the Virgin River. From there you continue walking through the river to your hearts content. It is 9.4 miles round trip from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Spring. Through the duration of this hike you will be hiking through water on the rocky river bottom. Many hikers turn back after reaching Orderville Canyon 2 miles up or may even venture 1/2 mile into Orderville Canyon to Veiled Falls. There are many variations and ways to enjoy hike Zion National Park Narrows Bottom-up.

Narrows top-down

This 16 mile point-to-point hike begins at Chamberlain Ranch and ends at the Temple of Sinawava. Hiking The Zion Narrows Top-down is one way travel and requires a permit. Access to the trailhead and Chamberlain Ranch is a 1.5 hour drive from Zion National Park and it is necessary to secure transportation on both ends of the Narrows Top-down. This version of the Narrows can be done in a full day or overnight. Very few visitors choose do top-down because of the many challenges: securing a permit, length of the hike while navigating a river, few places to camp, no turning back, requires canyoneering skill, and transportation to and from the trailhead and the bottom.

Narrows Via Orderville Gulch

This downstream hike is 11 miles and requires a permit. Rated for beginner canyoneering and/or experienced hiker. The access point for this hike requires 4-wheel drive and it is necessary to have your own transportation at the other end. The journey includes several rappels, hiking downstream on rocky riverbed, swimming in cold water, obstacle navigation, and rock scrambling. 8.5 miles down the trail Orderville Canyon connects at the junction of The Narrows with the Virgin River, you must continue 1.5 miles down river, and 1 mile on the Riverside Walk Trail to exit at the Temple of Sinawava.

When hiking The Narrows Bottom-up, there is option to take a side path 1/2 mile into Orderville Canyon to Veiled Falls but there a sign is posted that prohibits further upstream exploration of Orderville Canyon.
The Zion Narrows
Zion Ponderosa

Getting to the narrows

Zion National Park shuttle system is the only way to reach the Temple of Sinawava for 10 months of the year. There are several weeks during the winter that private vehicles can be parked at the end of Zion Main Canyon to hike the Narrows Bottom-up or the River Walk Trail.

Preparing for the narrows

It can get chilly in the Narrows even in summer. Early summer experiences the cold of spring runoff. Consider renting a wet/dry suit and/or insulated shoes. Bring a walking stick for stability while navigating the uneven riverbed. Neoprine socks are important because they help reduce friction on the feet because of the water. 

  • Bring enough water and food.
  • Waterproof bags for electronics.
  • Be sure to inform others of your hiking plans.
  • Secure the necessary permits. 
  • Pack it in, pack it out.


The Narrows are usually closed until June due to heavy spring runoff.

The River Walk is open all year. It may experience snow or ice, so be prepared for that during the winter. 

River temperatures can be chilly all year. In the winter, the sun does not penetrate the canyon for long and can get quite cold. It is important to be prepared for the weather you will encounter.

Hanging Gardens

The hanging gardens seen in multiple spots along the trails were formed by water seeping through the sandstone walls and creating the perfect environment for vibrant mossy leafy plants to grow and hang on the side of the canyon walls. 


Wild Turkeys have been spotted frequently in the Temple of Sinawava area.

Wintertime when the trees are bare is a great time to see big birds like Eagles, Hawks or even the California Condor hanging out in the trees nearby.
Zion Ponderosa

Zion National Park Trails