Hiking the Riverside Walk and the Narrows in Zion National Park is an experience of a lifetime! I really can’t think of a more gorgeous place that I’ve ever visited.
What is “The Narrows”?
The Narrows is the most famous and popular hike in Zion (well, excluding the Riverside Walk, which is actually part of the Narrows hike). In this article, we’ll show you how to do the hike.
Two Ways to Hike the Narrows
There are two ways to hike the Narrows: From the Bottom-Up or from the Top-Down.
The Top-Down requires a permit and usually camping in the canyon for an evening. This is rarely done in comparison to the Bottom-Up route.
The Bottom-Up route is accessible to anyone who wants to do it. This article only covers this popular option.
You don’t have to have any special gear to hike the Narrows, but I think it helps! Outfitter stores, such as Zion Outfitter, in the gateway town of Springdale, rent shoes, socks, and walking sticks. In the winter, they rent waders.
We’ve seen plenty of people without the rented gear doing the hike, so it’s not necessary. However, I think it is super helpful and I definitely recommend it.
Many people also bring backpacks to carry their picnics, phones, or anything else. See our article Zion Recommended Gear for a more thorough list of items to bring.
- Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get essential travel tips for visiting the West.
To get to the Narrows you simply catch the Zion shuttle and get out at the last shuttle stop, the Temple of Sinewava.
Unlike most national parks, in which you look down into a canyon, Zion is entered on the bottom floor. The road follows the Virgin River into the mouth of the canyon, which continues to narrow the farther you drive in.
Eventually, the road ends at the Temple of Sinewava. This is where the Riverside Walk begins, which is the first half of the Narrows.
Go Before You Go
Before starting your hike, use the restroom located at the shuttle stop, because there are no restrooms in the canyon!
The initial path is called the Riverside Walk. This is one of the most delightful sections in all of Zion and is accessible to everyone. The path is paved and is mostly accessible by wheelchairs.
Even if you aren’t hiking the Narrows, you can do the Riverside Walk.
This is the first half of the Narrows hike — the paved portion. You won’t get wet or have to walk in the water along this stretch.
Getting in the Water
Eventually, the paved Riverside Walk ends. Here’s where you’ll get into the Virgin River and continue to hike into the canyon, upstream in the water.
Many people say it’s like hiking on wet bowling balls because the river rocks are round and slippery. I don’t think it’s that bad at all, but maybe if you didn’t have the right shoes it would be.
- Discover three things to do in Zion with kids.
How Long is The Narrows?
Just follow the river upstream as far as you like and turn around when you’re ready. Note that the hike goes faster on the way out because you’re going in the same direction as the flowing water.
Some people turn in to Orderville Canyon, others go to Wall Street or beyond.
You must turn around at Big Springs. This is located 5 miles from the Temple of Sinewava, making the hike a 10-mile round-trip experience. Remember that it’s not a normal 10 miles because it’s much slower hiking in the river than on land.
Eating in the Canyon
You can bring a picnic to eat in the canyon, and I would highly recommend it. Just make sure to clean up after yourself!
Flash Floods happen in the canyon every year. Multiple people have died in the canyon. The park’s rule is “Your safety is your responsibility.” If you have any concerns, check with the outfitters in town or with park rangers before you go.
The park will sometimes put a sign at the beginning of the Riverside Walk, informing visitors that the Narrows are closed. However, there will not be a ranger stopping people from hiking upstream. Exercise caution and play it safe. Don’t hike the Narrows if you’ve been warned against it.
What else do I need to know?
Zion National Park is often crowded with visitors! Because of its popularity, planning and navigating a trip to Zion National Park can be frustrating. The crowds and shuttle system can be confusing to navigate.
Lucky for you, we have you covered. Most travelers want to visit the most popular sites, yet still, avoid crowds (as much as possible). We have a detailed itinerary that gives you a step-by-step game plan so you can get to the best places at the right times!
- Zion National Park Itinerary
- Zion National Park Trip Planner Page
- How to use the Zion Shuttle
- What to expect at each shuttle stop in Zion Canyon
- How to hike Angels Landing
- How to do the Confusing Emerald Pools Hike in Zion National Park
- 3 things to do in Zion with kids
- Scenic drive between Zion & Mt Carmel
- Zion National Park: Where to camp, glamp, and boondock
- Do I need a reservation to visit Zion?
- Can you drive in Zion National Park?
- Are Flash Floods Common in Zion National Park?
- Zion National Park Website