Hiking "The Narrows" - Zion National Park, Utah
Hiking "The Narrows" is an amazing experience. It is unique, moderately difficult and one of the coolest hikes everyone should do. What can be more exciting than hiking between 1000 ft tall sandstone walls in the chilly Virgin river trail and witnessing one of the most stunning landscapes.
The Narrows - Zion National Park
Like many hikers, we targeted the narrowest section of the canyon called "The Narrows" or "Wall street", just past Orderville Canyon intersection. We rode the free shuttle bus in Zion National Park to the Temple of Sinawava, the last stop on the bus route and starting point to the trail. We used the rest area to change into our water shoes that we rented at a store outside the park (check useful information at the bottom). The shoes felt very heavy and uncomfortable to walk in. We hiked on the Riverside Walk trail for about a mile after which the Virgin river itself becomes the trail. Actually we could have changed into our water shoes at that point, would have made the 1 mile walk less heavy on our feet. And there were hiking sticks for anyone to grab but we had already rented one.
Vegetation growing through the walls / The trail
We felt a sudden chill as we stepped foot into the water. It was not too bad but definitely cold, but we got used to the temperature soon. The water was crystal clear, uneven rocky bed clearly showing through in the shallow areas, which is most of the hike. We kept ourselves to the shallow path and the exposed rocky bed to the sides. But sometimes we had to wade through the deeper bluer sections where the water reached up-to our thighs.
Stripy pattern on the walls created by water
As we hiked deeper into the canyon we could feel the currents become strong. We hiked very cautiously getting a proper grip on the slippery rocks, hiking stick was of big help there. After hiking for about 2 hours, we made it to the "Wall street" where the canyon walls were no more than 20ft apart, water end to end, darker and colder.
A mysterious corner / One of the deep bluer sections
Though direct sunlight did not reach all the way to the bottom, the sun cast a beautiful golden glow on the top half of the giant walls. Every turn and curve along the trail was inviting and beautiful. Water drizzled down the sandstone walls all the way from top and vegetation grew through the weeping rocky walls.
Golden glow from the sun - Zion National Park
Hiking back was harder. The currents got stronger, and as the hike back was downstream it felt like we were being pushed from behind. Water temperature dipped quite a lot, air felt cold and the sun was quickly going down. It took a little more than 2 hours to reach the riverside trail. This time we changed into our flip flops before heading out, but now those wet shoes were heavy in our backpacks.
The Narrows - Zion National Park / Wall Street - Zion National Park
The hike was pretty tiring. We made it to the end of riverside trail, or should I say beginning of the trail, and took a bus back to the entrance of the park. The whole day was gone just for that one hike and we didn't have anytime to see the rest of the park.
But wow!! What an incredible experience it was. We were glad we picked the best thing to do in the only day we had to spend at Zion National Park.
Where to stay: Hotels near Zion. Getting there: Park your car at the entrance of the park and board the free shuttle bus. Temple of Sinawava is the last stop in the shuttle route. Gear Info: Zion Adventure Company - Depending on the time of the year rent canyoneering shoes, neoprene socks, walking stick, dry pants and dry suit ($23-$53 per day). Hours and Cost: Open 24 hours a day year round - Closed when the water levels are high or threatening. Park entrance - $15 per person for 7 days / $30 per vehicle for 7 days. Trails: Riverside walk trail - 1 mile oneway until water trail starting point. To narrows - 2.5miles oneway from shuttle stop - wet, uneven, cold and slippery. Time to spend: 5-6hrs. In you bag: Hiking gear is recommended, dress in layers, snacks, water and a camera.
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