Zion – What You Need to Know About Hiking the Narrows

August: A month known for its high temps, beating rays, and sunburns. But despite the heat, there are a ton of places you can explore that lend themselves perfectly to an outdoor adventure. As native San Diegans, we’re used to spending our days out by the beach during the summer. The cool air and endless ocean access make it an easy place to cool down and chill out. But that sometimes gets repetitive, so we took a trip out to Utah to explore the Narrows of Zion. Here’s a little rundown to prep you for an exciting and enjoyable trip.

The Pack: If you’re an avid explorer, canyoneer, backpacker, etc. and you have the gear for hiking rivers and crag hopping, you’re probably covered on this topic. But if not, the Narrows isn’t just an area you can go with a normal hiking setup (if you truly want to explore). We stopped in to see our friends at Zion Guru to get hooked up with some gear. To spend a full day out in the narrows, you’ll be trudging through ankle – waist deep waters, over slippery rocks and logs, so being outfitted the right way is pretty crucial.

Recommended gear setup for summer:

  • 5.10 Canyoneer Shoes, or water tennies
  • 2mm – 4mm neoprene socks
  • Waterproof Backpack
  • Walking Stick
  • Bathing suit, trunks, or quick-dry athletic clothes
  • Camera (with a wide angle lens)
  • Allett Nylon Sport Wallet
  • Waterproof Phone Case
  • 2 water bottles
  • Lunch (air sealed preferably)
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen

Despite some of the reports out there, our trip to Zion was mid-high season for tourists. There’s a shuttle that runs from the main visitor center in Springdale to a few different spots up the mountain, and so as you can imagine, the lines at the bottom starts to build. It kind of felt like we were about to board Splash Mountain at Disneyland. That being said, GET THERE EARLY. We hit the shuttle around 10am, and it was packed. It’s better to wake up early and avoid the traffic than to sit in a ~1 hour line.

The Narrows are at the last stop on the shuttle. You’ll hit a trail for about 15 minutes until you reach the entrance of the river. From here, the real adventure begins. Jump in and start walking. The hike through the rivers can be anywhere from easy to moderate, and you can venture up to 16 miles throughout. The enormous slot canyons are awe-inspiring. The different rock formations, colors, and natural phenomenons make it difficult to look down, or even forward. Careful though, most of your walking will be on small, unstable rocks hidden beneath the water. We spent about 4 hours hiking up the river, passing weeping rocks, jumping into small pools at the bottom of the falls, scrambling up some fallen boulders, and hanging out in the small alcoves on the side of the mountain. Every texture and element you experience is truly incredible, and exactly what you expected from the stories.

The Narrows is a great hike to bring a group of friends or family and enjoy some lunch and take photos. Every corner you turn is totally different and has it’s own special characteristics. We definitely recommend finding a deeper section of the river to drop your packs and swim. The water, despite being a bit murky from the rain days prior, is a glorious temperature and very refreshing. With all the fun and enjoyment wreaking havoc on the day, also be aware of flash flooding out there. Definitely don’t want something like that to ruin your trip.

Unfortunately our trip had to end at the narrows, and with there being so much more to explore in Zion it’s definitely worth going back multiple times. Perhaps the next visit will be to actually camp at one of the campgrounds in the middle of the hike, which is supposed to be some of the best camping out there. Until then, we’ll be searching for some other non-beach spots to hit this month, and continue the urge to fuel our thirst for adventure.

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