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The 9 Essential, Must-Know Tourist Tips for Hiking "The Narrows" in Zion National Park, Utah

Updated: Aug 24


The Weber Fam Bam just returned from a road trip to Zion National Park in Utah, and it was quite possibly the best outdoorsy vacation we’ve ever taken!


If you haven’t been to Zion National Park, then you are missing one of America’s most beautiful parks, but there was an experience that stood out from the rest and totally made our vacation…


Hiking “The Narrows” in Zion National Park


It truly was an adventure that I know my entire family will never forget and is a family memory that we will always cherish.


When I think of “Hiking”, I envision lacing up my sneakers, packing a backpack with some snacks, water, and sunscreen and walking down a path in the woods…well, hiking The Narrows is SO much more than that, and honestly, you need to do some preparation to maximize your experience.

To help you avoid the common pitfalls of other hikers I saw while we were in The Narrows, I’m going to break down my top tips for making it the best experience possible!


Just as the Boy Scout Motto Says, “Be Prepared”…that’s the best advice for navigating The Narrows too! If you just show up and hope for the best, there will definitely be things you wish you had done differently.


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1. TRANSPORTATION IS TOPS

Before you even begin your trip to Zion, you will want to make travel arrangements to get into Zion National Park. While we visited in August 2020, there were very limited shuttle seats available due to social distancing procedures (aka Covid-19 Corona Virus pandemic protocols).


If you know weeks in advance of the date you want to go into the park, you can book your Zion Shuttle tickets ($1 each) online at

https://www.recreation.gov/ticket or go to REC.GOV and search for "Zion Shuttle Tickets"


If you are a last-minute traveler like our family was, you can book tickets the day before you want to enter the park on the same website (recreation.gov). The online portal to buy the tickets opens at 9 AM.


*HOT TICKET TIP!* Log in to your rec.gov account or create a new account before Zion National Park Shuttle Tickets go on sale. You are only able to add a ticket to your cart and pay if you are logged into your account.  


2. SUIT UP!


I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have the right equipment! We saw so many people really struggling to navigate the terrain during our hike and all of them were not properly equipped.



I am a bit of a cheapskate and definitely debated with my hubby about renting equipment. We opted to get the “Warm Weather Package” from Zion Outfitter which included, Canyoneering Boots, Neoprene Socks, and a Hiking Stick for $35/person. It was BY FAR the best decision we made on our entire trip! It made the hike so much more enjoyable and easier!



Here’s a link to their website so you can check out the gear:

https://zionoutfitter.com/narrows-rentals/



3. TIMING IS EVERYTHING


In my opinion, the best time of year to hike The Narrows is between Summer and Early Fall when the water is warmer. If you go during colder seasons, you will want to be sure you have the right gear to avoid hypothermia. The water was pretty dang cold when we went and the outside temps were over 100 degrees.

4. BE AN EARLY BIRD


I advise hiking The Narrows early in the morning for a few reasons!

  1. There are fewer crowds on the hike

  2. In the summer, it is cooler earlier in the day

  3. Flash floods can be a real danger especially later in the day

We got on the Springdale Shuttle at 7:15 (they start at 7 AM), arrived to Zion Outfitters at 7:30, and got suited up by 7:45 and made it to the Zion Shuttle before our 7-8 AM shuttle tickets expired.


5. “GO” BEFORE YOU GO!


Reminder - this ain’t Disneyland folks, and there are NO RESTROOMS in The Narrows. There are restrooms at the Zion Visitor Center where you board the Zion Shuttle, and your last chance for a bathroom pit stop is at The Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop before you get on the trail to The Narrows.


6. BE A WEATHER WATCHER


One thing we were not aware of before our trip was that the weather can be a bit tumultuous in Utah during the summer. Heck, we are from SoCal where it never even rains!


On the day we had planned to hike The Narrows, there was a “Probable” flash flood.



Flash floods are a very dangerous thing when you are in The Narrows because there is no “high ground” to escape to if the rain starts pouring.


We were a bit anxious about the forecast and keep an eye on the sky the entire time we were hiking. Also, be sure to keep tabs on the color of the river water. We were warned if that water gets cloudy, get out as quickly as you can or find some high ground because cloudy river water means flash floods are coming!


The NOAA site has updates on flash flood warnings and we saw signs at the Visitor Center and the Temple of Sinawava shuttle stop warning us of “probable” flash floods, so be sure to check those out before you hike!


7. PACK LESS


I know “pack less” seems like a counter-intuitive thing to recommend when heading off for a day in nature, but the hike in The Narrows can be long, waterlogged, and strenuous, so only bring the essentials.


We actually brought too much stuff and regretted it!


To get a full list of what we packed (and wish we didn’t), check out my article “WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING THE NARROWS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK’S VIRGIN RIVER”. It breaks down all the nitty-gritty details about our day in The Narrows.


*HOT PACKING TIP* If you are renting equipment, wear flip flops to the outfitter's store, that way you are not carrying heavy athletic shoes in your backpack during your hike! There are locker rentals at Zion Outfitter if you want to leave some things there before you get on the Zion Shuttle.


8. BRING A DRY BAG


Just like when you choose to sit in the front row of a sea animal water show…you ARE going to get wet when you hike The Narrows!


The deepest part of the hike for us was right near the beginning and the water got up almost to my waist, and the water level was lower than normal when we were there!


Out of the 5 of us in our family, 2 of us fell and got soaked!

Moral of these wet stories…bring a dry bag!


We simply put any valuables (phones, snacks, and money) in a Ziploc bag, but if you want professional-grade dry bags, you can purchase them from Amazon or at your local sports/outdoor recreation store. Both The Sea to Summit Dry Bag and Sea to Summit Waterproof Backpack get great reviews!




9. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!!


Knowledge is power, especially when you are planning to hike the Narrows!


Always be sure to check current conditions of the river’s flow and if there are any alerts for Zion Park.


While we were in Zion, there was a bacteria bloom in the water, so we did take extra precautions to not get the river water in our eyes, nose, or mouth.


Conditions on the river are always changing, so make sure you get the latest updates before you head out on your adventure!

I hope these 9 tips for hiking The Narrows help you have a memory-filled day with tons of fun and none of the headaches!

Until next time, cheers to conquering The Narrows and cheers to you!🥂


XOXO,

💗 Magan



WANT MORE ZION??



Check out….


- WHAT YOU REALLY NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIKING THE NARROWS IN ZION NATIONAL PARK’S VIRGIN RIVER (COMING SOON!)

- 7 THINGS WE WISH WE KNEW BEFORE TRAVELING TO ZION, UTAH DURING THE CORONA VIRUS COVID-19 PANDEMIC