The Dangers and Thrills of Hiking the Narrows, Zion National Park


Hiking the narrows has a reputation of being the premier hike in Zion National Park. Splashing up the Virgin River in between the smooth sandstone walls is an adventure that you don’t want to miss. However, It seems that you can’t bring up hiking through slot canyons without someone first mentioning the dangers of it: Flash flooding. Many tourists have taken a callous attitude towards the warnings and have found themselves stranded inside of the canyon, scrambling up the walls to safety. Others have not been so lucky.


On a warm summer’s day, the water is knee-deep in most places. Uneven rocks underfoot are conquerable with the right footwear and hiking poles. Some spots open up to an area large and deep enough for a swim. In other dark corners, the walls close in and clambering up rocks, logs, and waterfalls cluttered with debris, are the only ways to continue forward.


My only suggestion, other than listening to the weather condition warnings, is to arrive as early as you can. Since this is the most popular hike in the park, by noon it could feel like a Disneyland tour. Arriving at the the Temple of Sinawava trail-head first thing in the morning, (try to get on the first shuttle bus at 7am) allows you to explore the canyon in all of its glory, without the crowds. It’s the difference between feeling like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or being cattle-called into It’s a Small World. And trust me, this is the kind of thing that you want to do right.


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