“2000-foot sandstone walls usher visitors through one of the best experiences in Zion NP.”
— Brian Smith
Birding · Cave · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
In 2010, The Virgin River was designated as a Wild and Scenic River, preserving and protecting this unique body of water in its natural and free-flowing state. Please adhere to these NPS rules and regulations
to minimize you impacts while visiting the Narrows.
While there are many incredible sights and stops in Zion National Park, few are as well known as The Narrow. Here, the Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon: 16 miles long, up to 2,000-feet deep, and at times only 20 to 30-feet wide. The Narrows
, with its soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs, and hanging gardens can be an unforgettable wilderness experience.
is not a run to be underestimated. Running The Narrows
means running in the Virgin River. At least 60 percent of the way is spent wading, navigating, and sometimes swimming in the river. There is no maintained trail because the route is the river. The current is swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery. Flash flooding and hypothermia are constant dangers. Appropriate planning, proper equipment, and sound judgment are essential for a safe and successful trip. Your safety is your responsibility.
is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park. This route leads from the Temple of Sinawava to Orderville Canyon and back again.
Need to Know
Flash floods, often caused by storms miles away, are a real danger and can be life threatening. During a flash flood, the water level rises quickly, within minutes or even seconds. A flash flood can rush down a canyon in a wall of water 12 feet high or more.
Continuously evaluate weather conditions. If bad weather threatens, avoid traveling in a slot canyon. Watch for these indications of a flash flood:
-Any deterioration in weather conditions
-Build up of clouds or sounds of thunder
-Sudden changes in water clarity
is like navigating on slippery bowling balls. It requires balancing on algae-coated rocks in the middle of a swiftly flowing river. Sturdy footwear is essential. Hiking boots with good ankle support are best. Inappropriate footwear often results in twisted ankles and crushed toes.
Lastly, cotton kills! Wear moisture wicking clothing and bring layers. Lower temps in the narrows, coupled with cold water, can have you shivering on a 100° day.
This route is not one that would, or could for that matter, be run by anyone less than a superhuman. That said, it is one of the best routes in Zion and is worth showcasing.
This is the easiest way to experience The Narrows
. Ride the shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava, and use the restroom facilities before embarking - there are no facilities in the Narrows. Start along Riverside Walk
, which works its way north, along the shores of the Virgin River. Along the way, runners will have awesome views of the river itself, as well as some ultra lush "hanging gardens" Zion is famous for.
At the end of Riverside Walk
, begin wading upstream into the Narrows. Use caution as you move upstream given the slippery and uneven nature of the river bottom. There is no formal destination (turn around whenever you feel like it), and you return the same way you came. This route turns back on itself at Orderville Canyon, a tributary creek approximately two hours upstream from the end of Riverside Walk
(2.5 miles from the shuttle stop).
Along the way to Orderville Canyon, you'll be continuously awestruck by the peculiarity of this narrow and incredibly deep canyon. The sandstone walls of the canyon flow overhead like the water that carved them into existence.
Flora & Fauna
Visitors are often surprised by the relative lushness found in Zion Canyon. The riparian area of the Virgin River supports enormous cottonwood trees and a diversity of herbaceous plants and grasses. Nearby, saturated wetlands make nice habitat for cattails, willows, aquatic plants, and rushes. Water seeping out of the Navajo sandstone creates tranquil springs and the unique hanging gardens for which Zion is famous.