Precautions for Hiking The Narrows, Zion National Park

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The Narrows

The Narrows, located in Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah, is famous for its 16-mile trek through the waters of the Virgin River.

To reach the Narrows, a ride via shuttle to the ninth stop, Temple of Sinawava, is required. Next is the Riverside Walk, a paved path leading to the start of the Narrows hike. This walk is along the Virgin River and is approximately 2.2 miles long. There are two parts of The Narrows hike. The first, a trip upstream from the start of the Narrows to as far as the Big Spring, does not require the Wilderness Permit. In order to access the second part, a journey from Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava, the Wilderness Permit is a must-have. The permit named above is $15 for 1 – 2 people, $20 for 3 – 7, and $25 for 8 – 12. This permit is non-transferable, so checking for flash flood warnings or other alerts is recommended. 

The best time to hike the Narrows is during spring or summer, although flash floods might be a risk. During this time, the water level drops, and temperatures are warm, as opposed to the high, frigid river present in winter and fall. The river’s depth can vary, starting from as low as ankle level to reaching up to as high as the chest. The uneven river bottom, slippery rocks, and cyanotoxin exposure are other dangers present as well. 

Flash floods are the biggest dangers present in hiking the Zion Narrows. When these floods arrive, water levels rise almost immediately, leaving minimal time to get away. Flash floods occur when runoffs caused by storms flow into the river. Usually, the rocky patches present should be able to absorb the excess water, but the bareness of the rock in the canyon inhibits that particular ability. Luckily, warnings of the weather and the probability level for flash flooding are regularly updated by the park. 

Due to the treacherous, slippery rocks at the bottom of the river, correct footwear is definitely recommended. Sturdy footwear, such as hiking boots with ankle support, is the best option. Wearing sandals or going barefoot could possibly result in twisted ankles or other injuries to the foot. Trekking poles are also recommended to aid with support and balance, as the current might be strong in some areas. Plenty of water and snacks are a should bring, along with warm clothing just in case. The temperature inside the canyon is slightly colder than on the outside, and insulation would be helpful if one were to get stuck inside the area. 

In conclusion, the Narrows hike is an exquisite experience, recommended to all those who travel to Zion. With the proper precautions and good planning, an enjoyable and safe experience is most likely to be had.