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Into the Zion Narrows

One of America's great hikes in Zion National Park.

The Bottom-Up section of Zion's Narrows hike is 10 miles round-trip and fun for the whole family.
The Bottom-Up section of Zion's Narrows hike is 10 miles round-trip and fun for the whole family.

Joshua, age 10, is an aspiring photojournalist. This is his first published work.

In my ten years on this earth, the Grand Canyon had been the most beautiful spot I had ever seen. That is, until I hiked The Narrows. If you haven’t heard of the Narrows, you may have heard of Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah, where this spectacular hike is located.

When you visit Zion, the Narrows is an ideal spot to cool off on a hot summer day and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can bring the whole family like we did. My mom, dad and two sisters, ages 11 and 13, all came along. I was nine at the time. The hike should be comfortable for most families with children who are decent swimmers. We all had a great time, and the hike was a memorable one.

Hiking the Narrows

We hiked the Narrows in August. Zion was hot, as it usually is this time of year. We started early and took the free shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava stop. A brief hike leads to where the Narrows begins at the Virgin River. The canyon walls here can be up to a thousand feet tall and only 20-30 feet wide.

We reached the start of the Narrows hike about 7 in the morning before the crowds arrived, bringing along plenty of water and lunch to keep us going. There were only about two or three other hikers. We were all in in our bathing suits and shoes.

Expect to get wet. You’ll be hiking through streams during much of the hike. At the beginning, you can walk either alongside the river or in the river itself. Eventually, you'll be in the river. The water was refreshing – especially in the scorching heat of the early afternoon.

There were lots of hiking sticks available at the beginning of the hike, all free of charge. At the start of the hike, there's a place along the river where hikers who have finished the journey leave their sticks for others to use. There’s no need to come with one.

Trail highlights

The scenery was impressive from the beginning, but after 45 minutes the canyon became narrower and the view was jaw-dropping. The light-brown sandstone canyons surrounding the path were as high as skyscrapers.

We saw and got splashed by two waterfalls. The coolest waterfall was at the start of the hike. The water cascaded from the top of the cliff. The water was a beautiful blue-green. After about an hour hiking, the water came up to my neck and I felt almost like I was swimming. Eventually, we had to walk along the side to get across because the water was very deep in the middle. If the water gets too cold, there are other trails you can hike to take a break from the water and stay dry.

At one point, the trail splits into two paths. Our family also temporarily split up to try both paths. Fifteen minutes later, the paths converged and we met.

The rock formations are extremely tall, blocking the sun during most of the 10-mile hike. This helped keep us cool. At one point, we found a patch of sun and warmed up. At the turnout point on the Lower Narrows, the rock formations widen a bit, allowing for the sun to shine down on the water and trees to grow.

As you hike further into the canyon, the scenery gets even more spectacular. The canyon gets darker and the path gets narrower. There are also shady trees along the way that offer a nice resting spot. We hiked about two hours until we found a great spot for a picnic. We stopped to take a break and enjoy our lunch.

“I think everybody is a little bit tired now, so maybe we should head back,” my dad suggested. We all agreed.

On the way back, we ran into crowds of people that got a later start than we did. We were glad we left early!

If you go

I recently learned that the The Narrows hike was rated #5 in National Geographic's America's 100 Best Adventures. It really is the most beautiful place I've ever been to – even more beautiful than the Grand Canyon.

The Zion Narrows was a comfortable hike for everyone in our family, and we’re all glad we did it. Keep in mind, it’s important to check weather conditions before you arrive. The Narrows is unsafe to hike after a rainstorm. Flash floods sometimes occur, which can cause life-threatening hazards.

Our Narrows hike was the easier Bottoms Up hike. Next time I go, I hope to do the overnight two-day hike. I can’t wait to go back!

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The Bottom-Up section of Zion's Narrows hike is 10 miles round-trip and fun for the whole family.
The Bottom-Up section of Zion's Narrows hike is 10 miles round-trip and fun for the whole family.

Joshua, age 10, is an aspiring photojournalist. This is his first published work.

In my ten years on this earth, the Grand Canyon had been the most beautiful spot I had ever seen. That is, until I hiked The Narrows. If you haven’t heard of the Narrows, you may have heard of Zion National Park in Springdale, Utah, where this spectacular hike is located.

When you visit Zion, the Narrows is an ideal spot to cool off on a hot summer day and enjoy the beautiful scenery. You can bring the whole family like we did. My mom, dad and two sisters, ages 11 and 13, all came along. I was nine at the time. The hike should be comfortable for most families with children who are decent swimmers. We all had a great time, and the hike was a memorable one.

Hiking the Narrows

We hiked the Narrows in August. Zion was hot, as it usually is this time of year. We started early and took the free shuttle to the Temple of Sinawava stop. A brief hike leads to where the Narrows begins at the Virgin River. The canyon walls here can be up to a thousand feet tall and only 20-30 feet wide.

We reached the start of the Narrows hike about 7 in the morning before the crowds arrived, bringing along plenty of water and lunch to keep us going. There were only about two or three other hikers. We were all in in our bathing suits and shoes.

Expect to get wet. You’ll be hiking through streams during much of the hike. At the beginning, you can walk either alongside the river or in the river itself. Eventually, you'll be in the river. The water was refreshing – especially in the scorching heat of the early afternoon.

There were lots of hiking sticks available at the beginning of the hike, all free of charge. At the start of the hike, there's a place along the river where hikers who have finished the journey leave their sticks for others to use. There’s no need to come with one.

Trail highlights

The scenery was impressive from the beginning, but after 45 minutes the canyon became narrower and the view was jaw-dropping. The light-brown sandstone canyons surrounding the path were as high as skyscrapers.

We saw and got splashed by two waterfalls. The coolest waterfall was at the start of the hike. The water cascaded from the top of the cliff. The water was a beautiful blue-green. After about an hour hiking, the water came up to my neck and I felt almost like I was swimming. Eventually, we had to walk along the side to get across because the water was very deep in the middle. If the water gets too cold, there are other trails you can hike to take a break from the water and stay dry.

At one point, the trail splits into two paths. Our family also temporarily split up to try both paths. Fifteen minutes later, the paths converged and we met.

The rock formations are extremely tall, blocking the sun during most of the 10-mile hike. This helped keep us cool. At one point, we found a patch of sun and warmed up. At the turnout point on the Lower Narrows, the rock formations widen a bit, allowing for the sun to shine down on the water and trees to grow.

As you hike further into the canyon, the scenery gets even more spectacular. The canyon gets darker and the path gets narrower. There are also shady trees along the way that offer a nice resting spot. We hiked about two hours until we found a great spot for a picnic. We stopped to take a break and enjoy our lunch.

“I think everybody is a little bit tired now, so maybe we should head back,” my dad suggested. We all agreed.

On the way back, we ran into crowds of people that got a later start than we did. We were glad we left early!

If you go

I recently learned that the The Narrows hike was rated #5 in National Geographic's America's 100 Best Adventures. It really is the most beautiful place I've ever been to – even more beautiful than the Grand Canyon.

The Zion Narrows was a comfortable hike for everyone in our family, and we’re all glad we did it. Keep in mind, it’s important to check weather conditions before you arrive. The Narrows is unsafe to hike after a rainstorm. Flash floods sometimes occur, which can cause life-threatening hazards.

Our Narrows hike was the easier Bottoms Up hike. Next time I go, I hope to do the overnight two-day hike. I can’t wait to go back!

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Joshua, congrats on your story. After reading it, I want to hike the Narrows!

March 20, 2015

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