Zion Narrows

World → North AmericaS.W. USA  → Utah → Zion Narrows

One of our top 10 day hikes in the world

Zion Narrows Top-Down

Also known as the Virgin River Narrows Top-Down route. AKA the Virgin Narrows. AKA The Narrows.

Photo Steven Shattuck 2017


  • in Utah’s Zion National Park
  • 16 miles (25 km) from Chamberlain’s Ranch to Temple of Sinawava in the Park
  • June through October best months
  • usually closed from mid-March to mid-May due to spring snowmelt and runoff
  • in places chasm up to 1,968 ft deep and 20 ft wide
  • about a 1500 ft descent
  • walk in water up to half the time
  • 9 – 13 hours. Confirm the time of the last shuttle out of the park!
  • a long, tiring day or you can camp overnight. Be aware that there are only 12 campsites available and they book quickly. Start as early as possible if you are doing it in a day.
  • Permit is required
  • water walking shoes, long hiking stick and dry gear recommended
  • National Park Service closes the hike when flow rate is over 150 cubic feet per second (cfs). And might close it at any time in case of Flash Flood Warning.

Photo National Parks Traveler

Why We Like This Hike

  • spectacular slot canyon hiking with otherworldly views
  • sheer rock walls
  • it’s fun and unique to hike in water
  • Autumn is a good time to hike the Narrows: easier reservation, fewer people hiking, changing of the trees, … but cold water
  • nearby is another best hike, Angel’s Landing
  • in fact there is a ton of great hiking near Zion
  • the first westerner to descend the canyon was geologist and explorer, Grove Karl Gilbert, in 1872. Gilbert coined the name, “The Narrows.”
  • you’ll want dry clothes at the ready when you finish


Click PLAY or watch flash flood in Zion on YouTube.

  • before setting out, check the latest conditions and weather forecast with Park Rangers
  • though the weather may be hot, bring warm clothes as you’ll be wet and in shadow much of the day
  • carry the water you’ll need as the river is murky
  • it’s crowded near the Temple of Sinawava end on a nice day



  • $15.00  1-2 people
  • $20.00  3-7 people
  • $25.00  8-12 people

You can rent the recommended water walking shoes, long hiking stick and dry gear in from Zion Guru for between $25-55 / day (2019).

Shops in Springdale offer similar rentals.

SAMPLE water walking shoes

Trekking Guides

If you get to the Chamberlain’s Ranch trailhead, you won’t get lost. No guide needed.


    • All technical slot canyons in Zion National Park require a permit. There are two ways to obtain a permit for this hike:
      1. Advance Reservations: up to 3 months in advance
        • if successful, a $5.00 non-refundable reservation fee and additional charge for a permit that is determined by the size of your group
      2. Last Minute Drawing: 7 to 2 days in advance
      3. On site, check to see if there might be a Last Minute Drawing, Walk-in Permit available one day in advance. You never know.
  • make your way to gorgeous Zion National Park, one of the best in the world. It’s about 3 hours drive from Las Vegas to St. George, Utah.
  • a good place to organize rental gear and transport to Chamberlain’s Ranch trailhead is in the town of Springdale, Utah, just outside one of the Park entrances
  • we often start making plans to get to the trailhead town using rome2rio.com

  • Chamberlain’s Ranch is 1.5 hrs drive from Zion Canyon. To get there you have two options:
  • the road to Chamberlain’s may not passable in wet conditions for normal vehicles, and access in winter is limited due to the snow.
  • finishing in Zion National Park is easy because there are regular shuttle buses which run through Zion Canyon between April and October

Finally, if you can’t get a permit — or the road is closed — consider doing this alternative itinerary:

  • Park shuttle bus to the Temple of Sinawava 
  • hike out-and-back hike to Big Springs  10 mi (16 km) round trip
  • no permit required
  • some would argue this is almost as good.

Local Information

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.
State Route 9
Springdale, UT 84767

(435) 772-3256
Staffed daily from 9 am – 1 pm.


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Click PLAY or watch the Zion Guru orientation on YouTube.

Click PLAY or watch it on Facebook.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

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