Granted I am not a great hiker. I am actually much better at complaining about the heat or humidty, the lack of shaddow or snacks, my hurting feet and let’s not start with what happens when any sort of elevation gain joins the party. But that all changes when it comes to this one hike. The one I am always keen on tackling: ‘The Narrows‘ at Zion National Park.
This August we hiked this ‘trail’ for the second time. But as you basically just hike the river upstream the term ‘trail’ doesn’t feel right. Yet to me this walking up the Virgin River in Zion National Park was just the best (and only enjoyable) hiking experience of my life. I am not kidding you, when it comes to hiking I am hard to please. On this one though I am kinda hooked!
The Narrows – before you go
One thing you should keep in mind when you attempt to hike ‘The Narrows’: The Virgin River runs through a slot canyon. When there’s a flesh flood people die in this canyon.
This is not at all to discourage you from going on that hike. I just want to emphasize how important it is to prepare correctly and take a few precautions before you embark on that adventure. I assure you, it’s totally worth it!
You will see people with small children there. Some people are even carrying babys. It’s completely insane to me. This hike can be really dangerous. I would never go in there with a small child.
The Narrows – how to prepare
1. Check local weather apps and the Zion National Park Facebook Page before even going to the park. If there’s any chance of rain or a thunderstorm or even a flash flood warning don’t go.
2. Arrive early. The entrance point of the trail is at ‘The Temple of Sinawava’ bus stop at the end of the ‘Riverside Walk’ trail. The bus ride takes 40 minutes and the buses start around 8 am. I’d recommend to start as early as possible. The later you get up there the more (unprepared) people will annoy you.
3. Pack a gallon of water per person, enough food (you will get insanely hungry), sunscreen, sunglasses and the right clothes. The right clothes are warm yet forgiving when they get wet. Take a waterproof bagpack or a regular backpack with a dry bag. Also pack additional underware and leave it in your car. Your ass will get wet. If it doesn’t you missed out on half of the fun!
4. Wear hiking boots and take hiking sticks with you. This will spare you a lot of stumbling!
5. If you love your DSLR leave it at home. We didn’t take our phones either for the same reason. All we took with us was the gopro.
The Narrows – What to Do
1. When you arrive at Zion National Park ask at the visitor center if there’s any flash flood warnings and if it’s save to hike ‘The Narrows’. If it isn’t come back another day. The hike is stunning but it’s not worth risking your life.
2. Use the restrooms whenever you can. There will be
no chance to pee no toilet once you have set foot on the ‘Riverside Walk’ trail.
3. DRINK ALL THE TIME! The most common health threats for hikers on this hike are hypothermia and dehydration. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, you’re still in the desert!
4. Enjoy your surroundings and don’t fear getting wet. Instruct your fellow hikers on how to react when you fall. If they are at all like my husband they might take pictures of you when you unintentionally water your private parts 😉
5. If you are not an experienced hiker or really really fit set a timer for yourself. We are okay fit but not used to hiking so we decided on turning around after 4 hours no matter where we were. I have to say that this was definitely my limit as walking upstream is hella exhausting.
The Narrows – What not to do
1. Seriously, don’t wear flip flops! You see way too many people stumbling through the river. Flip Flops are NOT a good choice! You will much rather break your ankle than having fun.
2. Don’t wear a white t-shirt unless you’re keen on showing random guys your nipples. The water is cold, I am short, the river is really deep at some points and I really don’t know why I thought a white see-through shirt might be a good option.
3. Don’t overestimate your capabilities. While you might not realize it when you’re walking, walking upstream is really exhausting.
4. Don’t forget to take breaks and don’t forget to eat or drink. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Fuel, fuel, fuel!
5. Don’t be afraid of this hike. When you’re well prepared there’s no real danger. I am not a great hiker but I had a blast on this one. I would do it again anytime.
6. Don’t forget to smile genuinely even if you’re way out of your comfort zone. Maybe you should practice a bit more than I did 😉
Have you ever hiked ‘The Narrows’?
Is this a hike you would attempt?