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I finally did it! I finally hiked The Narrows! See, this is a big deal for me because as most of you know (or are about to learn) I do not like water activities. I like being on water, but not in water. Very different things. I managed to avoid going into The Narrows for three visits before I finally took the plunge. And now I’m going to tell you all about it.
After a drive that took waaaay longer than it should have, a brief nights rest, and a stop at Sand Hollow State Park, we set off for Zion with one thing on our to do list. The Narrows. There wasn’t even an option to do anything else this time. What made me want to hike The Narrows all of a sudden?
Last summer a few of my friends went and did it over their weekend and came back with all these cool pictures and videos so I could actually see what it was like. It didn’t look anywhere near as frightening as the Internet makes it sound. And if you don’t think the Internet makes it sound frightening, I did.
I mean, flash floods, people! Everything I read made it sound like one heck of a hike. Bring food, clothes, water, and everything else you could possibly need for a night out of town. Basically. All I brought was water and my camera.
I think I got off topic. We made it to the park and this time we were able to park right by the visitors center, already making it a more productive visit than last time. We went in, bought way too much stuff, got on the shuttle and that was it. We rode it and went right home. I’m kidding. We got off at the Temple of Sinawava, the last stop, and set off along the Virgin River.
I’ll mention this now, it was so packed! I thought for sure the further in we went the less busy it would be, but you must have to go in pretty darn far to not run into too many people. Even at the spot we turned around there were still quite a few people. Some still going in, others leaving. But there were only a couple, very brief, times we couldn’t see another person.
At one point on the paved trail still, we saw that squirrel a few pictures up just laying like that. For a second I thought it was dead, but it, in fact, was not. It was a very weird way to lay though, I have to say that. We moved on and far too soon it was time to get wet. I was having doubts and almost said something, but I pushed on.
I put my first foot in the water and did a quick little gasp at the water temperature. It really wasn’t that cold, but it was really hot out so it felt colder than it actually was. I soldiered on and put my other foot in. It was sort of difficult to walk in the water because you couldn’t see the rocks all that well.
The water isn’t crystal clear, so you have to be careful. We were moving pretty slow, but I wouldn’t want to go fast because not only will you slip on rocks, but you’ll stub your toes a lot. I actually had a harder time walking on the brief land portions.
The whole time you are just walking in the river, crossing back and forth to the dry areas and going around the really deep parts. There weren’t too many areas that were all that deep, but they were easy enough to avoid. You can always swim through them, too, but I have to remind you, I don’t like swimming.
Walking into The Narrows is a lot more difficult than walking out since you’re going against the current on the way in. Some sections are a lot harder than others. Eventually we got to the picture below and stopped for some pictures. We waited patiently and acted quickly when the people stopped and we managed to get pictures without them, which is tough here.
While we were stopped there, someone asked what kind of camera I had, then he stopped, took off his backpack and pulled out a lens. I took mine off, put his on and was able to get way more in my shots. It was fun using a wide angle lens for once, but unfortunately I had to give it back. I definitely appreciated him letting me use it though, so if you random stranger happen to be reading this, thank you!
Not too far after the bend we decided to turn around. Well, I probably decided for both of us. I was starting to get cold. And hungry. And tired. We hung out at our end for a bit before leaving. It was probably 5-6PM, that’s why it was getting cool. In a canyon. With no sun. We spent five to six hours in The Narrows total.
I was also really frustrated at this point because of the three things I just mentioned, and my feet were starting to hurt from the land parts. My feet were constantly sliding off of dry rocks with sand on them since my shoes were always wet. I was stubbing my toes way too much, and my shoes were rubbing weird on my toes. Not too long after we turned around I started crying. Not because it was such a profound experience or anything. I was just that frustrated by the combination of everything. After my brief cry, like two minutes, I was fine. It was out and we were on our way out. You can’t tell me I don’t keep things real here.
The walk back was much less crowded, like, we only saw a few people the whole time, so that was pretty cool. Overall I actually really enjoyed The Narrows, more than I thought I would, crying aside. I would definitely go back in again to see more of it.
Tips for hiking The Narrows:
- A walking stick isn’t necessary. I didn’t use one and was fine. I saw people with them fall. I saw people without them fall. If you do want one, I think you can rent them in Springdale.
- You can also rent neoprene water shoes and suits to hike in in colder weather. This is also done in Springdale.
- Bring a good drybag to put your camera and phone in just in case you have to go through a deep part or are just worried about them in general.
- I wore my Chacos and liked them for this. I hate getting tennis shoes wet, so these were much preferred. They did rub on the sides of my toes weird, but they weren’t really broken in yet. I wouldn’t advise wearing brand new Chacos for this. Or any long hike.
- Bring water and some kind of snacks. Snacks are good especially if you plan on being in there a while.
- We went in around noon and it was packed, but by the time we turned around to leave, 5-6PM, there was almost no one in it. I can imagine it’s similar, but opposite if you go in right when the park shuttle starts. I liked starting and leaving when we did. The later you leave, the fewer people, but the cooler the temperature.
- Bring some kind of thin sweater or long sleeve shirt if you get cold easily and are in there early or late.
- During the busy season in the park, you have to take the park shuttle. You can’t drive yourself.
Have you hiked The Narrows? What did you think of it? Do you want to do it? What is your favorite hike in Zion?