There is adventurous hiking in Zion National Park—and then there is "The Narrows.” This 16-mile section of backcountry is arguably the park’s most famous, and the hike up the Narrows is considered as one of America’s best outdoor adventures. There are two routes for hiking the Narrows, the most popular of which leads up the canyon from the Temple of Sinawava, where the road leading up through the canyon ends at a dramatic terminus. Follow the mile-long Riverside Walk on a paved, accessible trail, and where the pavement ends from the Riverside Walk is where the real Narrows begin. For the next four miles, sandstone walls rise hundreds of feet through a canyon only 20 feet wide. Crane your neck skyward as you slosh through the river at the cliffs rising vertically above you, and weave your way through the narrow corridor that leads ever deeper into the wilds. Since hiking the Narrows requires getting wet (and in some places requires swimming), waterproof footwear and even a wetsuit are required for completing the journey. The other option for hiking the Narrows is to complete the entire, 16-mile trek by beginning on the park’s northern boundary and following the river on a two-day adventure down towards Zion Canyon. Whichever trail you choose to take, there is no denying this is a hiking experience you’ll remember the rest of your life.
Although no permits are required for the Narrows when hiking from the Temple of Sinawava, backcountry permits must be acquired when hiking from Chamberlain’s Ranch. Flash floods can be deadly in the Narrows, so the trail can sometimes be closed in spring when snowmelt flows through the canyon. The river water is warmest in summer, and early fall is the best time for all around conditions.