The Narrows (Top-Down)

MODERATE 112 reviews
#11 of 88 trails in

The Narrows (Top-Down) is a 15.5 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Duck Creek Village, Utah that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until October.

DISTANCE
15.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,017 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Point to Point

birding

hiking

nature trips

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

no dogs

This unparalleled overnight or extended day hike follows the Virgin River through almost 16 miles of beautiful canyons. The Narrows is perhaps the most famous hike in Zion National Park. Most visitors take the day hike starting at the Temple of Sinawava, but they only get a small taste of this remarkable canyon. A more adventurous option is to take a shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch and walk 15.5 miles through the entire Narrows. This hike requires a Zion backcountry permit. You can arrange your own shuttle or pay for a shuttle from a company in Springdale. There are 12 campsites in the Narrows. Sites 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, and 12 can be reserved online approximately 3 months in advance or through the park's lottery system. The rest of the sites may be reserved at the visitor center 1 day before the trip. Another option is to hike the entire 15.5 miles in a single day. This 12-hour-plus trip also requires a backcountry permit. Starting from the trailhead at Chamberlain Ranch, the first several miles of the hike are very easy, and you stay completely dry. After about 3 miles, the steam banks start rising on either side of the river to form short canyon walls. From this point, you'll have to cross the stream several times and walk in the stream for portions. After about 6 or 7 miles, there is a 12-foot waterfall. An easy trail around the waterfall is found to the left (south) of the waterfall. After about 8 miles, Deep Creek joins the North Fork of the Virgin River on the right, and the water volume more than doubles. This marks the half-way point in terms of distance but not for time. 3/4 mile after Goose Creek, Big Springs will be on your right. No camping is allowed in the last 4.5 miles between Big Springs and the Temple of Sinawava. This section of the Narrows has the deepest water and the tallest canyon walls.

3 days ago

I did this over Labor Day weekend with my sister — This is an amazing hike and a MUST do!! We received advice from our rappelling guide the day before to go as early as possible and take the first shuttle (you have to take a shuttle to the trailhead) to avoid crowds and FYI you will get best pictures in the am of water etc. BEST ADVICE EVER shout up around 6:30 am but beware the water is cold—-and you are in it the whole time so bring a jacket. They try to rent out water shoes but we wore our trailing running shoes and were just fine and opted for no poles and while slippery in places if you are atheistic and have strong legs you’ll be golden. We went about 5- 6 Miles in (until it got up to our shoulders then turned and did the 5-6 miles back out...don’t miss the bonus canyon!!! At the fork make a right and jump up over the little fall and go back a few miles — can’t remember what this one is called but we did it again on the the advice of our rappelling guide the day before and it was so cool and not very many people doing it. HAVE FUN and do this!! Can’t wait to go back and do the subway if I can get a permit or angel landing which was closed while we were there! Loooove southern Utah and Zion!!

backpacking
6 days ago

Hiking the Narrows Top-Down and is definitely more enjoyable than Bottom-Up (way less crowded for most of the hike). We took a shuttle up to the Ranch and started the hike around 815. The 12 campsites available are nicely spaced and above the water. We landed campsite 10 so we got the bulk of our hiking done the first day. I highly recommend bringing/renting canyoneering boots or at least using neoprene socks with waterproof shoes. Also, a trekking pole or walking stick will make hiking through the rocks and river easier. As you reach the last 6 miles of the hiking you’ll start to notice all the crowds for those starting bottom up.

hiking
20 days ago

We didn’t go to far into the narrows because we hiked a lot that day and wanted to go there really to cool off and relax. You don’t have to go to deep to see the beauty.

22 days ago

I highly recommend this hike. This is one of the most beautiful places I've been. I would definitely bring poles since footing is hazardous in the river. Watch for deep spots near fallen boulders.

hiking
24 days ago

Unique and a must do when in Zion! Your ankles do take a beating on this one. I do recommend renting the canyoneering boots and neoprene sock if you don’t have your own. Also, a walking stick or pole is a must for balance. Start early to avoid the crowd, it’s a zoo out there the later it gets, especially on a weekend. So much so that it takes away from the enjoyment. (Bottom-Up)

backpacking
1 month ago

Considering it is monsoon season, I studied the hell out of this hike before leaving. They really put the fear into you about flash flooding and we obsessed over the weather. Greg Grawunder's review is excellent and mostly what I used in my planning process. Here's what I have to add:

Absolutely bring at least one trekking pole. Everyone in our group had a set of two but me, and I didn't feel I was lacking anything. It was very useful to be able to use my free hand to scramble around obstacles and fiddle with my camera. You will especially appreciate the pole on the second day where the water gets deeper and faster, and you are starting to feel the mileage. It's especially helpful to test the depth of the water with since it's murky with the hordes of people stomping through it.

I was the only person in our party that didn't buy neoprene socks. I read someplace that merino wool socks are just as good, and I would agree for this time of year. My feet never got cold, and they drained well. They also dried completely overnight. I wore well-vented trail shoes and my ankles were just fine.

I highly recommend camping overnight if you can. We stayed in campsite 3 and it was delightful. It's high enough above the water to not feel worried as I drifted off to sleep, and people don't walk through your camp. The first 2 campsites are right on the river and that would have made me super nervous. Sites 6, 7, and 9 looked pretty rad also. It was great to rest, dry off, and then hit the harder parts (and the chaos) the next day. Sleeping by the river was awesome. A person in our party had a hammock and was able to find suitable trees to use. Plenty of space for 6 people with lots of wiggle room. I slept in an Outdoor Research Bug Bivy and a synthetic 45 degree bag and was toasty. Didn't see many bugs or critters.

My phone tracked 20.5 miles.

This hike was spectacular. Seriously don't forget to stop and look up, around, and behind you.

backpacking
1 month ago

We did this in late July, we had a good time. The first day was pretty easy, we got to camp site # 5 around 2:00 ish. The second day was harder than I thought it would be, mainly because it is longer than 15 miles and because of the crowds of people. Walking sticks or poles are a must, as you get tired it gets harder to walk on the rocks. This was a must do for us and I’m glad we did it!

backpacking
1 month ago

This was the best hike I have done. We did this as a two day backpacking trip and stayed at campsite 8. Campsite 8 was nice because it had an alcove in the canyon wall large enough for a 2 or 3 person tent. It was useful since it rained both days we were in the narrows and we were able to keep our tent dry. Try to do this hike during the dry season so the threat of flash flooding isn't as great.

hiking
1 month ago

Amazing hike. Here are a few things you need to know about top-down.

- Permit is required for top-down
- this is a very long day. It says 16 miles (as the river flows) but you really do about 22 miles. It’s because you’re constantly zigzagging across the river for the best route. This mileage was recorded by multiple devices in our group, including the AllTrails app.
- trekking poles or walking stick aren’t just a must, but an absolute necessity. I recommend trekking poles for better balance as you cross the river about 100 times.
- canyoneering boots or a good pair of wading boots are a must. A couple from our group did it in shoes but it will wear your ankles out. Lots of rock hopping.
- the top 10 miles are amazing because you are all alone. Way too many people doing bottom-up. Once you hit the crowds on the way down, it’s a zoo.
- some of the best scenery is actually close to the end.
- get there early. It took us 8 hours but we were cruising. Some miss the last shuttle by starting too late. Adding 8 miles of walking back to town would suck.
- you either need to arrange a shuttle to the trailhead or park at the trailhead and get a shuttle the next day.
- it’s a long drive to the trailhead from Springdale. Took us almost two hours.
- bring plenty of water. You can’t filter until about halfway because the water source is unsafe from the cattle until you start hitting the clean water coming in from other creeks.
- bring food. We burned 8,000 calories that day and 50,000 steps.
- it’s not rated as strenuous because it’s all downhill and more of a marathon. Subway is way more strenuous but shorter. But I was more tired at the end of the narrows.
- you will get wet. Just plan on it and you’ll be fine. Small dry bags inside a backpack do the trick. Some sections are chest deep wading. Most is ankle to knee deep.
- you can’t see the sky for most of it. Know the weather risks before you leave town. No reception outside of Springdale. Flash floods happen often. Watch for murky water and debris, know the nearest high-ground. Always be making note of how far behind you the high ground is. Use a Topo map or the alltrails map and know where you are at all times. There are multiple sections where there is no high-ground.
- be prepared. If you’re doing it in one day, it’s a beating. Recommend getting a camping permit if you want to take it slower. You will be very sore even if you run marathons. Different muscles when you’re wading through water and rock hopping all day long.
- be prepared for amazing. I actually liked subway better but this hike is absolutely beautiful. Do your homework, be prepared.

hiking
1 month ago

AMAZING hike! So happy I did it, but if I had to do it over (which hopefully I will!), I would Backpack it instead of a day hike. So peaceful on the top section before you hit the tourist crowds at the bottom!

backpacking
1 month ago

This hike was worth every minute!! The following of the river and then camping right next to it was breath taking. The views from top-down are something so beautiful. The hike itself isn’t awful, however we camped at campsite 5 and hiked 16 miles to get there. That’s from where the shuttle drops you off to the campsite.

hiking
1 month ago

Once in a lifetime hike. Amazing views throughout entire hike, just have to remind yourself to look up. Walking through water most of the time, I recommend high-top boots with synthetic socks. Ski poles or a walking stick are necessary, as you are constantly stepping on mossy rocks under the water surface.

hiking
2 months ago

Thought I’d only get to see places like this in heaven.

2 months ago

Zion is one of the most beautiful places in the United States and has some stunning trails. None of which come close to this narrows hike. Every corner is another picture. The full hike gives you so much more than hiking up from Zion, and the hike let’s you enjoy the best Zion has while limiting the people.

backpacking
2 months ago

Did the hike last weekend. It was awesome!!!! Stayed in camp site 12. The first 11 miles or so were mostly just the 3 of us. After we camped and got going again the next day around 11, we ran into a lot of people at the bottom. Kinda annoying with all the people, but it was still the best hike I’ve been on yet! Get out there!

2 months ago

Just finished top down. Wore hiking shoes and swim trunks. Don’t let the rental companies get you. The final stretch of the narrows gets super crowded after about 830. Camped at campsite 10, woke up at 5 and got into the long stretch of narrows before the day hikers got going. Once the crowd gets thick it slightly ruins the aura. Overall everyone should try this at least once.

hiking
2 months ago

This trail is a must to do we did the bottom up last year and wanted to do the top down well worth the effort. The water temperature was 67° the flow rate was at 27 CFS and we have bright blue skies. We stayed at the Zion Pondarosa and paid the 20 bucks for their shuttle which worked out well all we had to do is call when we were done and ready for pick up after the brewery of course. We started at 6:30 had the first 11 miles to ourselves. We weren’t in much of a hurry stopped and took a lot of pictures and swim in some of the holes and we still finished in 11 hours all in all it was a trip of a lifetime.

backpacking
3 months ago

I just got back from backpacking through (top to bottom) of the Narrows. It was gorgeous. We camped overnight to enjoy the peaceful views and to allow more time to relax in the refreshing river. I would suggest renting neoprene socks and boots that drain from a place in Springdale. They really came in handy and were comfortable. This 16 Mile hike includes climbing over or between large fallen rocks, swimming with your pack in deep water areas, switchbacks through the river and every step takes navigating since it is very rocky. I have to say that I was ready for a break when we got to camp 10 miles in due to the extras (listed above) that you navigate through. About 6 miles in there is a waterfall and was a good place to take a lunch break. Overall, this was a wonderful experience that I’m so fortunate I was able to do! Permits are required and check the weather. If there is any sign of rain or flash flood warnings do not go. In Wall St. there is no place to climb for higher ground! Happy hiking!!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome hike!!

3 months ago

My favorite hike so far!! Staying at Ponderosa Ranch was a must because we were already more than halfway to Chamberlin’s. We were able to book a shuttle with them for 5:30am. The Whole top down hike in one day took us a little under 10 hours and I clocked in 20 total miles due to the cross crossing and rock scrambling that you do in the river. The first 8-10 miles we saw no one and then after Big Springs more and more people until it got kinda crazy. I went through 5 liters of water even though it was not that hot yet. Water level was pretty low which made the hike easier. Will definitely do it again!

3 months ago

WOW, hands down one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. My husband and I did the overnight 2 day top down hike, and we were glad we chose that over the one day top down. We rented shoes, neoprene socks, and waterproof bib for me, and pants for him. The shoes/socks were a saving grace! They kept our feet warm and toes protected from getting stubbed against the rocks. Personally, I was happy with the bib because water rose to my chest and I was protected. For most people, I think the waterproof pants should do fine. By the end of day 1, I felt pretty exhausted as the hike is different and challenging. There is no clear path to take - often, you are balancing on rocks and stomping through water.

One of the rangers warned us not to drink water from the Virgin River, as it has become contaminated from humans. Rather, he recommended collecting water from the small creeks flowing into the river - first one is at campsite 1, second is at campsite 6. Fill up at the one by campsite 1! When we went, the creek at campsite 6 was dried up.

hiking
3 months ago

We did the top-down in one day. We loved this hike because it was like a giant “chose your own adventure” strategy game. Would you rather balance along a thin ledge 2 feet above water, or scramble down a rock slide? Would you rather wade through waist-deep water, or climb around a 6 foot high boulder? And of course, in one of the most beautiful and unusual settings.

We researched this trip a fair bit ahead of time because we were nervous about the commitment. We were a group of 4 girls with zero canyoneering experience and minimal hiking experience, but a reasonable baseline of fitness (e.g. the occasional half marathon). We completed this hike in 9.5 hours with low water flow (30 cfs) and including about one 10 minute break every 90 minutes. It is very tiring but definitely doable and it feels like a great accomplishment. The last ~3 miles are the worst because of how busy it gets with people.

A few tips: a) Rent the equipment, the canyoneering shoes are amazing. b) We hiked in June and did not need a fleece, just a long-sleeve top for the earlier sections. c) We needed about 3 -4 liters of water per person. d) We did not need to swim. The deepest we got was waist deep. e) Invest in a real daypack. I had a less expensive one and the straps cut painfully into my shoulders within the first hour.

All in, definitely recommend the full day top down over the bottom-up for those that are on the fence.

backpacking
3 months ago

This was one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. I rented neoprene socks and shoes through Zion Adventure Company and used my own hiking poles. I had no issues with the gear other than a small blister from the neoprene sock seam on day 2; but my feet were warm so I was happy. We stayed overnight at campsite 12. Campsite 11 and 12 were easy to miss from the river. The river passage is dicey near 12 because of a recent rock slide which forces you above ground and through campsite 12, unless you want to be fully submerged. It was an incredible experience and I highly recommend for those wanting a unique and challenging experience.
Proper footwear, quick drying clothing (not cotton) and hiking poles are a must.

backpacking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike - we were mostly alone for the first half (before big springs). Camping overnight in the canyon was amazing!

3 months ago

This is one of the coolest Exide ever been on. Going your June and taking a tube makes it even more fun. I love to lay on my stomach and flow through the corners through the D parts. I took my 12 and 15-year-old daughter and son and they loved it.

hiking
4 months ago

I am 29 and brought along my parents. It was very challenging for them but we got through it. We did it in middle May and rented the usual gear. We would definitely do it again but be prepared and ready for a challenge!

hiking
4 months ago

I did the Top Down hike in one day and rented the usual gear: canyoneering shoes, broomstick, and neoprene socks. If I did it again, I would maybe purchase my own neoprene socks, but would use a trekking pole and wear trail runners. The rental gear was horrible, IMO. In the height of summer, the water wasn't actually cold and I don't think the socks are even necessary. In colder weather, yes. The boots didn't help with traction and the broomstick from the outfitters ended up being too heavy for such a long hike.

Also, camping overnight is much more preferable so you can take your time enjoying the views. The river isn't suitable for drinking, even if you have a filter, so bring water (although I think there's a spring somewhere). Dry bag, snacks, and flashlight are also a good idea. Btw, even in the middle of summer, the canyon is cooler, but I didn't need a jacket.

hiking
4 months ago

THESE THINGS ARE A MUST:

Rent River Shoes, Neoprene Socks, and a Walking stick from the Zion outfitters just outside the south entrance to the Park (the main one). Without a stick you will eat it a lot, and without the socks you'll have some gnarly blisters after 16 miles. We did it when the river was at about 50 cu ft and it was only sketchy at a couple points.

If you're doing it all in one day, you need to start before at least 8 and plan on stopping for lunch. We made it out after starting at 9 but after stopping for lunch at 3:00 we were pushing to make the last shuttle at 8:15.

That being said this is a top 3 hike of any I've ever done in my life. Just as impressive as the Grand Canyon.

hiking
4 months ago

This hike is always fun. Definitely a must if your near or in Zion! Be careful though there are some deep spots and you will go down. However, it does provide a nice laugh for everyone.

5 months ago

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