Zion Narrows Trail to Imlay Temple and Big Spring

HARD 279 reviews
#7 of 87 trails in

Zion Narrows Trail to Imlay Temple and Big Spring is a 8.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Springdale, Utah that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, camping, and backpacking and is best used from April until October.

DISTANCE
8.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4,163 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

camping

hiking

walking

river

views

wildlife

rocky

no dogs

This is a an extended route of the Narrows. The Narrows is one of the most iconic day hikes in Zion National Park named for being the most narrow spot in Zion Canyon. As you hike through the blue water in the gorge, you will look up at rocky canyon walls a thousand feet tall as you walk through the Virgin River. Water levels can vary from ankle deep to chest high, and as with all slot canyons, caution should be used and the weather forecast should be checked. The most popular time to hike the narrows is late spring and summer when the water temperature is warm and the levels are lower. However, even at this time of year storms can cause life-threatening flash floods. Always check in with the rangers before hiking in a slot canyon. The Narrows may be closed during the spring when snowmelt raises the river too high. Fall will leave you with less crowds, but be aware of shorter days and cold water. You will want to bring sturdy shoes with good ankle support that you don't mind getting wet, a walking stick or hiking poles, extra clothing layers for temperature changes, and a dry bag in order to make this hike an enjoyable experience.

1 day ago

Second time in the Narrows confirms my belief that this is an experience to not miss. I used 2 adjustable walking poles and which seemed to make me balance and move more safely than those with one or none. They say water shoes are not recommended. I found my water shoes to be just fine. Unless you have bad ankles I don’t think you need ankle support as long as you are cautious about foot placement. Go early (before 7:30) to avoid the crowds, and don’t miss this hike!!

hiking
6 days ago

Absolutely worth it. The crowd gets less and less the further you go through the canyon. We took the shuttle at stop 3 to avoid the awful line at the visitors center. We all wore water shoes we previously got for rafting. Made it all the way to the fork and tried climbing up those water falls, but eventually grew tired; we were not prepared to hike 10+ miles.

walking
6 days ago

We started at the visitors center at 7:30 am. It was so busy we had to wait for a bus. The entire shuttle was heading to the narrows so be prepared for traffic. We hiked all the way to the spring which was pretty, however not sure it was completely worth hiking all the way out there. Tons of people paid $25 for waterproof shoes however my sneakers worked just fine. It is worth hiking in about 2-3 miles early in the morning when the shade it still covering the water. It took us 2.5 hrs to get to the spring and about 2 hours to return. On our way back, it was like an amusement park trying to navigate through all the crowds. Go early!

hiking
7 days ago

It's so excited to hike in a river! I hiked for two hours. It's will be one of the most unforgettable experience in my life.

hiking
19 days ago

Left my Springdale hotel at 6am, drove into the park and left my car at the museum, stop 2 for Zion bus. Made it to stop 9, Temple of Sinawava by 7am. The virgin river was at 39 cfs, a nice low water level for the hike (search USGS river level to see what it is at, 80-100 cfs is a rougher trip). I hiked with my two boys, ages 14 & 11. We made it to Big Springs, 4.3 miles up river, in 3.5 hours. Wall Street area was by far the best, hike got much harder after that. In one section we had to either get through deep shoe pulling sand (in 3-4 feet of water... yes, almost lost my shoe), somehow scale up a 8-10 foot boulder, or swim around in 7-8 feet deep water. We all went different routes, I had a dry pack, but had to take my older sons backpack so he could swim the deep section. My youngest pulled off the Spider-Man scramble over the boulder, while I fought off the mud monsters in the deep shoe pulling hole. Ate lunch up at Big Springs, Imlay Temple. We saw no crowds going up since we were a part of the first group out. Met some overnight campers coming down from their campsite. Finally made it back to the stop 9 bus around 2pm, back to hotel by 3pm. Fun, challenging, and long day.

20 days ago

This trail is awesome but crowded. I went with family in mid-July (7/21/18) when it was HOT. We were grateful for the chance to cool off in the river. I recommend bringing layers, as it’s much cooler in this area of the park than you might expect. Recommended footwear would be either hiking shoes and wool socks or Chacos. You can also rent boots and walking sticks from Zion Outfitters.

Our group included people ages 4-75. The kiddos were able to do the parts on land and took a ride in hiking carriers for the rest as the river gets quite deep and rocky for a toddler in some places. Depending on your ability, you may benefit from walking sticks or some steady hands to hold, as crossing the river and walking on the river rocks can be challenging. For the less able members of our group, we crossed with river together to support each other.

I highly recommend hopping on the shuttle early (6-7am) to beat the crowds and to get back before any afternoon weather changes roll in. On our way back we passed droves of people. It appeared that 10am-12pm was a really poplar time.

While I personally enjoy hikes that have less traffic, you can’t beat the views and a refreshing trip into the Virgin River in Utah in the heat of the summer.

Lastly, make sure you watch the weather and plan accordingly before attempting this hike. Flash floods are not something to mess around with. Weather/trail-closure information can be gathered at the Visitor’s Center Information Desk. There is also a board with weather/trail updates at the shuttle stop at the Visitor’s Center.

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike. Can get crowded in the summer.

hiking
1 month ago

My all time favorite hike just the scenery lost track of time and was out there with my brother and cousins it was 9 at night no light but our phones and only the stars over the narrows walls to guide us out most memorable moments in my life and then hit “Casa de Amigos” after...

1 month ago

We went Monday 6/4. Very crowded! We tried to get there early but still took about 1hr to get on the shuttle the 40 min ride up to the trail. We got there at 7:30am the line for the shuttle was already long but the shuttles seemed to be running slower then the day before. Once we to the trail the first mile is up the river walk. Nice easy hike. We also rented the gear only $20 well worth it. The socks help keep your feet warm an the boots give good ankle support you are waking in the water just about all the way over rocks. The stick also helps out. Just made the hike more enjoyable. We saw others without the right gear and the were complaining and having a hard time. It’s easy to sprain an ankle in there. It was a very hot day out but the narrows it was cool. We even had a jacket on till later in the day. We hiked up to the split and went to the right. The slots got more narrow and there was a water fall up there. Then we headed back. We didn’t make it to Wall Street. We had seen enough. It was extremely crowded. We spent about 6hrs doing this hike. The hike was amazing, beautiful cannon walls. Water wasn’t to cold once you got use to it. Nice places to swim in there. Take a lunch nice beautiful spots for lunch. Take your time and enjoy it.

hiking
1 month ago

One of the most famous hikes at Zion. Began in the morning, maybe around 10am. I hiked this at the end of June, and the water levels and the current weren't too bad. The water was never waist height for as far as I went. There's not really a trail here, you just follow the river for as far as you want to hike, and then turn around whenever you've had enough. My friend and I hiked maybe 3.5 miles up the Narrows and then turned around. There were a ton of people when we went, so if you're trying to avoid crowds, it is probably best to go earlier in the day. There are great views, the water is relaxing, and there are tons of places to stop and take breaks. All in all, a great hike!

hiking
1 month ago

Best hike at Zion so far! Like everyone else states, start early. We were at the shuttle stop at 5:45am. Took first bus at 6am. A few groups of people were around at this time. We (family of 5–kids aged 10, 11, and 17) all hiked in Chacos. Chilly at first but got used to it. I would recommend a jacket this early even though forecast was 101.
We hiked about 3 miles into the canyon. At the split, we turned right to hike back into the canyon where it narrows even more.
Great sights all around. Definitely more crowded on the way back.
Loved it!

hiking
1 month ago

Excellent hike with a few caveats.

There’s nothing to say about the scenery that anyone else hasn’t already said ... it’s amazing. We did this in late June 2018, water flow was low (27cfs) and temperature was warm. Took a full 6:00am shuttle from visitors center and started about 6:45am. Air temp was slightly cool, but not enough to warrant anything more than my normal Columbia PFG long-sleeve fishing shirt, and things warmed up quickly. Embracing the fact you’re going to get wet makes the hike much easier; I saved time and effort by wading, or swimming, through areas that other people skirted. The air is warm and dry so it wasn’t a problem. On the way up we took a 3/4 mile detour up Orderville Gulch which is narrower but still fun. Coming back was easier, but not significantly. Only problem was the area below Wall Street in the afternoon. As we got closer to the trailhead it was elbows and a**holes from the huge crowds; I finally gave in and took a straight line down the center of the river to avoid them. In the end two 19 y/o guys and 3 average 50-60 y/o adults hiked about 11.5 miles in 8 hours with no problems other than sore legs.

Those caveats? Water flow was low, which made it easier, and we rented water boots and walking sticks. I didn’t find the rocks slippery (low phosphates in water?), but they still beat the soles of our feet and created plenty of opportunities for sprained ankles. Walking stick was good too, I caught myself multiple times and feel certain that my carbon hiking poles would have broken. There is no way i’d do this without both. Polarized sunglasses were a nice-to-have that made seeing the river bottom easier.

Great hike

hiking
1 month ago

This is truly unique experience and a must-do on a trip to Zion. We tried to “go early”, but should have gone even earlier. We walked to the park from Springdale and were in line for the shuttle by 7:00. We waited for the Zion shuttle for an hour and reached the trail head by 8:30. The water level was low (27 cfs) - it was mostly at ankle deep but the water came to waist level at the highest points. The low water meant the hike was not too challenging, though it took 7.5 hours for the 10 mile return trip to the Springs. The brutal sun and crowds made the last part of the return slow and tiring. The hiking stick, shoes, and neoprene socks were lifesavers (multiple times)! Sun protection, lots of water, and the right gear is a must.

1 month ago

Go early, beat the crowds, and go just past big spring to see the huge rockside that recently happened.

hiking
1 month ago

Definitely do this hike. You can go as far as you want since it’s an out and back. Went about 3 miles and the further you go the less crowded it is. Start early!

1 month ago

Rocky with no side trails at first, but then the side trails come. I needed my walking sticks but some with good balance didn't. Just go! Too many awesome views to show them all on here!

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing experience! But the listing for this trail is misleading. We ended up don’t by over 17 miles there and back— very worth it! Do it early to skip some of the heat and crowds. Started with mid weight layers on top and bottom at 6:30am, plus neoprene socks and was pretty comfortable.

hiking
2 months ago

In incredible hike. We went as far Big Spring. A walking stick is recommended. A must-do for any hiker whos willing to push through the water, rocks, and tourists.

2 months ago

We went Friday 6/1, the first couple hours were very busy with people but after that you finally get more solitude. My husband and I wore neoprene socks with water tennis shoes, for this hike I'd recommend something more durable with ankle support. The hike itself was so cool and different from anything we've done before and the waterfalls were beautiful. I'm 5'2" and the highest water we went through was to my belly button. However, there ar deeper spots, we just went around trying to keep our camera and equipment dry. Also, we did this without any type of hiking poles or sticks, it's doable but for this distance I'd use one next time. We were told a guy behind us was stranded with a broken ankle, all search and rescues were out already.

2 months ago

This is a really cool hike, super cold at first, but your body adjusts to it. I just wore a pair of hummto water shoes I bought on amazon and trekking poles I already own, they worked just fine. Before getting to the Imlay Temple there is a Y junction where you can take a right. If you like little bits of climbing and bouldering I suggest you go down this path, also less crowded in there as it gets more difficult to continue on. I recorded my hike and it said I did like 18 miles and 15 minute miles. That is so way off, I think I did more like 6-7 miles and probably 40-45 minute miles because you have to go slow through this. Enjoy your hike whichever path you choose.

2 months ago

Great hike. Bring poles or hiking stick. Not recommended for those with weak ankles as you’re walking on slippery rocks almost entire way. Bring long sleeve or top layer - limited sun. We did it in about 4 hours and were first in around 730am to beat the crowds. I wore Moab hiking shoes and would have been fine in gym shoes. Don’t wear sandals.

2 months ago

Awesome! Got on 6am shuttle to miss the crowds.

2 months ago

Hiked over 4 miles (for about 4 hours) up the river and still never got to the springs. Most of the people coming back also didn’t make it, and one couple said we had another 1-2 hours from where we were (already had hiked over 4 hours). So while beautiful and a very fun experience, don’t expect to get to the final destination and back in the 8.5 hour window. The trek back isn’t much shorter since you aren’t climbing elevation and have to be careful of current pushing you. That being said, it is totally worth it and beautiful! If you go up past the fork there will be a bit less traffic. To the left is to the springs and you may eventually get to places that are chest deep. To the right is less water and not as many people but there are some tricky places where you need to climb and lift yourself up. We went a little ways in both directions. I recommend a walking stick. If you get there early or late in the day you can pick up a natural one just before you wade into the river at the “informal walking stick exchange area”. That’s what we did. I work hiking sandals and my friend wore regular hiking boots. You’re wet the whole time basically and the hike back is easy so waterproof footwear isn’t a necessity if you are dedicating the whole day to this hike and don’t need your gear to dry out right away.

hiking
2 months ago

We loved our hike on The Narrows. I was a little nervous about it but we picked the best clear blue sky day we could and went for it on the first shuttle of the day. I can't emphasize how important that is insofar as crowds go. Rented boots and poles, wore shorts and a couple of layers on top. Placed phones and snacks in waterproof bags and wore a day pack. We crisscrossed the river and learned very quickly how to navigate the current & river rocks. Our deepest part of the water was maybe hip high. It got more beautiful the deeper in we hiked. We went as far as Wall Street and then turned. Beautiful both directions. Lots of people were headed in as we were finishing. So glad we got out early. Do overs: I'd stick a pair of Keens or Tevas in my pack to make the walk back on the sidewalk so not to have to walk in the river boots. All I can say is it's a beautiful thing. So glad we did it!

hiking
3 months ago

beautiful but a struggle to hike

3 months ago

One of the best hikes I've done. Took our time and spent the entire day in the Narrows. We also did the side Orderville Canyon. Not as heavily traveled but you will run into obstacles that require some climbing and getting a little more wet. Made it all the way to The Big Spring so with side trip it was an 11 mile trip. Fun and amazing every step

hiking
3 months ago

This was a great and unique hike. It was so cool to be in the river that cut so deep into the canyon. Rent the boots, socks and stick.
There’s less crowds early in the morning, but better colors as the sun reaches into the canyon later in the day.

3 months ago

Amazing, the spectacular views will keep you going and the water in your feet it feels so good. Don’t leave the park the without visiting this place..

3 months ago

This was an excellent hike. We rented gear from Zion Outfitters upon recommendations online. It definitely made our experience better. You could do it without gear, but the people we saw without it were cold or struggling and most didn’t make it very far.

We started out very early got to Zion Outfitters right when they opened geared up and basically got one of the first shuttles out to the Narrows. It was mostly in the shade for our walk in because we started so early, on the way back we were in the sun.

It is not like walking on slippery bowling balls. Please ignore that if you’ve read it. It is typical stream/river walking, if you’ve ever done that before you’ll be fine. If you don’t rent gear I would recommend a walking stick at the very least.

We walked a couple miles in and made it to Wall Street and a little beyond before we had to turn around. It was an awesome hike even going early though there were still loads of people. By the time we walked back there was not a single second we didn’t see someone else. I can see why this is one of those must do hikes in Zion.

Follow me on Instagram for pictures of the hikes and other adventures @wildrumpfie

hiking
3 months ago

Amazing! The Virgin River is cold. Be sure to wear good shoes & take a walking stick. Watch for obese squirrels tying to steal your food! This is one trail I'd do every day forever if I could.

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