The Narrows in Zion National Park

The Narrows trail in Zion is unlike any other hike I’ve ever done. The first part of the hike is from the Temple of Sinawava parking/shuttle stop on a one-mile long paved trail called Riverside Walk, but that is where this hike diverges from the ordinary. The rest of the hike is literally up a river: alternating between walking/wading in the river and walking along the riverbank where you can. Hikers spend the entire time surrounded by the Zion Canyon walls and absolutely breathtaking scenery. You can go as far as Big Spring, which equates to about 9.5 miles round trip, or you can turn around any time you’d like.

As you can imagine, trekking up a river takes a little more planning than a typical hike. After hours of research and talking to locals, I still wasn’t sure we were prepared when we headed out early in the morning. We chose to bypass the package from local outfitters that includes canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, a hiking stick, and other items depending on the season. Instead, we each wore a different type of footwear: I wore running shoes, my husband wore sport sandals, and our 6 year old closed water sport shoes. My son and I also each brought a hiking pole, which I discovered was SUPER important. In our packs, we also brought plenty of food (lunch and little snacks for motivation for the little guy) and and water (5 liters between the three of us), a backup pair of shoes and ziploc bags for putting electronics when we had to wade in deeper water.

Our original goal was to make it to Wall Street, about 3 miles up the river, where the canyon walls are at the closest. But after navigating up the river for about 2 hours, I was worried that adding another hour to get there might make an enjoyable hike a miserable one for our son. I’ve seen multiple other traveling families post about successful trips as far as Wall Street with kids as young as 6, so it’s not impossible. Regardless, the distance we covered allowed us to get away from the crowds of the first few turns of the river and enjoy the splendor of the canyon. The walk downriver was much easier and faster, which made for a nice end to the walk. There is no doubt in my mind why this hike is considered one of the world’s greatest; I am already looking forward to giving it another go in a few years!

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