The Narrows is one of the most unique hikes I have done. You get to hike up the floor of the canyons (carved by the Virgin River) with an active river flowing. Also listed as #8 on Lonely Planet’s “10 best treks”!
There are 2 main options exploring the narrows:
- Bottoms up (day hike friendly), out and back, starting from the southern entrance (Temple of Sinawava” hiking up the river. This what I did and what most visitors through the park will do.
- Top down (permit required) multi-day hike. (17 miles)
The trail is flat with no elevation gain.
I did the hike in regular hiking shoes (not boots) and had sufficient grip. I wasn’t slipping everywhere. There were a bunch of people on the trail who rented shoes from the outfitters. The shoes took a day to dry so keep that in mind if you were planning to do multiple hikes in the park on subsequent days.
I’m a proponent of bringing poles on any hikes you go on with elevation, but this hike was more or less a must. The rocks on the river floor can be slippery and hidden under the water so I couldn’t see where I was stepping. It helped a ton to keep balance with the poles, one should be sufficient. On the way back to the start a hiker offered to pay me cash for to use of my poles.
Hiking poles are not TSA carry on compliant. We had to dismantle the poles (so they fit) and checked in bag. I used regular metal hiking poles and they were sufficient to keep balance. I didn’t see any extra poles near the trailhead for use as some sites suggested so we were glad to have our own. I went with the top rated ones from Amazon, for 20$ It was great and gave a few to friends.
Light Jacket/ Layers. For the majority of the trail is shaded throughout the day with the exception of a few openings, but you’ll spend a majority of the time between the canyons. I went mid-August and it was rather cool and had a light jacket on most the time (started the trail at 8AM in Aug). The Water temperature was cold but not freezing.
We didn’t need one since the water level was only up to our waist the time we went, though I would recommend a Ziploc bag to keep your phone or valuables in. You never know if you accidentally drop your bag.
GETTING TO THE TRAIL
We parked at the main visitors center and took the first shuttle out. There was ample parking but the first bus out was entirely full. Half the bus got off for the Angels landing though. The trail begins at the “Temple of Sinawava” stop (#9 the last stop). The shuttle ride takes about half an hour from the visitors center stop. Follow the signs for The Narrows. The trail starts off as a half-mile paved path which ends with a few small steps leading down into the river.
The makeup of the trial is basically the river floor, which consists of large round rocks. There are many breaks along the trail where you don’t have to walk in the river itself. Depending on the season the water height will vary but the deepest spot during August was only waist high.
Check the weather for rain, more specifically flash flood warnings. There’s a sign posted at the beginning of the trail but be aware of sudden changes in the weather.