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Utah: I hiked breathtaking Zion National Park!

I hiked The Narrows in Zion National Park!

Anyone who knows me will be well impressed by that statement as I am not known for my hiking abilities. I am more duvet than sleeping bag, but the good thing is I thought I only need to walk up the rocky stream as far as I feel like and then my husband and I will eat our little picnic lunch on a rock somewhere and turn and come back.

We ended up hiking a lot further than I thought we would, but I was just so curious about what was up and around the next bend. Besides, everyone was still heading forward and we’d have been like salmon swimming against the tide to turn and come back too soon!

It was spectacular and I was knackered (although children were skipping through the rocky river like gazelles while I had a rented walking pole).

This post is a selection of the 150 photos I took (don’t worry, there’s only 11) and covers what you need to know before you hike the Narrows (scroll to the bottom). And hike it you must!

Zion National Park is one of five national parks in Utah and is home to the famous Narrows hike along the ankle and sometimes waist-deep Virgin River. You can start at the top and hike down in a day (longer version), or do what most of us did and start at the bottom, hiking up till we felt we’d seen enough and turn around and walk back down with the river.

Narrows Zion National Park

This bus brings you about 45 minutes from the Visitor Centre to the start of the trail

Narrows Zion

The end of the paved walk and now the poles are required

Walk about half an hour from where the bus drops you off on a paved path (wheelchairs can even use this) and for some, this is as far as they go. It’s only the entré though, the appetiser, to the mighty Narrows.

But if you have little ones with you then swimming here and taking photos of the 1500ft (nearly half a kilometre) high surrounding cliffs is very cool.

Zion squirrel

Little mountain squirrel

And you’ll see these little critters on the way too! (That’s a big deal for us Kiwis as we don’t have squirrels in New Zealand 🙂 It’s forbidden to feed them ($100 fine) but they seem not bothered by humans at all.

The Narrows, Zion

Off we go!

Water gets from ankle to gusset high. I would advise renting a pole as well as proper boots (details below) as the rocks, while mostly stable, can be wobbly and the river current in places can be a little tricky.

Hiking Narrows

I’m ACTUALLY hiking the Narrows like a proper hiker!

Narrows canyon

Then you get nice sandy spots like this to splash through

Narrows Zion

Pull over for lunch or a water stop in these little nooks along the way

Narrows Zion Utah

And remember to stop and gaze at the wonder soaring upwards!

Zion Utah

About 2.5 to 3 hours up and things really begin to get narrow!

Zion National Park

I must stop taking photos now, don’t want to slip and drop my camera!

Narrows, Zion

Ok, last one 🙂

5 things to know before you hike The Narrows:

  • You hike at your own pace and for as far as you like – because you have to hike back down the same way! However we hiked up nearly 3 hours (with a little lunch stop on a rock) and came back in 1.5 hours as the river current was with us.
  • Some people were wearing just trainers or hiking sandals, but we rented proper river hiking boots from Zion Outfitters, right beside the entrance to Zion National Park. It’s US$25 for boots and proper river socks – and well worth it as they don’t slip and provide excellent ankle support. We also rented poles from them.
  • It costs $12 each to enter the park. Tickets are available at the entrance. The bus to the bottom of the Narrows is included and there are several stops along the route for other short hikes.
  • Wear a hat, sunscreen and light hiking clothes – you’ll be getting wet! Take a jacket (although today it was 33 degrees C and I didn’t need one). Take water and snacks – and plenty of battery life in your camera!
  • You can buy snacks in a small supermarket next to where you rent the hiking gear.

Where to stay at Zion National Park:

There are several hotels in Springdale (where the entrance to Zion National Park is located, but we stayed at the Hampton Inn. It’s a Hilton property and was only about 2 years old when we were there with the breathtaking backdrop of the mountains in front and behind.

Hampton Inn Zion National Park


Across road are plenty of places to eat but we found a yummy Mexican restaurant that we ended up going to both nights as it was such fun and food was great.

Utah in summer is a wonderful time of year to come. I have plenty more posts on our road trip of Utah. You might like to read about my next hike (pfffft, but I did it!) of one of the trails at Bryce Canyon here … 

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!