When to Hike The Narrows
Entering The Narrows is safest when the forecast has little chance of rain and the river is low, clear, and relatively warm. Conditions change from day to day and are impossible to predict. Before you head up, check at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center for the latest weather forecast and possible advisories. Flash floods can occur any time, but are more common in mid-summer and early fall.
Weather and River Flow
Current Narrows Conditions
From November through May, trips through The Narrows require wetsuits, or even drysuits, and special cold weather preparation. Spring snowmelt frequently causes the river to run at dangerously high levels from March to early June. If the river flow is over 150 cubic feet per second The Narrows will be closed to all hiking.
The water level varies in The Narrows. Under ideal conditions, when flow is less than 70 cubic feet per second, most crossings are around knee-deep. Higher flows mean higher water, a stronger current, and may require wading in waist-deep water. Be prepared to swim. Even when the river is low, chest-deep holes are common.
Even the most experienced hikers occasionally fall in The Narrows. It is a good idea to waterproof your belongings. Many hikers line their packs with large plastic garbage bags. Smaller resealable bags provide extra protection for cameras and other valuables.
Hiking The Narrows is like walking on slippery bowling balls. It requires balancing on algae-coated rocks in the middle of a swiftly flowing river. Sturdy footwear is essential. Hiking boots with good ankle support are best. Sandals and bare feet are not appropriate. Inappropriate footwear often results in twisted ankles and crushed toes.
Even in mid-summer The Narrows can be cool. The water is cold, breezes blow steadily, and very little sunlight penetrates to the canyon floor. Although you'll probably hike in shorts, take extra warm clothing. Clothing made of wool or synthetic fibers has the best insulation.
Untreated water from the river and its springs is not safe to drink. It has passed over rangeland and may be contaminated with illness-causing bacteria. Treat the water you collect by filter, tablets, or by boiling. Hikers are encouraged to carry in all of their water. Drink one gallon of water per person per day.
There are two ways to hike The Narrows, either from the bottom up or the top down. The easiest way to experience The Narrows is hiking from the bottom up. Hiking The Narrows from the top down requires a Wilderness Permit.
Watch a three-minute video about hiking The Narrows.