Frequently Asked Questions about the Narrows - Virgin River

The Narrows:
Q. What do I need to know before entering the Narrows?
A. All narrow canyons are potentially hazardous. Flash floods, cold water, and strong currents present real dangers that can be life-threatening. Your safety depends on your own good judgement, adequate preparation, and constant attention. By entering a narrow canyon you are assuming a risk. Your safety is your responsibility.

Q. How far can I hike into the Narrows?
A. The Narrows is a strenuous hike. Weather and water conditions permitting, there are three ways to hike the Narrows:
(1) Bottom Up - This day hike is out and back, allowing visitors to turn around at any time. Continue upstream beyond the end of the Riverside Walk. 1-to-8 hours, round trip. No permit required. Upstream travel is prohibited beyond Big Spring or in Orderville Canyon.
(2) Top Down Day Hike - Hike downstream from Chamberlain's Ranch. This long all day hike requires a shuttle to the trailhead and a permit.
(3) Top Down Overnight Hike - Hike downstream from Chamberlain's Ranch. This two-day hike requires a shuttle to the trailhead and a permit for a wilderness campsite. Maximum stay is one night. Fires are not allowed.

Q. What do I need to take to hike the Narrows?
A. Obtain the weather forecast and flash flood potential before starting your trip.

Other necessary equipment:

  • Wear sturdy boots or shoes with ankle support.
  • Take a walking stick. Do not cut tree branches for sticks.
  • Small children should not hike in the river due to strong currents and deep pools.
  • Carry out all trash: food wrappers, apple cores, fruit peels, tissue paper, etc. Do not leave anything behind.
  • Carry one gallon of drinking water per person for a full-day hike, food, sunglasses, sunscreen, and first aid kit.
  • Take a sweater or windbreaker. The Narrows is much cooler than Zion Canyon.
  • Pack gear in waterproof bags.
  • Use the restroom at the Riverside Trailhead before hiking. There are no toilets in the Narrows. If you must, use a human waste disposal bag to transport your solid waste.

The Virgin River:
Q. How did it get its name?
A. It is believed that the Virgin River was named "La Virgen" by Spanish Catholic Missionaries in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Q. Where does the river start and end?
A. The North Fork of the Virgin river begins north of Zion at Cascade Falls which comes out of a cave near Navajo Lake (elevation 9,000 ft). The East Fork of the Virgin River originates above Long Valley. Both the North and East Forks of the Virgin River run through the park and empty into the Colorado River at Lake Mead (approx. 1,000 ft elevation).

Last updated: August 9, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


If you have questions, please email Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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