Please Note: Cyanobacteria of the genus Microcoleus, Tychonema, and Nostoc have been found in the North Fork of the Virgin River, North Creek, and La Verkin Creek. It produces the cyanotoxin called anatoxin-a, which impacts the nervous system. When present, standard recreational water filtration and disinfection techniques will not remove the toxins. Always check the Current Conditions page for critical safety alerts.
Top Down Narrows Through Hike
Trailhead Location: Begin at Chamberlain’s Ranch, end at Temple of Sinawava (Shuttle Stop #9)
The Narrows is a hike through a river. The river often closes to hiking during the Spring snowmelt (April, May, and can continue into Summer). The river is closed to hiking during and immediately following Flash Flood Warnings, which are common during the desert monsoon (July-September). Links to the current river flow rate and flash flood potential can be found on our Current Conditions page.
The top-down Narrows hike is closed when the flow rate of the Virgin River exceeds 120 CFS. Permits are not issued during that time.
The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon: 16 miles long, up to 2000 feet deep, and at times only 30 feet wide. Walking in the shadow of soaring walls, sandstone grottos, natural springs, and hanging gardens can be an unforgettable wilderness experience. It is not, however, a trip to be underestimated. Hiking the Zion Narrows means hiking in the Virgin River. At least 80% of the hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. There is no maintained trail; the route is the river. The current is swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery. Flash flooding and hypothermia are constant dangers. Good planning, proper equipment, and sound judgment are essential for a safe and successful trip.
Hikers can complete the top-down Narrows as a day-hike or as an overnight trip. Both trips require permits. For a day hike, look under “canyoneering” permits. For an overnight hike, look under “backpacking” permits.
Backpacking is only permitted in designated campsites. There are 12 campsites, all are roughly halfway between Chamberlain’s Ranch and the Temple of Sinawava. All overnight campers must begin their trip at Chamberlain’s Ranch and end at Temple of Sinawava. Campsite Photos
Permit holders for the Top Down Narrows may need to utilize the Wilderness Transportation options.
Last updated: March 7, 2021