Virgin River Narrows Conditions
The Narrows is a hike through a river. Water levels in the Virgin River Narrows, even when the CFS of the river is low, range from ankle deep to full swims. Most of the time the river is ankle to knee deep, but all top-down hikers should be prepared for deep sections where swimming is required. Even the most experienced hikers occasionally fall in the Virgin River.
The river often closes to hiking during the spring snowmelt (April, May, and can continue into the summer months). 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.
All top-down trips into the Virgin River Narrows are closed when the flow rate of the Virgin River exceeds 120 CFS.
The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon: 16 miles long, up to 1,000 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. When hiking through the Virgin River Narrows, at least 80% of the route is spent wading, walking, and swimming sections of the river. There is no maintained trail; the river is the route. The river 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 Virgin River Narrows as a single-day through-hike or as an overnight backpacking trip. Both trips require a Wildness Permit. Visit our Virgin River Narrows Permits page for detailed information.
Through Hiking Timetable in Hours
This timetable is approximate. The trip may be done in less time, but allowances have been made for rest stops, picture taking, and slow hikers. Track your progress by recognizing side canyons and landmarks. Deep Creek, Kolob Creek, and Big Springs are all obvious, but watch closely for the mouth of Goose Creek, it can be easy to miss.
Overnight Backpacking Trips
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.
Last updated: August 21, 2023