The Narrows trail in Zion National Park is a pretty iconic trail. This trail has been on my bucket list for a while, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. We recently traveled to Zion National Park (September 2020) and I knew for sure I wanted to experience The Narrows, but I was a little intimidated taking our kiddos (ages 4 & 6) up the trail. If you’re considering hiking The Narrows with your littles – DO IT! And here are a few of our takeaways from the experience.
Keeping Real Expectations
So, The Narrows trail is actually upwards of 16-miles and permits are required to go past a certain point. Unless your kiddos are totally amazing, kick-ass hikers — just know that you’re not going to finish the trail. That’s the cool part though! You and your family can explore just a little ways up OR you can spend the entire day hiking.
It’s hard to keep track of distance in the canyon, but I think we maybe it about 2 miles up the canyon before turning around and heading back down.
What To Bring
Bring the essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, hats, etc. We spent most of the day in the canyon, so we brought our lunches and plenty of water for everyone. Also be prepared to pack out ALL of your trash. This entire hike is up a river in a canyon, so there are no facilities and certainly no trash cans.
Many people rented special shoes or neoprene socks in the town to hike up the canyon with. I believe that these help with grip in the water and help keep your feet a bit warmer. Our boys seemed to do fine in their Keens, and my husband and I both wore our Chacos to hike in. The water was certainly very cold, but were were otherwise comfortable and blister-free.
We also noticed that a lot of people had hiking poles, and I think this isn’t a bad idea. Crossing the water can be a little slippy, so it’s not a bad idea to have something to help keep you stabilized. However, I will say that we were often holding our 6-year-old’s hand, or carrying our four-year-old, so I appreciated not having anything extra to hold — so I’d call this one a personal preference.
What to Expect
During the busy seasons at Zion, you will need to take the bus to the trailhead for The Narrows. We were able to reserve permits online the day before, but they are also available two weeks prior as well. We secured an early spot on the buses, and it was about a thirty minute bus-ride to the trailhead. Once you hop off the bus, there are bathrooms and an area to prepare for the hike. There is about a mile of paved trail to follow, before you hit the end of the pavement and the start of the water.
Be prepared and be very aware of the predicted weather. This hike is in a canyon and flash floods are possible. The rangers try to do a good job to communicate the weather conditions, but make sure to pay attention to keep your family safe.
This is a very popular trail. Even though you might see some well-positioned Instagram photos that make it look like a peaceful hike, you can expected to be hiking with a few hundred of your closest friends the entire day. We did notice the canyon was a good bit quieter in the morning, and got busier as the day went on (and the water temps rose a bit…) so keep that in mind when reserving a shuttle time.
The water level varies greatly throughout the year, and it’s best to check the conditions online. I will say though that when we visited in mid-September, the deepest sections were about waist high for me at 5’5″.
This is a really incredible hike, and I’m so grateful that we got to experience it as a family! I can’t wait for our next visit to Zion National Park and I hope to explore a little bit further up The Narrows!