When most people think about iconic trails in Zion National Park, they think of Angels Landing. This famously challenging, height-defying hike is certainly a bucket-list-worthy trail. But first-time visitors to Zion might not realize that the park has an even more unique trail with almost no elevation change at all.
The Narrows is an iconic, challenging, and interesting hiking trail tucked into the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This trail actually follows the Virgin River, as it winds up or downstream through the canyon.
But because of the unique nature of this trail, it’s also up against some unique challenges. In fact, the trail is currently facing an indefinite closure.
If you’re planning a visit to Zion Park hotels like Flanigan’s Resort in 2023, keep reading to learn what you need to know about this special trail, the current closure, and some other alternatives for hikes to enjoy during your trip.
Hiking The Narrows
If you’re looking for a fun adventure, a unique trail, or a fun activity for your family to enjoy together, a visit to the Narrows is a must during your Zion Canyon lodge stay.
There are two ways to hike this trail; Top-Down or Bottom-Up. The Top-Down hike is 16 miles and requires hikers to make their way to Chamberlain’s Ranch, a private land parcel outside of the park that allows for a descent into the canyon. From there, you’ll hike downstream into the park, wading through the Virgin River.
While this option doesn’t have the elevation change or steep drop-offs that you’ll find on Angels Landing, it is no less challenging. You’ll need specialized gear and will have to spend a night on the trail. You’ll also still need a permit to hike the Narrows from the Top-Down, though this permit doesn’t require the lottery system that the Angels Landing permits do. Unlike the latter, it’s easy to get a permit for the Narrows for your choice of dates.
Hikers looking for an easier trek can hike upstream through the Virgin River for as far as they choose, before turning around to hike back. Called a Bottom-Up Hike, this option is the most popular, especially for families, day visitors, or those without backpacking experience.
It’s easy to enjoy a short Bottom-Up Hike during your stay at Zion Park hotels, especially on warm days when you won’t need waders to trek through the chilly waters of the Virgin River. Don’t forget an old pair of tennis shoes or water shoes for your hike!
Hop on the Springdale Shuttle at your Zion Canyon lodge, ride to the entrance to the park, and transfer to the Zion Canyon Shuttle. From there, you’ll ride to the last shuttle stop. Walk the short Riverside Walk, another great, family-friendly trail. At the trail’s turnaround point, you’ll find a few steps down to the banks of the Virgin River. You can splash around the banks and hike up as far as you’d like before turning around to hike back to the shuttle stop for more exploring.
The Narrows Closed Indefinitely
While a hike on the Narrows is usually a great trail option during your stay in Zion Park hotels, if you’re visiting in the near future, this may not be an option.
Each spring, runoff from melting snow causes the Virgin River to swell. This often leads to the Narrows closing for several weeks until the water returns to a safe level. However, unusually high snowfall this winter in Southern Utah’s higher elevations has led to heavy flooding. The Narrows was closed by the National Park Service on April 8, and officials don’t expect water levels to return to normal until at least June.
This isn’t the first time the popular trail has faced a long closure. In 2019, the Narrows was closed from April 6 to June 22. Before that, a closure of that length hadn’t occurred since 2012.
While there’s no guarantee of when the Narrows will open for the year, if you have your heart set on hiking this trail, consider planning your stay at our Zion Canyon lodge in late summer or early fall this year.
Unlike Angels Landing, there aren’t any trails in Zion that offer similar views to what you’ll find on the Narrows. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t tons of hikes to choose from.
If you are planning a Top-Down Hike and are looking for something similarly challenging, Observation Point is a great option. Observation Point is an eight-mile trail with more than 2,000 feet of elevation gain. It offers views that rival Angels Landing, but with far fewer crowds.
Those hoping to do a shorter Bottom-Up Hike should still enjoy the Riverside Walk. Other family-friendly trails include Canyon Overlook Trail, Pa’Rus Trail, and Weeping Rock Trail.
Planning Your Stay in Zion Park Hotels
The summer season in Southern Utah is just a few weeks away. Whether you’re dreaming of hiking the Narrows or are planning to try some of these trail alternatives, now is a great time to plan your stay in Zion Park hotels.
Staying at Flanigan’s Resort is a great way to make the most of your time in Zion National Park. You’ll enjoy quick and easy access to the park via the Springdale Shuttle, which means no worrying about finding parking or fighting traffic. This means more time to take on Angels Landing, the Narrows, and more.
Book your stay at our beautiful Zion Canyon lodge today!