Majestic Zion National Park. There is nothing like it. The towering rock walls, the winding Virgin River, the numerous hiking trails make it nearly limitless as a resource for outdoor excursions. I have biked it. I have hiked it. I’ve even floated in the river, and there are still things to do and places to see on my Zion bucket list.
Last week we hiked the Virgin River Narrows. There are a couple of ways to do it. You can hike down from the top starting at Chamberlain Ranch. If you choose to do this, you are required to obtain a permit. You can get a one day permit (that’s what we did), or you can get a two day permit and camp mid-way at one of the twelve designated camp spots. Either way you have to make arrangements to be dropped off at the top and have someone meet you or leave a car at the bottom.
Hiking from the top, you will get to see the upper Narrows which I loved as much as the Large Narrows down at the bottom. We were pretty isolated the first half of the hike passing only one group until we reached the bottom half of the hike. Very Peaceful.
If you start at the bottom, you do not need a permit. You can hike all the way up to the water falls without a permit. You can veer off to the right and explore Orderville Canyon. Still a beautiful hike.
Things to take:
- A hiking stick. We brought our own telescoping walking sticks. You will cross the river a hundred times and the sticks help balance on slippery rocks. If you hike up from the bottom, there are a bunch of walking sticks at the mouth of the Narrows that people use and return. Not so if you start at the top.
- Good Shoes. I’ve heard different opinions on the best shoes to wear. I wore hiking shoes that weren’t water proof. I really liked these because of their ankle support and toe protection. Another person on our hike wore water proof hiking boots. These were great until the water was over the tops of her boots, then she found herself sloshing in water that couldn’t get out of her boots. Some people hike in Keens, I actually tried these for a bit and then went back to my shoes with more ankle support. Whatever you use, make sure they are close-toed. There’s a lot of rock stubbing.
- Ziploc Bags. Double bag everything you don’t want wet. The deepest water we had to go through was thigh deep but that all depends on the time of year, and there are no guarantees that you won’t step in a hole or slip and go down.
- Water. It’s a long hike. We took a gallon of water each and drank it.
- No Cell Phone. It doesn’t work in the canyon.
- Hat. Not much sun gets to the canyon floor but when it did, I appreciated having a visor.
- Light Jacket. We only used them in the morning up by Chamberlain’s Ranch but were glad we had them.
Of course, things will vary depending on the time of year that you hike. We were mid-July. Check out Zion National Park website for an exhaustive list of warnings and instructions.
Go and enjoy the beauty of Zion. It truly is a wonder and for those of us that are locals…don’t take it for granted. Be grateful for the wonder that is in our backyard.
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