I was so excited to hit Zion National Park this summer and check out some of the most iconic hikes, including the Narrows. Even better, I had my siblings (all but one) with me to share the experience. A few key take aways; July in Zion’s is unbearable after 11 p.m., Zion’s during high season is PACKED, some hikes are just not for everyone.
The beauty of the Narrows is that there is no destination, it’s a section of Zion canyon. You can walk the entire 16 mile section with a permit or just walk until you feel like it. This makes it an awesome hike for brave and sure-footed kids. We wound up doing a total of 5.8 miles with our 4 year olds and they loved every minute of it! Well, besides the end.
During high season, you can’t drive in Zion you have to take a shuttle. We started off early each morning and were on the shuttles by 7 a.m. The run continuously but do get really packed as the day goes on.
The hike starts on a paved path which means people with strollers or wheelchairs/scooters can enjoy the beginning of the hike. We were probably five minutes in when my sister Leilani asked if the boys would hike so slow the entire time. I told her yes, 4 year olds don’t hike fast and she and my sister Laura quickly pulled ahead leaving Bruce, Lauren, and myself to enjoy the hike at a slower pace.
I noticed that everyone else had walking sticks and the same brand of waterproof boots. It turns out you can rent these at the park shop. If you are a novice or have any sort of history of injury, this is probably a good idea.
Tynan and Clark LOVED this hike through the Virgin River! I would hold Ty’s hand through most sections as they were quite shallow, and in the waist deep water I would carry him on my hip.
Some Hikes Just Aren’t For Everyone
I’m all about inclusion in hiking, I am! There is a hike out there for all ages and abilities, but I do think it’s worth measuring what your abilities are. The Narrows was packed! It was early in the morning and it was busy and the crowds surging forth on our way back were insane. One thing I noticed is that we were passing folks who were EXTREMELY unsteady. We would pass these people who struggled and I couldn’t help but think they were one rock away from a twisted or sprained ankle.
I tried to get some numbers for injuries and rescues on the Narrows but couldn’t find anything official. Zion National Park is ranked 6th in National Park Search & Rescue incidents and the number of rescue calls has gone up 60% since 2020.
Water Fun on a Hot Day
Going back to our experience, I was pleasantly surprised at how cool it stayed all morning. The canyon keeps the sun away until high noon so you don’t roast.
We had a blast picking our way along, taking photos, and swimming in deeper spots.
We found a wider area of the canyon which allowed us to rest and play without being in the way of the hoards of people coming through. My sisters made it way up the canyon and were able to ditch the crowds which must have been nice.
Note there is no cell service in this canyon and we wound up waiting for about 1.5 hours for my sisters to meet up with us again.
A Packed Park
It was about 11:30 p.m. when we headed back and the trail was so packed that we struggled to push our 4 years olds along. There was a constant line of people coming and going along the pathway and few areas off the path to pull up. The line for the shuttle also resembled Disneyland rides as it snakes around. It wasn’t a long wait though and we were happy to get on the shuttle and head for our car.
I was so grateful that we woke up at 4:40 a.m. to get to the park super early because we hit our car at 12:15 p.m. and the heat was unbearable! Just the walk from the shuttle to the parking lot was too much and we scrambled to get into an air conditioned car. I don’t know how the folks at the campground in tents were managing!
It was such a fun hike and the boys just loved it! I want to get a permit and do an overnight and complete the entire 16 mile stretch one day.