The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Zion

The Easy Narrows Hike to Wall Street (Zion)

In This Guide
  • Video and Turn-by-Turn Directions to Hike The Narrows
  • Bottoms Up or Top Down?
  • Insider Tips on Walking Through the River
  • Special Gear You Need to Hike the Narrows
  • How Far Up the Narrows You Should Hike
  • When to Avoid Hiking the Narrows
Total Distance (?)7.5 miles (12.1 km)
Other Options 3 miles roundtrip to Mystery Falls
Hike Time4-5 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)150 feet (46m)
Highest Elevation4,600 feet (1402m)
Fees & PermitsPark Entry Fee
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Zion National Park
Park Phone435-772-3256
Weather & ForecastLatest Conditions

The Narrows hike is world-famous for a good reason. The dramatic scenery of thousand-foot sandstone cliffs, sometimes only twenty feet apart, is awe-inspiring and beautiful. But with all the information available, planning the hike can be intimidating. So in this simple guide, I’ll cut through the fluff and make it easy for you, taking you on a “best-of” self-guided hike to the famous Wall Street section of The Narrows.

Which Narrows Hike Should I Do?

Typical Zion Narrows Situation
Let’s start at the beginning. The Narrows is the name of the Virgin River gorge, the narrowest part of Zion Canyon. Doing The Narrows is more of a walk through the river than a hike. Most of the time, you will be wading in the water, with 1000-foot cliffs on either side. Along with Angel’s Landing, The Narrows is the most popular hike in Zion National Park, and you’ll be sharing the experience with other hikers.

If you’ve been looking around for information, you might have noticed several ways to hike The Narrows. This guide outlines what I think is the best experience for first-timers: a 3-4 hour hike up to and through the Wall Street section (and back). But there are other options you should be aware of.

NameTotal MilesNeed Permit?Description
Bottom-Up9.4NoHiking from the shuttle stop at the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs and back. You are allowed to hike as far as Big Springs without any special permit.
Top-Down16YesA challenging overnight or long day hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch that goes downstream on The Narrows one-way. Permits can be hard to land and you must arrange for a shuttle.
Bottom-Up to Wall Street7.5NoWhat I consider the “best of” hike that brings you to all the attractions and skips the deepest water
Bottom-Up to Mystery Falls3NoIf you just want a taste of The Narrows hike to Mystery Falls which gets you in the river with some nice scenery at a short distance.
Riverside Walk2NoTo get a taste of The Narrows without walking in the river take the paved Riverside Walk from the shuttle bus stop. You’ll see some steep cliff walls and nice canyon scenery without needing to do anything special.

Planning for the Narrows Hike

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Summer is a great time to hike The Narrows, but crowds can make Wall Street seem more like New York City than the Zion wilderness. Crowds thin out the farther you travel upstream.

The good news is that you don’t need a permit to hike bottom-up to Wall Street; show up and go. But you’re going to want to make sure the conditions are right to hike it, and you’re going to want to make sure you’re prepared.

Seasons for Hiking the Narrows

SeasonWater FlowAvg Water TempsSpecial GearRisks
SummerLow55-65FNoneFlash Floods During Monsoon
FallLowest45-60FNoneNone
WinterHigher35-45FWetsuit or DrysuitHypothermia & Falling Ice
SpringVery High40-55FDrysuit – Neoprene SocksHeavy Flow from Snowmelt and Hypothermia

Summer

Most people visit the park and do The Narrows during the summer. Expect crowds at any time of day. The water is usually low enough to walk (relatively) easily, and the air and water temperatures are comfortable. The shaded canyon provides a welcome relief to higher summer air temperatures, which can easily be over 100F. The big risk in the summer is monsoon weather, which can produce sudden thunderstorms and flash floods in The Narrows. I’ll go into detail later on how to check for this, but if you hike The Narrows in the summer, leaving in the early morning will be your best bet.

Fall

For me, the early fall is the best time to visit. The water levels are generally at their lowest, with warm temperatures, and the monsoon risk has passed. It doesn’t mean that conditions can’t be extreme, but typically, you have your best chances of a mellow experience. As fall progresses, the temperatures transition into winter, and it can snow in November.

Winter

Winter can be challenging in The Narrows, and I don’t recommend hiking it during winter unless you have experience or are highly motivated. Snowmelt starts making the water very cold and high. Also, the Narrows can get snow and ice falling from the cliffs. You’ll have to rent a dry suit and special gear to avoid hypothermia (more later).

Spring

The spring is generally the worst time to attempt The Narrows. Snowmelt is at its maximum, and the water levels are at their highest and strongest. The water is cold; you’ll need some warm gear. The park generally closes The Narrows completely for periods when the water flow is too high. March and April are the worst, but by the end of spring, things start to get better.

How Wet Should I Expect to Get?

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Even if the water levels are reasonably low, there are still areas that can be deep.

Here’s how hiking The Narrows generally works. First, you start wading in the water, and then there is a mix of land and water as you hike upstream. Crowds usually bottleneck into shallow areas. The water is generally clear, so you can see how deep it is. Or it can be muddy, as in the previous picture, in which case you have to guess. Having trekking poles or a stick lets you sound the depth in front of you before you take a step.

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Here you can see a bottleneck along a shallow part of the Narrows. The people on the left are skipping the line by going deep. Under normal (under 70 CFS) conditions, it’s rare to be chest deep.

Expect your pace to be much slower than hiking a typical trail. Walking through the water usually requires picking your step through rocks of many sizes. It takes a level of mental concentration that regular hiking does not.

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The flow rate in CFS (Cubic Feet per Second) is your key to understanding how deep the Virgin River will be. You can check the flow rate at the Visitor Center or online at the USGS flow rate for the North Fork Virgin River .

The constant flow of water means that the bottom of the river is always shifting. You can use the figures below to give yourself a rough estimate of how deep the water will be, but depending on your path or the recent shifts, there can be deeper sections.

Flow RatingAvg WaterDeepest to CrossConditions
0-50 CFS1ft 2-3ft Expect to get wet up to your waist with casual wading.
50-100 CFS 1-2ft3-4ftYou’ll feel the current and walking against it in swift sections can be challenging.
100-150 CFS2-3ft4ftExpect sections up to chest height with very slow going. I usually give The Narrows a skip when the flow is above 100.
Over 150 CFS 3ft+ 5ft+ The Park Service closes The Narrows.

Flash Floods

Flash floods kill people in The Narrows. When it rains anywhere in the Virgin River Narrow’s 344-square-mile watershed, the water pours down the slick rock and eventually into The Narrows. The deluge comes in waves of higher and higher water, rushing downstream, carrying rocks, logs, and debris.. The water level in The Narrows can rise 12 feet in a matter of minutes. If there is a high risk of flash floods, you need to follow the advice of the Park Service and stay out of the area.

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The first thing to do is check conditions with the rangers at the Visitor Center. If you’re leaving early, try to talk to them the day before. They will be your best bet for solid information.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 2
Check the park’s flash flood probabilities, which you can find at the Visitor Center, trailhead, or online. Even if the prediction is “not expected,” know that floods can happen anytime. Your best bet in all conditions is to leave in the early morning, which is (usually) before thunderstorms occur. If floods are “expected,” you may want to do the hike another time. And when there is a very high probability of a thunderstorm, the Parks Service will close the Narrows.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 6
If the skies start to get dark like this, or there are other clues that it’s about to rain, you need to turn around and get out of The Narrows ASAP.

As the rangers say, “your safety is your responsibility,” so here’s what to do to stay safe.

Zion Narrows Flow Chart 2
Take a look at these flow rates during the monsoon season. The flow goes from 50 CFS to over 2300 during a thunderstorm. A hiker lost their life on Aug 19 when caught in a flash flood. Again, you need to take this seriously and err on the side of caution if conditions aren’t good.

Statistically, the drive to Zion NP is much more dangerous than hiking The Narrows. So be cautious and prudent, but don’t hike in fear.

Gear for Hiking the Narrows

The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 7
Do you need to rent fancy water boots like this? Probably not, but you’ll see a lot of others wearing them.

There’s a lot of hype around gear and gear rentals for hiking The Narrows. I’ve hiked it with specialized rental gear, and I’ve hiked it in trail runners with no poles. There are things you can do to make life easier, but you don’t NEED to have anything fancy. Here’s what I’d recommend and not recommend.

Gear 2022 8

I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don’t have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There’s no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It’s just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I’m liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
.
My September 2022 Top Gear Picks

Getting to the Narrows Hike

The Narrows hike starts at the end of the road in Zion Canyon, at the Temple of Sinawava. In most seasons, you’ll have to take a shuttle bus to start the hike. Note that there can be a line for the first shuttle bus, usually comprised of hikers heading to The Narrows and Angel’s Landing. To ensure you arrive on one of the first buses, get in line 30 minutes before the first scheduled departure.

Zion Narrows Shuttle Stop
The Temple of Sinawava where to get off for The Narrows and is the last stop when traveling up Zion Canyon on the shuttle bus. The shuttle stop has a bathroom and water refill.

If you’re driving to the trailhead (when the road is open), this is the address to use:
Temple of Sinawava, Zion Canyon Scenic Dr, Springdale, UT 84779

The Narrows Trail Maps

Click Here To View

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

Free Nav Tools:  GaiaGPSAllTrails

Guides to Help You Navigate

Landmarks on the Hike

When looking at distances in The Narrows, they are based on a straight line of walking up the river. But the reality of The Narrows is that you’ll be crisscrossing the river as you make your way upstream, adding to the overall distance. So the distances here are not based on the straight line but instead on a more realistic zigzagging pattern. They can vary based on how much you zigzag or don’t.

LandmarkDistance
Temple of Sinawava Shuttle0.0
End of Paved Riverwalk1.0
Mystery Falls1.3
Narrows Alcove1.7
House Rock2.0
Oderville Canyon / Wall St3.0
Floating Rock3.7

The good news is that you don’t have any navigation challenges. You’re just walking up along the river. You can walk as far as Big Springs (about 4.5 miles from the shuttle) without a permit. This guide will bring you up to Floating Rock, in the heart of the Wall Street section and next to a small raised area ideal for a snack and rest. Your best bet for navigation is to take the PDF map below on your phone and save this guide’s screenshots to your phone. Don’t rely on a GPS distance.

The Narrows is about the journey, not the destination.National Park Service

If you’ve had enough, just turn around. This hike is not for everyone.

Bathrooms

There are none. There are no good places to hide and go. Use the toilet before you start hiking and then do your best.

3D Map

Zion Narrows 3d Map
There’s no climbing, just winding through the twists and turns of the Virgin River narrows.

The Narrows Hike Directions

Video Directions

Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.

Turn by Turn Directions

Riverside Walk to Narrows Gateway

The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 12
When you get off the shuttle bus, head up the path at the end of the loop.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 14
Read the information board and then continue up the trail.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 15
At the split, stay to the right. This first section s called the Riverside Walk and is suitable for everybody.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 16
You don’t have to walk far on the Riverside Walk to get some incredible views of the canyon starting to narrow and of the sheer cliff walls.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 17
As you continue on the paved path, The Narrows gets even narrower and more dramatic.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 18
At 1 mile you reach the end of the paved Riverside Walk. To continue, walk down the stairs and start hiking in the river at the Narrows Gateway.

Narrows Gateway to Mystery Falls

Zion Narrows Beginning
You’ll start in the water.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 19
And if the levels are normal, quickly have some land to hike on. This will start a pattern in the wider sections of The Narrows where you do a crossing, hike on the mud, and then cross again.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 20
You’ll also encounter your first sections of wall-to-wall river where you simply walk upstream.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 21
After about 0.3 miles in the river your reach Mystery Falls on the right. The 110′ falls is named after Mystery Canyon, which you can get a great view of from a secret viewpoint on the Observation Point hike.

Mystery Falls to Wall Street

The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 22
As you continue past Mystery Falls, the cliff walls get steeper and more dramatic.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 23
Around the first bend, about 0.4 miles past Mystery Falls, you’ll see the Narrows Alcove ahead of you.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 24
Past the alcove you have some land sections as the hike crisscrosses along the river.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 25
Here’s a typical crossing in this section.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 26
The presence of trees and land means that these sections are often above water.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 27
The streaks on these rocks are the result of minerals and bacteria.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 28
Even before you reach Orderville Canyon, the walls get steep and the path gets narrow. While not officially Wall St, it basically is as dramatic as it gets here.
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If you look up the cliff faces are almost touching.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 30
And then at about 3 miles in, you reach Orderville Canyon on the right. You can explore Orderville Canyon for ¼ mile before you need a special permit. Otherwise continue up the Virgin River; you are now officially in the Wall St section of The Narrows.
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Continue hiking up through the Wall Street section.
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The path widens and there’s some land to hike on.
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When you see Floating Rock in front of you, there are some nice places to stop for a snack before turning around.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 34
Here’s Floating Rock, a massive boulder sitting in the middle of the river. From here I recommend turning around and heading back.
The Narrows Hike To Wall Street Directions 35
If you do want to continue, know that the water gets deeper and the scenery is similar past Floating Rock.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard

Cris Hazzard 4 Mile Trail Yosemite
Hi, I’m Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn’t so you don’t waste money. I don’t do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn’t do it without folks like you!).

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