Packing List for The Narrows in Zion National Park

hiking gear for the narrows

It is without a doubt that The Narrows in Zion National Park is one of the park’s most popular hikes. But, what is The Narrows? The Narrows is a strenuous hike down the Virgin River in the narrowest part of Zion Canyon. Hence the name The Narrows.

Here, you’ll be hiking along the Virgin River which runs through walls of Navajo sandstone that are 1,000 feet tall.

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zion national park the narrows hike

When is the Best Time to Visit Zion National Park in Utah?

If you’re planning on hiking in Zion National Park, the best time to visit is from March to October. If you want to avoid crowds, March and the end of the fall season are the best times to visit.

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the narrows hike

How deep is the water in The Narrows in Zion National Park?

Although millions of people prefer to visit Zion National Park during the summer, flash floods during this time are the real thing and are extremely dangerous.

Checking the weather and water levels should be a priority before heading to Zion–especially if you plan on hiking The Narrows.

That being said, depending on the flow of the water, the deepest parts of the turquoise waters in The Narrows range from knee-deep to chest-deep.

deep water in the narrows in zion national park

For reference, I’m 5′ 11″ and the water was waist-deep for me at one point.

If the flow of the water goes beyond that point, the park will close the trail and no one will be able to access it until further notice.

Therefore, planning accordingly will either make this hike a memorable one or the worst experience ever.

How Long Does it Take to Hike The Narrows?

There are two ways to hike The Narrows in Zion National Park.

  1. Hike from The Temple of Sinawava. You’ll start by hiking 1 mile along the paved Riverside Walk trail. Once you arrive at The Narrows, you will begin the hike from the bottom up. Continue as far as you’d like. This is the way I did it and I hiked a total of 5 miles roundtrip. If you were to finish it this way, keep in mind that this is a 10-mile roundtrip hike. Take the shuttle all the way to stop 9 and arrive at the Temple of Sinawava to begin this hike.
sitting on the rocks in the narrows in zion national park
Taking a break on my hike through The Narrows in Zion
  1. Hike from Chamberlain’s Ranch. For this hike, a wilderness permit is required. You will be hiking The Narrows from top to bottom for a total of 16 miles roundtrip. If you choose this hiking option, transportation to Chamberlain’s Ranch trailhead is your own responsibility.

Hiking The Narrows is an incredible experience and it can easily turn out to be one of your favorite hikes. However, without some essentials, I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be fun at all.

the canyons in zion national park
The Narrows hiking trail in Zion National Park

Top 10 Things to Wear and Essential Gear that You Need to Hike The Narrows in Zion

So, what do you need to hike The Narrows in Zion? Hiking boots, neoprene socks, trekking poles, water-resistant outdoor pants, UPF long-sleeve shirts, and dry bags are some of the essentials. Here is a complete list.

1. Trekking Poles

Hiking The Narrows with walking sticks or trekking poles is a MUST! From beginning to end, the riverbed is completely covered in pebble rocks. Varying in size, these rocks can easily cause you to lose your balance.

trekking poles for hiking in the narrows in zion

Trekking poles will give you stability and will eliminate the pressure on your knees when hiking. I recommend the foldable trekking poles because they are easy to carry both in the backpack and your luggage.

2. Hiking Boots

Listen, if you plan on hiking this strenuous river hike in your casual sneakers or anything similar, you will regret it. Hiking boots are a MUST and I cannot stress it enough.

As I mentioned before, there are infinite pebble rocks on the riverbed in The Narrows. Covered in water, these pebble rocks feel just like bowling balls.

merrell hiking boots for women

Not wearing adequate shoewear can (and will) cause you to trip and lose your balance.

This puts you at risk of breaking an ankle–which is one of the primary injuries in Zion National Park.

So, do yourself a favor, follow the safety guidelines, and wear hiking boots!

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3. Neoprene Socks

The water in The Narrows is very, very cold. Therefore, hypothermia is one of the hazards in these canyons because the whole hike is nothing but water. To avoid hypothermia, use neoprene socks and avoid using cotton socks.

neoprene socks for hiking

Cotton socks do not provide any type of insulation and your feet will be freezing before you know it. On the other hand, neoprene socks are designed to keep your feet warm when hiking in the water.

rocks on the riverbed in the narrows in zion
The Narrows riverbed

4. Quick-drying / UPF Pants

In general, UPF clothing is a must for all of your hiking trips. But for The Narrows, quick-drying hiking pants are essential.

Keep in mind that you will encounter water chest-deep–which was my experience. And with the water being as cold as it is, you need to be able to dry quickly.

red quick-dry hiking pants

For water hikes, I like using Capri-length quick-drying pants. I personally love these hiking pants from BALEAF because they are super comfy and I can move easily with them when they’re wet. Choose the ones that feel the most comfortable to you.

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patagonia outdoor adventures

5. Dry Bag, a must-have for hiking The Narrows in Zion!

I’ll put it this way…I will never do a water hike without carrying a dry bag for my camera gear. Plain and simple!

I make my living being a lifestyle photographer and I never, ever risk my equipment in any way. Using a dry bag to put all my belongings and my camera gear in eliminates the risk of water damage.

gear you need to hike the narrows

I insert the dry bag into my hiking backpack and voila! No water, no harm! A dry bag is simply the best thing to carry for hiking on the water. They come in different sizes so you can choose the one that works best for you.

More Things You Need to Hike The Narrows in Zion

what to wear for hiking the narrows

6. Waterproof Phone Pouch

Same as with my camera gear, I’ll do anything to protect my phone. This is why I consider a waterproof phone pouch to be a must when hiking The Narrows.

waterproof phone pouch for hiking

A phone pouch is very useful in this river hike, and it also protects your phone from all the water that’s splashing around you.


7. Hiking Backpack

While doing this hike, I saw many people carrying their belongings in tote bags. A tote bag is never a good way to carry your things on a hike.

Even more so when hiking in the water. A hiking backpack balances out the weight you are carrying which helps get rid of pressure around your back and shoulders.

deuter hiking backpack for women

When hiking in the water, this is super important because you need to maintain a good balance.

When choosing a hiking backpack, ensure that the fit is perfect for you. You can start with a backpack for day hikes.

Then, progressively add other packs depending on your hiking needs.

woman hiking the narrows in zion
Hiking with trekking poles in the Narrows

8. Water Reservoir (2 Liter), a must-have for hiking The Narrows in Zion!

One of the most important things when hiking The Narrows in Zion is being able to have your hands free to handle your trekking poles.

This is why inserting a water reservoir in your hiking backpack will make all the difference in the world. With this, you don’t have to worry about the crazy weight of water bottles.

2-liter water reservoir for hiking

Additionally, you will have access to your water at all times without having to take the backpack off your back.

Keep in mind though, that if you’re doing more than 5 miles, you will need more than 2 liters of water.

Rule of thumb: always duplicate the amount of water you need for a hike.

9. First Aid Kit

This is pretty self-explanatory. On all hikes, water or no water, carry a first aid kit at all times. In my first aid kit, I also have blister cushions which really came in handy during this trip.

Feel free to add items to your kit that are specific to your needs. Carry one first aid kit per person.

first aid kid for hiking and backpacking

turquoise water in the narrows in zion national park
Turquoise water in The Narrows, Zion National Park

10. Waterproof Whistle

May I remind you, this is a strenuous river hike over 10 miles long. In case of an emergency, running through the river to get help is not the most intelligent thing to do.

But, carrying a waterproof whistle is. This waterproof whistle can be used underwater or on the surface.

what you need to hike the narrows

It sounds loud, so rest assured that help will come to you if you need it. I like to attach my whistle to a string and I then tie it to the front strap of my hiking backpack for easy access.

Would you hike The Narrows in Zion National Park? Let me know in the comments!

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packing list for hiking the narrows in zion national park

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Yanitza Ninett
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Yanitza is one 1/2 of the Next Stop Adventures dynamic duo with 15+ years of hiking experience and adventure travel. As a PADI-certified Scuba diver, she's also passionate about ocean conservation. When she's not exploring the great outdoors, Yanitza obsesses over The Vampire Diaries and dreams of traveling to Spain.

43 thoughts on “Packing List for The Narrows in Zion National Park”

  1. Hi Yanitza, we are planning to do the full 16 mile Narrows hike in one day in late October. I’m training for the length but I am worried about my feet. Planning to rent the neoprene socks and hiking boots. Do you recommend also bringing a change of hiking socks and boots for when we won’t be in the water? Should I be concerned about getting blisters from the rentals?

    • Hi Susan! Yes, it’s best if you bring an extra pair of socks & boots. I’d also recommend getting HikeGoo. You can get it from Amazon. You’ll apply a thick layer on your feet before putting on your socks in preparation for the hike! It’s extra protection for your feet and helps against blisters.

  2. can we wear our regular hiking boots until we get to the water and then change into water shoes(the kind you wear to the beach?

    • Hi Christine! You can, but we don’t recommend wearing water shoes for this hike. The canyon floor is completely covered in slippery pebble rocks that vary in sizes and even with hiking boots and trekking poles, it’s tricky to find and maintain balance. Also, to protect your feet and ankles, it’s best if you stick to your hiking boots. Most hiking boots are water resistant so you’re not going to have issues with them as far as their material.

  3. The waterproof phone pockets are great if you don’t need your phone to take pictures. Strangely enough, I found that clear ziplock bags actually work as a great substitute when hiking in the rain. The plastic is light enough for you to still be able to use the phone for GPS and photos without having to take it out of the bag.

  4. Great list! It sounds like people will stay safe if they have everything you listed. 🙂

    I had no idea that the waters could get so high! You must have been pretty chilly when it was up to your waist. I guess the waterproof bag and phone case came in handy!

    • The water was super chilly but at the same time, since the temperature was at 115 degrees that day, it was super refreshing. And yes, both the bag and the case saved my gear! jijiji

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