BMW R1150GS

Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park

June 2006

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Hiking the narrows is the number 5 of 100 on National Geographic Best 100 Adventures magazine as a must do thing.

I have been planning it for about 8 months and finally it happens.

What you will read now is a short description on what was a wonderful trip couple friends, my wife and I did this June 2006: Hiking thru the Narrows from Chamberlain's Ranch to Temple of Sinawava.

I’m doing this report so some other first time hiker can read and prepare him/her self for this wonderful trip. If you are an experienced hiker probably you will not find any thing new here.
By the way, read Who is Elton at the end of this report before write me comments about my bad English.

Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park - Click to Open

brazilian riding a suzuki from brazil to Alaska - Click to Open Suzuki 1000 that Sergio is riding from Brazil and going to Alaska, with his wife.

I made reservations with National Park services 3 months in advance from the day we were planning, and it was sort of gambling, since you don't know the level of the water on the day you want to hike. You can check the USGC web site to see what is the current water level.

We arrived the day before, Friday, to have time to go to Visitor Center and get our permit with campsite reservation (was $20 fee) and also rent the gear for the hiking.
You should have at least the right shoes, a neoprene pair of socks and a walking stick.
I really could not understand why some people go for this walk without a walking stick. It’s so useful especially when the water is dipper then 1 foot.

 

At the local market we had the luck to find a Brazilian motorcyclist that was riding since January, from Brazil, and was going to Alaska, Prudoe Bay. Since we did the Alaska last year, that was a great conversation and we end up inventing Sergio to have dinner with us.

Mike brought the barbecue set inside the truck and was able to cook some good chicken and we had a nice dinner.

barbecue at zion national park - Click to Open

food for the hiking - Click to Open

room at springdale, utah - Click to Open

hotel in springdale, before the narrowns hiking - Click to Open

The hotel we got was a very inexpensive one, but with clean rooms. The whole town of Springdale was full so I was glad that we made that reservation 3 weeks in advance.

First night wasn’t good. I guess I was too exited to sleep and our wake up was supposed to be 5:00AM Utah time, it means 4:00AM at California time. Way too early for me.

So I believe I had just over 5 hours sleep at that night.

At 6:00AM we were at the Zion National Park Visitor Center.
Please note that the time on each picture is one hour early, but it will be useful for you to time your trip.
The shuttle service we contract was only 9 minutes late, so it was a good start.
About 6:10AM we left the parking lot in a van with 15 passengers.
All backpacks goes on top of the van and it makes a funny noise, almost like it was raining.
The driver advise us about people getting seek on the van and that was almost true, most because the way he drives, going over 50mph on a dusty windy gravel road. I hope nobody was coming from the other direction.

leaving for the hiking from the visitor center - Click to Open

At 7:25 we were at the Chamberlain’s Ranch gate.
Few hikers took right a way since they were doing a one day trip, so they had almost nothing on the backpack, and they were in a hurry.
We and 2 other groups just took the time to take some pictures from the entrance. I was trying to save battery on the camera, so I had the LCD display off. Only later on the morning I realized that all first pictures were out of focus since I was not waiting long enough to the camera to focus. So, you will not see the entrance and starting time picture here… sorry

Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park - Click to Open

brazilian riding a suzuki from brazil to Alaska - Click to Open

The road starts as a quite large farm road, with many car tracks on it. After few minutes of walking it turns to a smaller road, were you can only see tractor tracks on it, and cows. Be careful were you stepping in.

Only 5 minutes and you will cross Virgin River for the first time. Before it you can see the sign showing the trail head. Just cross the river and wet your shoes. That will be your wake up call

 

Make sure that you stay on the trail as far as I can see it.

You will walk few miles until you have to move to the river.

barbecue at zion national park - Click to Open

food for the hiking - Click to Open

room at springdale, utah - Click to Open

hotel in springdale, before the narrowns hiking - Click to Open

There is old machinary next to the road and you will pass an old cabin about one hour on the trail (8:40AM), Bulloch’s Cabin, an old abandoned homestead on the left/south side of the road

Right after the cabin and you will se the river again.

Now the road is in a pretty bad conditions for a car. Mater of fact we won't see tracks here. Only horses and cows tracks

Then after that the road becomes a trail. You will start felling that now your adventure begins.

Hiking the Narrows thru is rated as an adventure number 5 on Geographic Magazine 100 must do adventures in USA.

leaving for the hiking from the visitor center - Click to Open

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narrows canyons at virgen river - Click to Open

Hiking the Narrows at Zion National Park - Click to Open

Walking thru the virgen river - Click to Open

At 9:20, about 2 hours after we left, we stop for breakfast on a place that maybe is the best one to enter the Virgin River.
If you decide to go on trail looks like you have to walk a steep hill and go thru dense vegetation on the left bank of the river, so we decided that the river now would be our path.
We met couple other groups here, who were on the 6:30AM shuttle service. They pass us so fast we could not have time to ask they if they were planning the one day or two.

 

Almost 9:30AM and we still can see the moon on the sky.

barbecue at zion national park - Click to Open

food for the hiking - Click to Open

room at springdale, utah - Click to Open

hotel in springdale, before the narrowns hiking - Click to Open

Around 9:30AM, 3 hours after departing, we had our first experiency crossing on rolling rocks. That is were the stiks came on handy.

The scenario is better and better. Many trees and some nice rock formations.

leaving for the hiking from the visitor center - Click to Open

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Walking the Narrows - Click to Open

Virgen River - Click to Open

Walking thru the virgen river - Click to Open

It’s about 10:00AM. We have been hiking for quite a while now inside the Virgin River.

The rental equipment was a good option. It cost us about $30, plus $20 for the shuttle service, per person, but the shoes are good, with good grip on the sleek rocks, and the socks protect your feet and keep it very warm even do the water temperature is about 57F.

 

Mike and Larry are checking a wall... plans to climbing it?!

barbecue at zion national park - Click to Open

food for the hiking - Click to Open

room at springdale, utah - Click to Open

hotel in springdale, before the narrowns hiking - Click to Open

The river here still pretty shallow. The water flow today is 70 The river discharge today is about 55 cubic feet per second by the USGS data and we have about 4” to 10” of water most of the time so far.

Tip of this page:

Remmember to trimm your toe nails before the trip.

If you are using the neoprine socks, it will compress your toes and your nails will hurt your toes.

 

Walking stick is a must. Use a wood one instead of metal. They float, they won't bend, they will not get stuck so easy on the rocks, they will not rust.

Hiking the Narrows of Zion National Park is one of the best adventures you can find in USA. Actually this hiking is place in 5th place on National Geographic's list of Top 100 American Adventures. 

The hike is almost 16 miles along the Virgin River were you will see cliffs rising up to 2000 feet and nor much larger then 20 to 30 feet  apart.

 

leaving for the hiking from the visitor center - Click to Open

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Who is Elton

I was born in Brazil and moved to USA, California in 1996. Took me some time to learn the language and get into this country, but I think now I'm doing quite well. I became an American citizen in late 2007.
I love to travel and by the time I was writing this page, I had logged more them 140.000 miles on the motorcycles I have/had. My current bikes are one 2002 BMW K1200LTe and one 2003 BMW R1150GS. Also there are many more miles on my car and much more on airplane trips.
Winter I try to do Snowmobile. Summer is time for water sports (PWC) and I motorcycle year around (one of the benefits of living in sunny California)

Web sites for more information: (they will open in a new window. Please check your browser prefferences if it doesn't show up)

USGS-Virgem River water levels

NPS - Backcountry Reservations and Permits

National Geographic Best 100 Adventures

Good Narrows Informational web site

Zion Adventure Company - Outiffiter

Zion Rock & Mountain Guides - Outiffiter

El Rio Lodge Motel - Inexpensive option