Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Narrows

The Virgin River flows through The Narrows at the upper end of Zion Canyon. The river is the trail. The whole region is 10 miles or better, but the section most often hiked by casual visitors is 2 1/2 miles to "Wall Street". Conditions must be just right for a fun and safe hike up The Narrows. There can be NO chance of rain in the upper reaches as that will cause a flash flood. It can't be too cold because even at mild air temperatures the water is in the 50 -55* range. And finally, the flow must be, in my opinion, less than 30-35 cfs. Any higher and the rapids would get really challenging to cross.

This is the view up river from the trail head at the end of the River Walk Trail and the beginning of The Narrows hike. Many people stop here and marvel at the crazy people heading on up the canyon. It's even more fun on return when they treat us returning hikers like great explorers!

All along the River Walk and on up the canyon are hanging gardens like these. Many maiden hair ferns. They are watered by moisture leaching through the sandstone cliffs.

For a good portion of the hike the sun only shines at the top of the canyon. In the winter it must be like Early Intake with only a few minutes of sun all day long.

The canyon walls are not straight up and down. More often than not they are undercut by the river. It's a bit disconcerting to walk under these huge walls of rock.

The riffles were the hardest part of the hike. I became very fond of my hiking stick!

The river is not a straight shot, it winds around like a snake. Often there were big piles of rocks and gravel on the quiet side where the river had left them at higher flows.

This is one, if not the, very narrowest sections of the canyon.

Still life in nature.

It didn't take long to learn that even if the water was deeper, walking on the sand bars was the best route.

The walls of the Canyon are not smooth. There are many "bowls" like those in Cherry Canyon except that these are in the walls instead of on the floor of the canyon.

We hiked about a half mile every thirty minutes. That brought us to the beginning of Wall Street in time for lunch. A nice woman from Florida took our picture. I returned the favor and then did a couple more when her husband caught up. (Note the walking sticks! I wasn't kidding!)

This is on the only major tributary, "Orderville Canyon". On our day trip to Bryce we passed through a little town also called Orderville.

P continued up the canyon after lunch for another half mile or so. I took advantage of the quiet afternoon to work my way slowly back down canyon soaking in the beauty of the Park.

The light and shadows change continually throughout the day. By 3 pm, it was getting dusky in the narrower sections. The shadows on the rocks were the end of excellent hike.


  1. Love the trip reports and your pics are amazing. What a great hike. I think I'd enjoy that. Did you ever feel claustrophobic in those narrow spots?

  2. Thanks cedar, I hope you do visit Zion one day. No, didn't feel claustrophobic, just awe!


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