Utah Vacation: Zion National Park - The Narrows
Back in October Christian and I ran away for two weeks of adventure in the gorgeous state of Utah. I'd like to share some highlights from that trip because it really is a beautiful place.
We were lucky enough to get permits to thru-hike the Virgin River Narrows in Zion National Park. The Narrows is considered one of those must-do hikes. It's like no other place on Earth. Here's a description from ZAC's website:
Wall Street is a 2-mile section of slot canyon where the walls become as narrow as 22-feet apart and tower 600 feet overhead. No road or trail can take you to this awesome place; you must walk through the Virgin River to see it for yourself. To get there, you may hike the shorter Bottom-Up route, or the full 16-mile Thru-Hike. Whichever way you choose to hike the Narrows, you will have an incredible experience. Smoothly carved sandstone walls, beautifully fluted, twisting slots, and towering walls await you in myriad sections of the 16-mile Narrows corridor.
We hired ZAC to shuttle us to Chamberlain's Ranch where we began our hike through the Narrows.
After bouncing along over rough roads, we were dropped off in the middle of nowhere and were ready to begin our hike down the Virgin River. The jeep drove away and we hoped that we remembered everything that we needed because there was no turning back now!
First we had to hike a few miles alongside the water and then it was time to get into the river. Hikers are encouraged to keep to the water while in the Narrows to eliminate impact. We had our own backpacking gear but we rented dry pants and canyoneering shoes from ZAC. The water was 54 degrees so the dry pants kept us warm.
ZAC also gave us sturdy walking sticks which came in very handy while making deep water crossings and trying to stay upright while stepping on slippery rocks.
Over the next few hours we trudged through the water while the canyon walls rose higher and higher above us.
After hiking for 9 miles through the cold canyon, we spent the night at Site 4 which was on an elevated chunk of land in case flash flooding occurred. I was so wiped out that as soon as we were done eating dinner, I climbed into the tent and fell asleep.
The next morning we quickly ate breakfast then set off down the river for the 7-mile hike out. Rain was in the forecast and we were told not to linger in the canyon in case of flooding. Nice. That will put your mind at ease!
The second day of hiking was considerably harder than the first: the water was deeper and more swift due to the many small creeks that join the Virgin River. The rocks seemed more slippery too - but maybe it was just my imagination! At least neither of us fell in.
16-miles downriver from where the shuttle dropped us off, we arrived at the Temple of Sinawava - the end of our hike.
The Narrows thru-hike was the highlight of the trip for Christian. For me, it was one of the hardest hikes I've ever done. Walking for two days through swift current on slippery rocks all the while wearing a heavy pack was both mentally and physically exhausting. The scenery was astounding but I'm not sure that I was fully able to enjoy it because of the difficulty of the hike. Have you hiked the Narrows? I would love to hear about your experience. Did you think it was hard?
Up next on our vacation: Observation Peak.