Bucket List-Zion Narrows “Top-Down”

Two weeks ago I got to mark off #2 item on my Bucket List.  Zion Narrows Hike in Zion NP, Utah.  About three years ago in June 2010 my BFF and I had everything booked and ready to hike this amazing place called Zion Narrows.  But Mother Nature was not on our side.  Even though all the bookings of hotel and permits were ready the Narrows were closed due to the water level of the Virgin River being too high and unsafe to walk through.  Our only option was to explore the other hikes that Zion NP had to offer:

  • Angels Landing (2.6 Miles-The top 3 most dangerous hike in the US in the rain)
  • Observation Point (8.1 Miles-A hike to the highest point in Zion National Park via Weeping Rock Trail)
  • Emerald Pool Trail (3 Miles roundtrip-from Lower to Upper Pools)

This time around our sole focus was The Zion Narrows “Top-Down”.  The route is a 18-20 mile backpacking adventure.  Starting from Chamberlain’s Ranch outside the northeastern corner of Zion National Park. We had to rent a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company to drive us to the Trail head.  The drive itself to is 1.5 hour rough ride to the top of the canyons.  There is no other options but to use a shuttle service since there is no parking lot up there as well as retrieving your vehicle after the hike because you end up at the West end of the park.  This is the longer and less popular way to hike the Zion Narrows but it is quite a rewarding experience to see the beauty of the upper North Fork as it slowly transforms into the majestic and deep slot canyon that opens into the main canyon in Zion.  Elevation is 1500-ft gradual descent down the river to the Temple of Sinawava Trail head.

The first thing you need is a permit to camp overnight.  It is a lottery system that has to be applied 3-month in advance before your hike date.   They have 12 campsites that can accommodate from 2-12 people.    We were all glued to our monitors on the day of the lottery and between us we were lucky enough to get the campsite we requested.   Since there were 10 of us we needed to get campsite is #12.  This is the last campsite on the route so we needed to hike about 11 miles on the first day.  Then second day there will be fewer miles to cover but more strenuous with deeper water.  Which would slow down our pace.  We were lucky because the water level never went above my waist (5’3).  The views of the canyon got even more colorful with oranges, red, and dark red.

To do this hike with my amazing friends was priceless.  If you guys ever get the opportunity check this park out don’t miss it.  You can always go into the Narrows about 4-5 miles in from the Temple of Sinawava and get spectacular slot canyon views as well.




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