Last Minute Hike For the Fall: Zion Narrows

Last minute packer? Same. Trying to be more adventurous? Me too. In a world of Google calendars, planned time off, and scheduling everything, it can be a breath of fresh air to say “let’s go hike there” and actually do it

That being said, most hikes require permits, camping equipment, and a bit of planning beforehand. I’ve put together this guide on day hiking the Zion Narrows from bottom up, that is perfect for last minute adventurers who want to spend the day in awe of thousand-foot sandstone walls guiding you through a beautiful river hike.

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Find me a more scenic hike, I’ll wait.

What Is The Zion Narrows Day Hike:

The “bottom up” trail  is an out-and-back hike, allowing hikers to travel 5 miles before hitting Big Spring, a picturesque waterfall to rest and eat a final snack before heading back. To experience the narrows “top down” requires a permit and more planning. But we’re being spontaneous and last minute, so day hike it is.

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The waterfall end point marking when to turn around.

When To Visit The Zion Narrows:

Late summer/early fall is ideal. I went the first week of October and it was perfect. Apparently, there were flash flood warnings the week before so it’s best to check weather conditions online before heading out. Mid-late October and even early November would provide less crowds, but chillier weather so prepare accordingly with layers. Even though it was warm when I went, the canyon is mostly shaded and the sun doesn’t directly hit you for the majority of the hike.

Top Tips for Hiking the Zion Narrows:

  • Start Early. The earlier you can start the better for two reasons. Less crowds and more time in daylight before rushing back before it gets dark. This is especially important if you visit in late fall when the days get shorter. Shuttles run every 10-15 minutes from the visitor center to the trail head, with the first one leaving at 6am. The early bird gets the worm! (and the more beautiful photos without people in them).
  • Rent Gear. Unless you have really sturdy canyoning shoes and neoprene socks at home, I recommend dropping the $25 to rent them, along with a sturdy hiking pole. If it’s forecasted to be chillier, you can also rent their Gore-Tex dry pants for an extra $20. I went through Zion Adventures and they had quality equipment, helpful staff, and fair prices. They also provide a pre-hike informational video with solid advice and provide up-to-date weather conditions to ensure that you’re hiking safely and comfortably.
  • Pack everything in waterproof plastic bags. The water height can range from being at your ankles all the way up to your waist. There was a moment where I was carrying my backpack on my head to keep everything dry. With the slippery rocks and likelihood of falling, I highly recommend putting your valuables (and food) in airtight bags. Because nothing is worse than a soggy sandwich after hiking all day.
  • Take your time, but not too much. It can be tempting to rush past all the tourists and race to the end, but as mentioned earlier, you’re wading through water on uneven rocks. The last thing you want to deal with is a twisted ankle or a more severe injury from a nasty fall. Plus, it’s not like it’s easy for emergency services to make it up to you, so better to be safe than sorry. On the same note, don’t go too slow. Set a time to turn around, and stick to it. The last thing you want is to come back in the dark, especially as the tide rises and the current becomes more forceful. Not something you want to deal with at the end of your hike with a tired body.

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Inspired to visit the Zion Narrows? It’s not too late to make a visit. Invite me and I just might join you…

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