Bucket List Item: The Full Narrows, Top-Down
It was very long overdue, but I can finally and proudly cross “hike the full Narrows” off of my bucket list. Before getting into any specifics, I can comfortably tell you it was one the most memorable, enjoyable, and beautiful things I have ever done in my life. Here are some descriptions, highlights, and thoughts on my 2-day, overnight, top-down hike of The Narrows in Zion National Park.
I remember thinking beforehand that a 17-mile hike sounded daunting, but the prospect of hiking through water made it much more appealing than embarking on a traditional dusty and sun-drenched hike, even though I knew that the hike was legendary and the scenery was sure to be spectacular. Fortunately, I was correct in my assumption. The perpetual presence of water, though presenting its own challenges, was a welcome and much-appreciated characteristic of the hike. I loved being able to dip my hat in the water and place it back on my head as often as I liked, not to mention submerging my whole body in sections where it was deep enough. Counteracting the heat was easy, to say the least. I was also incredibly happy about my decision to rent canyoneering boots, neoprene socks, a waterproof backpack, and a walking staff from Zion Outfitter in Springdale. The equipment turned out to be invaluable and I don’t know if I would ever do it again without it. I mean, I would if the option wasn’t available for some reason, but I’d be sad because it made the whole experience so much more comfortable overall. The rental prices are very reasonable and totally worth it, in my opinion.
One of the best and most remarkable aspects of the top-down Narrows hike is that there isn’t one single moment in its entire duration where you can’t look in any direction and see something incredible. The whole thing is utterly magnificent. The towering multicolored cliff walls are so perfect that it seems that the Earth consciously carved out this canyon purely for our enjoyment and wonder. I found myself often reaching out and placing my palm on the stone wall, just to feel it. Throughout the day as the sun changes position, different parts of the canyon walls are highlighted naturally creating ever-changing views. Drinking directly from the river using a water filter that I purchased for this hike also added to the overall feeling of connectedness to the surroundings.
The Narrows is more than just river rocks and flowing water. There are sections of lush vegetation that create environments seemingly taken right out of a fantasy film. Big Springs, in particular, fits this description and was, maybe, my most favorite particular location along the way. The depth of the water more than exceeded my height so we all took our gear off and swam. We climbed up the mossy rock platforms to touch the pouring waterfall as close to its source as we could safely reach, came back down, and waded some more. In all honesty, the whole endeavor is worth it just on the merits of Big Springs alone. It’s that amazing.
Staying over night in one of the riverside campsites was also a great decision. There are a limited number of sites that all require a reservation, but falling asleep to the soft sound of rushing water after having eaten a dehydrated meal with the help of a propane stove is up there with the best joys in life.
All in all, hiking the full Narrows was a major highlight of my life and I very much hope that I get the opportunity to do it again. Pull out your bucket list and add this to it, if you haven’t already.
Thanks again to Zion Outfitter for enhancing the quality of my Narrows experience tenfold with their fantastic equipment. I’ll be recommending you in all my Narrows conversations.