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USA Zion Narrows

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It’s easy and accurate to say that a place changes with the time of day and the seasons. I’ve done the Narrows “bottom up” hike many times including every season and continue to be amazed. The direct light and reflected light off the 2000 feet high canyon walls is spectacular. I can’t imagine anywhere where the angle of the sun changes the colors of the landscape so dramatically. At every bend in the river/canyon the view is magnificent.

Photography Tips

ND filters and polarizing filters can be helpful. Best light is between 10AM and 3PM but that’s also when the crowds are the heaviest. For the solitude that makes the Zion Narrows truly magical, it’s best to begin your hike by 7AM in the summer or as late as you can in the afternoon and still be able to get back to the shuttle stop in time to catch a shuttle. So pick your poison. I prefer the early start. That way I can be far ahead of the crowd and be a couple of miles up canyon for some amazing mid-morning light. Personally, I like to hike the Narrows when the flow rate is <72 CFS. I’ve done it when the flow rate was around 30 CFS and it was great. Its so much easier when you’re heading upstream and makes it a breeze when you’re heading downstream toward the trailhead. Obviously, the higher the flow rate, the more difficult and tiresome it will be to make your way through the water. Winter is a great time to hike the Narrows. There are VERY few people and when it’s cold enough, there are frozen waterfalls throughout the canyon. Sturdy water shoes and neoprene socks are a good idea. The water is very cold year round and you’re frequently walking on slippery bowling ball sized submerged rocks. A trekking pole (or two) is also a must. There are eight or ten outfitters in Springdale (just outside the south entrance to Zion) who will rent everything you need for $25 to $30 US for a day hike. For hiking during the winter, they’ll rent dry suits for a bit more. Also, bring something to protect your gear. Most of the hike is in the Virgin River. Slipping, tripping, and falling in the water is common. If you don’t fall, you’ll definitely see others who will. Most importantly, check with park rangers at the Zion National Park Visitor Center before entering the Narrows for water flow rate and the possibility for flash flooding. Floods have killed a number of people here.

Travel Information

When the free shuttle is running (which is all but a month or two in the winter) ride the shuttle to the last shuttle stop at the “Temple of Sinawava”. Walk the one mile (paved) “Riverside Walk” to the entrance to the Narrows. Day hikers are permitted to go up canyon as far as Big Springs (about 5 miles/8 km).
Spot Type Outdoor
Crowd Factor Lots of people
Best Timing Sunrise during fall
Sunrise & Sunset 06:20 - 20:54 | current local time: 15:54
Photo Themes Slot Canyon
Locations Zion National Park

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Thank you Gary Leverett for creating this photo spot in USA.
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