Beyond the end of the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive at the Temple of Sinawava, the walls of the main canyon close in to form the famous Zion Narrows, an amazing section of canyon that stretches for over a dozen miles to the north. The North Fork of the Virgin River carves and snakes through the deep sandstone labyrinth with a vast network of remote side canyons and tributaries. Hiking the Zion Narrows is the highlight of many vacationers' experiences in Zion, following the river from the high plateau down through the wondrous slot sections and back out to civilization in the main canyon. Several popular technical canyoneering routes descend through the various tributaries of the Zion Narrows.

THE ZION NARROWS: OverviewZion Narrows

The North Fork of the Virgin River (aka "The Zion Narrows") is probably one of the most legendary canyons to hike in all of Zion National Park. The Zion Narrows is the section of the Virgin River just upstream from the Temple of Sinawava (the end of the road up the main canyon). Here, the majestic walls of the main canyon close in to form a tall and narrow canyon with beautiful dark corners and the Virgin River flowing around you. With beautiful flowing water and barely any direct sunlight reaching the bottom, this is the slot canyon that all other slot canyons are compared to.
Overview of Hiking Routes...

Rating: moderately strenuous/strenuous river hiking. a Zion classicZion Narrows Day Hike

For tourists or casual hikers who want to see the best of the Zion Narrows, this is the route to do. Starting at the Temple of Sinawava, you can hike up the Riverside Walk trail and then continue hiking right up the river to see some of the best "narrows" sections of the North Fork of the Virgin River. Hike up as far as you want to go and then turn around and retrace your steps. A side hike up Orderville Canyon is also a good detour to see even more amazing slot canyon scenery.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: strenuous river hiking/backpacking. a Zion classicbackpacking routeZion Narrows Top-Down Backpacking

Starting from Chamberlain's Ranch outside the northern corner of Zion National Park, the North Fork can be hiked top-down from the upper plateau. This is the longer and less popular way to hike the Zion Narrows, but it is quite a rewarding experience to see the more subtle beauty of the the upper North Fork as it slowly transforms into the majestic and deep slot canyon that opens into the main canyon in Zion. This route is usually done as a two-day backpacking trip and is a magical experience.
Hiking Guide  Photos

Rating: strenuous hiking/semi-technical canyoneering. a Zion classictechnical canyoneering routeOrderville Canyon, Zion National Park

Orderville Canyon is the amazing little sister to the famous Zion Narrows and is a good long day hike for beginning canyoneers. The lower sections can be explored as a side hike from the Zion Narrows, but the much better way is to do the top-down "semi-technical" canyoneering route. This hike involves two short rappels, several short swims, and a lot of downclimbs over boulders and rock formations. The canyon is tall, narrow, dark and wonderfully mysterious, and it is well worth the effort that it takes to get through it all!
Canyoneering Guide  Photos

Rating: fairly strenuous technical canyoneering. a Zion classictechnical canyoneering routeMystery Canyon

Mystery Canyon is indeed a mystery... a deep and beautiful hanging canyon that feeds into the bigger Zion Narrows. This "hike" is one of the the crown-jewel canyoneering adventures in Zion National Park, featuring a steep and intimidating entrance, numerous rappels in beautiful dark sculpted narrows, an enormous landslide/rockfall obstacle in the middle of the canyon, and two big-wall rappels near the end that really get your attention. The grand finale is the rappel down Mystery Falls that lands you right in the Zion Narrows only a quarter of a mile upstream from the Temple of Sinawava.
Canyoneering Guide  Photos

Rating: fairly strenuous technical canyoneering. technical canyoneering routeBirch Hollow

Located on BLM land near the eastern boundary of Zion National Park, Birch Hollow is a usually dry tributary of Orderville Canyon and it makes for an enjoyable canyoneering adventure with its convenient start right along the North Fork Road. The route through Birch Hollow is only two miles in length, but with roughly 11 rappels up to 100 feet, this fun little adventure should be taken seriously. Birch Hollow has gained quite a bit of popularity over the past decade and many guiding services take people through this canyon. Please obey all posted rules at the trailheads to guarantee continued access in the future.
Canyoneering Guide  Photos

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Hiking symbols used for descriptions:
a Zion classic ZION CLASSIC: a must-do hike if you want to see the best of Zion!
family-friendly FAMILY-FRIENDLY: a good choice for those with children who like to hike.
backpacking route BACKPACKING: a route enjoyable as a multi-day hike.
technical canyoneering or climbing route TECHNICAL: canyoneering or scrambling route requiring technical gear and climbing and/or rappelling experience. Not suitable for casual hikers.

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