The Narrows: A Mind-Expanding Experience

IMG_0652IMG_0636I am returning today after a glorious time in Utah and hiking the Zion National Park. My last day hiking with my son Jack was “The Narrows,” a famous river trail that takes you through some of the most truly breathtaking rock formations in the world.

IMG_0658The Narrows is a trail cut by the Virgin River that is some 16 miles long and up to 2,000-feet deep. My iPhone photos hardly do it justice. At points, the Narrows is only 20 feet wide and you have to crawl under or over rocks. The majority of the trail is in water that ranges from knee-level to chest-level. You go through canyons where you hear hundreds of nesting birds in the cliff face and other parts where the water between the massive sandstone boulders makes an eerie clicking and thumping sound.

IMG_0661Jack and I hiked the trail all the way up to the waterfall, which is where the rangers ask you to turn back. We also took a side river hike that was equally beautiful but even more challenging in climbing over small waterfalls. The water was 56 degrees. We opted not to rent the dry pants but we did rent special boots and socks. Frankly, you can get by with good boots. The rental boots ripped up our feet and in the end we were cursing them more than praising them. The use of the pants really depends on your tolerance for cold. The 56 degree water did not bother us though Jack (with considerably less body fat) was chilled when we were in the darker portions of the Narrows. We did run across one woman who needed help with what looked like hypothermia. Other hikers had wrapped her in special silver foil blanket and her friends were helping her out.

What was essential was a good watching stick. The hike is aptly described as walking miles in water on submerged bowling balls. We both took a couple of spills along the way. We were dead tired when we finally made it back but the hike was overwhelmingly beautiful.

IMG_0659IMG_0670Hiking Zion has been a lifelong dream and it did not disappoint. We hiked its peaks and its narrows. I can only recommend that anyone with the time or opportunity should visit this truly unique place. But, if you can, bring a friend or loved one. There are some scenes of such beauty that are so immense and so indescribable that you just need to turn to someone to help comprehend it all. I am very sorry to leave this place but I am so very happy that I was able to see and experience it firsthand.

19 thoughts on “The Narrows: A Mind-Expanding Experience”

  1. My wife and I did that same trip in dry suits in mid Dcember a few tears back. We saw no other people during he hike.

    It will always be fondly remembered as one of my greatest accomplishments in life.

  2. No offense Mr Turley, but you are putting on a few pounds and we need you around for awhile yet. Please check the sugar intake.

    I do not wish to hurt feelings, I just view your health as of grave importance to this nation.

  3. No rangers this time?

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Looks an awesome place and one that I’ve got to visit at some point.

    I appreciate you bringing attention to our National Parks. These remarkable places of national heritage are under pressure from budget cuts, developers, privatizers, and pollution.

    Anyone who cares about natural areas should encourage their preservation.

  4. What a great experience. Zion is a place I’ve wanted to see for years.

    1. Mike – when you go find a town/city to center in and then see Bryce, Zion, Monument Valley, Capital Reef and Canyonlands. A must see is a hike to Horseshoe Canyon with some of the spookiest rock paintings you have ever seen. You will believe in aliens after this. Dinosaur Park is fun and educational if you have the time.

  5. Wonderful pictures, but I don’t think I could deal with the cold water.

    1. rafflaw – you adjust to not being able to feel your limbs. 🙂

  6. Oh if only hiking and walking would cure sick minds and hearts, there is strong evidence it doesn’t, sadly. Our most agitated violent patients on the psych ward were pacers, frantically walking up and down hallways for hours and hours when they weren’t attacking others. I do however think that troubled minds that aren’t beyond help can benefit from fresh air and natural beauty.

  7. I know some people who do not understand we are body mind and spirit. Our culture is out of balance in those fundamental aspects of us all. In going from a physical labor economy to a technological one, we have become more sedentary. Our grandparents and parents were doing physical work during the day. They came home physically tired. Exercise was not very important. We, for the most part, come home mentally and emotionally tired. Then we sit, eat, and watch TV, computer, read. I “got religion” as my wise doc says it ~20 years ago. Hiking/walking has saved my life. It reinforces ones positive nature and can even turn a negative person into a positive one. There is such an unbelievable feeling to work hard, enjoying the physical work, and being physically exhausted at the end. But, to accomplish that in the wondrous beauty of Southern Utah, well I’ve been there and know exactly how you and your son felt yesterday. A little sore today! Thanks for sharing your father/son trip. I took them w/ my son. He has told me he remembers those more than anything.

  8. Both the experience and the natural world that facilitated the experience is worth preserving.

  9. Professor – I only have pic of the entry to the canyon and a few yards up. I have a new point-and-shoot I would take further up, but I have two expensive camera I would NOT take on this hike. 🙂 Glad you and Jack enjoyed it.

  10. 99 – turning back is optional at any point if I remember accurately. It is a hike taken by some in varying degrees. My wife has gotten knee deep and quit. I quit when it got hip deep. It is a great hike.

  11. Do you have more photos posted anywhere ? Does the river heat up by the end of July ? Is turning back at the waterfall optional ?

  12. What a great vacation. Jack is quite fortunate in being able to experience this at a young age.

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