Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Wed June 15 2016

Opinion Home | Are We There Yet: Tips For Family Trips

  • Janeen Christoff | June 15, 2016 7:00 PM ET

    Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park

    Hiking the Narrows in Zion National Park

     PHOTO: Hiking the Narrows is an excellent way to beat the summer heat. (photo courtesy of Janeen Christoff) 

    Heading out this summer to experience some of the country’s national parks? Put Zion on your list. The compact Utah park is doable within a couple of days and can be enjoyed for as long as a week — or even two. But one of its best attributes is that Zion has so many easy, family-friendly hikes — and quite possibly one of the coolest hikes in the country, literally.

    The Narrows is the smallest section of Zion Canyon with walls as high as 1,000 feet and filled from side to side by the Virgin River. When you are hiking the Narrows, you are hiking in the water up-river so get ready to get your feet wet. It’s the perfect place to cool off after after an afternoon or morning of hiking.

    To get to the Narrows, take the Zion park shuttle to the last stop, the Temple of Sinawava. From there, follow the Riverwalk trail for one mile to the opening of the Narrows and follow the river up from there. One of the things that makes this hike ideal is that you can go for as long or as short of a hike as you like. The mile in along the river is an easy, paved trail that is suitable for just about anyone – even those in a wheelchair. 

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    When hiking the Narrows, make sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks. There’s a number of places to perch on a rock and have a bite to eat along the way. Also, the weather within the canyon can be unpredictable and the water is cool, so pack a jacket and make sure to wear water shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. The water levels fluctuate depending on the time of year and the depth of the gorge, so you should pretty much plan on getting soaked — but that’s what makes the hike so fun.

    For truly adventurous families, you can obtain a permit to hike the approximately 10 miles of the gorge downriver from top to bottom, sleeping for one or two nights in the gorge. The hike leaves from Chamberlain’s Ranch.

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    Hiking in the gorge is best in the summer months when the water levels are lower and the water is warmer — but visitors should be careful and watch the weather for flash floods.

    In the winter and early spring, the water levels can be high and temperatures can be chilly but the hike is still accessible.

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Janeen Christoff Are We There Yet: Tips For Family Trips

Janeen Christoff Janeen Christoff caught the travel bug while living in London, England. After two years on the road, she settled in Los Angeles and focused her writing on what she loved best — exploring the world. Today, she’s a well-traveled mother of two, an adventurer and a world wanderer who writes about destinations around the world for Want to know where she is headed next? Check out her blog at
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