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What footwear for The Narrows Zion?
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marcelo mora
What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/02/2014 23:34:52 MDT Print View

So I was planning on going to the Narrows in June as short stop before seeing other parts of the park and I was wondering what are the best shoes to take for this trek? I'm not planning on doing the full thing, just something short and sweet. If I can land the first campsite I would stay there for a night and be happy. First camp I know of is a 15 minute trek and the next camp is another 15 minutes. I plan on staying on one of these camps and then just head back after a night. Can I get away with some water shoes or should I just wear my hiking shoes?

Edited by Ondeck on 04/02/2014 23:35:44 MDT.

Owen McMurrey
(OwenM) - F

Locale: SE US
Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/03/2014 01:48:47 MDT Print View

If you don't have at least half a day, or more, to commit to the Narrows, you're wasting your time. A "short stop" won't even get you to them, since you hike a mile before even getting into the river.
The standard Narrows dayhike is ~4 miles in to Big Springs and back out. Highly recommend Orderville Canyon up to the "turnaround" at Veiled Falls, as well.

You want supportive footwear in the Narrows, as you will be walking on submerged rocks of various shapes and sizes most of the time. The standard rental, the 5.10 Canyoneer, is ideal.

I don't know what campsites you're referring to, but there are none anywhere near the bottom of the Narrows-no camping below Big Springs.

Joe Braun's site is great for trip planning, with detailed maps and trail descriptions, plus tons of wonderful pics:

marcelo mora
thank you on 04/03/2014 06:57:18 MDT Print View

Thanks I'm looking into what you have told me.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/03/2014 07:27:28 MDT Print View

Mercelo, you got some bad info somewhere. The Narrows as a backpack is a point to point route. All the campsites are at least a couple (fast) hours from the drop-off point.

I'd recommend getting a reservation for a campsite (which is mandatory), reserving a spot on the Zion Adventure Co shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch (not cheap, but well run), and using a pair of your own non-waterproof trail shoes with good traction. The water won't be too cold come June, so a good pair of wool socks should provide adequate warmth. A pair of sturdy trekking poles is also mandatory. The rental shoes work well, but they don't fit everyone (they're super wide) and should be approached with caution.

If you have strong joints, good balance, and are used to walking on cobbles the Narrows will go pretty fast. It not, it can make for a slow and frustrating two day hike. In either case, there is plenty to see along the way. Two full days will not be time wasted.

Jon Fong
(jonfong) - F

Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/03/2014 07:54:46 MDT Print View

In June, you will have to watch the flowrate through the Narrows. I have had to cancel a trip because the flow was too high and they will not let you hike the Narrows. Also, you may be at the very beginning of monsoon season and will need to watch the weather as they will not issue permits if they expect flashflood.

I usually rent river shoe from Zion Outdoor Adventure. Have fun - Jon

marcelo mora
this is helping on 04/03/2014 08:17:32 MDT Print View

All this feed back is helping lots thank you.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Narrows on 04/03/2014 08:48:29 MDT Print View

"I'd recommend getting a reservation for a campsite (which is mandatory), reserving a spot on the Zion Adventure Co shuttle to Chamberlain Ranch (not cheap, but well run), and using a pair of your own non-waterproof trail shoes with good traction."

+1. This is the way to do it.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/03/2014 10:33:33 MDT Print View

I have not hiked the Zion narrows. But I have hiked hundreds of other canyons in Utah.
Standard footwear would be any cheap, but sturdy, running shoe or light weight hiker. Something with lots of mesh and non-gortex so it will dry out quicker. Low cut because when it fills up with water and mud there will be less of that to lift with each step. And cheap because when you let them dry out that mud will turn your shoes to something that does a good imitation of an adobe brick. After the trip you will not likely want to use them for anything but canyon hikes ever again. (however, it may be that Zion does not have the mud of other Utah canyons and I am wrong about some of the above)


Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Depends on the flow rate on 04/03/2014 11:19:34 MDT Print View

Bottom-up Narrows is a great dayhike. I would allocate at least 5 hours. You need to take the shuttle all the way to the end (Temple of Sinawava) then walk to the end of the Riverside walk, about a mile.

Haven't done it as a backpack BUT if I only had two days at Zion, I would personally use the second day for other hikes instead.

Hiking speed and gear, imo, really depends on that day's flow rate. If it's low, you'll be fine in well-draining trail shoes or a water sandal. I'm sure people do it in Teva-like sandals in summer but I'd want some sort of toe protection. If it's high (>95-100 cfs), I would rent the 5.10 Canyoneers from one of the outfitters in Springdale. I hiked it in November when the flow was 105cfs; wore drysuit, neoprene booties, 5.10's, the whole works.

You can call the Wilderness Desk for current flow, water temperature and weather forecast. There is flash risk here, so pay attention to the forecast. They or Zion Adventures will also have current beta on how deep the deepest pockets are; decide on dry bags and/or packs accordingly. Pockets up to my armpits when I went; we swam/floated large portions of it back in our drysuits in 34deg water... that was a trip!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Just did that. on 04/03/2014 11:22:05 MDT Print View

My 9-year-old daughter and I hiked up the Narrows about 45 minutes (after the end of the trail) and returned to the car. It is about 70% walking in ankle- to calf-deep water if you pick the right route, the remaining 30% is river bank and sand/gravel bars. There are deeper spots, some MUCH deeper, and that might be inviting by mid-summer, but I found it easier to avoid those.

In mid March, flow was low (55-60 cfs) but cold (40F). It was late in the day with no direct sunlight and due to the early season, the rocks weren't radiating heat from prior sun exposure. We used fleece or thicker Smartwool socks inside of low-cut hiking shoes or secure water shoes. With those cold temps, neoprene socks would have been better and neoprene wetsuit booties would have been ideal, but the wool socks sufficed for our shorter trip. My daughter had a shortie wet suit over a rash guard long-sleeve top and a expedition-weight polypro bottoms (which made for an okay wetsuit bottom, not as good as snug fitting neoprene, but we had it and it fit well). I wore shorts, two light shirts, and a fleece pullover.

We didn't use hiking sticks, but I held her hand in faster-current stretches. On my own, one or two trekking poles would have let me go faster. With her, I wanted one of my hands free to hold one hand of hers.

The rental gear that virtually everyone else had on looked odd - pretty clunky footwear, drysuits that seemed overkill, even in late Winter (everyone had them mostly unzipped, so they wouldn't have been very dry, if they fell), and the poles weren't Black Diamond Trekking Poles. They were a six-foot length of wooden closet rod with a strap attached. Sure, it worked, (and lack of any basket is a GOOD thing among the rocks and cobbles) but, heck, buy a beater broom at Goodwill and saw the handle off - it will be lighter yet plenty strong enough. Some of the renters looked a little sheepish in their over-kill gear as a little girl and a guy in shorts went by. (Disclaimer: it was a little girl whose school insists on "outside recess" down to -10F, so she's not a temperature weenie).

A great way to fine-tune your gear: before the leaving the parking area (oh, yeah, you'll be there when there's no private vehicle access) is to eyeball what the people returning are wearing and ask if their gear was too much, too little or just right.

I find that my shoes clean up pretty well. Most shoes do if you just run them through the laundry with any modern detergent. Then a low-heat drier or just air dry them (as Alaskans, we have lots of Peet Shoe Dryers around, but you probably don't).

Here's Phoebe heading upstream last month:

Phoebe in Zion Narrows

Edited by DavidinKenai on 04/03/2014 11:31:06 MDT.

Anton Solovyev
(solovam) - F

Locale: Colorado, Utah
Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/04/2014 00:03:56 MDT Print View

I have done Narrows as a day hike, top to bottom. A couple of times down from Orderville. Would like to do an overnight this year. June is good, provided flows are not too high (which won't be this year). The hotter the better.

Can't remember how long it took, it's about 16 miles or so of wading they say. I think with the standard Zion Adventure Company shuttle (recommended!) I was out by 2? or 4? Not sure.

Any hiking shoe works. Good traction on slick rock is a bonus, Vibram or equivalent sole is good. Hiking poles! May be essential in higher flows and if water is cloudy. Pretty much required I would say. Dry bag your gear, for you may swim in-voluntarily.

I always wear wet suit in Narrows (from the big spring), even if it's 105F in the main canyon. That way, when everyone is avoiding water I will go and splash into every swimmer. In fact, in higher flows floating on your pack with current is a lot of fun! Just lay on your back and float, using feet to move through shallower spots.

It's a water park.

There are even some fun jumpers from larger rocks into deeper pools (careful). Don't try to jump the waterfall, bad. There's a walk around on the left. Don't underestimate the seriousness if the flow is too high. It is COLD in cold water.

Permits are a pain, be aware. Narrows is awesome any time you are there. Easily one of top 5 hikes on Colorado plateau.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Re: What footwear for The Narrows Zion? on 04/04/2014 08:27:46 MDT Print View

I day hiked from the bottom at the end of May several years back. Synthetic hikers worked for me as there are big rocks you may not see as you plant your foot. Just squeeze them dry when you hit a sandbar. I'd go with the a more stout wooden pole instead of hiking poles if going upstream. The nearby outdoor shop actually told me I did not need a wetsuit that time of year but people were still wearing them (was impressed as they could have rented a suit to me and I would not have known).

Elena Lee
(lenchik101) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest (USA)
Hiked the Narrows in regular running shoes. on 04/08/2014 12:00:02 MDT Print View

I"ve through hiked the Narrows in two days (camping in the middle) while pregnant in Nike running shoes and merino socks. You don't need those bulk river or special shoes! My friend wore closed toe sandals.

All those folks wearing the water shoes where sitting on boulders with the shoes off taking care of their blisters, while we flew through with happy feet.

I'm assuming if you have good balance and trekking poles you won't need anything more with good drainable trail runners with good grip.

Have fun!Zion Narrows

Edited by lenchik101 on 04/08/2014 12:08:23 MDT.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
+1 for Old Running Shoes on 04/08/2014 18:59:10 MDT Print View

Most people in Arizona's river canyons (Buckskin/Pariah, Aravaipa, etc.) are just wearing old running shoes, which work perfectly.

And if they get ruined from the mud, you won't feel too badly about not ever getting them clean again!

(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: on 04/08/2014 22:52:13 MDT Print View

I've done the whole narrows top to bottom in trail runners and also in teva sandals. I did it solo, you can get reservations or risk getting walk up permits for camping (get to the ranger station at 4am). Top to bottom is easy, I fly down, bottom to top is very slow. As a plan B get a day hiking permit to the Subway!

marcelo mora
Really good advice! on 04/08/2014 23:24:48 MDT Print View

Yes I do plan at getting there at 4 am for a walk up permit, if that fails then yes I'll do the subway or Angels landing that day. And I'll be attempting to do this in Salomon Men's Speedcross 3 Trail Running Shoes with wool socks for the whole duration of the trip. I plan to see other parts of Zion and possibly Utah in general.

Edited by Ondeck on 04/08/2014 23:27:42 MDT.