Kayaking the Narrows in Zion National Pa

I was just in Zion’s National Park this weekend, doing some hiking and camping with friends, and we wanted to hike the narrows. It is too early in the year right now, because the snowmelt has flooded the area and it is unsafe. However, I got the idea that it might be cool to kayak the narrows. I’m not sure if this is allowed though. I know that paddling.net has trip reports for the areas below the narrows (Temple of Sinawava to Springdale), but what about the areas above the Narrows and through the Narrows? Anyone ever done that or have any information on whether it is allowed and possible?


The Virgin River Narrows
I do not know if paddling there is allowed; clear of obstacles, very obstructed; or …??? However, I do know that being a small river it would be ideal for pack rafting. Are you familiar with these little craft? Here is an article which will give you a good idea of what they are and what you can do in them http://www.backpacker.com/article/1,2646,7785,00.html.

If you find out anything about paddling the Virgin I would be very interested in being part of a pack raft group to run that little stretch of river.

Doug Van Etten

Anchorage, Alaska


Its not LEAGAL according to National Park Laws but that doesnt mean you cant do it.

Note: Breaking a law in a National Park is a federal offense thus one is punished under Fed courts.

Good Luck let me know how it was!


I’m not sure I want to tempt fate…I have enough legal issues as it is. If it weren’t such a high-profile and popular park maybe I would do it. But in the summer months, when it would actually be possible and not suicidal (spring would be suicide with the flooding from snowmelt I think) there are too many people hiking the Narrows to even fathom doing it without some attention. Perhaps I’ll call the Ranger Station there and ask what they think about issuing a single weekend permit or something. Thanks for the help though.

Good idea

– Last Updated: Mar-17-05 11:38 AM EST –

Cover your @ss by asking them if it's allowed. A friend and I were bicycling along a loop in Death Valley. Off the side was a mini-badlands area where only hiking was allowed (big sign stating NO VEHICLES). Just as I rode by, a guy whose 4x4 was sitting in the parking lot suddenly drove off onto the untracked badlands. Lots of tourists driving by on the same loop, sightseeing. By the time we'd returned for a 2nd lap on this short loop, the rangers were already ticketing the guy who'd driven off road. My friend turned to me and said, "He'll have to come back to California when he goes to court."

Could be a long trip for a stupid act.

i doubt
It would be a cold day in hell before they issue a single day permit. Zion lost a 10 million dollar lawsuit because of some inexpereinced boyscout troop lost two members while canyoneering.

If you died your kin folk would do the same.

There is nothing in it for the national park by having you kayak it.

Why not hike it??? Ive done some great slot canyon hiking in which i wear a life jacket and just float on my back for two days through the canyons.

I read about that case
There was also the time that a family sued Yellowstone NP because their kid ran or fell off the boardwalk and into the thermal pools–signs everywhere warning about it, but I guess some parents view NPS as omnipresent babysitter. These parents wanted to force NPS to put up fences around EVERY dangerous feature: thermals, cliffs, wildlife areas…h3ll, just make everything a giant cage for humans who can’t think for themselves.

I sure hope those people don’t take up kayaking.

Your PFD-float idea sounds like a fun day trip. I might try that but I’ll make sure to be careful who I mention it to, lest that become a forbidden activity.

not that long a trip
not THAT long a trip back if I get in trouble cause I live 4 hours north of Zion’s now. But you guys are probably right. And there are plenty of other cool rivers to kayak anyways.

Virgin narrows
I dont know about the legality of kayaking the actual Narrows but Kayaking the Virgin River in the Park IS legal. The flow must be 140 cfs or above. You also need to check in at the wilderness desk to tell them what you are planning on doing and get a permit. I know the Narrows has been done in kayaks more than a few times. It is not technicaly too difficult but the risk of rounding a corner and finding a tree accross the river with no exit poses a very real problem. The reason I was told you 140 cfs by the ranger was to protect some species of fish that lives in the river. Probably the dumbest reason I have ever heard next to the holy Arroyo Toad of southern California. They wont let a boat on the river below 140 cfs but will let thousands of people tample up and down the river every day of the summer. I have kayaked the Virgin from the the Temple of Siewa to the park boundry several times and it is well worth taking your boat to do it. I have also wanted to do the Narrows and I think one of these years i will probably get around to doing it. Do some research, be safe and good luck.


What kind of permits/prior notice to the park are needed? I don’t really plan on doing it anymore, too many other local trips to take prior to that, but I’d like to know just in case I’m headed down to Zion’s again anytime.

I just showed up the day before or morning of and got a permit. You will have no problem getting one. It’s not like there are a ton of people trying to do this run. Also the shuttle is easy for the run through the park. Just throw your boat on the bus and they take you to the put in. It is easy.