Hiking the Narrows

Monday, June 30

The Narrows, wow.


Today, four co-workers and I got up bright and early, entered the park, and caught the Zion Canyon shuttle to the end of the line, the stop known as the Temple of Sinawava.

This stop has two trails, the first is the paved Riverside Walk, which as one might guess follows the Virgin River at the bottom of the increasingly narrow canyon. It’s 2.2 miles round trip and wheelchair accessible. If you go in the morning or in the evening, it’s even quite shaded by the surrounding walls. If you go when it’s warm, it’s perfectly legal to get off the trail and into the water, there are a few spots along the trail where the river gets deep enough to wade in.

When you come to the end of the paved Riverside Walk, the second trail begins, known as the Narrows.


Hiking the Narrows isn’t like hiking any other trail in the park. You’re walking, and wading in the river over 60% of the time, and possibly swimming occasionally if the water is high enough. Here the canyon walls close in to an impressive gorge that runs 16 miles long, up to 2,000 feet deep, and at times only 20 feet wide. Besides the soaring sandstone walls, it’s also got natural springs, hanging gardens, and waterfalls. It is quite frankly, one of the most visually impressive hikes I’ve done in my life.

There are a lot of safety precautions to think about. The water is cold, in the mid 60’s when I went, the current is swift in places, the rocks underneath can be slippery, and flash flooding is a very real danger when it rains upstream. Be sure to stop in at the Visitor’s Center to check water levels before you go, they do close it down if the conditions get too dangerous.


We did the day hike version, walking upstream from the Riverside Walk as far as we felt like going and then turning around and walking back. With a special park permit you can also get a private shuttle to the top of the canyon and walk all 16 miles down to the bottom, either in one day or with a two-day permit staying a maximum of one night.

I estimated that we walked about two, maybe two and a half miles up. We made it to the Orderville Canyon split, and followed this tributary up a couple waterfalls. This tributary is where I ended up getting most of my good pictures, because there were a lot less crowds. And what a lot of neat stuff to photograph. The tall canyon with overhangs, the trees growing alone the river, giant boulders that must have sounded like an earthquake when they fell, columbine flowers growing on the walls. If I hadn’t been with a group, I probably would have lingered longer, but some people needed to be back at a certain time. Luckily being here all season, I’ll have ample opportunity to come back!


Orderville canyon is also narrower than the main one, and gets deeper. The water level was lower today than it sometimes is, but getting to the last waterfall I had to wade up to my armpits, bag held over my head to protect my phone. I call it the last waterfall, because it was too tall to climb up, we’d found the end of the line. But it sure made a good end point with the blue water falling into a pool at the base deep enough to swim in. Ahh, how refreshing after a long hike.

Then we had to turn around and get all the way back out. Oh well, at least the current was on our side this time. Grand total, we hiked about six and a half miles in five hours, not bad! And what a lovely way to spend a day off from work.


* * *

I’m a bit behind on comments and e-mails right now, so for those of you waiting for responses, they’re coming, thanks for your patience. I don’t get internet in the campground, and it’s not always running at work either so expect that while I’m out here in Zion responses won’t be as speedy. Speaking of work, some of you have been curious about it so let me give you a little more detail.

As I said before, I work at the Zion Mountain Ranch Trading Post, which is less than a mile from the park’s east entrance. It’s a gift shop and part of Zion Mountain Ranch, which includes about 12,000 acres of land with three distinct properties on it. The trading post also has an old fashioned two-pump gas station, a simple deli style eatery that offers sandwiches and pizza, and the campground across the road. I help with all of those except the deli, having no cooking skills.

I’m working 40 hours a week right now, and could be working more if I wanted to. I found the job through Workamper News, the ranch hires quite a few work campers, not all of which stick around because the work is physically hard. Well, I don’t think it’s harder than any other retail job I’ve done, but not everyone can stand on their feet for an 8 hour shift and not everyone can handle the fast pace of a tourism job in the busy season. At the Trading Post itself, the manager is still looking for one more person, possibly two, so if any of you reading are interested, I can put you in contact with her.


As far as jobs go, it’s not bad. I’ve gotten along with everyone thus far which I think is a very important in a seasonal job. The pay is $8.50 an hour, $26 is deducted from my paycheck every two weeks for the full hookup site which is better than a lot of places. The facilities are clean and showers are free, laundry costs $3.00 total to wash and dry a load. There is no meal plan, but employees do get 25% off items in the shop and I believe discounts at the restaurant up the road. And of course the real perk, being so close to Zion – employees get a free park pass, and from here it’s not too far to Bryce, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, and several other beautiful places.

* * *

And last but not least, thank you to everyone who reads IO, and contributes to this site by commenting, mentioning me on various RVing communities, and of course through donating through Paypal and using my Amazon affiliate link to do your Amazon shopping. Every one of these things helps keep me on the road, spending less time working and more time traveling and sharing the adventure with you. June’s income was $193.62, thanks!


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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Furry Gnome on July 9, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Sounds like an amazing place; glad you’re blue to enjoy it!

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm


  2. Troy on July 8, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing! It looks like it was an incredible day. It’s amazing how many places there are out there for us to enjoy like The Narrows, but most people just follow the same path every day to and from the 9-5.

    I pointed my 21 year old nephew to your blog today and hinted that he should go have some fun like Becky, when he graduates. The degree will still be there when he returns. 🙂

    • Becky on July 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      The Narrows is pretty well known among visitors to ZNP, but that doesn’t make it any less special. I hope with time here I’ll find less known trails like I did in the Badlands that I had all to myself. That’s a big benefit of staying in a tourist type place for longer than most tourists do, a greater familiarity.

      After graduation and before taking a real job is a good time to go travel, then a person isn’t limited to just 2 weeks or whatever vacation time might allow. I hope your nephew has the chance. 🙂

  3. Becca on July 7, 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Ohhhhhhh……you are breaking my heart. For the last 15+ years, this part of Utah has been our family’s vacation spot. Sometimes multiple times a year. We’ve done the River walk and all the other stuff. Have’nt been there since last year & can’t go this year but your photos and blog make feel I am there!

    • Becky on July 8, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Sorry you can’t make it this year, but glad I could do a little to fill in that gap!

  4. Ron on July 7, 2014 at 12:41 am

    Incredible photos. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Becky on July 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      You’re welcome Ron.

  5. Russell on July 6, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the post and idea for our trip. We will be going to Bryce and Zion NP before we head to Fernley, NV to work at Amazon this winter. I think we are even at the same campground in NV. If you are still working at Zion in end of Jul first of Aug we’ll stop by and say hi. Looking forward to meeting you.
    Russell recently posted..SEATTLE MARINERS vs CLEVELAND INDIANSMy Profile

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:51 pm

      Yes that would be fun Russell just let me know in advance what day you’ll be coming through if you can, otherwise we could miss each other on a day off. And I’m at Sparks Marina in Fernley

      • Russell on July 27, 2014 at 7:13 pm

        I left a message for you at your RVillage when I arrived, no response. So, I ‘m posting here hopping to catch up and meet while we are in the area.

        We will be at Bryce on 7/28 and Zion (Narrows) 7/29. We will drive into Springdale both days. Taking the drive to the East entrance of Zion onto Bryce. Have to check out the tunnel and it’s view.

        If we can’t meet, I just confirmed for Amazon and we’re staying at Sparks Marina in Fernley.

        • Becky on July 28, 2014 at 8:50 am

          Yes Russell, my internet availability out here is very sporadic, I’m checking RVillage now but I’ll answer you here.

          I’m driving to Grand Staircase Escalante today (the 28th) on my day off, I’ll be working tomorrow the 29th from 2 pm to 10 pm if you drive through the area stop at the Trading Post just outside the east entrance and you’ll find me. If you come through before 2 pm I’ll likely be reading outside my RV at the campground across the street or at the trading post trying to get on the wifi, hehe.

          If it doesn’t work, then I’ll certainly see you at Sparks Marina in a few months!

  6. Rick on July 5, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Belated Happy 4th. Thanks for the pictures. You look like you’re having a blast.

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:50 pm

      Thanks Rick, and you’re welcome. And yes I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. 😉

  7. Reine on July 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    Great pictures. Glad you had fun on the trip and I’m sure you’ll be back. Also glad to know you have a park pass so you don’t have to pay every time you enter.

    We did the Riverside Walk last year to the start point for the Narrows but had enough sense to stop and turn around there. The Narrows isn’t a good trail for bad knees and new hips on folks who aren’t very athletic.

    We really loved Zion. The shuttle service is great and there are trails for folks of every ability level. You may want to check out some of the Ranger guided hikes while you’re there. The ones we went on were fun and very informative.

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:49 pm

      The Riverside walk is quite pretty on it’s own Reine, I’m glad you had a chance to do it.

      And yes I plan to hit up some of the ranger guided walks if I can!

  8. Jodee Gravel on July 5, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    I was looking forward to this post and it didn’t disappoint! At 5’3″ I’m sure to spend some of the “hike” over my shoulders, but so want to do it. Hubby is 6’2″ so he can carry the camera :-). I think sometimes we readers forget that workkamping is real work. It might be in beautiful locales with amazing opportunities during the “off” time – but it’s most often still a job and hardly a “life of leisure” as some might think. Sounds like you’re finding a good balance. Enjoy!!
    Jodee Gravel recently posted..We’re Not Leaving the Planet, Not Even the Continent!My Profile

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      One of the members of our hiking group was about that Jodee, and yes she went up to about her chin but was able to hold her bag over her head and keep it dry. So much also depends on how high the water level is which depends on what the rainfall has been like lately.

      And you’re very right Jodee. The right attitude is what keeps me thinking of the whole thing as a working vacation and not just working. Not everyone manages that attitude.

  9. Richard on July 5, 2014 at 11:55 am

    My wife and I really enjoy Zion and hiking ‘The Narrows’. We plan on an overnight trip thru the Narrows next year.

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:40 pm

      That would be loads of fun Richard! Enjoy it.

  10. Mike Kempin on July 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

    These hikes sound awesome. What kind of footwear is recommended for hiking several miles in water? I can’t wait until you hike Angel’s Landing. You are going to do that hike right? 🙂

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Yes I’m doing Angel’s Landing, and I just hiked in an old pair of sneakers that I didn’t mind potentially ruining. They seem to have come out of the ordeal alright. There are places in Springdale that rent out special thermal shoes to wear in the water, those would be better to wear in spring and fall when it’s colder and the cold water feels less pleasant.

  11. Curious by Nature on July 5, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Zion is one of the locations on our “must see” list the first time we go south. There are so many things to see and do in that area, probably take few times through the area to touch them all.

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      I think it will Curious, there’s just so many parks and monuments around here, it’s an amazing place.

  12. Roger on July 4, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Hi Becky,

    Is the manager still looking for someone?…Of course i am just curious at this point, however I do need to fill the void from the end of July to September when i have no work. I am trying to figure out a way to seal off my RV from intruders i.e. mice. have you heard from any coworkers if they have rodent problems there, getting into RV’s?
    Don’t know if I mentioned that I killed 16 mice in my RV at the National Park here in Cali.
    Also just wondering how many RVers are working there, there was 3 including me at the park.

    Thanks Becky,


    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Yep Roger I believe she’s still looking. If you’d like I can get contact info for you, I’d prefer not to post it publicly on IO so if you’d like to drop me an e-mail so I can send it that way it’d be best.

      And yeah you mentioned that mice problem before, I’ve never heard of a mice infestation that bad in a RV before, that must have been frustrating. No one here has mentioned any issue with mice. Grand total on the ranch between the three properties there are at least 9 of us work campers, but I don’t know if I’ve met everyone yet.

  13. Debbie on July 4, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks for the Amazon reminder…I do a BIT of shopping for a client, plus my own family. I will update my Amazon.com start page! Kudos to you for living THIS ONE blessed life! …and thanks for being an inspiration! <3

    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you very much for using my link and coming along for the ride Debbie! I’m glad you’ve found IO inspiring and helpful.

  14. Maura on July 4, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Becky, what amazing photos! Enjoyed this post very much! It seems having a positive outlook on work makes things so much better! Good Luck and enjoy!


    • Becky on July 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      I think Maura that I have a very different outlook on work that most people.

      I’ve never loved any job I’ve ever held, this one included. I cannot fathom people who actually love their jobs because I’ve never been in that situation, but I imagine it must be a pretty neat feeling. But I can love what a job allows me to do – in this case, explore this part of the country – as long as it isn’t so stressful and consuming that can’t leave the job behind when I get off work, if that makes sense. My last job as a vet tech was very stressful, and I ended up not being able to really enjoy my weekends because I was so worried about the animals receiving sub-par care while I was gone, and even while I was working there because of budget constraints. Here I can enjoy it because I know it’s only for a few months and I’ll only temporarily have to put up with the drama that any workplace is going to have, I won’t be working long enough at it to get bored, plus I have nothing at stake with the company. If they fire me, I know I can get another seasonal job elsewhere without issue. The whole working situation while traveling like this is very different from holding a “real” full-time job, it’s very liberating.

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