Sixteen Miles One Way
I have heard several people rate The Narrows as one of the top ten most beautiful hikes in the United States. I would agree with their assessment, though most of them were in a better position. I can think of only one other hike in the Rocky Mountain National Park (Mummy Pass to Mirror Lake) that be up with this hike in beauty. But first, a couple of recomendations:
1. Rent Shoes!
Their is a rental shop at the Zion Adventure Company. Get a hiking stick too. You will need both of them.
2. Waterproof Bag
If you don't already have one, get one. Otherwise, you are going to have wet stuff. You are going to fall into the river at some point on this hike. I put all my dry goods in it including a camera.
3. Have a DD
Someone will need to drop you off at the starting point. Make sure you make plans ahead of time. My wife was gracious enough to drop us off since there was no way to pack Tanis the sixteen miles through a river.
4. Get a Backcountry Permit
You can find info for it here.
You get dropped off in some farmer's field, we affectionately called it "Bob's Field," after Bob Whoever (lots of farmers are called Bob). There were some cows and it wasn't that warm yet. We followed a road up into the canyon. The canyon doesn't creep up on you, its just all of a sudden there. It wasn't so surprising that it just BAM-O appeared in front of us as the lack of river running through the middle of it. It was bone dry. It wasn't for another mile or so that we started seeing mud, which lead to a little stream. Mind you, we were prepared for a river, not a trickle.
I did the hike with two people I didn't really know very well. We had originally been going on this trip with two friends of ours, Jim and Carrie Goss, but they bailed at the last minute for some legit reasons that escape me at the moment. Jim had invited two of his friends whom I had never met before, John and Marty. They were incredibly good company but a little unprepared that the hike was going to be as tough as it was.
There were times when the canyon walls were literally an arms span apart, easily touching each wall with the fingertips. About six miles into the hike, we were all kind of wondering if we happened to be a bit off track as there didn't appear to be much change in the layer of mud that was representing the river at this point. We all enjoyed the hike and would lapse into comfortable silences every now and then to take in the beauty of the canyon...and to quietly listen for the tell-tale rumble of a flash flood. Evidently, a few hikers are sacrificed every year to the canyon due to flash floods. We didn't really feel like being that fodder this year. We did feel a few raindrops on us which raised the alarm level a little higher.
About eight miles into the hike we came to a junction where the trickle met up with a full fledged desert river. This was where the Virgin River meets up with Deep Creek. This is your halfway point. We took our first major rest and ate some food. A little ways down the junction we found a pretty stream coming off a canyon wall. We were now actually in the river. At the junction, the shores of the river dissappear with the river reaching from canyon wall to canyon wall.