You can observe the Virgin River from viewpoints along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, admire it from the Riverside Walk, or immerse yourself in its chilly waters in The Narrows. The paved Riverside Walk begins at the last stop on the park’s shuttle and is also the starting point for The Narrows hike. Where the Riverside Walk ends, adventurous travelers can continue off the path and walk up the riverbed, following the Virgin River upstream into a tight, twisting slot canyon.
You can also enjoy swimming and tubing in the Virgin River. Swimming is permitted within the park’s many picturesque swimming holes, while tubing is not allowed in the park but can be enjoyed downstream in the nearby town of Springdale.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Narrows are only accessible at certain water levels and are off limits when flash flooding is a concern—check at the visitor center for conditions.
- Shuttle stops 3 and 7 are two of the best for river access.
- The Riverside Walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible, as is the shuttle that takes you to the trailhead.
- Water shoes are recommended for hiking The Narrows and depending on the conditions you may want to rent waders or a drysuit.
How to Get There
Take Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to the many river access points and riverside hiking trails. The trail to The Narrows is the last stop along the route. A park shuttle runs throughout the busy season (March–November) and no private vehicles are allowed in the park when the shuttle is running. For tubing, stop at one of the outfitters along Highway 9.
When to Get There
During the spring, the river is often raging from snowmelt, ruling out hiking The Narrows, swimming, or tubing. For these activities, visit in the early summer. Later in the summer and fall, the water levels can get too low for tubing.
Hiking The Narrows from Top to Bottom While most visitors only hike the short, bottom portion of The Narrows, to truly immerse yourself in the Virgin River canyon, start from the top of The Narrows and hike down the slot canyon into the park. The 16-mile (26-kilometer) trek is best done over two days with a night of camping along the way. It is a strenuous adventure and permits and shuttles must be arranged in advance.