A Guide to Hiking the Zion Narrows

Zion Narrows: Hiking with Children

Hiking the Zion Narrows can be a fantastic family vacation, particularly for older kids. There are no specific height or skill requirements for children hiking in the Narrows, but most recommendations suggest that "bottom up" day hikes are appropriate for kids at least 4 feet (1.2 meters) tall [source: Utah Travel Industry]. On the other hand, every kid is different and parents should assess whether a child is strong enough to manage a hike that includes several hours submerged in fast-moving water.

Another important consideration for kids in Zion Narrows is swimming skill. On average, adult hikers spend about 60 percent of their time submerged to the knees in the Virgin River and occasionally have to swim short distances. Kids who are tall and strong enough to handle hiking in Zion Narrows should also be able to swim on their own.

Parents should check the weather advisories at the park before they set out on a hike with children. Flash flooding can occur without warning in the canyon, even when skies are blue, but weather advisories can help gauge the risk. When hiking, you should also be aware of changes in the water. If it suddenly becomes cloudy or the level rises noticeably in a short time, you may be in the midst of a flash flood. If so, seek higher ground immediately [source: National Park Service].

Zion Narrows is not without an element of danger, and that's probably part of its allure. But as long as parents are cautious in the Narrows, this can be one of the greatest and most memorable hiking trips you can do with your kids. There is nothing more satisfying than being among nature's most awe-inspiring creations, and Zion Narrows ranks among the most spectacular.


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