If you are visiting Zion National Park in the summer with kids who love to hike and who love water then The Narrows is a hike that should be at the very top of your list. Such a great way to beat the intense summer heat, The Narrows is an amazing slot canyon hike that will take your breath away around every turn.
After hiking The Narrows with a number of different families I have put together a list of my 10 best tips for hiking The Narrows with kids to ensure that everyone in the family has a blast on this epic water hike.
1. Let The Kids Hike In Swimming Suits
Whether they fall and get wet or they step into a deep spot, it is a guarantee that they will get wet. If kids start out the hike in clothes that are made for water and also comfortable when wet, chances are they will welcome the water instead of complaining that they are wet.
2. Go Slow
Walking upstream through water is no easy feat for little legs. They will also be going up, over, and around rocks a number of times. Be aware that children will need plenty of help, hand holding and an extra dose of patience. Plan for a whole day of hiking (don't schedule any other hikes that day) if you are doing The Narrows with kids.
3. Take Plenty Of Snacks And Water
As with any outing with kids, snacks are a must. When hiking such a challenging trail, kids will need extra stops to refuel. Make sure to bring snacks that pack a punch. Trail mix, energy bars, and beef jerky are my go-to snacks when hiking with my kiddos. Always make sure to bring enough water for everyone in the family. Water bladders are a great way to easily pack enough water. Get small hiking backpacks for each kid and let them carry their own water.
4. Wear Good Water Shoes With Lots Of Traction
Good water shoes when hiking The Narrows is an absolute must. I have seen plenty of kids hiking in water sandals but in my opinion, the best option is close-toed water shoes. Have your child do a test run or read online reviews to make sure that the soles of the shoes are going to grip onto the rocks. The grip is so so important. You can also rent water shoes specifically for hiking The Narrows at one of the local outfitters in Springdale.
5. Go First Thing In The Morning
The earlier you can get your kids up and out the door in the morning the better. The Narrows is one of the most popular and crowded hikes in Zion so leaving early is the only way to avoid long longs for the shuttle and enjoy some solitude at the start of your hike. As you hike back out you will be so glad you made the effort to get up early.
6. Stop Often For Water Play
Making sure that kids are having fun while hiking is one of the best ways to get them to love hiking. There are tons of great spots to stop in The Narrows and let the kids splash, jump off rocks, and swim in the water. Remember, it's about the journey, not the destination.
7. Bring Extra Dry Clothes
Nobody is happy when they are cold or when they are wearing something that is uncomfortable. Chances are the temps outside in the summer will keep the kids warm but if you are hiking in the earlier or later part of the summer it can get a little chilly in the canyon. A sweatshirt to keep at least part of the body warm is a perfect solution and if the wet swimsuit starts to get uncomfortable a dry change of clothes will be a lifesaver.
8. Bring A Walking Stick
Walking sticks will help timid hikers navigate and keep their balance going up over and around rocks. They are also great for checking the water depth before plunging in. A walking stick can be rented at one of the many outfitters in Springdale.
9. Know When To Turn Around
It is important the remember that the distance you hike in is also the distance you are going to be hiking out. With all the walking through water and maneuvering over and around rocks, this hike is quite taxing on the body for adults and children. The hike out will be harder than the hike in. Try to head back before your kids are showing signs that they are done or the hike back might be a little rough.
10. Have An Adult Walk Ahead
The majority of the hike is shallow enough that you can easily see through the water to the bottom of the river (if there hasn't been a recent storm). There are a few spots along the river however that are very deep. If you can't see down to the bottom it's best to go slow and test the depth and have an adult walk ahead of children and make sure they aren't hitting a deep patch. If you come to a deep patch in the river there are usually ways to cross the river and avoid having to swim (unless they want to....haha). I can only think of one spot at the end of the trail that I was up to my chest with no way to go around. Usually, children don't make it this far.
The most important thing when hiking in Zion with kids is to make sure to have fun. I hope these tips help you and your kiddos have an amazing time hiking The Narrows in ZION NATIONAL PARK.