Zion National Park is one of the most rugged in America with a number of trails worthy of only the most fearless and adventurous hikers. Some hikes cross thin ridge tops with sheer cliffs on both sides or work across sheer walls. If you’re not up for narrow trails and thousand foot cliffs there are still a number of great options available.
Two particular trails have high appeal without a lot of risk. For a great hike on a completely paved trail it’s the Pa’rus Trail that runs along the Virgin River. Another famous series of trails involves The Narrows which are rated by a number of sources as one of the worlds ten best hikes.
Pa’rus Trail (also referred to as the Riverside Walk) is a paved trail that begins near the Visitor Center and follows the Virgin River starting at the South Campground. This paved and mostly flat trail is handicap accessible and is the only trail in Zion National Park that allows pets (on a leash) and bicycles. It also features trailside exhibits. You can access this trail from Shuttle Stop #1 near the Visitors Center or Stop #3 at Canyon Junction. The Pa’rus Trail can also be accessed from the Zion Museum Shuttle Stop #2 by using a short connector trail that is not intended for wheelchairs nor approved for bikes or pets. Roundtrip the Pa’rus Trail is about 3.5 miles.
Restrooms and water filling stations are available at the Visitor Center and Museum.
The Narrows is through a gorge, with walls almost a thousand feet tall where the river often is just twenty feet wide. You can reach the top of The Narrows by taking the paved Riverside Walk for a mile past the Temple of Sinawava. After that you will often be walking in the Virgin River. You have to wade in the river since there is no trail through much of the canyon. The most popular start for a Narrows hike is from the Temple of Sinawava from the Riverside Walk, walking upstream a distance, turning around and hiking back down to the Temple of Sinawava (average distance into the first narrow stretch and back is about 5 miles). A full hike through The Narrows of 16 miles one way requires a park permit beyond Big Spring.
Check with the Park Service about river conditions before heading out. The water temperatures and depth and speed change with the seasons and recent weather. In the late spring and summer the water is at its warmest and the water level is lowest but flash floods are most common. Winter and early spring means colder water and high levels. The Narrows can also be closed in the spring when snowmelt raises the river flow. Fall offers better weather, but the water temperature starts cooling.
We would recommend setting aside time for a Narrows hike. Just going a few miles in you will experience some incredible scenery. Also a short detour from Wall Street to Orderville Canyon is well worth it.