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Zion National Park in Utah has many amazing trails for you to explore and hike.

The natural beauty found in the park showcases the state’s sandstone canyons and wildlife.

There are several different paths you can hike along, though some may be more challenging than others.  

What shoes to wear hiking the Narrows is an important question you need to ask yourself as you begin to plan your hiking trip to the national park.

Zion National Park

There are several aspects of the parks features that can affect your hike along the Narrows.

Checking out what times the park is open, if any trails have been closed, if you will need any permits for your hike, and where campgrounds are located, are just a few aspects of planning you will need to do before you journey to the park.

This is especially important if you are planning to cover more than just the Narrows or if you are wanting to make your trip more than one day.

Always look into any rules or regulations associated with the park as well, as these can help keep you safe and help properly preserve the nature you will be interacting with.

The weather

Weather plays a major role in you hike in the Narrows and should be an important part of your planning process.

Zion National Park’s summers are usually warmer than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and there are chances for monsoons.

These summer monsoons are most common to occur between July and September.

They often lead to flash floods which can make many of the trails dangers to hike; especially the Narrows which requires a great deal of hiking through water.

These flash floods can also increase the flow rate of the park’s rivers, including the Virgin River which is the main path way for the Narrows.

This flow rate can be increased in the spring, as well as the summer, due to snowmelt.

The most common time for visits to the park are from February to November.

This allows a wide variety of days to plan out your trip.

However, as Zion National Park is extremely popular, visitation is often exceedingly high, no matter when you plan your visit.

Most people plan their hike of the Narrows during late spring or the summer.

This is due to the lower water levels and warmer temperatures heating the water up to a more comfortable experience.

However, summers can be extremely hot and these are also the times when the most storms occur.

The Narrows

The Narrows is known as a section of Zion Canyon that is the narrowest, hence the name.

It has walls that are a thousand feet tall, with a river that can be around 20 to 30 feet wide depending on the water levels.

The Virgin River makes up the majority of your hike, requiring you to wade through the stream.

This can make for a difficult climb, as the waters can be cold, moving quickly, provide a slippery floor, and you will of course get wet.  

This hike, at its fullest length, is a 9.4 mile hike, taking around 8 hours to complete.

Trails outside of the water can be extremely difficult as they are along steep cliffs.

This all makes the trail a challenging terrain to hike.

But the best way to plan ahead and prepare for the Narrows is to have the right shoe that can provide excellent balance and a sturdy grip.

Bottom Up

There are two ways to climb the trail: bottom up or top down.

Bottom up requires you to travel the Narrows through river for at least an hour, or all the way up to the Big Spring.

This 10 mile trip is widely considered the easiest way to hike the Narrows and gives you ample opportunity to see some of the amazing nature and narrowest regions of the canyon.

Top Down

Top down is a 16 mile hike downstream that ends at the Temple of Sinawava.

This route is often completed in two separate days due to its long nature. It is known to take around 12 hours to complete. 

Unlike the previous method, going from the top down requires you to receive a permit.

What Shoes to Wear Hiking the Narrows

The shoes you will want to consider are that of the hiking variety. These shoes will provide ample support and are designed to give you a good balance.

They are also made with thicker rubber soles with will help provide a strong grip on the river’s floor.

Looking for waterproof shoes is also important.

However, no shoe is fully waterproof as it is impossible to completely seal of the shoe’s opening.

But finding a water-resistant shoe will still help.

Other water features of your shoe will help make it more adapted to the water conditions and more durable.  

Not all the features of a hiking shoe will work well for watery conditions though.

Most of the shoes padding and even the laces can easily be worn down after too much time in the water or due to improper drying.

While hiking shoes will work, you should also consider using a hiking boot as well.

This will give you more ankle support which is a good way to prevent injury, especially in an environment that might lead to many unbalanced or slippery falls where injury can easily occur.

Boot Verses Shoe

Hiking shoes have a lower cut to their design and often feature a more flexible midsole that allows the shoe to more easily move with your foot’s natural flexibility.

These shoes are more lightweight than hiking boots. They work great for day hiking or trail running.

They can be made to endure more strenuous conditions.

Hiking boots can also come in a day hiking design, but are more commonly seen in a backpacking boot which can carry much heavier loads and are designed to withstand trips that last multiple days.

Boots have a higher cut that is built to wrap around your ankle.

This helps protect and support your ankle during any possible falls or trips that may occur.

Boots are often making more durable with greater support.

They have a stiff midsole which works well for off-trail hiking.  

Leather and Synthetic Materials

Both hiking boots and shoes are often made from a type of leather or a synthetic material.

Full-grain leather is more commonly used as it is extremely durable and abrasion resistant.

This leather also works well as a water-resistant material.

Leather is built to withstand long trips and heavy loads.

The leather hiking boots or shoes are not as breathable as other types of material used in hiking shoes and takes time to break in.

But it is one of the more durable options, making it a great choice for a hike through the Narrows.

Synthetic materials are often made from polyester or nylon. There is even a type of synthetic leather.

These are often combined with a leather base to help bring a more comfortable and breathable experience to your hiking footwear.

The materials are light and easy to break in.

They dry very fast.

They are not as durable as leather though and can begin to wear out sooner.


Water resistance in hiking footwear is often found in the materials used to create the shoe and the shoe’s design.

As mentioned, leather is a great water-resistant material that is durable to the river conditions the Narrows will present.

Other feathers to look for in your hiking shoe or boot that will help with water-resistance are the upper design of your shoe.

Membranes made from waterproof materials like Gore-Tex help provide a breathable construction that keeps your feet dry.

Grip of the Sole

The rubber sole of your hiking shoe needs to work well to help keep you balanced along the narrow canyon and from slipping into the water you will be walking in.

These soles should feature some sort of pattern on them, usually called a lug pattern.

This pattern should be deep to help improve your grip during a hike and widely spaced to bring better traction.

Columbia Men’s Redmond Waterproof Low Hiking Shoe, Advanced Traction Technology

This hiking shoe was designed by Columbia to not only be waterproof, but also feature an advanced traction.

This shoe comes in men’s sizes and offers a strong shoe type for hiking.

Made from leather, the hiking shoe is very durable and water-resistant that is comfortable to wear.

The upper portion of the shoe has a unique combination of suede, leather, mesh, and webbing to help provide a more comfortable and secure enclosure.

This also helps keep the shoe more breathable.

As a hiking shoe, the footwear has a low-cut design, leaving your ankles more exposed.

But it is more breathable and easier to break in that other hiking footwear.

The hiking shoe’s midsole is made with a lightweight material.

Columbia Techlite material is also added to the shoe to help provide a great cushion to absorb impact.

The rubber sole of the shoe is made to withstand daily hikes in off-terrain regions and trips in the mountains.

This sole has a variety of patterns cut into its design to help provide the best traction for each region of your foot.

This multi terrain traction helps the shoe function well in a wide variety of environments and terrain.

The heel of the shoe also features a patterned rubber sole.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could work for you.

Columbia Men’s Newton Ridge Plus II Waterproof Hiking Boot, Breathable, High-Traction Grip

This hiking boot by Columbia is designed in men’s sizes.

As a boot it will support your ankle during more difficult terrain environments and provide greater support overall.

It is lightweight, durable, and water-resistant as well.

The boot is durable, made for rougher terrains and off trail hiking.

This is due to the hiking boots reinforced toe and heels that help prevent wear near these points.

The materials of these hiking boots are a combination of leather, suede, and mesh.

The mesh helps counteract the limited breathability of the leather and makes it a more comfortable experience over all.

The midsole has a Techlite lightweight feature to help provide comfort and support to your foot.

The midsole is also cushioned and provide a high energy return rate.

The rubber sole of this hiking boot features a widely spaced pattern which is a great way to provide greater traction during a climb and a slip-free hike.

However, it is a repeating pattern which can limit the overall grip of the boot when compared to a varying patterned hiking boot.

The hiking boot is water-resistant with the help of a seam-sealed construction to help prevent water from leaking in. the leather material of the boot is also water-resistant.

View at Amazon to learn more about how this product could work for you.

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