Zion Narrows Waterfalls (including Orderville Canyon)

Zion National Park / Washington County, Utah, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 5
Big Springs, one of a handful of waterfall attractions and obstacles within the Zion Narrows

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Zion Narrows Waterfalls were waterfalls that we've managed to find while hiking and wading within the famous Zion Narrows. The Narrows was one of our most unforgettable adventures as we did a one-way 16-mile shuttle hike along, across, and within the Virgin River. We even spent a tentless night on the Summer Soltice within the depths of the tall sandstone cliffs towering over us.

So this web page was my excuse to celebrate the waterfalls that acted as both obstacles as well as scenic landmarks while talking about our Narrows experience. On this page, we've also included a side trip within the Narrows to Orderville Canyon, where we were turned around by an attractive waterfall obstacle there.

The nice thing about this trek was that we didn't need technical gear to experience the magic of the place. With the aid of local outfitter shops in Springdale (right at the south entrance to Zion National Park), we were given spider rubber canyoneering shoes for rent which helped us grip the slippery boulders. We were also provided dry bags to keep our stuff dry, and the same outfitters even shuttled us to the trailhead (see directions below).

To summarize some of the most noteworthy waterfalls that we saw, here's a list:

  • A 12ft waterfall in the Upper Narrows
  • Big Springs (see photo at the top of this page)
  • A 10ft waterfall in Orderville Canyon
  • Mystery Falls


On a prior trip, we did manage to do a day hike starting from the Riverside Walk then wading up the Narrows to Orderville Canyon. Then, we explored Orderville Canyon until the 10ft waterfall obstacle that turned us back. That six-mile out-and-back adventure took the better part of at least a half-day.

The longer 16-mile hike was done as a two-day adventure which pretty much took a minimum of a day and a half including an overnight stay within the Narrows. So this should give you a pretty good idea of how much time and effort would be required to explore the Narrows and/or the side canyons.

During that longer hike, we also noticed side canyons up Deep Creek, Kolob Creek, and Goose Creek in addition to Orderville Canyon. However, we only had limited time and energy to do more than the minimal traverse through the Narrows in two days so I'm sure those would be motivating factors for us to do another one of these adventures here once again.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

A 12ft waterfall obstacle comprised of a logjam and rocks in the Upper NarrowsA 12ft waterfall obstacle comprised of a logjam and rocks in the Upper Narrows
Wading in the Narrows under towering sandstone cliffs surrounding us. This is the kind of scenery that makes the Narrows the uniquely unforgettable adventure that it's known forWading in the Narrows under towering sandstone cliffs surrounding us. This is the kind of scenery that makes the Narrows the uniquely unforgettable adventure that it's known for
Looking back at the waterfall from Mystery Canyon in 2001Looking back at the waterfall from Mystery Canyon in 2001
Virgin River besides the Riverside WalkThe first time we explored part of the Narrows in June 2001, we walked up the Riverside Walk and got this look at the Virgin River

At the end of the Riverside Walk, we saw these funny stick and rock figures stacked against the lookout wallAt the end of the Riverside Walk, we saw these funny stick and rock figures stacked against the lookout wall

Now we were wading up the cold Virgin River on that 2001 tripNow we were wading up the cold Virgin River on that 2001 trip

Looking directly at Mystery FallsLooking directly at Mystery Falls

Continuing up the Virgin River as the morning sun was penetrating more of the depths of the Virgin NarrowsContinuing up the Virgin River as the morning sun was penetrating more of the depths of the Virgin Narrows

Wading towards the Orderville Canyon junction on that 2001 tripWading towards the Orderville Canyon junction on that 2001 trip

Looking back as we left the shadows and went into a sunny section of Orderville CanyonLooking back as we left the shadows and went into a sunny section of Orderville Canyon

The waterfall in Orderville CanyonThe waterfall in Orderville Canyon

Going back downstream along the Virgin River after leaving Orderville Canyon in 2001Going back downstream along the Virgin River after leaving Orderville Canyon in 2001

The Virgin River at Chamberlain's Ranch at the trailhead of the longer Zion Narrows hikeTwo years later in 2003, we then did the full shuttle hike through the Zion Narrows, which began at the Virgin River at Chamberlain's Ranch

Walking along the Virgin River as we went through Chamberlain's RanchWalking along the Virgin River as we went through Chamberlain's Ranch

This dilapidated cabin we noticed before getting into the Virgin River is called Bulloch's CabinThis dilapidated cabin we noticed before getting into the Virgin River is called Bulloch's Cabin

Now we were starting to hike into the Virgin RiverNow we were starting to hike into the Virgin River

This was probably the narrowest part of the Upper NarrowsThis was probably the narrowest part of the Upper Narrows

This little detour went around a waterfall obstacleThis little detour went around a waterfall obstacle

The waterfall obstacle that we had to go aroundThe waterfall obstacle that we had to go around in the Upper Narrows

This part of the Narrows was near the Deep Creek confluence where the Virgin River all of the sudden grew three-foldThis part of the Narrows was near the Deep Creek confluence where the Virgin River all of the sudden grew three-fold

At first we thought this was a cave until we managed to get right in front of itAt first we thought this was a cave until we managed to get right in front of it

We spent a relatively comfortable tentless night within the NarrowsWe spent a relatively comfortable tentless night within the Narrows

The next morning, it was time to get moving againThe next morning, it was time to get moving again

It was quiet during the morning of day 2 of our hikeIt was quiet during the morning of day 2 of our hike

Approaching Big SpringApproaching Big Spring - a good place to replenish our water supply

Direct view of Big SpringDirect view of Big Spring

At this point of the hike, it was pretty much wall-to-wall waterAt this point of the hike, it was pretty much wall-to-wall water

This was also the time we started to see day hikers coming up in the other directionThis was also the time we started to see day hikers coming up in the other direction

Frequently crossing the Virgin River in the NarrowsFrequently crossing the Virgin River in the Narrows

At this point of the hike, we were able to leave the shadowy depths of the narrowest part of the Lower Narrows and enter the more lit sections of the gorgeAt this point of the hike, we were able to leave the shadowy depths of the narrowest part of the Lower Narrows and enter the more lit sections of the gorge

Back at the mouth of the Narrows and the back end of the Riverside WalkBack at the mouth of the Narrows and the back end of the Riverside Walk


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

The way we did the full hike through the Narrows was by a shuttle that we made bookings for from one of the outfitters in Springdale (we also rented spider rubber shoes and bought our own neoprene socks from these outfitters). Springdale is roughly 2.5 hours drive from Las Vegas and about 6.5 hours drive from Los Angeles.

They then picked us up from the Watchman Campground, drove up UT9 through the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel and then onto an unpaved side road dropping off hikers at both the head of Orderville Canyon as well as Chamberlain's Ranch at the start of the Narrow's hike.

Regarding trip logistics, we actually had to drive up to Zion at least two days prior to our intended visit. That's because we needed permits to camp within the Narrows for a night, which were on first-come first-serve basis. We made sure we showed up early the next morning after our arrival to pick up the permits to do the hike on the following day.

The whole time we were preparing for this adventure and worry about its logistics, we had to pay careful attention to the river level of the Virgin River as well as the threat of flash floods from thunderstorms (especially in Summer). Some parts of the hike do not have higher grounds to avoid flash floods while a wet suit would be mandatory if this adventure took place in the colder off season months (outside Summer). For the latest Virgin River water levels data, we consulted this link.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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RELATED PAGES



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