Zion Narrows Waterfalls (including Orderville Canyon)

Zion National Park, Utah, USA

About Zion Narrows Waterfalls (including Orderville Canyon)


Hiking Distance: 16 miles one-way shuttle; additional 1 mile round trip for Orderville Canyon (6 miles round trip from bottom); river scramble
Suggested Time: 2 days

Date first visited: 2001-06-18
Date last visited: 2003-06-21

Waterfall Latitude: 37.33143
Waterfall Longitude: -112.94251

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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).

Zion_Narrows_143_06212003 - Big Springs in the heart of the Zion Narrows
Big Springs in the heart of the Zion Narrows

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.

Zion_Narrows_213_06212003 - 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 for
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 for

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.

Authorities

The Zion Narrow Waterfalls reside in Zion National Park. For information or inquiries about the park as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Riverside_Walk_013_06172001 - Virgin River besides the Riverside Walk
Riverside_Walk_016_06172001 - At the end of the Riverside Walk, we saw these funny stick and rock figures stacked against the lookout wall
Zion_Narrows_001_06172001 - Now we were wading up the cold Virgin River on that 2001 trip
Zion_Narrows_008_06172001 - Looking directly at Mystery Falls
Zion_Narrows_015_06172001 - Continuing up the Virgin River as the morning sun was penetrating more of the depths of the Virgin Narrows
Zion_Narrows_020_06172001 - Wading towards the Orderville Canyon junction on that 2001 trip
Orderville_Canyon_008_06172001 - Looking back as we left the shadows and went into a sunny section of Orderville Canyon
Orderville_Canyon_002_06172001 - The waterfall in Orderville Canyon
Orderville_Canyon_009_06172001 - Going back downstream along the Virgin River after leaving Orderville Canyon in 2001
Zion_Narrows_001_06202003 - The Virgin River at Chamberlain's Ranch at the trailhead of the longer Zion Narrows hike
Zion_Narrows_005_06202003 - Walking along the Virgin River as we went through Chamberlain's Ranch
Zion_Narrows_006_06202003 - This dilapidated cabin we noticed before getting into the Virgin River is called Bulloch's Cabin
Zion_Narrows_028_06202003 - Now we were starting to hike into the Virgin River
Zion_Narrows_081_06202003 - This was probably the narrowest part of the Upper Narrows
Zion_Narrows_082_06202003 - This little detour went around a waterfall obstacle
Zion_Narrows_089_06202003 - The waterfall obstacle that we had to go around
Zion_Narrows_099_06202003 - This part of the Narrows was near the Deep Creek confluence where the Virgin River all of the sudden grew three-fold
Zion_Narrows_102_06202003 - At first we thought this was a cave until we managed to get right in front of it
Zion_Narrows_105_06202003 - We spent a relatively comfortable tentless night within the Narrows
Zion_Narrows_109_06212003 - The next morning, it was time to get moving again
Zion_Narrows_128_06212003 - It was quiet during the morning of day 2 of our hike
Zion_Narrows_145_06212003 - Approaching Big Spring
Zion_Narrows_146_06212003 - Direct view of Big Spring
Zion_Narrows_170_06212003 - At this point of the hike, it was pretty much wall-to-wall water
Zion_Narrows_183_06212003 - This was also the time we started to see day hikers coming up in the other direction
Zion_Narrows_190_06212003 - Frequently crossing the Virgin River in the Narrows
Zion_Narrows_200_06212003 - 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 gorge
Zion_Narrows_235_06212003 - Back at the mouth of the Narrows and the back end of the Riverside Walk

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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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Tagged with: zion, zion canyon, utah, springdale, waterfall, virgin river, orderville canyon, chamberlain ranch, washington county, narrows



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