SPRINGDALE – The popular Zion Canyon Narrows, commonly referred to as The Narrows, has reopened for visitor use to both day hikers and overnight campers. Due to high water from an above average snow pack this past winter and a prolonged snow melt, The Narrows has been closed for a longer than normal period this summer.
Water levels have now dropped to a level that is considered safe for visitors to navigate the Narrows, which river is below 120 cubic feet per second water flow.
Park rangers have evaluated campsites normally available within The Narrows and have determined that 2 of the 12 sites were affected by the high water flows this past winter and will remain closed. The other 10 campsites are now open. Alternate locations for the two affected campsites (numbers 1 and 10) will be evaluated over the course of the summer.
In late December, 2010, heavy rains caused extensive flooding on the Nort h Fork of the Virgin River, including The Narrows. The flow rate for the river was measured at 6,000 cubic feet per second, the highest recorded rate since the campsites were created. 12 designated backcountry campsites were created in The Narrows in the early 1990’s in an effort to concentrate visitor impacts at specific locations and create a more enjoyable trip for visitors.
While The Narrows is now open for hiking, water levels remain higher than usual for this time of year. At current levels, children, small adults, and people with pre-existing knee and ankle issues, may have difficulty navigating the canyon, especially completing overnight trips.
A thorough hike in one day will be challenging for anyone. In addition, monsoon type weather patterns have been occurring throughout the area causing afternoon thunderstorms which can make a trip through The Narrows dangerous and possibly advisably prohibitive.
Current weather as well as current river flow rates can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/weather-and-climate.htm
Zion National Park reminds visitors that all overnight trips in The Narrows require a backcountry permit. Reservations for overnight trips are available 2 to 3 months ahead of time through the park website: www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/backcountry-reservations-and-permits.htm.