Are you considering hiking the Narrows in October? While summer is the most popular time to do it, fall also offers a great time to do this epic hike!
Zion National Park is known for its spectacular views, the otherworldly blend of red rock and greenery, and its numerous amazing hikes.
And the Zion Narrows, in my rather excited opinion, is one of the best hikes I’ve ever done and a great form of nature therapy.
The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon with the Virgin River meandering through it. The red rock walls reach up thousands of feet. Some have described it as being on another planet; hello, Mars.
I asked fellow blogger, Seth, from The Wanderlust Dragon to share a bit more about his experiences hiking the Narrows during the fall months. Let’s jump right into it.
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Can You Hike the Narrows in October?
The short answer here is yes! However, there are a lot of factors that go into that answer. We’ll go over some of those factors later.
The Narrows are open year-round, so nothing will be stopping you from completing this hike, except for the potential of bad weather.
One thing to consider if you’re planning this hike in the fall is that the weather could be chilly during the morning and evening. But during the day, it’s typically fairly warm.
Fewer crowds, cooler weather, and beautiful fall foliage are all great reasons to plan your Zion National Park visit for the fall months.
It is always best to check the official National Park Service website for updates on weather and closures if you’re unsure.
Is October a Good Time to Hike the Narrows?
Overall, summer and early fall are generally considered the best times to hike the Narrows, but October is still a great choice.
These months are usually considered the best because of the warmer weather and lower water levels.
Be aware though, that this is also the most dangerous time of year for flash storms and floods; they can come on very quickly.
Although most people say that summer is the best time to visit Zion, I personally would choose later fall, because there aren’t as many crowds.
Fewer crowds = less wait time = more time hiking and enjoying the park! Score!
Why October is a Good Time to Hike the Narrows
As mentioned above, visiting the Zion Narrows in October is a great idea for many reasons.
Here are some of the top reasons for visiting in the fall, rather than the peak season of summer.
One main reason to visit in the fall is that you’ll avoid the large crowds that gather in the park during June, July, and August.
Summer is considered peak season, and it’s nearly impossible to find a day to visit without crowds. Even the middle of the week is busy.
After summer has passed, crowds start to die down and you won’t have to wait as long in line for the Zion Canyon shuttle or rub shoulders with people on the trail.
For beginner hikers, this is especially great, because you’ll have more room to move around.
If you plan your visit to Zion in October, you are more likely to miss the sweltering heat of summer. It’s much easier to stay cool in the fall.
Temperatures in Utah during the summer months are often in the 90s, and can often reach 100° F.
These aren’t fun temperatures to hike in, and it can be dangerous if you aren’t prepared for the hot weather.
Less Risk of Flash Floods
Summer brings the highest risk of flash floods, which can be life-threatening and very dangerous in Zion Canyon.
When fall starts to hit, the risk for these flash floods goes down significantly, and you won’t have to worry as much about flash flood warnings being issued.
Is the Narrows Too Cold in October?
Generally, no, hiking the Zion Narrows in October isn’t too cold, especially if you’re prepared.
But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be warm. Wear a dry suit (rentals available at Zion Outfitters) if you think you’ll get too cold.
You’ll avoid potentially cooler weather though if you go earlier in the month as opposed to later on.
Please know that whatever time of year you go, you will be hiking through a river and you will get wet; there’s no avoiding that.
What is the Best Time of Year to Hike the Narrows in Zion?
Typically, the best times to hike the Narrows are summer and early fall.
However, I will let you in on a little secret…
While summer is the preference of most, visiting in the fall (September-October) will allow you to experience Zion with fewer crowds and beautiful temperatures.
You won’t have to wait in the shuttle line as long and the temperatures are in the 70s, rather than the 90s.
What Months Can You Hike the Narrows?
The Narrows are open all year round. However, there may be closures during winter and early spring because of the danger of hiking.
If the water levels get too high, the National Park Service (NPS) will shut down Zion Canyon to keep people safe.
Most closures are due to snowmelt. When that happens, the run-off makes its way into the Virgin River, causing high water levels and dangerous conditions.
You should always check for closures ahead of time, to ensure your safety and avoid disappointment.
The best time to hike is either summer or fall, when closures are less likely unless there is a flash flood warning. When flash floods occur, the water levels will rise with great speed, even within minutes or seconds.
What to Wear for Hiking the Narrows in October
Because temperatures are cooler and the water may be colder, it’s very important to be prepared when going into Zion Narrows in October.
Hiking the Narrows is done in water, so there’s always a chance of getting wet. In fact, it’s more than likely that you will get wet.
Use these guidelines for what to wear to make your experience more enjoyable.
Sturdy, Waterproof, Close-Toed Shoes
It is strongly suggested that you wear closed-toe shoes, preferably water shoes or boots due to the slippery rocks underneath the water.
You can either rent waterproof canyoneering boots from Zion Outfitters just outside of the park, or you can bring your own waterproof shoes for hiking.
You should also wear a pair of neoprene socks with your shoes, to help even more with keeping your feet warm.
Although tempting, avoid any hiking sandals, because these just won’t protect your feet under the water.
Because you are hiking in the water, it’s recommended to wear quick-dry clothing that won’t take forever to dry if you get wet.
Once you’re wet, it’s much easier to get cold fast. So wearing materials like polyester, nylon, or merino wool will make it easier to stay dry.
I would also recommend bringing some layers in your dry bag to help you stay warm, as you’ll be out of the sun.
Because of the height of the walls of red rock around the river and gorge, the sun doesn’t won’t be able to warm you up as much.
So packing layers to keep warm if you get chilly is a must in October, especially for earlier in the morning or in the evening.
You may want to also consider a wet suit or dry suit when hiking the Narrows in October.
The average water temperature of the Virgin River during the Fall is between 41° to 53° Fahrenheit (5° to 12° Celsius).
While Zion Outfitters says that they recommend dry pants or suits during the winter only, you may want to wear one if you get cold easily.
A dry pack simply helps to pack all of your hiking gear and keep it safe and dry when you’re hiking in the water.
You can also rent these, or you bring your own, such as these ones, which snap shut and keep everything dry.
It’s highly recommended that you take warmer clothing with you in a dry bag.
I wouldn’t even consider going into the Narrows without a walking stick, because of slippery the rocks can be.
There are a number of rental companies outside of the park that offer rentals.
The walking sticks help you stay balanced as you will often move through muddy water with low disability as well as algae-covered rocks.
Zion National Park in October
The average high temperature in Zion National Park in October is 79° Fahrenheit. The low average temperature is 48° Fahrenheit.
These are much cooler than in the summer when average temperatures are around 80 to 90° F everyday, which is what makes fall such a great time to visit.
While snowfall in Zion National Park during October isn’t likely, it also isn’t unheard of.
But, snow typically doesn’t fall until December or January, so you should be in the clear.
The average rainfall in Zion in October is about 1.3 inches.
It typically only rainy about 4-5 days during the month of October.
Flash floods are a very real possibility and danger in the Narrows. There are few places to gain high ground and they can be caused by storms miles away.
While a majority of flash floods happen in summer, they can still happen during the fall time, so you should always be aware and listen to cautions from the NPS.
Crowds thin out as the weather grows cooler, which is what makes fall one of the best times to visit Zion.
The high season of summer has the larger crowds and winter has the lowest.
Fall tends to have larger crowds with the lingering warm weather, but less than summer by far, making October a nice time to escape the heat and crowds.
The Best Time to Visit Zion National Park
If you’re planning a visit to some of Utah’s national parks, you may be wondering what the best time of year to visit is.
Zion is a beautiful national park that can be visited any time of year, to experience the iconic towering red rocks and slot canyons.
Peak season with Zion is between July and August when the temperatures are warm and nearly everything in the park is open and accessible.
Although this is when most people visit, I would personally recommend planning your visit in either May-June or September-October.
These months bring fewer crowds, cooler temperatures, and still the same great adventures to partake in.
Especially if you’re planning on embarking on the most popular hikes such as Angels Landing and the Narrows, these shoulder seasons are going to be your best bet!
How Cold is Too Cold to Hike the Narrows?
There isn’t necessarily a time when it’s too cold to hike the Narrows if you are properly prepared. It’s always best to have layered clothing with extra warm clothes in a dry bag. But if the temperature is lower, then it is necessary to wear either a wet suit or a dry suit to stay safe.
How Strenuous is the Narrows Hike?
You can follow the Narrows for a mile along the Riverside Walk trail. This path begins at the Temple of Sinawava. It is paved and wheelchair accessible. Beyond that, you have to hike the river itself.
The Narrows is generally considered moderate in difficulty, but this can fluctuate depending on weather and conditions.
Is Zion Crowded in October?
No, Zion is not typically crowded in October, comparatively speaking. Generally, the high season is from May to September. The weather typically remains beautiful through October, but numbers drop off significantly since students return to school and others to work.
Do I Need a Dry Suit to Hike the Narrows?
You don’t have to have a dry suit for the Narrows, but in October, it’ll help keep you warm. Wet suits and dry suits are both excellent options to wear when hiking the Narrows in cooler or cold temperatures. Either choice will help keep you warm, and you can rent them from places like Zion Outfitters.
Do I Need a Permit for the Narrows?
There are two routes for the Narrows, one of which you do not need a permit for. Hiking the bottom-up route from the Temple of Sinawava does not require a permit. If you plan to hike top-down and spend the night in the slot canyon, you will need to obtain a permit.
Can Beginners Hike the Narrows?
Absolutely, you can hike the Narrows if you are a beginner.
The more appropriate question is how much you should hike if you are a beginner I would strongly suggest that you stick to a day trip (going from bottom-up) so that you can comfortably begin with the sun and finish well before it goes down.
Another option is to take a tour with people who are seasoned hikers and very familiar with the Narrows, which will make it safer to embark on a multi-day trip.
Wrap-Up: Hiking the Narrows in October
In conclusion, hiking the Narrows in October in Zion National Park is a fantastic option for anyone who wants to experience the beauty of nature with fewer crowds.
Although temperatures may be cooler than usual, it’s still an amazing way to explore this iconic landscape.
Prepare, plan, take the clothing that you need, have a dry bag, and depending on when you’re there (hopefully in October!), perhaps wear a dry suit as well.
It’s best to go in a group, so get your friends ready to go as well! It could change your life!
Keep searching for your treasures, fellow wanderlust dragons!