Virgin, N. Fork - 01. Chamberlain Ranch to Temple of Sinawava (Zion Narrows)

Virgin, N. Fork, Utah, US


01. Chamberlain Ranch to Temple of Sinawava (Zion Narrows)

Usual Difficulty III-IV (varies with level)
Length 16 Miles
Avg. Gradient 87 fpm


Photo of Nick running the 15 footer by Curtis Martin taken 04/24/09 @ Low

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
usgs-09405500 150 - 650 cfs III 01h07m 45.8 cfs (too low)

River Description

While this 16 mile stretch of river is certainly a class III run at some levels, it is about as committed of a run as you can have, and is not for beginners.  Solid class IV boating skills with a reliable roll, rescue skills are a must.  While at lower water levels, taking a class III boater down the Narrows in a ducky may be appropriate, more skilled boaters should be on the trip to insure safety.

Also, all boaters should be in good enough physical condition to drag/carry their boats for 8 miles down to Deep Creek (see flow info.)  Fatigue can definitely be an issue.  An overnight trip would be one way to allow for this, although the permit office has not always allowed for this, possibly due to flash flood potential.

The only way out of the canyon is down.  You'll need a boat for that, unless you want to swim for a couple miles or wait a few weeks for the water to drop.  If you lose your boat, you'll be waiting for Search and Rescue or if your lucky another groupwith a ducky you can jump onto.  This could take 2, 3 or even more days.  Keep the possibility of this happening as low as possible by being completely comfortable any rapids you might confront.  This is not the place to test your boating skills.  DO NOT attempt to hike out of the canyon.  It may look possible from the river, but after the first 2 or so miles, it is not.  Your route will cliff out on you if you attempt to hike out.

Be prepared. Bring break-down paddles, boat-patching material, lots of food, water filter, plenty of extra dry clothes in a dry bag, extra throw rope, a pin kit extra food, fire starting material, first aid gear. Plan on spending the night, just in case. Even if you don't need any of the gear, you very well may meet a group of boaters that does, or helping another group out may lead to you not being able to get out before dark.

Flash floods may also be a concern in this river.  Flash floods through the narrows can carry flows of several thousand cfs, and despite being in a boat, you would not want to be in the narrows for this.  The backcountry desk should be able to provide information about flash flood danger. 

Permits are required.  They are free at the backcountry desk at the visitors center in the Park (permit information).  Be sure to get a red pass so you can park your car at the takeout.  It is 25 dollars to get into the park per car.  Plan on getting your permit the day before.  During late april/early may when the Narrows runs, the backcountry desk is open from 8am-5pm.  Getting your permit at 8am will not provide you with adequate time to do the run that day, and the flows for the first 8 miles will suck even more. 

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2017-07-09 22:22:53


Stream team editor

Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
1.0Barb wire fencePortage Hazard
6.0Log JamPortage Hazard
7.015 FooterIV+Waterfall
7.1Slide to rockIVHazard
8.0Deep Creek
10.0Campsite 12IV
11.5Blind RightIII+Portage Hazard
13.0Orderville Canyon
15.0Concrete PathIVAccess
16.0Temple of SinawavaTakeout

Rapid Descriptions

Barb wire fence

It would be a bad strainer if there was any water.  Portage through the gate on the right, be sure to close it behind you. 

Log Jam

River wide log jam.  Definitely a problem if there was for some reason a lot of water.  Be careful while portaging as some of the logs move around and could cause some bad injuries. 

15 Footer (Class IV+, Mile 7.0)

One of the highlights of the run.  A fairly clean 15 foot waterfall into a cool slot.  Some rocks and a small cave could cause issues, but there likely won't be enough water to cause concern.  Do make sure there is enough water to get over the log that forms the lip of the drop.  At low enough flows you could stall out and pencil into the drop.  Avoid penciling in, as the pool is apparently not super deep.  There is a little slot up and to the left of the river that works great for portaging or lapping the waterfall. 

Slide to rock (Class IV, Mile 7.1)

Look for a horizon line. 

5 foot slide directly into a rock.  You should be able to make it by staying far right, where there's not much flow.  Might as well get out and scout, because it would really hurt. 

Deep Creek

Celebrate, eat some food, and get ready for the fun part.  Make sure everyone is still feeling confident after the hike in. 

Campsite 12 (Class IV, Mile 10.0)

First rapid in a series of boulder garden rapids.  Look for it around a right hand turn.  This one is the steepest, most difficult, and will likely have the most dangerous wood.  Scout river left. 

Blind Right (Class III+, Mile 11.5)

After one boulder garden rapids, the river should disappear behind wall to the right. Head far left, taking a chute between the wall and a rock that will put you in an eddy with a small beach. Scout the rapid from there. The river sieves out into a log jam, although probably not fast enough to be particularly dangerous. At levels around 500cfs a slot should open up river right of the log jam making the rapid runable. 


Careful seal launching below the log jam in a hard boat. The rocks are undercut and could flip you. Consider seal launching off of the large boulder to the right instead. 

Orderville Canyon

Cool side canyon to check out coming in from the left.  You can paddle up into it to check it out.  From a little before here, and down the rapids should be fairly easy until hitting the concrete path. 

Concrete Path (Class IV, Mile 15.0)

4 or 5 drops in a boulder garden, most likely with some significant wood.  Get out and scout as tourists stare and take pictures.  One of the best rapids on the run, and you'll probably have an audience. 

Temple of Sinawava

Cool rock formation on the right.  Takeout on the left. 

User Comments

Users can submit comments.
June 1 2017 (535 days ago)
Paul DiegelDetails
Packrafted this 5/15&16/17 at 220-240 cfs. Hiked to Deep Creek which about tripled the flow. Would
have been a tough, tough hike with hard boats - in and out of the water, squeezing thru vegetation,
slippery, too shallow to float. I'm not sure at what level you could float from the ranch - maybe
400 cfs? The 15 ft waterfall is above Deep Cr and mostly blocked by a river-wide log about 3 ft
above the water. Might be runnable with the right flow, but you'd launch while hunched over
underneath the log. Easy obvious portage. Pretty easy paddling after Deep Creek with a handful of
portages due to river-wide wood. Spent about 8 hours paddling from camp at Kolob Creek to
Springdale, including a hike in Orderville and lots of scouting in the mile or so of class 4ish
boulder garden near the park entrance. I'd call it a class 2 float at that level, but pretty
unforgiving of lost of damaged gear or an injury. Getting out without a boat would be really hard.
Logistics: You need a permit, which can be picked up from the backcountry permit office beginning
at 7 am. Special floating rules: no hiking if the flow is over 150 cfs, and boating only if the
flow has been between 150 and 600 for the last 24 hours. You can start your trip the day you pick
up the permit if you are boating. There is good camping between Chamberlain Ranch and the park
boundary and at 12 designated sites in the first half of the canyon within the park. It looks like
the log jams come and go - be alert. You don't need to select or reserve a campsite. At the flow we
had, you could pick up your permit, drive to the take out, hike in, and float the whole thing in a
day, I think, but it would be close and rushed at best, and misses some of the point of being
June 28 2011 (2700 days ago)
Brian VogtDetails
Ran the narrows 6/19/2011. Run was in great shape, wood at kolob creek rapid was runnable. no
portages necessary. this think is a gem, world class canyons, decent ww in spots, but the I-II
sections are better anyway so you can look around. If you go, plan to overnight just in case. it's
too great a place to blitz anyway. don't have an epic, and if you do, please self-extricate.
November 6 2010 (2934 days ago)
David KingDetails
If you can't paddle it, do hike it. One of the most unbelievable hikes you'll ever take. You can do
the full 16 mile hike (you need to get a permit the day before) or you can do it as a "bottom up"
from the Temple of Sinawava. You'll need a sturdy walking stick and shoes you can traverse the
river in. Be ready to be hiking in the river more an half the time, but that's half the fun.
May 1 2009 (3488 days ago)
Curtis MartinDetails
There's a log that spans most of the river located near the confluence of Kolob Creek and the
River. It's less than 1/2 mile downstream of the Deep Creek confluence. It's difficult to see
because it's at the bottom of a wave train. Keep an eye out for it when you pass Deep Creek.
Judging from other beta on the run, the logs been there for a while. 5-1-09

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