The Zion Narrows Trail Is Protected Forever

By Trust for Public Land
Published December 18, 2019

The Zion Narrows Trail Is Protected Forever

Big news for national park fans: One of Zion National Park’s most iconic hikes, the Narrows Trail, is now permanently protected from closure and development.

Hiking the Narrows is an immersive experience. The route follows the Virgin River into a deep slot canyon in a remote corner of southern Utah, with sculpted sandstone walls soaring more than a thousand feet overhead. And for much of the 16-mile trek, the canyon is so narrow that hikers are literally immersed in the river, with nowhere to walk but in the rocky streambed itself.

A man and a woman walk past the camera in a sandstone canyonThe Narrows Trail is a 16-mile route through one of the most spectacular slot canyons in the Southwest. But even those who’ve hiked the Narrows don’t realize that part of the route has crossed private land.Photo credit: Mike Schirf

For well-prepared hikers, a trip down the Narrows is a challenging, unforgettable experience. But not many people realize that this adventure of a lifetime has rested on tenuous ground. The Narrows Trail actually begins outside Zion National Park, traversing private property before crossing the park boundary. Public access to the Narrows has depended on informal agreements with local landowners.

We’ve been working to secure permanent public access to the Narrows for years. In 2013, we protected Chamberlain Ranch, one of two private properties along the route. That deal ensured that the Narrows Trailhead and the first few miles of the trek would remain open to the public forever.

But our job wasn’t done: the Narrows cuts through the privately owned 880-acre Simon Gulch, just outside the park boundary. 

A map of the Zion Narrows Trail showing two properties protected by The Trust for Public LandThe Zion Narrows Trail traverses two private properties before entering the national park. As of today, The Trust for Public Land has guaranteed public access to both private properties forever. Photo credit: The Trust for Public Land

So we kept working to find a solution that benefits everyone. And today, we’re proud to announce that we’ve struck a deal: Simon Gulch is now protected with a conservation easement guaranteeing permanent public access to the last at-risk section of the Narrows Trail.

“People come from all over the world to do this iconic hike,” says Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. “On behalf of the generations of future visitors who will benefit from this easement, we want to thank the State of Utah, Washington County, other partners, and the landowner for assuring access to this true wilderness experience in perpetuity.”

It’s an exciting milestone for anyone who daydreams about this one-of-a-kind hike … and given that 2019 is the 100th anniversary of Zion National Park, we can’t think of a better way to celebrate!

We couldn’t have done it without support from our members. Right now, when you donate to The Trust for Public Land, your year-end tax-deductible gift will be matched $1-for-$1. Join us to help keep our national parks open and accessible to all people, forever!

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