We had heard so many good things about hiking “the narrows” and had seen wonderful pictures, so it was on our to-do list, but figuring out how to get a permit wasn’t as easy as I had expected. I’ve created this post with details of how we were able to hike the narrows top to bottom with links in hopes that it will be easier for you.
Things to know:
Bottom to top means hiking from the end of the trail upwards and back down. You do NOT need a permit for this. Choosing to go bottom to top requires less preparation and you can park your car at the end, but it has its drawbacks. Hiking bottom to top is intended to be a day hike, you are not permitted to stay overnight, and there are more people.
Top to bottom means hiking from the top of the narrows all the way to the bottom where a shuttle will take you to back to your car. You can get a permit for a day pass if you intend to hike the 16 miles in one day, or you can get an overnight permit where you pick a campsite at the time of getting the permit online.
The overnight permit: It can be obtained online as early as 3 months in advance on the 5th of the month at 10:00am MT (that’s one hour earlier if you’re PST like us). I set a timer on my phone to go off on April 5th at 9:00am so I could get a permit for my group in July. You can click this link for the website to get your permit.
Once you are on that website, click on the drop down to pick your campsite. We stayed at site 1 which in my opinion was the most beautiful campsite. See our picture below. Here’s a link to the campsites to help you decide in advance which one you want to stay at. Once you pick your campsite and finalize your permit, that’s it!
Things to do before the day of the hike: book your shuttle from the visitor center to the top of the hike. I think we paid $25 per person and was well worth it. The shuttles are privately owned and leave at various times in the morning. To find a shuttle just google search one and go from there. You may also want to rent shoes for the narrows from the adventure store close to the visitor’s center. I wish I had.
The day of the hike, park at the visitor center. Check in at the visitor center to register your car and pick up your poop bags! This is also the time to fill up your water bottles at the fill up station. Your hired shuttle will pick you up from here and drop you off at the trailhead of the hike. There is a bathroom at the trailhead if you didn’t go at the visitor’s center.
The first part of the hike is dry but quickly turns wet. The water is cold but you get used to it. The deepest the water got in July 2016 was to our thighs though it is seasonal. The hike was beautiful, and wonderfully peaceful. The second day was also nice but became congested with people toward the last 30% of the hike. This hike felt like it lasted forever because my shoes were giving me blisters, but I still loved it. Pictures don’t do it justice but I’ll include mine anyway.
Hopefully there’s some helpful info in here for you and you enjoy the narrows as much as we did! ♦