Riverside Walk: Gateway to the Narrows
The Riverside Walk of Zion National Park — also known as The Gateway to the Narrows — is quite possibly the best, most scenic wheelchair accessible, family-friendly hike around. (Wheelchairs may need assistance through some stretches.)
Though it's listed at just over two miles, the Riverside Walk seems to fly by thanks to diverse scenery that increases in splendor until the grand reveal: the magical, awe-inspiring literal gateway to the narrow portion of Zion Canyon, the very canyon through which you've been traveling since boarding the multi-passenger shuttle to get here. Even younger children can tackle walk and parents won't get tired having to carry the smallest part of the way or with a Bjorn or backpack.
Except during spring runoff, families can splash in the pools of cool water at the mouth of The Narrows — and during peak season you can expect to join families from all over the world in this stunning scene. You may hear a dozen different languages on this iconic walk. It is also here that more adventurous hikers and even families with older children may take on Zion National Park's famous hike up The Narrows, carefully picking your way across the rocky riverbed.
Hikers should exercise some caution: there are minor drop-offs as the trail follows the carved channel of the Virgin River. If you don't recall from the narration on the shuttle, this is the force that carved this canyon. You'll have a chance to inspect it more closely momentarily. In addition, during high-water events, flash floods and impending storms, access to this trail may be limited. Otherwise, enjoy the stroll!
Zion has hikes for all levels of ability. Brochures and advice are available at the visitor center or at Zion Lodge. Zion has several self-guiding trails like the Gateway to the Narrows Trail, which is suitable for strollers and wheelchairs with assistance. Backpackers may tackle the entire 16 miles of the 2,000-foot deep Zion Narrows canyon. A permit (fee required) and excellent planning or a professional guide is necessary.
Distance: 2.2 miles
Hiking Time: About 1.5 hours
Hazards: Small drop-offs
Finding the Trailhead: Step off the multi-passenger shuttle and follow the crowd toward the interpretive display and restrooms. There is also water available at this stop, so be sure to fill up those water bottles, especially if you're continuing up The Narrows.
Shuttle Stop: Temple of Sinawava