The narrows near the Park boundary
The East Fork. The mighty Virgin River has two main forks: the North and the East. The North Fork is the more famous and accessible, as it carves "The Narrows" and runs through Zion's main canyon. The East Fork of the Virgin, on the other hand, begins near Mount Carmel on Hwy 89 and travels through rugged, roadless backcountry to meet the North Fork near Rockville, Utah. Though the logistics of a Barracks hike are more difficult, the beauty and solitude are worth your trouble.
The East Fork carves its own deep, narrows canyon - Parunaweap Canyon. A close cousin to the Zion Narrows, Parunaweap features the same grandoise river canyon scenery, but not as many miles of it. "The Barracks" specifically refers to the dramatic narrows section of the canyon where the walls are super tall and tight, much like the North Fork Narrows. There are also many excellent side canyons to explore, complete with the bushwhacking and route-finding you'd expect with a little-traveled area.
Lower Parunaweap Canyon, near Rockville, is an off-limits Park Research Area and closed to hikers, so most people cannot access Parunaweap from the "Zion" side. Backpackers interested in exploring The Barracks and Upper Parunaweap must use ingress and egrees points east of Zion, which I detail below. This drainage is associated with the Fat Man's Misery hike in this guide.
Spring - Expect higher and colder water flowing due to springtime runoff. Crossings may be deeper. If runoff is too high, do not continue down canyon, narrow sections are dangerous and difficult at high water flow. Neoprene socks and wetsuits may be appropriate or necessary.
Summer - The open sections can be really hot, so plan accordingly. Fortunately, you are close to water for most of the hike, and there are often shady canyon walls you can hide beneath.If possible, plan your exit climb for early/late in the day, when the sun is lower.
Fall - the BEST time to hike this route, with great fall photography along the creek bed.
Winter - Possible snowpack and ice along the waterfalls. Not recommended in winter. Use caution and check current conditions at the Zion Wilderness Desk.
A printable canyon descriptionand map you can take with you.
Have all Zion's classic canyonsin one convenient book.
Click on any map to browse a larger view,then right-click to save and print.