The Subway, also known as the Left Fork of North Creek, is one of Zion National Park's most popular and most technical slot canyons. It should not be attempted by those who are not experienced in canyoneering, route finding and desert travel unless with a guide. 

Named for its tube like walls, the Subway is a spectacular and diverse backcountry trek. Only day hikes are permitted.  

Hikers in Zion National Park's Subway slot canyon

Hikers in Zion National Park's Subway slot canyon

Subway Routes 

There are two routes to attempt the Subway: bottom-up and top-down. Both are approximately nine miles roundtrip.

Bottom-Up: This route is the less technical of the two. It's a 6-10 hour hike with no marked trail. Hikers will be in and out of North Creek all day and climbing over many boulders. It's easy to get lost on this route, so be sure to bring route finding materials including a detailed route description. This route begins and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead. 

Top-Down: This is the more technical of the two routes as it requires canyoneering experience including rappelling. At 9.5 miles from one end to the other, you'll need harnesses, rappelling gear and 60-feet of rope. This route requires long swims through water that is often extremely cold, even in the height of the summer. Wet suits are highly recommended. This route starts at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead. 


Flash floods are one of the biggest risks when hiking in desert slot canyons. They can appear seemingly out of nowhere, even when it's not actively raining where you are. Know the signs of a flash flood and never enter a slot canyon when the weather forecast predicts heavy rain or flooding in the area. 

Pools in the rock pockets of the Subway slot canyon in Zion National Park

Pool form in the rock pockets of the Zion Subway slot canyon

Subway Permits

The Subway is one of the most popular hikes in Zion and requires a permit year-round. 

April through October, an advanced permit lottery is available via Zion's website at Submit your $5.00 non-refundable application fee three months prior to your desired hike date and cross your fingers that your name gets drawn. Permits are awarded on the fifth day of the month after application. For example, if you wish to hike the Subway in July, submit an application in April and you'll be notified on May 5th if you've won the lottery.

Rarely, not all advanced permits will be claimed after the lottery. Check the calendar on the permit web page within three months of your desired trip date to see if any permits remain and to apply.

There are always some last minute permits available for the Subway. You can apply for the Last Minute Drawing between two and seven days of your desired hike date on the permit web page. On the extremely rare occasion there are still permits left after this drawing, walk-in permits may be available the day before your hike. 

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Need a map? Download an official Zion National Park map for basic road and attraction locations. Want a detailed topographical map of trails in the park? Buy the NatGeo Trails Illustrated Map for Zion National Park at The map includes trails, trailheads, points of interest, campgrounds, lakes and much more. Or get the complete Utah National Parks Map Pack with five topographic maps. All of the NatGeo maps are printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.


The Virgin River canyon called The Narrows in Zion National Park

Some Canyoneering Favorites in Zion National Park

Try the sport that includes hiking and technical rock climbing inside Zion National Park including the Narrows, the Subway, and North Creek.

Emerald Pools Waterfall

Waterfalls in Zion National Park

Somehow, one doesn't expect desert terrain to be home of some of the world's most spectacular water features. But, Zion is full of waterfalls from snow melt.


Favorite Zion National Park Hikes

Everyone should take the scenic short hike to Weeping Rock Trail. The half-mile climb is doable for almost everyone, yet offers many of the key attractions that make Zion, Zion.

Winter snow dusting the Court of the Patriarchs along the Virgin River in Zion National Park

Winter Recreation in Zion National Park

Zion's snowcapped mountains are spectacular in the winter. The canyon is not normally subject to heavy snow, so hiking and biking are still popular.

Solo hiker in the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park in Utah

Hiking the Virgin River through Zion Narrows

This slot canyon in Zion National Park, is the premier and most accessible slot canyon in the Southwest. Hikers can take the easy, moderate or challenging route.


Zion, the Birthplace of Canyoneering

Zion and the nearby area offer a wealth of climbing opportunities, both guided and unguided. The Narrows may be the birthplace of canyoneering.

Island in the Sky District with the Green River

Utah Rock Formations, Mountains and Caves

Some of the most spectacular can be seen at Bryce Canyon, Arches National Park, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Natural Bridges, Cathedral Valley, and Monument Valley.


Canyons of Zion National Park

The high cliffs of Zion were formed about four million years ago through a process where layers of rock were broken, pushed up and on their side

The Upper Emerald Pools Trail in Zion National Park

The Emerald Pools of Zion National Park

Right across the road from Zion Lodge are the Emerald Pools, a mix of trails and pools that provide easy to moderate hiking opportunities between each oasis.