Zion Emerald Pools


The actual Emerald Pools were not as scenic as the Narrows or the Subway, but the hike provided a nice overlook of the Zion Canyon and it was quite a bit easier on the legs. The hike is popular which can make the small pools very crowded. We took the shuttle to the Grotto stop and started on the Kayenta Trail, from which you can access all three Emerald Pools and end your hike at the Zion Lodge shuttle stop.

The Kayenta Trail initially parallels the North Fork of the Virgin River as it gains elevation on dusty red rocks. The trail is lined with wildflowers and gives a beautiful overlooking view of the river and canyon. The trail veers west and soon junctions with the three Emerald Pools trails.

The lower trail winds around the lower Emerald Pool and passes behind waterfalls pouring over the rocks above. When we did the hike the waterfalls were unfortunately quite dry! This pool is easily accessible via the Zion Lodge on a paved trail.

The middle Emerald Pool is close to the lower but is separated by a sheer cliff and requires a hike up a smaller more rugged trail. The middle pool sits right on this cliff and hikers should avoid walking to the edge (adhere to the warning signs!).

The upper Emerald Pool will add about ½ mile round trip. The pool is surrounded by massive red cliffs and offers many shady areas to sit and enjoy the view. When we did the hike the pool was full of noisy mating frogs!

After visiting the Pools hikers can complete the loop down to Zion Lodge or hike back towards the Grotto, both of which are shuttle stops.


The most popular time to visit Zion is April through October. Summer months can be extremely hot, exceeding 100F. It is very important to check the weather report and avoid entering slot canyons if rain is expected. This can cause very dangerous flash flooding.

getting there

Zion National Park is located in Utah between the 15 and 89 highways. It’s about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas and 6.5 hours from Los Angeles depending on traffic.

For most months out of the year trailheads inside Zion National Park are only accessible via the free park shuttle due to the enormous amount of visitors. Parking is available in the Zion Canyon Visitor Center (if you arrive early enough) and also in the town of Springdale. See link for the current shuttle schedule.

The shuttle passes several trailheads within the park including Emerald Pools, the Grotto, and Angels Landing. Temple of Sinawava is the final stop and is the starting point for the Riverside Walk.

Updated April 2016

Similar Trips