Even though the Zion landscape was carved by rushing waters, there are a couple of places where the water gathers in crystalline, turquoise pools. At the aptly named Emerald Pools, the iridescent dollops of fresh water create a refreshing contrast to the earthy red cliffs that explode throughout the park. Multiple trails lead up towards the pools from the canyon’s scenic drive, with the half-mile, paved trail to the Lower Pool being the shortest and most accessible. For those seeking a bit more adventure, the Middle Pools trail and the Upper Pools trail climb farther into the backcountry, with the Upper Pools Trail being three miles, round-trip, and gaining 350 feet in elevation. Along the hike, watch as waterfalls spill their way over the slick surface of the rocks, and marvel at the colors and serenity of the pools as they float beneath the cliffs. For fresh views throughout the hike, return along the Kayenta Trail to complete a wilderness loop.
The trailhead for the Emerald Pools hike is across from Zion Lodge. Should you decide to return on the Kayenta Trail, the trailhead crosses the road at The Grotto, where you can either catch the shuttle back the lodge or walk half a mile along the road. In winter, the trails can sometimes be closed for the day due to slippery, icy conditions, although the frozen waterfalls are a favorite of photographers and icicle-loving children.