At the aptly named Emerald Pools, a verdant stream connects a series of three fresh water pools—a picturesque contrast to the earthy red cliffs that dominate Zion National Park. Three hiking trails access the pools, ranging from a short paved route to a more strenuous loop. Flowing waterfalls and crystal-clear pools make this a must-visit spot.
The Emerald Pools rank among Zion National Park’s most popular and easily accessible natural wonders. Paths to the Lower and Middle Pools are wide and paved, making them an excellent option for families with kids or those with restricted mobility. Visitors looking for a more active experience can tackle the sandy, rocky, and somewhat steep trail leading to the Upper Emerald Pool. The Emerald Pools and several other Zion highlights are often included in multi-day tours of Utah’s national parks, which cover Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Emerald Pools are a must-see for first-time visitors to Zion.
- Don’t forget to bring sunglasses, sunscreen, a hat, and plenty of drinking water.
- Bathing in or walking through the water of the pools is prohibited.
- The Lower Pool is wheelchair accessible with some assistance.
How to Get There
The Emerald Pools Trail begins just across the road from the Zion Lodge. Three trails access the pools: a 1.2-mile (1.9-kilometer) loop to the Lower Emerald Pool, a 2-mile (3.2-kilometer) round-trip hike to the Middle and Lower Pools, and a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) round-trip hike visiting all three. Free shuttles from Zion Canyon Visitor Center stop at Zion Lodge from April to October.
When to Get There
Since the Emerald Pools have become one of Zion’s most popular attractions, the trails can get congested during the high season in June, July, and August. To avoid the crowds, plan to visit on a weekday morning during the fall or spring shoulder seasons, and avoid school holidays.
The Lesser Traveled Trail
While most visitors take the Emerald Pools Trail to the eponymous pools, the Kayenta Trail offers a lesser-known, slightly longer, and more scenic route to the popular site. The trail follows the west wall of Zion Canyon, linking The Grotto picnic area to the Emerald Pools and Angels Landing.