Zion is one of the most spectacular national parks in North America, and the fact that you can find it tucked between miles of sepia-toned desert creates a contrast that helps you truly appreciate its sweeping vistas and narrow, river-carved canyons.
I’ve been to Zion several times over the last few years in desperate attempts to escape Vegas, and each time the canyon reveals more secrets worth sharing. This time, Sam led the expedition to the Emerald Pools.
The Emerald Pools
There are three parts to the pools: Lower, Middle, and Upper. The hike is very manageable for all ages and capabilities – the lower pools are only a .6 mile hike from the trailhead and the upper pools are an additional mile up.
My favorite by far were the lower Emerald Pools, where the trail leads you under the lip of a canyon and a curtain of water rains alongside you.
The Middle Pools run down the edge of a cliff so the park has chained the area off for safety. Still, this small resting spot on the way to the Upper Pools provide some good picture opportunities.
The trail ends at the Upper Emerald Pools. This is a perfect picnic hub – a pool of water surrounded by tall cliffs and plenty of flat rocks to sit on. Even when the place gets crowded, there is a satisfying sense of serenity here.
If you’re looking for a good entry-level hike into Zion, the Emerald Pools give you just that: easy enough for any experience level but rewarding enough to ignite that sense of adventure.
Looking for more?
If you’re antsy for more than a 1.5 mile hike, there is a split in the trail that leads you to the Grotto. Although there is no real destination here besides the bus stop, the hike itself leads you along some amazing views of the mountains and is a definite bonus for photographs.
Once you get to the Grotto, you can also find the trailhead for Angel’s Landing, one of Zion’s toughest hikes but also one of its most rewarding.