The Emerald Pools provide a cool, refreshing oasis.


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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.

Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.

Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.

Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.


The Emerald Pools hike begins at the Grotto shuttle stop (#6).

In Zion National Park, hikers use the free shuttle to get to many trailheads.

The shuttles run most of the year, excepting January 1st – February 15th.

Check online before planning your trip to Zion, as there are periodic changes to the schedule.

Beginning at The Grotto, there are several options for accessing and enjoying the Emerald Pools.

If a very short, easy stroll is desired, the nearly level stroll to the Lower Emerald Pool can be done on a paved path that is actually possible for a wheelchair or a stroller to navigate.

For just a bit more investment in time and energy, it is well worth making Upper Emerald Pool the destination.

Regardless of your final destination, the trek begins by crossing a pedestrian bridge over the Virgin River.

If the Lower Emerald Pool is the goal, head right after crossing the bridge; if the Upper Emerald Pool is desired, head left on the Kayenta Trail. As the Kayenta Trail begins to head up, a view of the lovely Virgin River opens up.

This is a short 2.4-mile hike, so be sure to slow down and savor the journey. Stop at the Middle Emerald Pool area to note where small pools have formed, before heading on up to the Upper Pool.

The Middle Pool is interesting, but the real treat is yet to come.

Look for a sign for the Upper Emerald Pool to find the unmaintained route. The remaining quarter-mile hike involves a minor bit of scrambling, but the route is easy to follow.

The Upper Pool is beautiful, tucked in at the base of colorful cliffs.

During wet periods, there may be some waterfall action. It should be noted that the Emerald Pools are delicate environments and that wading or swimming in them is strictly prohibited.

That goes for the creeks and waterfalls also.

After ample time enjoying the cool beauty, head back the same way. Sources: