Emerald Pools Trail – a Green Oasis in the Desert of Zion National Park

Emerald Pools Trail – a Green Oasis in the Desert of Zion National Park


Location: Zion National Park, Utah

Length: approximately 3 miles – roundtrip to the Upper Pool

GPS coordinates: N 37 15.066 W 112 57.551


Emerald Pools can be called a signature place, a fascinating oasis in the desert of Zion National Park. They were given such a name for their unusual color. During some periods of time of the year algae provides the water in the pools with such a unique hue. A series of basins were carved into a rock ledge of the canyon wall by water, flowing and falling there. At this part of the park you’ll almost always be able to find at least a tiny waterfall.

Emerald Pools Trail is considered t be one of the best trails for the first time visitors to Zion National Park. The trailhead is very easy to find as it is near the Zion Lodge.

After leaving the Lodge you will need to cross the footbridge over the Virgin River and for some time (for approximately half a mile) the trail parallels the river. Enjoy the hike along a paved, shady part of the trail listening to the calming sounds of the flowing river and soaking in the great views of the canyon.

Then the trail turns left and starts to wind its way up into the alcove, providing the travelers with the remarkable views of the surrounding cliffs. This is actually the easiest portion of the trail. This part of the trail, leading to the Lower Pool, takes approximately 0.6 miles and is accessible for visitors with strollers and wheelchair accessible. It affords the hikers time to appreciate the views of the cliffs and of the Virgin River. Before long you will arrive to the Lower Pool.

The pools themselves are not really remarkable, but the two waterfalls there are enchanting and especially pleasant during the hot summer days. They cascade 75 feet from the Middle Pools located above. The sound of the falling water, the unique beauty of the alcove and the easiness of the hike all together make this part of the trail one of the favorite hikes for people of all ages and abilities. Lots of people make this the end of their journey, but if you are able to handle a moderate trail, you should proceed!

If you decide to continue your travel to the Middle and Upper Pools you need to pass the Lower Pool, walk underneath the waterfall, and then come around the corner where the stone stairs will take you up to the Middle Pools located just on the cliff under which you have just walked.

At the Middle Pools level there are actually two pools. A lot of people can hike up to this level though the trail becomes a little bit steeper and rougher (the length of the trail to the Middle Polls is 1 mile one way). It’s a pleasant stop with these two small pools, water from which is flowing down creating the waterfalls of the Lower Pool, and the amazing view of the canyon below.

The last part of the trail, leading to the Upper Pool, is actually the hardest part of this journey, as it is located more in a desert, so to say, so you will be more exposed to the sunlight, it’s a little bit hotter here and, perhaps, dustier. The Upper Pool is quite different from the Lower Pool. It is surrounded from three sides by huge cliffs and provides the hikers with really stunning views, rewarding them for the completion of a steep and rugged trail.

The beauty of the Emerald Pools Trail can be appreciated at any time of the year, but if you want to see the waterfalls in their fullest power you should come here in early spring during the runoff or during the heavy rain. If you come here in spring or early summer, you will be able to see lots of wood frogs and listen to their choir.
The incredible beauty and wonder of the Emerald Pools Trail is undeniable. And its accessibility has made it a popular destination for visitors to the park. And the park rangers are asking the visitors to respect the rules and do not go into the water, as it can lead to death of different organisms living there.

Photo: Roman Khomlyak

Photo Editing: Juliana Voitsikhovska

Information: Svetlana Baranova

Pictures taken: 10/28/16


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