emerald pools zion

Emerald Pools Zion | Ultimate Visitors Guide | One of the best hikes in Zion National Park

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Emerald Pools Zion hike is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park! This easy and family-friendly trail has breathtaking views of Zion, and it's the perfect place to cool down at the beautiful waterfalls of Emerald Pools!

Are you visiting Zion National Park? You'll want to make sure you stop to hike this trail!

I have put together this visitors guide to give you an idea what to expect, fees for the National Park, best times of the year to visit, and the parking situation (which can be intense)!

Table Of Contents

emerald pools zion

Emerald Pools Trail

Distance: Roughly 2 mile loop

Difficulty: Easy

Length of time: 1 hour but 2-3 if you stop frequently to take photos like we do

Cliff notes: This is honestly a very easy hike. It’s safe and family-friendly. The trail is about the width of a normal sidewalk, and maybe a little bit larger. In the very beginning of the trail, there’s a drop off for the first 20 minutes of the hike that you’ll be walking next to. As long as you don’t get too close, you’ll be just fine! Towards the end of the trail by the Upper Emerald Pools there’s bigger rocks to climb over in some areas. If you want to see the entire POV of the hike, check it out on my YouTube channel.

How do you get to the Emerald Pools?

You’ll get to the trailhead by going to Zion National Park and taking the shuttle. The Zion Lodge shuttle stop 5 is now closed as of May 2023, so you’ll need to take shuttle stop 6 the Grotto and hike the Kayenta Trail to the Emerald Pools.

If you stop at shuttle 6, Emerald Pools trail shares a trailhead with Angels Landing. You’ll get off the bus, cross the street and the little bridge that goes over the Virgin River, and you’ll see the Angels Landing trailhead to the right, and Emerald Pools to the left.

Where do I park at Zion National Park?

Parking can be a pain! I’m here to help 🙂

Here is the Google Maps location to parking, and overflow parking is alongside the road just outside of the park. We parked all the way in Springdale, the small town outside of Zion. The shuttle system does run all the way there, so we just hopped on the bus after we paid for the parking meter.

emerald pools zion
Highlighted in pink is the trail and the trailhead

Entrance fee into Zion

You’ll need to either purchase a yearly national park pass or a weekly pass. They don’t sell day passes, only 7 days.

$35 per private vehicle

$30 per motorcycle

$20 per snow mobile

$20 per walk in person

$70 Zion yearly pass

$80 all national parks yearly

If you purchase a National park pass, which I highly recommend you doing, it’s $80 for the year. For more information about the park fees and passes visit their website.

Best time to visit Zion National Park

The BEST time to visit is late spring or early fall. We visited at the end of May, and it was pretty warm. During the Emerald Pools hike, we got hot and took several drinks breaks. The waterfall itself is very cool, and has a nice mist that will cool you down.

We originally planned to do the Narrows Hike, however due to flooding by the Virgin River, the hike was closed. The park ranger said it typically floods during this time of the year (May) because of the ice melting from the top of the mountains and making its way to the river.

What to expect hiking the Emerald Pools Zion trail

If you take the Grotto shuttle 6 stop, you’ll be hiking along the Kayenta Trail. It’s a dirt trail with small rocks that hugs the rim of the canyon overlooking the Virgin River. There are some drop offs in this area, so be careful. The trail itself is as wide or a little wider than a normal sidewalk. It’s safe, and very family-friendly. After about 20 minutes of hiking alongside the river, you’ll make a right turn following the trail and it takes you back into the canyon with the falls. You’ll start to see at a distance were the falls are. You’ll first cross over the middle Emerald Pools, which is like a trickle of water going across a large area of flat rocks. It’s not really a “waterfall” in my opinion. Then, you’ll have the option to go up to the Upper Emerald Pool or down to the left to the Lower Emerald Pool. My suggestion is that you see both! We went to the Upper Pool first.

emerald pools zion

We stopped for about an hour at the upper pool. As you can see, there were so many people there! This is a great lunch place and plenty of places to sit down and eat a snack, lunch or a have a drink.

emerald pools hike

We took a few photos and videos of the area, and sat to enjoy the scene. The mist from the waterfall was very refreshing and much needed because we felt hot from the hike. Then, we headed down to the Lower Emerald Pool. We hiked back the same way we came for about 10 minutes before seeing the signage for the trail, and taking a right. We hiked down through a little slot of large rocks, then down some stairs.

Towards the end of the trail, we noticed they had chain railings to prevent people from slipping on the rocks. The falls go over the trail, so the rocks are pretty wet. Be careful hiking down in this area because they can be slippery.

emerald pools zion
Photo credit: Vist Utah

Final conclusions about the hike:

If you’re planning on visiting Zion National Park, then you definitely should check out this trail. It’s overall easy, not scary. The Upper Pool is the best, the middle is unimpressive, and the lower is also very beautiful. Highly recommend seeing the Upper and Lower Pools 🙂

If you’ll be visiting Hawaii anytime soon, and going to the island of Oahu, check out my latest blog 12 Best things to do on Oahu! Thanks for reading!

My travel photography gear:

  1. Sony ZV-1F Vlog Camera for Content Creators and Vloggers White
  2. Sony a7 III ILCE7M3/B Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera (base only)
  3. Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 for Sony Mirrorless Full Frame
  4. Camera Backpack 17.3 inch (with laptop flap)
  5. 128 GB memory card SanDisk
  6. 5 TB external hard drive
abby hawaii


We are Abby & Nash Hagen, a married couple who lives in Hawaii and loves to travel the world! Our goal is to help you with your travels, and inspire you to get outside to see God’s beautiful world! :)

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