Emerald Pools

The Emerald Pools at Zion National Park are a great place to make an escape. The area is very oasis like in the desert landscape of the park. This is a fun hike with many variations that makes for a great choose-your-own-adventure. There are a series of three pools - Upper, Middle, Lower - and multiple trails that offer access to these different pools.
upper emerald poolZion Ponderosa
There are multiple ways to access the pools. Many visitors will begin at the lower pool and continue on to each pool, that is a 2.2 mile round-trip adventure. There are trails that lead directly to each pool, it is up to you which pools you would like to see and how you want to utilize the trail system in place.

Lower Emerald Pool

Trail Length: 0.6 miles to the lower pool.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy | Wheelchair accessible
Elevation Change: 50 feet

This is a paved trail with little elevation gain. It is a great hike for families with strollers or wheelchairs. The Lower Emerald Pool is formed from the waterfall of Middle Emerald Pool. The best time to see this pool and when it has the most water is in spring.

Middle Emerald Pool

Trail Length: 1 mile to the middle pool.
Degree of Difficulty: Easy / Moderate
Elevation Change: 200 feet

The trail to Middle Emerald Pool requires some climbing and has an unpaved edge. The pool is beautiful with trees nearby and offers lovely views of Zion National Park. There are options to go straight to Middle Emerald Pool, or take a trail past Lower and continue on to Middle Emerald Pool.

Upper Emerald Pool

Trail Length: 1.2 miles to the upper pool.
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Change: 400 feet

The Upper Pool is a pool surrounded by high cliff walls on three sides and a large boulder on the other. The many surrounding trees and water make this area so peaceful and cozy.


There are several options for getting to the Emerald Pools. It is up to you to decide which pools you’d like to see and create a route that fits. There are variations that include making a stop at the Lower Pool and continue up or start with the Upper Pool and head down from there.

The most common starting point for exploring the Emerald Pools is to begin at the Zion Lodge (shuttle stop #5), cross the foot bridge and head toward Lower Emerald Pool and beyond.

This trail begins as a well groomed and paved trail to the falls at Lower Emerald Pools. From the falls at the Lower Pool, continue through the grotto under the falls and connect with the trail to Middle Emerald Pools. Turn left at the first trail fork, head up the stairs to the top of the waterfalls. 

The trail branches right up to the Upper Emerald Pools. The left fork offers views from the top of the falls. The trail to the Upper Emerald Pools offers more of a challenge than up to this point.

This trail begins at shuttle stop #6 and takes you past the Middle Pool and connects with the Upper Emerald Pool Trail. When you have reached Upper and are on your return you can either continue back the way you came on the Kayenta Trail back to shuttle stop #6 or head down the Lower or Middle Emerald Trail and make your way out to shuttle stop #5.

Another option is to create a 3 mile loop out of the Emerald Pools Trails, Kayenta Trail, and Grotto Trail.
Emerald Pools, Grotto, Kayenta Trails Map

Preparing for the emerald pools

There are a few drop-offs to be aware of. Bring plenty of water especially in the summer when it is hot and tree cover comes and goes. Pack sun protection and snacks. 


In the heat of summer the falls from Middle Pool to Lower Pool may be more of a trickle. During spring or after a rain storm is when these falls are at their best. Winter sometimes brings icicles and interesting winter features but can also bring slick trails and may experience some closures. 
Zion Ponderosa

Zion National Park Trails