Zion Canyon – Emerald Pools

Virgin, UT

On Monday we drove ten miles from our park into Zion National Park for some exploration in Zion Canyon.  The most prominent feature of the 229-square-mile park, the canyon is 15 miles long and up to half a mile deep, cut through the reddish and tan-colored Navajo Sandstone by the North Fork of the Virgin River.  Zion Canyon Scenic Drive provides access to Zion Canyon. Traffic congestion in the narrow canyon was recognized as a major problem in the 1990s and a public transportation system using propane-powered shuttle buses was instituted in the year 2000.  From late March through late October, the scenic drive is closed to private vehicles and visitors ride the shuttle buses.  We rode the shuttle during a June visit we made here a few years ago and found it to be a very easy way to access the canyon.  But right now there is no shuttle and a relatively small number of visitors, so we are able to drive in and enjoy the park without the crowds of summer.  While working in education during an earlier life, we couldn’t see the need to keep schools going year-round.  Now that we are free of the constraints of the working world, we think that student vacations should be eliminated.  Keeping America’s youth in school would help raise test scores and, more importantly, keep them out of our way!

To begin our day we drove all the way to the end of the road and hiked out a paved path called the Riverside Walk.  The trail is about a mile and leads to a place called The Narrows.

The trail hugs the canyon wall and is a bit wet and muddy at spots.  This was the first day the trail was open all the way to the Narrows due to the threat of falling ice.

The Narrows is where the canyon becomes so narrow the river has no banks.  To hike further up the river you need to wade the ice cold water of the creek, which requires special equipment.

We had no wading gear and taking off our shoes to walk in ice cold water was not an option, so we returned back to the Jeep and headed back down the road to do some more exploring.

A short distance away is a parking area to access the Weeping Rock.  A very short walk up a paved trail leads to a large rock outcropping covered with water draining off the canyon walls.

From a distance you can see that the rock is wet, but you don’t see the water draining off it.  As you walk up under the rock you are treated to a nice shower of cold water.  Once under the rock ledge and looking back to the sun, you can see a curtain of water in front of you.

Our main hike of the day was to the Emerald Pools.   An easy, half mile hike up a paved trail leads to the Lower Pool.  After hiking behind a waterfall, you go up a more difficult trail to the Middle Pool.

The view of the Middle Pool and the canyon below is pretty cool.

From there the trail rises steeply as you head toward the Upper Pool.  But the hike is definitely worth it, as the Upper Pool is the highlight of the hike.  Hidden deep in the canyon, the Upper Pool is more like a small pond.  It has a large pile of snow along the canyon wall and a beautiful waterfall high above.

The return trip hugs the canyon wall, provided great scenes in every direction.

Day one of hiking in the canyon was a complete success.  We have a number of longer, more challenging adventures planned for the next few days.

More on that later . . .

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19 Responses to Zion Canyon – Emerald Pools

  1. RJRVtravels says:

    Brings back great memories – We did that hike in the height of summer – VERY HOT – interesting to see it in winter.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Awesome, great reminder of this beautiful place. Still laughing about your comment and year round school….so agree 🙂

  3. Lisa says:

    Yep, keep those kids in school, leaving the parks and trails and everything open to us retired folk!!! How nice you get to experience the park before the shuttle starts for the season!

    • placestheygo says:

      It is nice to be able to get where you want, when you want. We figure we will get all the hiking completed in the main canyon before the shuttle starts around the 24th. We can then hike outside the main area.

  4. pmbweaver says:

    That header photo is gorgeous.

    I wonder what the traffic is like there in October. If you get a chance would you check that out for us. That is when we would be visiting. Thanks.

    Thank goodness you both had enough common sense not to take your shoes off. I was hoping you weren’t that crazy.

    Weeping rock is beautiful. You caught the water coming off perfect.

    What a lovely area. Was that snow in that one picture? The one with the little waterfalls. I can’t quite tell.

    Looking forward to your big long hike photos.

  5. Wow, I am salivating. It is just a lovely place to be. Great Photos!

  6. And oh like the new header picture. Beautiful!

  7. Gay and Joe Taylor says:

    I am in awe all the time at what a beautiful country this is! The curtain of water is way cool!

    • placestheygo says:

      The curtain of water was so interesting because from below you couldn’t see anything. Then hiking up all of a sudden you get quite wet. Turn around and there is a small waterfall. Yes, very cool!

  8. Oh wow, how beautiful! I can’t wait to hear about the hikes you take in the park. We’re planning on spending 3 weeks in the area starting at the end of March so I’ll be taking close notes on your adventures. As usual, thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Beautiful Country! Your pictures are great!

  10. Erin says:

    Agreed about year-round schools 😉

    Our last trip to Zion before we left Utah was a Christmas trip that included the Grand Canyon. We didn’t get to walk the trail to Emerald Pools because of snow on the trail, but did get as far as Weeping Rock … being winter, the water seeping out of the rock face had formed icicles … what an amazing sight that was.

    • placestheygo says:

      I can just imagine how neat the Weeping Rocks would be with icicles. We did see several ice flows on our hike to the Double Arch. So beautiful! There is still plenty of ice and snow on many trails. We had some icy spots on Hidden Canyon trial. Hopefully the 70’s this week will help.

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