We arrived at Zion mid morning in Early October 2020 and were ready to hike the Emerald Pools Trail. Zion was the first place we came upon that was actually quite crowded. We first noticed this on the way in on the Zion Mt Carmel Highway, as traffic was busier than we had experienced on the rest of our trip. Once we descended upon the park , traffic slowed to a crawl all the way to the Zion Lodge which was where we were staying. We really couldn’t complain though as we traveled through such beautiful scenery and even through a couple of tunnels.
Located in Southern Utah, Zion is another one of Utah’s beautiful National Parks.
Zion National Park
We found Zion to be another stunning park. We stayed at the Zion Lodge. Because of Covid and social distancing, if you were staying at the Lodge, you could drive on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive to the Lodge but no further. If you were not staying at the Lodge you could only access this area by shuttle.
In order to ride the shuttle you needed to purchase tickets in advance. All in all, the park did a good job of assuring social distancing in the shuttles. They removed every other seat on each shuttle so only a small number of people could ride each shuttle and there was no standing permitted on the shuttles. Masks were mandatory. Regardless of this, the park was still more crowded than I expected.
If you were staying at the Lodge, after 3:00 pm you could ride the shuttle without a reservation, you just needed to pick up tickets at the Lodge office after 3:00 p.m.. Only one of the hikes we were planning would require shuttle service so we decided to save that one for after 3:00 pm on our second day.
Emerald Pools Hike
After arriving at the Lodge we found our room was not yet ready so we had a quick picnic lunch on the grounds and then headed out for a hike. We decided we our first Zion hike would be the Emerald Pools Trail since it was noonish and hot. We were told this hike had shade and was short and fairly easy.
Emerald Pools are a series of three pools, with a green hue. They are Lower Emerald Pool, Middle Emerald Pool and Upper Emerald Pool. This is a loop hike and is 1.9 miles round trip. You can pick and choose how much of the trail you want to do. The trail is considered easy to moderate. The lower pool is easy whereas the upper pool is more moderate.
We walked from the bus stop at Zion Lodge to the trail head which was a about 0.8 miles. We followed the Grotto Trail sign. It was a nice and scenic walk. After a short walk through the woods you will cross the road, walk through a a meadow and over a footbridge to the trailhead on the other side. We turned left at the trailhead loop, visited the middle pool first, then the upper pool and finally the lower pool. This trail was very well marked so we had no problem finding our way to the different pools.
Once over the footbridge the trail begins to the left and you will be heading up. The scenery on the way up was lovely. As we came closer to the Middle Emerald Pool we were shaded by trees which felt pretty good! For the most part, we had shade for the rest of the trail. Since this was October, the pool was not very full but still picturesque.
The trail from the middle pool to the upper pool was more steep with some good size steps up and down the rocks. This area of the trail was very populous and a few tight passes. We were glad we had our face covers on and often waited for people to pass. Once we reached the pool, we went to the right onto a rocky overlook area instead of down to the pool. The pool was very crowded and we didn’t feel the need to join the crowd. Besides, we kind of had this area above the pool to ourselves so we took the time to enjoy the view in the shade.
After the Upper Pool we headed down and then made the turn for the Lower Pool. After a few steps, the rest of the hike was very easy and down hill. The waterfall that flows into the Lower Pool was more of a drizzle but still pretty. I thought the Lower Emerald Poll was the prettiest of the three pools. I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the spring when the waterfall is full from the spring run off.
We finished the Emerald Pools Trail and then headed back to Zion Lodge where we relaxed watching the local deer gazing on the lawn. This was a nice short and easy hike and we enjoyed our first hike in Zion!
Where We Stayed
As I mentioned earlier, we stayed at Zion Lodge. We really liked this lodge for many reasons. It was clean and comfortable. We had a nice little patio off the back where we enjoyed coffee in the morning and ate our dinner in the evening. What was really awesome was seeing all the deer in the woods just feet from the patio. The best part of the Lodge was the location. We were right in the middle of the park, within walking distance to many of the places we wanted to see.