5 Unusual Things to Do at Emerald Pools in Zion National Park

(note: this post was updated in 2022.)
5 Unusual Things to Do in Zion National ParkZion National Park, a southwestern Utah must-stop, fashions gorgeous views and wild imaginations. Avoid the crowds by doing these 5 unusual things.

Most folks will stop through Zion as part of their grand tour of the western National Parks on the way to or from the Grand Canyon. Having been to the Grand Canyon many times, I couldn’t wait to scoot over to Zion from Monument Valley to enjoy a day hike. On this day, I had a foot injury. Thus, my husband scaled Angel’s Landing–a bit too adventurous for me–and I journeyed up Emerald Pools on my own time.

Regardless of the hike you pick, you cannot go wrong in Zion. I’ll leave it to the guide books to offer up the hike that suits you. Thus, I return to my 5 Unusual Things series and offer up my list the Emerald Pools hike in Zion National Park.

5 Unusual Things to Do in Zion National Park1. Hunt for tadpoles. The hike up to Emerald Pools should take about an hour. About 3/4 way up the hike, you’ll come across a turn to the lower pools and a turn to the middle and upper pools. Go to the top first. You’ll come across the middle pools, which if you think you’re seeing the best, you’ll be sorely disappointed when you get to the top. Take a brief break in the shade and then wonder over to the middle pools, which, frankly, aren’t very interesting. But look closely. If you’re lucky, you’ll see tadpoles. Hundreds of them. Don’t touch, but giggle at their awkwardness and their living evolution.

Yellowstone 2015 1492. Watch frogs leap. Once you’ve had your fill of the middle pools, hike the last leg, which undoubtedly is the hardest, to the upper Emerald Pools. Pull up a rock and relax. Soon, you’ll be tuned into the movement in the water. Frogs start to appear. They’ll be crawling on the rocks right around water’s edge. Just watch them sneak around while your fellow hikers do silly things on the upper rocks and boulders. In the picture to the left, you can barely see a tiny frog on the right edge of the boulder, near the vertical center.

5 Unusual Things to Do in Zion National Park3. Take a waterfall shower. After you come down from the upper pools, take the leg to the lower pools. Not as spectacular as the upper pools, but more refreshing, position yourself under the waterfall. The right breeze will blow cool water onto you in the most timely shower you’ll ever have.

5 Unusual Things to Do in Zion National Park24. Marvel at the color palette. Once you walk away from the trail down into the valley, you’ll have scrumptious views of the buttes and mesas. Look up the valley, and you’ll see stunning white buttes on the left mirrored by picturesque orange and red buttes on the right. A river runs through them spotted by greens and browns.

5 Unusual Things to Do in Zion National Park5. Look up. The tops of the buttes sport cathedral shapes of awe, making the imagination gasp. It’s almost impossible to put together the amount of erosion that played out here as the oceans receded. But the spires and shapes tell the truth and they actually foreshadow the beauty of Bryce National Park, the next stop on our trip.

What did you enjoy in Zion National Park?



  1. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-South Dakota - Eat Walk Learn - […] from my description that the trail’s climb up a tall ladder echoed Angel’s Landing at Zion. Nope. It’s not…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


handsome hiking couple

Chris and Steve, the empty-nesting nomads, travel the world, one month at a time, housesitting and Airbnbing along the way. We uncover urban walks, great hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss. And we throw in a bit about Forex trading along the way.

More about Chris and Steve

Signup for our newsletter

Get the latest trip reports, and be the first to know about upcoming walking adventures!

Get your copy of Two Carry-Ons and a Plan: Retiring as Full-Time Nomads

Get your copy of Travel Magic Postcards!


Sponsors In order to underwrite this blog, there may be sponsored posts, advertising, or affiliate marketing. See disclosures here.