Postcards: Emerald Pools & Wilderness Area Trails, Zion National Park

By Richard White, March 23, 2014

After yesterday's hiking the Canyon Lookout Trail in Zion National Park, Utah we decided to check out some other trails in the park today.  In the morning, we did the Emerald Pools Trail (lower, middle and upper) and then headed to the Zion National Park wilderness area where there are less people and we were told some easy to moderate hikes for beginners. 

We were also told to get there before 10 am as there is limited parking.  So we were up early for breakfast and to check-out.  It was cool and windy and we were wondering if hiking so early was a good idea - we are fair weather hikers at best.  However, at the Park Gate we were told that as the air warms, the winds would die down within the hour.  He didn't lie - it was a beautiful morning for a hike.  Not sure how people do it in the summer when the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius almost daily.   

Postcards: Emerald Pools Trail

While yesterday's postcards spoke for themselves, I think these postcards do need some context. For example, there are not emerald-coloured pools on the Emerald Pools Trail. 

I was intrigued by this rock wall that looked like it had a huge head etched into it. Can you see it just to the right of the big black, tree-like shadow?

This is one of the many rock steps that you have to negotiate on the trail up and down.  It is challenging to balance the need to look where you are walking while looking at the rock formations above.

I loved the light through this gap. The rock on the right looks like it has the lips of a tuna. 

Again. the bright light created intense shadows and colours that are very surreal.

  This is a close up of the water that trickles out of the rocks at the upper pool.

This is a close up of the water that trickles out of the rocks at the upper pool.

One of several small waterfalls we experienced on our hike. Again, the bright light and the water combine to create a surreal image.

Postcards: People On The Trail

The Emerald Pools hike is popular for people of all ages and fitness levels. This postcard is under the largest waterfall where you can feel the mist and some water falling.  It was refreshing on a hot day in March; I can only imagine how welcomed it would be in the summer.

Other people found a quiet place to relax and meditate. 

  We also found this 19-month old who was busy colouring while Dad carried her up the trail.  However, we were told she had hiked on her own another trail the day before. 

We also found this 19-month old who was busy colouring while Dad carried her up the trail.  However, we were told she had hiked on her own another trail the day before. 

Some people aren't satisfied just looking at the rock formations, they have to climb them.  Look for the climber in orange helmet about two thirds of the way up in the crack of the rock in the middle of the photo.

Postcards: Zion Wilderness Area

From the parking lot, you see an eerie vista of a meadow of dead-looking, stunted trees surrounded by a luminous red rock wall.  

As you get to the trail head, you get closer to the wall of rocks and the savanna of small, twisted and stunted trees. 

An example of the shedding bark of the one of the larger trees.

Just a few minutes on the trail, you encounter this sign. Indeed, it does feel like you are entering a wilderness; you feel like you are leaving the world behind. At this time of year, the landscape of dead-looking trees creates an eerie setting.  

As you proceed along the trail, you encounter beehive-shaped rock formations that are deeply etched horizontally by the elements.

The constant struggle to survive was never more evident than in this tree growing near the top of this beehive formation.

These mushroom-like growths, no more than a foot-long protruded off the side of the beehive. You could spend an hour exploring just one beehive.  

This six-foot abstract sculpture was hidden in a crevice in the rock formation.   

  As you get closer to the rocks, they become more and more abstract and intense in colour, shape and line.

As you get closer to the rocks, they become more and more abstract and intense in colour, shape and line.

Last Word

I think we lucked out in visiting Zion National Park in late March as the weather was cool in the morning, but quickly heated up by 11 am.  By April, you are already getting temperatures of +30 Celsius in the afternoon.  

We also lucked out in that we could take our own car to wherever we wanted to hike and then move on.  Beginning in April, you have to take the Park's shuttle bus rather than your car as there are so many people visiting and limited parking.  It would not be the same experience with so many people and buses. 

If you are traveling in the area of Zion National Park, consider booking a night or two in Springdale and plan a couple of fun hikes or maybe a bike, horse or tube ride.  

I also think the light was wonderful in the spring. The southerly sun was low enough to get into of the caves and gaps, which wouldn't be the case in the summer when the sun is more overhead. The combination of the coloured rock and the intense sun had a magical synergy.  I can see why the indigenous people would see this as a sacred place.

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