Hiking the Zion Emerald Pools in Zion National Park Utah with Kids

Hiking through Zion National Park with a 5 year old and a toddler isn’t necessarily easy. In fact, some would think it was impossible, especially if you want to go to the Zion Emerald Pools. So when your 5-year-old son exceeds every expectation you had for him, and pushed you to hike more than you thought you would that day, your proud mom smile is glued into place and doesn’t come down for at least a week.

As part of our cross-country road trip, we stopped at the Cliffrose Lodge and Garden for the night so we could explore Zion National Park. We had hiked to The Narrows, or at least as far as we could go without actually getting into the water. I’m not sure Mike would have fit through some of those crevices with Ty in a carrier on his back. We had one day in Zion; we were trying to see as much as possible.

emerald pools zion

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Zion Emerald Pools

Our last hike of the day before the sun set was to the Zion Emerald Pools. Mike and I figured we would hit the first pool and then head back. The hike up was pretty, but nothing compared to what Mike promised we would see when we got to the first pool (he had been there just after high school graduation as part of a two-week road trip with his siblings).

The first pool wasn’t much of a pool. It was more like sludge. A small waterfall fell over the rocks, but because of the draught that had rocked the area all summer, not much of that water was staying put for long. We climbed around the first pool and were ready to turn back until Dek (my 5 year old) found some steps. He wanted to climb them. So we did.


Finding motivation in Zion

We climbed to the top and found the second Emerald Pool. Again, it wasn’t much, but it was fun to look down over the cliffs to the first Zion Emerald Pool. This still wasn’t enough for Dek. He had to keep going.

The sun was starting to set at this point, but we thought we could beat it if we hurried. Dek was more than up for the task. Mike, with Ty on his back in the carrier, was another story, but Mike trekked on. If Dek wanted to hike, we were not going to stop him. We would get to see more of the park and he would pass out quickly from exhaustion at bed time.


Getting close to the final Zion Emerald Pool

It was a win, win for everyone…except maybe Ty who insisted on getting out of the carrier at every turn because he wanted to climb the rocks too. Unfortunately for Ty, he is a bit of a daredevil. We didn’t trust him not to throw himself over the edge to see if he could touch the water at the bottom. And yes. He is two years old.

We trudged on. A few couples passed us and said we were close. After those few couples we didn’t see another soul. Finally we came to the third of the Zion Emerald Pools. It was more of a puddle, but we had made it. Dek snapped a few photos of Mike, Ty and I, but we really couldn’t linger. The sun was setting over the cliffs of Zion.

zion emerald pools


Soon it would be dark at the Zion Emerald Pools and we did not want to be stuck up at the pools. For one brief moment though we looked around. We were alone in one of the most scenic and visited spots in the park. How often does that actually happen? Certainly not during the day when the park is packed!

Carefully we made our way back down. At the bottom I picked Dek up and gave him a big squeeze. I was so proud of my little man for conquering that mountain. He hadn’t complained once. In fact, he egged his father and I both on when we started to complain we were tired, hungry and thirsty.

zion emerald pools

Dek helped us see the Emerald Pools of Zion National Park. We caught some pretty amazing views of the sunset as well. I’m sure next time we head into Zion National Park Dek and Ty will be racing each other to the top of the Emerald Pools, leaving their poor tired parents in the dust. When I think about it, I’m actually OK with this future. It means we did our jobs and raised our boys to love the outdoors. I can live with being left behind every now and then.

Where have you found unexpected motivation during your travels?

Zion Emerald Pools

Water reflection of mountains via ShutterStock.com

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9 thoughts on “Hiking the Zion Emerald Pools in Zion National Park Utah with Kids”

  1. Steve

    Such wonderful pictures from Zion National Park!

    Do you have a logo I can add to my posts for Friday Postcards?


    1. Keryn Means

      Sorry Steve. No badge for my link up. I’m not a big fan of them because they clutter up design, but may get around to it one of these days for those who want one.

      1. Steve

        Gotcha. Please let us know if you end up making one.

  2. jill

    Love this! We are headed to Zion in May and I can’t wait!

  3. Jenna

    What a beautiful day hike. It is so empowering for small kids to do something so big like climb a mountain (or even a little hill!).

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

    Good job, Dek! Isn’t it nice to have a youngster excited about a hike instead of having to be coaxed/bribed/cajoled? This sounds like a great stopping point on your cross-country roadtrip. I’d really like to hike Zion with my own kids sometime. I hope they are as eager as Dek.

  5. Mary {The World Is A Book}

    Love Zion! I’m so glad you were able to explore the park and practically had it to yourselves. Way to go, Dek! I love it when little kids take such an initiative with the outdoors and especially at National Parks. Beautiful photos!

  6. Fives On The Fly

    Your post brings back lots of great memories of our trip to Zion last spring. Our kids (7,5, and 3 at the time) really had a blast exploring the Emerald Pools, peeking into the Narrows, and playing on the banks of the Virgin River. Being out in nature really brings out the best in our kids too 🙂

  7. eileen g

    I love to travel but i’m also a total chicken and a nervous traveler. So I have learned to ignore my fear and press on when I think it will be worth it. It’s been a handy skill to develop and I hope to pass it on to my daughter.

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