Utah: Zion National Park – The Grotto to Visitors Center 13Km

A succession of smaller hikes within Zion National Park, starting at the Grotto, was on today’s agenda for Good Mrs and I. Together, these shorter canyon loops and stretches gave us over 13km of hiking.

We started off the day much like yesterday. First by driving to the Visitors Center of Zion National Park. From there we continued on the park’s shuttle bus to arrive at stop 6 “The Grotto”. From where we walked all the way back to the Visitor’s Center.

On the Kayenta Trail, we encountered a precariously positioned rock. The situation required a show off photo. As long as the rock stayed where it was…


The trails and loops that we hiked where in order:

  • Kayenta Trail
  • Upper Emerald Pool Trail
  • Lower Emerald Pool Trail
  • Sand Bench Trail (parts of)
  • Along the road from stop 3 Canyon Junction to stop 2 Human History Museum (as there is no walking track parallel to the road)
  • Pa’rus Trail

Good Mrs on the shuttle bus in Zion National Park.


On to the hike…

The Kayenta Trail and most of the subsequent trails took us up the hillside a bit. If you want to call the mountains of Zion National Park “hillsides”…


The pamphlet and map from the Visitors Center did not describe a “middle emerald pool”. Although a map on a notice board that we saw at The Grotto had a “Middle Emerald Pool Trail” in addition to the “Lower” and “Upper”.

We decided to check that out later…


My thoughts here went to a certain dead Beatle. The familiarity to that phrase may be the park’s intention. After all, Zion National Park receives some 4 million visitors per year.


The “Upper Emerald Pool Trail” is listed as a “moderate” hike. Short, but you do walk on this. Lots of uneven rocks. Good for balancing and not too difficult.


The various pools and waterfalls themselves were a bit of nothing. Sure, during downpours and snow melting, the water may come down in a dramatic fashions from the above. But unlikely for very long.

Today there was nothing of that sort. I didn’t even bother taking a photo of Upper Emerald Pool but one of the mountains above it instead. You may see a trickle of water coming down that crevice.


The non-existence of the “Middle Emerald Pool Trail” from the maps became obvious later. See below. Trail closed. Somebody has added “Fix it” to the white sign to the right.


Next pool and trail was the “Lower Emerald Pool Trail”. Popular among the park visitors with a little bit more water and a minor waterfall.


And here is me at that same “Lower Emerald Pool Trail”.


Good Mrs and I continued to hike south along the “Lower Emerald Pool Trail”. Soon we were almost by ourselves apart from a few other “real” hikers.

Great scenery as always. This is the bridge spanning Virgin River taking visitors to and from stop 5 “Zion Lodge”.


South of “Zion Lodge”, the trail became a combined hiking and horse trail called “Sand Bench Trail”. Or occasionally as below, two parallel trails. The trail was sandy rather than rocky which was a nice change.

No horses were seen on the trail while we were there but their evidence was scattered. The occasional smell of horse shit did not deter Good Mrs and I.

Loved being on our own with the occasional “real walker” coming the other way.


Good Mrs is checking out the surroundings which are tall mountains in almost all directions.


Plenty of cacti suddenly appeared along the trail.


I am most fond of these beautiful plants in all their shapes and formats. Bring them on.


Close to shuttle bus stop 4 was this turkey. He was showing off all his feathers and making himself so big for…


… a car? Or more likely himself. The turkey kept seeing his own reflection in the shiny bumper of the car and putting on a show. Back and forth he posed, occasionally pecking at the bumper.

Turkeys are not the smartest creature in the animal world.


A couple of kilometres of road walking was necessary as there was no other alternative than the shuttle bus. Little traffic is allowed beyond the Visitors Center so it was mostly the shuttle bus that we had to watch out for.


Close to the edge but not too close. This explains why there is no formal trail or path here. The river and landslides would remove it. The edge here was quite soft. One flood and it could go.


The last 3km of hiking before returning to the Visitors Center was on the Pa’rus Trail. No pictures as it was all surfaced and not that much more to see which eventually took us through the campground of Zion National Park.

Another most pleasant hike, a lot easier than yesterday’s mission up towards Angel Landing.

Still, Good Mrs and I saw a lot more of Zion National Park from different angles. The mountains are tall and impressive although a lot is inaccessible unless you are a hard-core rock climber.

Good Mrs and I had our packed lunches at the Visitors Center and then we drove back to our motel in Hurricane. Which by the way is an excellent place to stay if you visit Zion National Park. Hurricane is perhaps a 30 minutes drive from the Visitors Center of Zion National Park but it is a lovely drive.

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