Zion National Park is a nature preserve situated in southwest Utah. Here, the Virgin River cuts through the desert landscape, creating the park’s renowned cannons. One of its most famous hiking adventures is The Narrows, a journey in the river and not for the faint of heart. Thankfully, there are far more accessible (and drier) walks, such as the Grotto Trail.
The Grotto Trail in Zion National Park is accessed from the Zion Lodge or the Grotto. It is a half-mile in each direction and takes visitors an average of 30 minutes to complete. Alternatively, the Grotto Trail can be turned into a loop by linking with the Emerald Pools and Kayenta Trail.
- Distance: 1m (1.6km)
- Est hiking time: 30 minutes
- Elevation Change: 35 ft (11m)
- Difficulty: Easy
How Much Time To Hike The Grotto Trail?
The Grotto Trail in Zion National Park is a pleasant and easy half-mile stroll in each direction. It takes folks around fifteen minutes each way.
The Grotto Trail is a handy way to go between the Lodge and the Grotto without driving, using the shuttle, or walking on the road. Many people also use it on their way to view the Emerald Pools or to create a loop with the Kayenta Trails.
While the Grotto is not listed as a must-see destination at the Zion National Park, wildlife is routinely spotted along this leisurely route.
What Time Of Year Is Best For The Grotto Trail?
The Grotto Trail in Zion National Park is open all year. While some of their trails take a battering during certain times of the year, the Grotto is rarely impacted. For visitors that want to avoid the crowds, visit December through February, as the busiest times of year are March through November.
What Time Of Day Is Best For The Grotto Trail?
The Grotto Trail is doable throughout the day. However, hikers who enjoy the quiet will find early mornings the most peaceful. Also, with cooler temperatures, it can be the best time to spot wildlife.
Is The Grotto Trail Disability Accessible?
The Grotto Trail in Zion National Park is not listed as one of their two wheelchair-accessible trails, which are sometimes inaccessible due to storm damage (always check before hiking). Nor is the Grotto Trail part of one of the park’s virtual hike tours. However, the trail is pretty wide, and the dirt is relatively even. Thus, Accessible Nature does rate the Grotto Trail as accessible for those using a stick.
The challenge with using a wheelchair on the Grotto Trail is the slopes, which could be difficult for tires to grip on the unpaved surface. So while there are chairs that would probably have no problems, many would be at risk of getting stuck.
Looping The Grotto Trail With Emerald Pools & Kayenta Trails
The Grotto Trail is excellent for creating a loop with the Emerald Pools and the Kayenta Trail. For example, a hiker could leave from Zion Lodge, go to Lower Emerald Pools, on to Middle Emerald Pools, connect to the Kayenta Trail and follow to the Grotto, where they take the Grotto Trail back to the Zion Lodge.
How Long Is The Grotto, Emerald Pools & Kayenta Trail Loop?
Looping the Grotto with the Emerald Pools and Kayenta has a few variations, but it is around 4 miles. The actual walking takes hikers around 90 minutes. But with all the stopping for pictures and to admire the pools, folks tend to spend a good two-and-a-half hours on the route. Plus, these paths are pretty popular, so there will be times of the year when you are navigating crowds.
The Kayenta Trail is a lovely way to walk along the Virgin River without actually walking in it as you do with The Narrows. In addition, the Emerald Pools are gorgeous. Thus, this is a lovely scenic alternative for those that don’t want to attempt hiking through a river.
How Difficult Is The Grotto, Emerald Pools & Kayenta Trail Loop?
Looping the Grotto with the Emerald Pools and Kayenta Trail will raise the difficulty to moderate. The unpaved paths have rocky sections, and there can be some ledges and moderate drop-offs. In addition, damage from storms can occasionally increase the difficulty in certain spots.
While children can do this route, there are some ledges. Playing near these drops must be avoided, and toddlers are probably best secured in a hiking backpack.
Please note that there are times when sections can also be closed due to damage. So always check before venturing out.
Best Time Of Year For The Grotto, Emerald Pools & Kayenta Trail Loop?
Like the Grotto Trail, the entire loop can be done throughout the year. Most of the trail has scattered shade, but there is a quarter-mile sandy section of Upper Emerald Pool that is exposed to the sun and can achieve significant temperatures.
While the view of the Upper Emerald Pool is worth the trip, it is a section of the loop that can be bypassed if you are pressed for time or just too hot.
Hikers who are battling the heat will also find it more pleasant to hike in the early mornings. This is also an excellent way to minimize your contact with crowds. Like the Grotto Trail, the loop is popular and can become very crowded.
Does Zion National Park Permit Swimming In The Emerald Pool?
The Zion National Park no longer permits swimming in the Emerald Pools. While it was once possible, the park’s popularity draws too many folks to witness the area’s beauty. The influx of people has threatened to destroy the very nature they’ve come to observe. Thus, to protect the pools, the park had to ban swimming.
Hikers are advised to fill up their drinking water at the Lodge’s filling station. There are also restrooms at the Grotto.
The Grotto Trail at Utah’s Zion Nation Park is an easy half-mile stretch that takes folks around 30 minutes to do up and back. However, the Grotto makes a nice loop with the Emerald Pools and Kayenta trail for those wanting a longer walk. The loop is more challenging, and there are some drop-offs, but it is beautiful with plenty of photo opportunities.