- Shuttle Stop 6#, [The Grotto]
- Estimated Roundtrip Time: 1.5 hours
- Distance: 2.0 miles/3.2 kilometers
- Elevation Change: 150 feet/46 meters
About the Kayenta Trail
The Kayenta Trail used to be a simple cutoff from the Grotto bus stop to the Emerald Pools but over time it got its own name and designation as an official hiking trail. The Grotto picnic area has limited parking but is equipped with restroom facilities. This trail was closed due to the 2018 summer storm that also closed the Upper Emerald Pool Trail and was scheduled to open until some recent rockslide damage caused some further delay. The park hopes to open the trail soon but of course, safety comes first.
Crossing the river you will come to an immediate split. The right fork runs northeast to West Rim Trail. We will take the left fork and continue along Kayenta Trail. The trail flows gently southwest following the Virgin River on your right and the impossibly tall 6700’ Spearhead peak on your immediate right. Once you round the southern base of the Spearhead the trail will veer northwest up into Behunin Canyon to the Emerald Pool area.
The path will split, one leg taking you to the Upper Emerald Pool, the other to the Lower Emerald Pool. Once you make it to the pools, the lush greenery will be a stark contrast to the dry desert brush you hiked through along the way. The shadows of Lady Mountain in the south, Castle Dome in the west, and Mt. Majestic to the north creates a small cavity of cool refreshing atmosphere for you to relax in before hiking back out.
Not too long ago, the National Park allowed swimming in the Emerald Pools, but due to the increasing popularity of the hikes and the overcrowding of the pools, there are clearly marked signs telling visitors that taking a short dip in the cool water is strictly forbidden. We hope this trail opens back up soon as it truly is a wonderful hike.