The Allure of Emerald Pool: A Yellowstone Gem

Yellowstone National Park is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the United States. Celebrated for its stunning landscape, fantastic wildlife, and unique geological features, millions of people flock to the park every year to delve into the great outdoors.

emerald pool yellowstone

But whether you are a die-hard explorer or a casual holidaymaker, one spot that you shouldn’t miss is Emerald Pool. This must-visit destination is a treat for all senses and offers some of the most Instagram-worthy photos in the park. 

Emerald Pool Location

Emerald Pool is located in the famous Upper Geyser Basin area of Yellowstone National Park, about 30 miles (48.28 km) north of the West Entrance. The fastest access to this area is via the Madison Junction, a crossroads in the park where US-191 meets the Grand Loop Road. At the Madison Junction, follow the Grand Loop Road for nine miles northwards, and you will reach the Upper Geyser Basin. Turn left when you see a vast parking lot, and you will find yourself at the base of the paved trail to Emerald Pool. The trail is about half a mile in length (round trip) and is stroller and wheelchair accessible.

Wildlife to Encounter

The trail to Emerald Pool in Yellowstone is more than just a journey to a spectacular pool; it is a haven for wildlife. On your stroll to the basin, you are likely to see many species of birds, including mallard ducks, spotted sandpipers, and Canada geese. Gazing around, you might also spot chipmunks scurrying beside the trail, squirrels chattering above, and the occasional rabbit darting in the nearby vegetation. Although rare, bears and coyotes have also been spotted in the area, so it is essential to keep yourself and your group safe by carrying bear spray.

Activities to Do

While the hiking trail to Emerald Pool may be short, it is packed with features worth exploring. The pool itself is a stunning shade of blue-green, caused by the unique minerals and microbes in the water. But it is not just the color that makes it a magnificent sight. From its edge, you can observe a breathtaking view of a gushing hot spring 300 yards (0.27 km) away. You can also follow the boardwalk to explore other geysers and hot springs nearby. The Upper Geyser Basin is famous for Old Faithful, a geyser that spouts boiling water as high as 185 feet (56.39 m) into the air, about every 90 minutes.

yellowstone's emerald pool

Emerald Pool Parking

The parking lot at the Upper Geyser Basin can fill up fast, especially during peak seasons; therefore, it is wise to arrive early in the day. If you happen to arrive in the afternoon or after the lot has filled, you can still park at the designated overflow parking lot. This area is about a 0.5-mile walk from the trailhead and passes through some stunning scenery, including bubbling hot springs and majestic geysers. Note that parking fees are covered under your vehicle entry fee for the park, which currently stands at $35 (valid for seven days).

Common questions about the Emerald Pool in Yellowstone

Is it safe to swim in the Emerald Pool?

The water temperatures can reach up to 199 °F (92.78 °C), which is near boiling point and can cause severe or fatal burns. Furthermore, the park regulations strictly prohibit swimming in thermal pools to protect both the visitors and the delicate ecological balance of the thermal feature. There has already been safety issues and inconveniences with people when they wanted to approach the Emerald Pool, so now visitors are urged to observe and enjoy the beauty of these natural features from the designated boardwalks and trails.

Why is it called Emerald Pool?

The Emerald Pool derives its name from its striking emerald-green color, a characteristic brought about by the presence of unique minerals and microscopic organisms in the water. The pool’s temperature, is optimal for the growth of a type of thermophilic bacteria that forms a yellow-colored microbial mat around the edge of the pool. When viewed through the deep, clear water, this yellow mat combines with the pool’s naturally blue reflected sunlight, generating an intense emerald hue. This beautiful coloration amidst the natural landscape of Yellowstone leads visitors to marvel at the aptly named Emerald Pool.

emerald pool in yellowstone


Emerald Pool, with its stunning color and the serene ambiance it carries, is a must-visit destination for every Yellowstone traveler. It is an incredibly photogenic location where you can immerse yourself in the beauty of nature and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities. Whether you visit during the morning, noon, or evening, we guarantee you will have the experience of a lifetime. Remember to bring your camera, wear sturdy shoes, dress appropriately for the weather, and always respect the hot springs by staying on the designated trails and boardwalks. Come and enjoy the breathtaking views of Emerald Pool today!

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