Entering Zion National Park from the east entrance immediately reveals a colorful display of orange, brown and white slickrock that includes one of the parks landmarks, Checkerboard Mesa.[Not a valid template]
The majestic criss-crossed mountain appears as a massive hill towering 900 feet above the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, and resembles a giant, extended chess or checkerboard. The vertical and horizontal fissures are more evident on the north side of the mesa, where most of the photographs of the mountain are taken. The left to right deep scratches are due to a north to south wind direction, while the vertical cracks are a result of weathering, a cycle of freezing and thawing. Change still continues in the park, so much in fact that the massive monoliths will eventually break down and become, once again, great dunes of sand.
Immediately west of Checkerboard Mesa is Crazy Quilt Mesa, another wonderful example of cross-bedding. Checkerboard Mesa was once known as Rock Candy Mountain but in 1938 the superintendent of the park gave it the name we use today. Our trail report for this issue will take hikers on a fascinating hike that few have done. You will venture up the side of Checkerboard Mesa to the northern tip where you can look down upon the magnificent smooth stone hills, desert tanks, and odd shaped outcroppings of twisted and manipulated sandstone seen in various shapes and sizes on the east side of Zion.
At a Glance
Day Hike: Yes
Distance: 2 miles round-trip.
Average Hiking Time: 4 hours
Equipment: Sturdy hiking shoes with sticky rubber soles should always be worn when hiking on slickrock to ensure safer footing. Bring emergency equipment, plenty of water, and energy snacks.
Difficulty: This is a strenuous uphill route with a lot of bushwhacking, but the relatively short distance makes it a hike that can be done in a fairly short amount of time. Navigation skills are required.