A Checkerboard Mesa and More Landmarks of East Zion National Park

Note: As you read this, Peggy and I are in Amsterdam at the beginning of a Rhine River cruise between Amsterdam and Basel. I’ve been scheduling posts ahead of time so I can maintain a more regular presence on WordPress than I have been able to for the past several months. My goal for now is once a week on Fridays. At this rate, I already have enough material on the Southwest national parks we visited in April and May to keep going for three months. LOL. I may never catch up.

Photo of Checkerboard Mesa in the eastern section of Zion National Park by Peggy Mekemson.
Checkerboard Mesa is the dominant geological feature of the eastern section of Zion National Park. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

Rudyard Kipling said it:” East is East and West Is West, and never the twain shall meet.” That’s not true of Zion National Park, of course, but the eastern section of the Park will provide you with a significantly different experience than you have down in the Canyon or the western sections of Zion. Checkerboard Mesa shown above is the primary example. We can thank ancient sand dunes laid down in an early-Jurassic-era, Sahara-size desert that covered significant portions of what is now Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado 190 million years ago. The horizontal lines are caused by what is known as cross-bedding of the dunes. The vertical lines are caused by breaks in the cross bedding caused by freezing and thawing. It was thought that the results resembled a checker board, thus the name. Peggy and I found the mesa a fun subject for photography.

Photo of Checkerboard Mesa in the eastern section of Zion National Park by Curt Mekemson.
I moved back to provide a broader perspective on the Mesa using pine trees for framing.
Photo of Checkerboard Mesa in the eastern section of Zion National Park by Peggy Mekemson.
Peggy added a photo of the massive chunk of Navajo Sandstone reaching toward the sky. It’s quite a scroll down. Grin. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo of Checkerboard Mesa see as driving up from Zion Canyon taken by Curt Mekemson.
If you are driving up from Zion Canyon, this will be your first view of Checkerboard Mesa.
A view of the cross-bedding in the Navajo Sandstone that makes up Checkerboard Mesa in Zion national Park by Peggy Mekemson.
We were both interested in the cross-bedding. Peggy took this interesting side view.(Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
View of Checkerboard Mesa surroundings by Curtis Mekemson.
This was the view looking a bit farther north of Peggy’s photo.
Photo of Checkerboard Mesa in the eastern section of Zion National Park with lone pine tree by Curt Mekemson.
This was the view looking south.

If you have been in Zion and either entered or left by the east entrance/exit, you know there is much more to East Zion National Park than Checkerboard Mesa. One thing that fascinated Peggy was the alcoves that may eventually lead to towering arches such as those found in Arches National Park.

Photo of Navajo Sandstone in the eastern section of Zion National Park being eroded in such a way that it may eventual lead to an arch.( Photo by Peggy Mekemson.).
Looking toward the top of a Navajo sandstone mountain, you can see how the ridge coming down the front is eroding from both sides. This may eventually lead to an arch. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Alcove in Navajo Sandstone in East Zion National Park photographed by Peggy Mekemson.
This provides a straight on view of the alcove on the right of the ridge. Note how deep the alcove is. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Round alcove carved into Navajo Sandstone in East Zion National Park. Photo by Peggy Mekemson.
Another alcove. Alcoves and arches are created when a harder capstone is on top of a softer stone that erodes more rapidly. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
East Zion national Park photo by Peggy Mekemson.
And another alcove photographed by Peggy. Had there been more, I am sure that she would have photographed them as well! (Photograph by Peggy Mekemson.)

While Peggy was busy photographing wannabe arches, I was concentrating on other landmarks of East Zion National Park.

Photo of East Zion National Park landmark by Curt Mekemson.
I found this landmark rather impressive.
Navajo Sandstone featuring huge scar from falling rock in East Zion National Park. Photo by Curt Mekemson.
I wondered about the huge chunk of rock that left behind a bright red scar in this landmark. The other side is one of the alcoves that Peggy photographed.
East Zion National Park mesa photographed by Curt Mekemson.
Another prominent Mesa standing out like the prow of an ocean liner.
Photo of mesa on mesa in the eastern section of Zion National Park by Peggy Mekemson.
A mesa on a mesa. Peggy was impressed with its color. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Photo of shrubs growing on cross-bedded sand stone in East Zion Canyon by Peggy Mekemson.
I’ll close today with this interesting photo that Peggy took of shrubs and small trees growing on cross-bedded sandstone. I thought, ‘Wow, this would make one heck of a challenging puzzle!’ (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)

11 thoughts on “A Checkerboard Mesa and More Landmarks of East Zion National Park

  1. I enjoyed this look at East Zion and the Checkerboard Mesa, Curt. Your narrative was interesting and informative; and the photos were great, both you and Peggy did a great job capturing the rock formations. Have fun in Amsterdam!

  2. Nice to hear that your travels have been successful so far! Enjoy the Rhine cruise. Your images are so wonderful – particularly the combination of green and red. And I do love all the fascinating rock formations. After your recent posts on petroglyphs, I was eyeing the Zion rocks for good places to put my mark, haha. Hugs to you both. ❤

  3. When I looked at the Checkerboard Mesa, the first thing that came to mind was checked wood. It’s such an interesting place, and one I’d not heard of. My favorite photo was Peggy’s side view: a little more abstract than the others, but immensely attractive. ‘Massive’ is a good word to use about this place, that’s for sure. It’s good to hear you’re ready to begin the river cruise — and that you got there without any of the disruptions that are roiling the airline industry just now. Enjoy!

  4. Fabulous pictures you and Peggy took Curt and such a fun lesson in Checkerboard mountains. I always wondered about how they got like this. Happy to hear you are scheduling posts and will get to hear updates more frequently and how cool to do them on Fun Fri-Yays!!!

  5. These formations are spectacular! The patterns are amazing and the photographs convey a strong feeling for the movement of water and time.

  6. The exposed geology in that area is so impressive and fascinating. We often remarked, “I wonder how that formed?” Great photos and explanations, Curt. “Wanabe arches” cracked me up. Enjoy your cruise.

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