Checkerboard Mesa is a quite popular attraction for photographers. The prow of the mesa is inclined by 60º angle and is striated giving the entire wall a very lively appearance. It dominates the horizon and it catches your attention almost as soon as you enter the East entrance of the Zion National Park.
Getting to Checkerboard Mesa:
There is no access difficulty to the area around Checkerboard Mesa. Highway 9 bisects Zion National Park in two halves. The Checkerboard Mesa viewpoint is about two miles down Hwy 9 from the East entrance and located South of the road. The uniqueness of Mesa will make it easily identifiable as it almost sticks out in the landscape as a sore thumb.
The drive from Kanab and Mount Carmel Junction to the East entrance of Zion National Park are 35 min (30 miles) and 17 min (13 miles), respectively.
The access coming from West is a little bit unpredictable as you will have to pass the old tunnel. Traffic can occasionally get a somewhat slow, specially when there is a high volume of cars or oversized trucks and RV’s which will require a one way drive in the tunnel closing it temporarily for the opposite coming traffic.
From the parking between the East entrance station and the Mesa Checkerboard Mesa can be photographed at just about any time of the day, although it looks best from mid-morning until mid-afternoon, with the sun on the left. A medium wide-angle to standard lens will work best. From the pullout right at the base of the Mesa, you will need a 17-24 mm lens. Walking in the direction of the Canyon, you will find a small hill to your right. This makes an excellent vantage point at sunset to shoot the East Temple silhoutted against the evening sky.
A little bit further down the road towards you will get to a turnout to the left (South) at N37.22478 W112.896492. Get on top of the hill and you will encounter a wonderful pattern on the ground leading to Checkerboard Mesa. There are some wonderful foreground elements, besides a very enchanting pinion tree on top of a red sandstone hill. This particular area is a late afternoon to sunset spot.
Last update: Feb. 28, 2015