Burr Trail Scenic Backway in Utah

On Scenic Byway 12 in Utah, is located the small community of Boulder, 32 miles north of the town of Escalante, and 40 miles south of Torrey.

The Burr Trail, which ends (or begins) at Boulder, Utah, is one of our favorite back roads in the country. We have driven it several times, sometimes in a 4x4 Jeep, other times in a 2WD Toyota 4Runner. It is typically quiet, with little or no traffic. In earlier years the entire length of the road was dirt; today parts are paved. The drive and views are stunning! The switchbacks are breathtaking!

The road which connects Boulder with Bullfrog, and passes through the painted rock country of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Capitol Reef National Park, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument land is known as the Burr Trail.

The Burr Trail takes the adventurous traveler into some of Utah's most beautiful and extraordinary country, with views of the Henry Mountains, the colorfully contorted Waterpocket Fold, red Circle Cliffs, and Long Canyon. Numerous hikes and side trips are available for those with the time and inclination.

Although in dry weather the Burr Trail is easily accessible in passenger cars, wet weather may make the road impassable even for 4WD vehicles. Recreational vehicles are not recommended. County officials decided to pave the road from Boulder to the Capitol Reef National Park boundary a few years ago.

Various vista points along this backway offer thrilling views of sprawling scenery—of buttes, mesas, plateaus and mountain peaks. The Burr Trail connects with Highway 276, just north of Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell

Waterpocket Fold is a colorful eroded fold of rock layers nearly 100 miles long but only a few miles wide. In Burr Canyon, the Navajo sandstone has been completely eroded away, leaving a huge notch in the Waterpocket Fold.

Burr Trail Switchbacks

The famous Burr Trail switchbacks rise steeply up through the canyon. The trail drops nearly 800 feet in about a mile, while zigging and zagging down the Waterpocket Fold.

Originally, only the switchbacks were named the Burr Trail, a route used by cattlemen in the late 19th century to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges. Today, the entire road from Bullfrog to Boulder is known as the Burr Trail, named after John Atlantic Burr, a local cattleman.

Driving Times and Distances

Driving time from Bullfrog Visitor Center to Boulder is about 2 ½ hours, while continuing on to the Escalante Visitor Center will make the total trip about 3 hours. The trip can take longer depending on how many stops are made along the way. Part of the trail is paved, the unpaved part is accessible via a typical passenger car most times of the year.

One way mileage is approximately 67 miles. About 30 miles are paved.

There is no fee to drive the Burr Trail.

 

More About Boulder

Read more about the community of Boulder Utah

Photographs of the Burr Trail

Burr Trail in Utah ... 11 Miles to Capitol Reef, 52 Miles to Bullfrog Marina
Burr Trail in Utah ... 11 Miles to Capitol Reef, 52 Miles to Bullfrog Marina

Still on the paved section of Burr Trail in Utah
Still on the paved section of Burr Trail in Utah

The red rocks along the Burr Trail
The red rocks along the Burr Trail

 

Entering Capitol Reef National Park in Utah
Entering Capitol Reef National Park in Utah

Towering cliffs over the Burr Trail on a sunny day in Utah
Towering cliffs over the Burr Trail on a sunny day in Utah

Close-up of the various colors of rock along the Burr Trail
Close-up of the various colors of rock along the Burr Trail

Stopping to enjoy the solitude on the Burr Trail
Stopping to enjoy the solitude on the Burr Trail

Brilliant blue skies as a backdrop to the red cliffs along the Burr Trail
Brilliant blue skies as a backdrop to the red cliffs along the Burr Trail

Ready for a rapid descent along the Burr Trail ... still on the paved section
Ready for a rapid descent along the Burr Trail ... still on the paved section

Driving the dirt and gravel section of the Burr Trail, experiencing some washboarding, on the way to the switchbacks
Driving the dirt and gravel section of the Burr Trail, heading to the switchbacks

The 4x4 got dirty that day on the Burr Trail ... what fun it was!
The 4x4 got dirty that day on the Burr Trail ... what fun it was!

Getting ready to drive the rapid descent on the switchbacks on the Burr Trail in Utah
Getting ready to drive the rapid descent on the switchbacks on the Burr Trail in Utah

Driving the steep switchbacks down the Burr Trail in Utah ... all hands on the wheel!
Driving the steep switchbacks down the Burr Trail in Utah ... all hands on the wheel!

View to the valley from part way down the switchbacks down the Burr Trail
View to the valley from part way down the switchbacks down the Burr Trail

Riding the ferry at Bullfrog at the end of the Burr Trail
Riding the ferry at Bullfrog at the end of the Burr Trail

 

Photographs Around Boulder, Utah

Scenic Utah Byway 12 ... All-American Road
Scenic Utah Byway 12 ... All-American Road

Scenic Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder, Utah
Scenic Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder, Utah


 

Map of the Burr Trail from Boulder to Bullfrog, Utah (Courtesy of National Park Service)

Map of the Burr Trail from Boulder to Bullfrog


Interactive Map of the Burr Trail and Boulder, Utah Area


For More Information

Burr Trail on the Glen Canyon National Recreation area official website at NPS

Burr Trail at the ScenicByway12.com website