The Burr Trail, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Utah > Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument > The Burr Trail
Entrance to the national monument along the Burr Trail
Entrance to the national monument along the Burr Trail, south of Boulder
The Burr Trail links Boulder on UT 12 with the Notom-Bullfrog Road near the south end of Capitol Reef National Park, crossing the northernmost section of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and is an excellent back-country drive - worth the journey for its own sake as well as for the access it gives to various remote trails and 4WD tracks. Garfield County officials decided to pave most of the route a few years ago, from the west end 30 miles to the Capitol Reef boundary, which has taken a little adventure out of the journey and increased traffic significantly. The NPS has no plans to pave the remaining portion so this remains more of a challenge, still usually passable by all vehicles although a very steep series of switchbacks over the far side of the Waterpocket Fold may be quite testing for some.


6 views along the Burr Trail.


Panorama on top of Capitol Reef, along the Burr Trail.


From Boulder, the Burr Trail follows a wide valley beneath the towering white slickrock of Durffey Mesa, over a small plateau then crosses Deer Creek, an all-year stream that may be hiked for a long distance either up or (usually) down; to the south the creek meets the Escalante River after about 12 miles and several continuation hikes are possible. Four miles further on the road bends sharply and descends into The Gulch, the most popular canyon in the national monument because of generally easy walking and beautiful, varied scenery. This is a prime backpacking trip - to reach the Escalante takes two days and there are many other side canyons to explore.

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After the Gulch, the road follows along the base of the aptly named Long Canyon, a narrow, sheer-sided drainage filled with much colorful fallen rock. At the upper end the trail descends a steep incline at the edge of the Circle Cliffs, which are made of a lengthy ridge of red Wingate sandstone that curves right round to the east and forms the near edge of Capitol Reef; after the descent the Burr Trail crosses several lesser canyons and later a wide, scrub-covered plateau (White Canyon Flat) before climbing gradually towards the reef. There are several side roads in this section; one follows alongside two creeks to the Wolverine Petrified Wood Natural Area which is visited because of two good slot canyons (Little Death Hollow and Wolverine Creek) as well as the many petrified wood samples that are widespread across this region.

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