Long Canyon

Historic & Scenic Burr Trail in Southeastern Utah

From the National Park Service: The Burr Trail takes the adventurous traveler into some of Utah's most beautiful and extraordinary country.  Views of the Henry Mountains, the colorfully contorted Waterpocket Fold, red Circle Cliffs, and Long Canyon [the banner photo - the western entrance into Long Canyon] all await the traveler who wishes to drive this interesting back road.  The entire route is scenic.  The Burr Trail provides access to incredible hikes in contorted landscape like the Gulch, Davis Culch, Red Circle Cliffs and Waterpocket Fold, and provides interesting side trips that are discussed below and on the Burr Trail Guide page.

John Atlantic Burr was born in 1846 aboard the SS Brooklyn somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.  He and his family moved from Salt Lake City and established the town of Burrville, Utah, in 1876.  He developed a trail to move cattle back and forth between winter and summer ranges and to market.  This cattle trail through the rough, nearly impassable country around Waterpocket Fold and Muley Twist Canyon has been improved, partially paved, and historically named the Burr Trail..  The switchbacks that cut through Waterpocket Fold is called Burr Canyon.

36 miles (58 km) south of Torrey, Utah, on Scenic Byway U12, the Burr Trail exits east at Boulder and runs for 67.4 miles (109 km) to U276, 11 miles (18 km) north of Bullfrog.  The 31 miles (50 km) to the Capitol Reef National Park boundary are paved.  The Burr Trail descends Waterpocket Fold inside Capitol Reef on dirt switchbacks and turns southeast onto Notom-Bullfrog Road (an unmarked junction the last time I was there).  It continues southeast on Notom-Bullfrog out of Capitol Reef National Park, turns south onto paved CR531 (continuation of Notom-Bullfrog), and meets U276 north of Bullfrog.  A paved return to Torrey is 110 miles (177 km) via U276 north, Scenic Byway U95 north, and Scenic Byway U24 east through Fremont Canyon inside Capitol Reef.  An alternate description of the Burr Trail does not turn south on the paved road but continues east for 26 miles on the dirt road through the southern end of the Henry Mountains to highway 276 north of Bullfrog, making this version of the trail 74 miles long.  A shorter scenic loop follows U12 south from Torrey, east on the Burr Trail to Notom-Bullfrog Road, north through Strike Valley with awesome views of the Henry Mountains and Waterpocket Fold to U24, and west through Capitol Reef to Torrey.  This scenic loop is around 130 miles long, much of it on dirt roads.

The Photo Gallery contains 19 scenic views along the Burr Trail, and View Photos is an auto-show of the gallery.  The Burr Trail Guide lists interesting points with accompanying photos along the Burr Trail between Boulder and Capitol Reef, keyed to a map, then continues down the final 20 miles to Bullfrog without photos.  The guide map lists 15 trailheads: four on Hells Backbone road, three on Scenic Byway U12, and eight on the Burr Trail and Wolverine Loop off the Burr Trail.