Burr-ring your camera for the scenic Burr Trail
Burr Trail from Boulder, Utah to Highway 24 near Notom, Utah
The locals have told me numerous times on my past trips to Grand Staircase Escalante and Capitol Reef National Park that I must drive this road. On my most recent trip with an adventurous Tracy as my travel buddy we could have taken the scenic route through Dixie National Forest along scenic byway Rte 12 but that would have been too ordinary and not nearly as much fun. So we left Escalante on a sunny and warm May 31st and headed toward Capitol Reef......the long way.
I'm calling this a 4X4 road because in bad weather it could easily turn into one. I did this easily in my 2WD X-Terra in dry weather and saw mostly 2WD and 4WD on this road. I did see one Honda Civic but we all know you can take those just about anywhere! The road is paved for the first 30 miles or so in the direction that we drove it but once you cross over into Capitol Reef National Park, it turns to gravel and then heading north on Notom-Bullfrog road it turns to sand with some sections of mud.
We stopped in the small town (almost a town) of Boulder Utah. There's a cool little Trading Post called Boulder Trading Post....how imaginative! Here is the intersection with the Burr Trail....there are BIG red and white signs so I guess they don't want you to miss it. We started on paved road winding through really great sections of Navajo Sandstone past Cottonwood Canyon and Durffey Mesa, past Deer Creek Campground at about 7 miles and then reach "The GULCH" at a little over 10 miles. After the Gulch you reach Long Canyon with some very high walls of Wingate sandstone...there some spectacular varnishing along this section. There's some nice sections along here with tons of Juniper just begging to picked up for a nice fire at Capitol Reef also some pretty great looking trails for back-country backpacking. Once the Burr Trail crosses into Capitol Reef boundary, it becomes an easy gravel road to navigate however you come to a wash crossing that would be completely impossible if the wash were flooded, even with 4WD. At 34.5 miles in you come to the top of the switchbacks which is hands-down my favorite part of the drive. The views are awesome and there is a small picnic area to your west with a TH to lower Muley Twist Canyon. A slow but steady drive down these switchbacks through Waterpocket fold is nothing short of outstanding........At 36.5 miles you reach a junction with Notom Road. If you are going to Bullfrog head south another 30 miles or so and if you are heading toward Capitol Reef bear left to head north along the Waterpocket Fold. The drive up Notom Road north follows the Oyster Shell Reef on your left (west) and goes from areas of washboard road to sand. This is the area I would not want to be in during or just after heavy rain. It's beautiful but there were some sections I just slipped in with all the sand and only 2WD. You will cross Bitter Creek Divide and eventually come to Cedar Mesa primitive campground. It's at least 30 miles from the junction of Burr Trail and Notom Road to Utah 24 to the north. And at the time I was there, they were doing construction out in the middle of nowhere between Sheets Gulch and Notom. All in all this is one spectacular drive around the east side of Capitol Reef in an area that most people don't even attempt to go. The locals are always SO RIGHT! (except I was told it was only 10 miles of unpaved road NOT 30+).
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.