Scenic Trail in Utah

By Gene McPherson
This item appears on page 28 of the June 2021 issue.

In southern Utah are Zion, Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef national parks as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Highway 12 connects Bryce with Capitol Reef, through the scenic heart of Grand Staircase-Escalante, but along the highway, from the small village of Boulder, is a wonderful detour worth the extra time and scenery: the absolutely astounding Burr Trail.

From Boulder, heading east, the Burr Trail runs from the high country of similarly spectacular Grand Staircase-Escalante down to a wide valley. The scenery is wonderful Utah as usual — slot canyons plus high points allowing wonderful views of the absurd geology, including the famous Waterpocket Fold.

Twenty miles from Boulder, the road Ts and the pavement ends, becoming sand in both directions — 48 miles south to Bullfrog on Lake Powell or north to State Route 24 to near Capitol Reef National Park. Both roads are OK for a car or pickup going slow.

My wife, Barbara, and I visited in 2016 or 2017. Boulder sported a regional museum, a small motel and a single very good diner. Turn east at the diner for the Burr Trail. Figure the better part of a day if you go south to Bullfrog and the same if you go north to highway 24 and on to Capitol Reef.

While you’re in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, ask rangers about Kodachrome Basin State Park and how to get there.

For more info on driving the trail, visit

Sturgis, SD

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