The Burr Trail – A Fabulous Side Trip on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12

September 2016 – One of the most beautiful side trips along Utah’s Scenic Byway 12 is another scenic drive that branches off of Route 12 at the small hamlet of Boulder, Utah. Its called the Burr Trail.

Overlook Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

Looking out across the beginning of the Burr Trail

We first heard of this scenic back road from an old rancher who was a retired high school teacher and former football coach in Tropic, Utah, just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.

As we leaned up against a fence with him, admiring his cows grazing in the distance, and listening to his tales of teaching and coaching back in the 70’s, he suddenly asked us if we’d ever driven the Burr Trail.

Boulder utah Post Office Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12

The post office in Boulder, Utah, where the Burr Trail begins.

We’d never even heard of it! But the more he talked about it, the more we knew we needed to check it out!

The little village of Boulder, Utah, has just a few buildings in it, so it is easy to drive right through it while barreling along on Scenic Byway 12.

But there’s a little store and an RV park, and there’s a post office that puts the town on the map. The turnoff to the Burr Trail is at the big 90 degree bend in Route 12 right by the Burr Trail Grill.

Boulder Utah RV Park  Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12

The Shopping District in Boulder, Utah

As soon as we drove onto the Burr Trail, the scenery went from ordinary to extraordinary in a matter of minutes.

Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

Heading down the Burr Trail

The road is narrow. It’s fine for passenger vehicles but is not recommended for RVs. We drove it with our truck on a weekday, and during the morning to midday hours we were on our own and didn’t see any other travelers.

Scenery Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

Views along the Burr Trail.

The rock formations became more and more dramatic with each mile that we drove.

Rock formations Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

Gorgeous views at every turn!

Dead tree Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

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And then the canyon walls began to get very steep on either side of us as we drove down the middle of Long Canyon.

Canyon Walls Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

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The entire Burr Trail is 69 miles from end to end, but only the first 30 miles are paved. So, we drove until the pavement ended and then turned around and came back.

Cliffs Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

Long Canyon has towering rock cliffs on both sides of the road.

On our way out on the Burr Trail, we had noticed a few cars parked on the side of the road at one spot. On our return trip, we stopped there to see what was going on.

It turned out to be a lovely but very short slot canyon!

Trees Long Canyon Slot Burr Trail Utah Scenicy Byway 12

Beautiful shade trees lead to a slot canyon

The first hundred feet or so of the slot canyon had a fantastic canopy of trees covering the trail, providing wonderfully cool shade at midday.

Slot Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

These trees are actually very tall!

Then, after another few paces and a slight turn in the trail, the slot canyon suddenly ended.

Long Canyon Slot Burr Trail Utah Scenicy Byway 12

End of the trail.

Sometimes this canyon is called the Singing Canyon, and we quickly found out why.

A group of hikers was just coming out of the slot canyon as we approached, and they passed by us on the way to their cars out on the road. When we got to the far back end of the slot, out of sight of the road, the hikers had made it to their cars and were standing around in the road talking with each other.

Starburst Long Canyon Slot Burr Trail Utah Scenic Byway 12

The sun shines through the slot.

Amazingly, we could hear everything they were saying, as if they were on the opposite side of us, beyond the impenetrable back end of the canyon!

I didn’t believe the sound could bounce around like that at first, but as soon as they drove off in their cars, the echoes of conversation at the back of the canyon fell silent.

Singing indeed. You’ve gotta be careful what you say out loud by the road when your friends head into this slot!

The Long Canyon Slot Burr Trail Utah Scenicy Byway 12

This canyon has incredible echoes!
Here a starburst from the sun dwarfs me… cool!

At the mouth of the sot canyon there are some beautiful red rock formations that beg to be climbed. We obliged, of course!

Red rock formations Long Canyon Slot Burr Trail Utah Scenicy Byway 12

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As we were leaving, we spotted the first signs of fall down on the ground. Yellow leaves were lying at the base of the tree trunks here and there.

Fall leaves and tree trunk

A golden harbinger of fall.

Back out on the Burr Trail, the rock formations were bright white and a rich burgundy red set off by dark green trees.

Red rocks and trees Burr Trail Utah Scenicy Byway 12

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We drove back through Long Canyon and watched in awe as the canyon walls rose up around us once again.

Red rocks Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

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Motorcycles Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

A pair of motorcycles takes in the view.

And then we were back in the open, sweeping vistas of the beginning of the Burr Trail.

What a drive!!

Wide vistas Burr Trail Scenic Byway 12 Utah

The Burr Trail is a wonderful excursion off of Scenic Byway 12 in Utah.

The Burr Trail is a really easy sidetrip for RVers traveling along Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, and is well worth taking a few hours to do.

Jewels like this are so easy to miss in this part of the world because the bigger, more famous stuff gets all the attention.

Thank goodness we met that old rancher in Bryce Canyon and hung out with him for a while by his fence, chatting about his cows, his former students and his football team, or we never would have learned about this beautiful place!

RV on Utah Scenic Byway 12

There are lots of gems for RVers on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12!

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14 thoughts on “The Burr Trail – A Fabulous Side Trip on Utah’s Scenic Byway 12

  1. Emily, congratulations on your new position with Trailer Life Magazine. Between Escapees Magazine, now Trailer Life, and your blog both of you stay very busy. I enjoy it all.

    • Thank you so much, Mike. This past year was our busiest by far for published work, with 24 feature articles and five shorter pieces published in six different national sailing and RVing magazines plus our blog. We love it all and are extremely grateful to live the life we do.

  2. Emily, I am so glad I found your blog a couple of years ago. My wife and I have been fulltiming now for almost a year, and you’ve given us so many places to go explore. Some I’d heard of and been to in the past, but many I had no knowledge of before reading about them in your posts. Your writings are a precious jewel, and I hope you continue long into the future. Thanks for all you and Mark do for the RV community!

    • Thank you so much for your very gracious pat on the back, David. I hope you and your wife are enjoying your full-time travels. I’m sure you’ll find some hidden gems that we aren’t aware of! It’s a big beautiful world out there – have a blast!!

  3. With our 4WD Jeep Liberty, we were able to go beyond the end of the pavement, down a very steep, very winding, switch-back laden trail that eventually intersected with another dirt road oriented more or less north to south, or vice versa, that would have taken us north to SR 24 or south to Lake Powell. This section of the Burr Trail is actually in Capitol Reef NP, and as you have shown with your excellent photography, it too is spectacularly beautiful. The many Jeep trails found in Utah are fun, interesting, spectacular and lead to fascinating places, often with ancient ruins close by.

    Back to SR 12. No doubt you remember that section of the roadway atop the ridge just north of Calf Creek Recreation Area that drops off precipitously on both sides. That ridge is known as Hell’s Backbone, and I suspect, for good reason. I was surprised that it wasn’t mentioned in your story as it struck me as unique amongst highways when I first rode it on my motorcycle back in the seventies.

    I have only recently discovered your blog, and am enjoying it immensely. To both of you, well done.

    Don Neilson
    San Diego

    • Lucky you to have a jeep, Don! I’m sure the Burr Trail road beyond the pavement is stunning. I didn’t know the name of Hell’s Backbone, but it sure is a neat part of Route 12. None of our photos did it justice, so it didn’t make the cut. I obliquely referenced the area with the photo of the 14% grade which is the “precipitous drop-off” you mention. Both Scenic Byway 12 and the Burr Trail are fabulous roads to drive or ride!! Thank you for reading.

  4. I think it would take either a helicopter or a drone to do justice to Hell’s Backbone, not to mention good timing, as my photos certainly don’t do it justice either!

  5. Thanks for this one. We have been close to this one many times but didn’t know about it! We’ll give it a whirl next time we are up that way.

  6. We’re heading out West next year. I have to add this to our list! So beautiful. I can only imagine it in person. As usual, great pics and info! Thank you once again for taking us along.

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