Burr Trail, Utah – Divine beauty in stone

Capitol Reef National Park offers many hiking possibilities to its different sights like goosenecks, rock monoliths, chimney rocks, gulches, natural bridges or Cassidy Arch where bank robber Butch Cassidy is said to have hided. The park protects the mountain range Waterpocket Fold. In numerous, mostly circular water erosions of the strongly weathered fold mountains only seasonal falling rain collects and offers a basis of life for several animal and plant species. To see the water pockets it is best to hike on even ground through the Capitol Gorge that narrows to 15 feet (around 3 miles round trip). To get to the tanks a small climb is necessary but worthwhile.

The uniqueness and exclusivity of the Waterpocket Fold in my opinion does not reveal itself from the scenic drive. Right behind the eastern park border Nottom Road branches off that later meets the southern part of Capitol Reef Park and leads to the legendary Burr Trail that ends at Lake Powell in southern direction or meets the connecting Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument and Boulder in western direction. Beginning and end are paved, the middle part is gravelled – no problem for passenger cars when it’s dry. With some rain you’ll need 4WD, with more rain the road might not be passable due to several riverbed crossings. It is a world of surreal beauty. On one side is the Waterpocket Fold with its crassly coloured sandstone layers, this upfolding of the Colorado Plateau that lets geologists leap around with delight. On the opposite side there are soft round hills of drifted and already settled sand – the colours in reverse order.

Burr Trail west climbs up as a breathtaking winding road the Waterpocket Fold – with views until Henry Mountains. Then we end up in a desert of sandstone mountains, with separate colours following each other: first burgundy, then orange, and eventually white. The Long Canyon does its name credit – for many miles we are following this gulch. In Boulder we turn left to hwy # 12 heading to Escalante Town. It is difficult to find more superlatives although hwy # 12 would deserve it. It is Burr Trail’s equal in nearly every way. The road crosses stomach-mumbling the narrow ridge of connecting mountains – a so-called hogback. Soon a massive canyon approaches from the right. There is one surprise after each corner, a new view, another aha experience. Nottom Road, Burr Trail, and highway # 12 will be on the list of our favourite roads.

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