Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The First Timer's Visit to Utah's 5 National Parks, Day 5: Finding the Magic on Burr Trail Road

Capitol Reef Info: Capitol Reef National Park

Day 5:  Finding the Magic on Burr Trail Road

Have an early breakfast in Bryce and get on your way. Pack snacks or a lunch. 

This is not what we did, but what we should have doneRoute 12 is scenic but not where the magic is...get to Boulder!  It will take about 2 hours cause you are gonna be tempted to stop along Route 12 at The Hogback for the 360 views anyway. Then get right to the Burr Trail Road (Route 100) - this is where the magic is folks. Stunning! I promise you, the photos do not capture the magic. 

Burr Trail Road (Route 100)*

Burr Trail Road (Route 100)*

Burr Trail Road (Route 100)*

You have two options 
1. Drive in and out on Route 100 from Route 12 in Boulder and enjoy the beauty.  Turn around when you've had enough and make a right on 12 to continue to Torrey. 
  • Route 100 - - watch for Long Canyon, Singing Canyon and definitely stop at the overlooks. 
2. Or drive in from Boulder to Capitol Reef area, do a couple canyon hikes, check out 'the fold' and then get to Torrey. Travel plus the hike(s) will take most of your day but it is worth it. In this part of Capitol Reef NP the roads are not paved, but the state roads to and from the park are paved. 

NPS has an itinerary for traveling the Burr Trail Rd.  Count your miles to follow along. 

Headquarters Canyon*

Headquarters Canyon*
  • To do the hikes you will need to travel down and possibly back on the Burr Trail Switchbacks.  A little nerve racking but doable. Do one or both of the hikes: 
Burr Trail Switchbacks 12 percent grade on a dirt road. *
  1. Hike 1: Headquarters Canyon - A flat walk to a rocky canyon trail with narrows at the beginning. We met an 82 yo woman with knee replacements hiking in this canyon.  So you can do it. 
  2. Hike 2: Surprise Canyon - A flat walk to the trail with smooth large rocks to walk over making this trail a little easier. 
  • It is faster to return via the way you came to Route 12 to get to Torrey.  But if you want to "Loop the Fold" and view the geological water-pocket fold you will continue to Nottom Bullfrog Basin Road then to Torrey. This way has a lot more unpaved road so it will take much longer. However, you will not see much traffic and will have some cool views, not quite like Route 100 though. Be sure to note your mileage when starting because many points on the linked map are not signed. 

Surprise Canyon*

Surprise Canyon: He would not let me climb up here to see the surprise 
because 'help was too far away.' Such little faith.*  

Surprise Canyon*

The Water Pocket Fold from Nottom Bullfrog Road. 

HOTEL When finished, get to Torrey and check into your hotel.  We stayed at Skyridge Inn. It was nice enough but not your typical B&B. It is managed remotely.  The only other people you will see are other guests and the cook making a very good breakfast.

DINNER Have dinner now or after sunset but make a reservation/call ahead!  There are not many options. One night we ate at La Cueva at the recommendation of guests at the B&B.  It was very good.  
The other night we ate at the Rim Rock Restaurant. It was very good except for Cowboy Cut Ribeye which was pretty tough to chew and not that tasty.  My husband had the sirloin for $12 less and it was much better. The side dishes were all fresh and good. 

Depending on how much time you spent on Route 100 and Capitol Reef hikes, you may have time to check out Goosenecks and Panorama Points, then watch the sunset from Sunset Point.  There are wonderful views from Sunset Point. 

Most of the locations on this trip are also International Dark Sky Parks: Arches NP, Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP, Dead Horse Point State Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, and Zion NP.  My trip also coincided with a full moon so I had to time photography before the moon came up. 

*I packed light.  My Canon 24-105L lens stopped communicating with my Canon 5D Mark IV so most of 
my photos were taken with a Sony Point and Shoot.  I was soooo disappointed. 
But lesson learned. 
Never pack light! 

Click any link to go directly to that day:

Source: BLM.gov

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