True West 2017 Road Trip - Day 5
Oct 26, 2017, Destinations
Telluride to Escalante via the Burr Trail
This was a long but rewarding day! Leaving Telluride and heading West is a zig-zag affair and finds one passing through Monticello and Blanding, Utah before finding Highway 95 to skirt the southern border of Bears Ears National Monument. Eventually Highway 276 will lead you to Hall’s Crossing on the south side of Lake Powell. This part of the lake is frequented by boaters of all kinds but my intention was to take the car ferry across Lake Powell to reach Bullfrog Marina on the north side of the lake. From there I traveled by memory northward on a 67 mile stretch of road called the Burr Trail. Once a route used to drive cattle from north to south this road is a geologist’s dream! When I took the route 24 years ago it was 95% unpaved and I clearly remember seeing just one solitary car during my entire journey. Now the road has been improved to be about 30% gravel-sealed on each of the north and south ends and still unpaved in the middle section which has allowed slightly more traffic to safely navigate it. On this day I would see roughly 8 other vehicles in 67 miles of travel. Whoa… so crowded! Should you ever want to see a completely rugged and unspoiled region of geologic beauty then I highly recommend you travel this route yourself. Every mile unfolds with a new surprise to take your breath away.
Traveling the Burr Trail takes some planning because you need to know how far you can go in one day, and where you need to end up that night, as well as when to get on that ferry, should you take it. Recommended for those who have high-clearance vehicles is to allow enough time to take the detour down the 3 miles of Upper Muley Twist canyon which will afford you a hike up to the Strike Valley Overlook, one of the greatest viewpoints I’ve ever witnessed in the Western USA. See video here. As you stand alone on the overlook (and you WILL be alone) you look out over a hundred miles of the Waterpocket Fold, one of the primary geologic formations running the length of Capitol Reefs National Park. Don’t be surprised if you see dinosaurs roaming the earth far below you – it looks that remote and primitive!
My day ended at the nice little Boulder Mountain Guest Ranch, located a few miles off the highway between Boulder and Escalante, one of those great “finds” when you least suspect it. The Sweetwater Grill restaurant at the ranch has creative gourmet food to match anything you will find in a big city. A delicious end to a most satisfying day of travel.