Burr Trail, Notom-Bullfrog Trail driving

Old Jan 9th, 2004, 09:01 AM
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Burr Trail, Notom-Bullfrog Trail driving

I'm making my fifth trip back to Southern Utah, one of my favorite places in the world. My wife's never been there and I'm going to share with her the unending beauty and majesty of the region.
But one trip I've always gazed at the map but never attempted is taking the Burr Trail or the Notom-Bullfrog Trail. I've seen some great insights from Utahtea, but I was hoping to get more specifics on road conditions.
We'll be traveling in May. Assuming flooding hasn't washed out roads, coming from Bullfrog is it really necessary to have 4WD? The trail brochure put out by the BLM on the Glen Canyon recreation area seems to imply the trail is OK for regular cars assuming decent road conditions. Is that not the case?
Also, Utahtea, you seem to take a dim view of the trail up to Notom? Is it boring because the views aren't that great and you're focused too much on driving? Just wondering, as rarely are boring and Southern Utah used in the same conversation! I was initially looking at that stretch as we wanted to wind up near Capitol Reef and avoid backtracking to Torrey from Boulder, as we'll eventually be heading toward Boulder on the way to Bryce. But if it's not worth the hassle, so be it.
Thanks in advance for anybody's insights.
murrayhill is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2004, 05:47 PM
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The imponderable is of course rain. Southern Utah is a dry climate, and I would not expect heavy rains. The problem is that slickrock does not soak up the runoff and flash floods can happen. They do quite a bit of erosion.

I drove a regular car (Impala) to Grosvenor arch with no difficulty.
I also drove a section of the Burr trail in the middle spring with no trouble. Other dirt roads in the general area were also no problem, except for the dust, which is a drawback. I try to take good care of my rental car, because it has to get me out and back, but it is something of a relief to drop it off when the tour is over.

The only other insight I can offer is our trip to Chaco Canyon. I had read horror stories about the road and rented a Subaru Outback with all wheel drive so I would have the right equipment. The car was a good one for that road, and the all wheel drive handled securely, but I do not think an all wheel drive car was required.
If the road was wet, I might have a different opinion.
But that place is so dry that chances of the rain making the road impassable are low.
bob_brown is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2004, 11:51 PM
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First look at this map:


When we did the Notom Road we were driving south from Hwy 24 in a 4 wheel drive 1986 suburban. There is a short pave part of the road almost to Notom (which really isn't a town but a few farms) This part is very scenic because you can see the back side many of the white dome tops of Capitol Reef.

After Notom, the road was so washboardy and the scenery nothing to write home about. I was so dissappointed.

We then came to the intersection to go down to Bullfrog or go up the Burr Trail. We headed up the Burr Trail to Boulder. You climb a steep dirt grade with switch backs. After that the Burr trail is paved and VERY scenic. I loved this part of the trip and would recommend this drive even if you have to double back from Torrey to Boulder.

We've never done the section from the switchbacks down to Bullfrog but I've been told many people do it in cars. We didn't need the 4 wheel drive on this trip.

This was may years ago, but I don't think they have improved the dirt roads. I just would not recommend the drive up what the map I gave you calls the Backway Notom Road.

BTW, we've been to Chaco and Chaco was a piece of cake compared to the road past Notom!

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Old Jan 24th, 2004, 12:49 PM
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Thanks for the insights. It's four months away, but with temperatures in the single digits and more snow on the way, I'm already looking forward to the trip!
murrayhill is offline  
Old Jan 29th, 2004, 10:53 AM
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Hi Murray Hill,

I have done the Burr Trail twice. Once before it was paved and continuing south to Bullfrog and once after it was paved, then north to Capitol Reef.

I have to say, I agree with Utahtea. The Boulder/Burr Trail part is awesome, but once down the steep switchbacks and to the intersection, the road north or south is BORING and very washboarded so you have to go slow. Even so, your teeth will rattle. I'd spend my time on the more scenic parts of Utah, the road east of the "reef" isn't that great.
Dayle is offline  
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