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Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

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Mississauga, Canada
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Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Can anyone provide an estimate of the pure driving time (not including stops along the way) over the Burr Trail road between Boulder and Ticaboo or the junction with Hwy 276? We need to drive from the Bryce Canyon area to Mexican Hat in one day. From what I've been reading on the forums here it sounds doable but we'd like to know how much (if any) time we can allow for stops. We'll be in a rental 4-wheel drive SUV and I already know not to use this route if it's wet.

19 replies to this topic
Salt Lake City, Utah
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1. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

I'm not good with time. But last time we did this, we started in Boulder around dinner time (I don't remember exactly what time here, was I thinking "dang, another chance to eat at hell's backbone grill and I can't", or was I thinking "If it were open maybe we'd stop"? If the latter then maybe we drove past earlier than 5pm.) and ended at Lake Powell at 7:30 (this I remember because the sun was setting and the ranger was leaving his booth). So maybe 2 hrs??

Hope I don't steer you wrong with that.

I do remember those brilliant Circle Cliffs in the late evening sun were glowing, it was gorgeous.

Mississauga, Canada
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2. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Thanks, sounds like it should be no problem for us, as we should be reaching Boulder closer to lunchtime. Although I guess that means we too will be missing out on Hell's Backbone Grill :(

Atascadero...
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3. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

I agree with Kbec's assessment of time...but to be honest, I always stop so much on that road because it's so great, that I really lose track of actual travel time. It is one of the most beautiful drives in the world, and I don't think I'm exaggerating...so it is well worth the time. Dropping over the Waterpocket Fold to the east is awe-inspiring...on par with or maybe better than the Moki Dugway.

Mapquest will tell you it's 75 miles from Boulder to Ticaboo via the Burr Trail, and it takes 3 hours and 20 minutes. Could be about right...

I will say this--assuming it is dry and passable, there is no need for a 4WD on this road. In fact, the Burr Trail is completely paved now through the boundaries of the National Monument (it was dirt until about 10 years ago), and only becomes unpaved for a short stretch within the Glen Canyon Nat'l Rec area.

Atascadero...
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4. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Not sure which way you're getting to Mexican Hat once you take the Burr Trail but one good option is the ferry across Lake Powell, if you catch the schedule just right.

It departs from Bullfrog every two hours in the summer (until Sept 30), at 10, 12, 2 and 4. After Sept 30, it only leaves from Bullfrog at 12 and 3.

The complete schedule by season can be found here:

http://www.lakepowell.com/ferry-service.aspx

Here's the catch though:

Bullfrog to Mexican Hat via Hanksville and Utah 95 (no ferry) is 181 miles, and 3 hours 20 minutes.

Same route via the Lake Powell ferry is only 138 miles, and 3 hours on the nose.

So if you catch the ferry timing just right, it's pretty much a wash on time, but you save over 40 miles. You also get to see the lake. But you would miss the drive down North Wash toward Hite on Route 95, and the spectacular overview of the Hite area near the lake...

A fun aside for geographers and historians...

Note that Route 95, in order to cross Lake Powell, actually has to cross three bridges: Dirty Devil River, Colorado River, and White Canyon. These all had to be built when the road was completed (in 1976). Before then, the only was across (before the lake; i.e., before 1963) would have been the ferry at Hite. Once the lake began filling, the Hite ferry had to close, and there was no practical way across--until these bridges were built. Highway 95 was opened as a paved route in 1976.

SO in taking Highway 95 at high speed between Hanksville and points east of Lake Powell, consider how remote this area once really was, and the difficulties that were faced in completing this highway. It's still pretty remote...

For Edward Abbey fans, these three bridges were at the heart of his book The Monkey Wrench Gang, a fictional story about trying to disrupt public works projects in southern Utah (and especially Lake Powell) by whatever means available....which at the end boiled down to trying to blow up the White Canyon bridge (the smallest of the three). I won't tell you what happens...

It's a great read...

Edited: 18 July 2011, 19:49
Salt Lake City, Utah
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5. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

JFR, you are absolutely correct that to drive through the Burr trail without stopping is really shortchanging yourself. We didn't stop that trip except for a couple pictures because we were chasing the sun and wanted to get set at Bullfrog before it got dark. It was a gorgeous night, we had a campfire (the only place that trip we could), we heard coyotes, loved it. And then we were third in line for the first ferry the next morning.

I took the ferry just because I could, but truly enjoy hwy 95's scenery better. And while driving if you don't look quick you'll miss White Canyon bridge completely!

Atascadero...
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6. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Kbec--right you are, as usual! Highway 95 is an awesome drive.

As for the White Canyon bridge, you are right--a passing motorist wouldn't even know they passed over it (in contrast with the huge bridges at the Dirty Devil and the Colorado River)...which it is why it was such an attractive target for Hayduke in The Monkey Wrench Gang--more easily taken, but equally strategic as the other two bridges in terms of cutting off access to the region--his goal...

It's a lot of fun to hike from the lake up White Canyon to a point underneath the bridge, high above. It's amazing, because you think you are in the middle of nowhere, until suddenly there's this little bridge high above. And it's not possible to scramble down from the bridge...way too steep.

Highway 95 east of Hanksville is full of great places to stop. One of my favorites is a visit to the "Moqui Queen", one of the most beautiful examples of an ancient pictograph (i.e., a color painting, not an etching) in the region. It depicts an 8-foot high robed figure, apparently crowned (hence the name), with an animal (a dog?) nearby. It's all done in red, inside a huge alcove, amazingly not far from the highway. But you would need to know where to look...I'm sure there are websites that can tell you more...

HIghway 95 also allows access into the darker, narrower slots of White Canyon upstream of the highway bridge--you can scramble into the canyon at mile markers 55 and 57 east of Hite... then there's Natural Bridges NM--worth a stop in itself...

Edited: 19 July 2011, 01:21
Mississauga, Canada
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7. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Thanks, was away for a bit and just now revisiting the post. Lots of great suggestions here; I wish we did have more time to stop along the way but I figure it's better to see what you can from a car than not see it at all. As for heading south vs. north once we hit 276, we were leaning towards the northern route because we'd heard the scenery was good, but if we happen to arrive at just the right time we might try the ferry just for something different. Thanks very much for the link to the info site and schedules.

Mississauga, Canada
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8. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

OK, we're back from our trip and Burr Trail was definitely a highlight. We stopped at the slot canyon, atop the Waterpocket Fold, and a couple of other points along the way and still did it in less than 3 hrs. The road was dry and in very good condition. A regular 2-wheel drive car would have had no trouble - except for one spot. Near the far eastern end, above Lake Powell and before you reach the ferry or other turnoffs, you must ford a flowing stream. We had no problem in our rented 4-wheeler SUV but I wouldn't have wanted to try that in a regular car.

Many thanks, kbecjeans and JFRCalifornia, for the advance info.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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9. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

RSH2 thanks so much for reporting back what the road was like. So glad you had a good time. It must be the rainy summer, there hasnt been a stream when we've gone down.

Berkeley, California
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10. Re: Driving Burr Trail to Ticaboo

Is it possible, in dry weather, to drive from Boulder to Bullfron on the Burr Trail in a Honda Civic? i.e. no high clearance or 4-wheel drive. I am leaving in two days. The rangers at Glen Canyon do not answer their phones, take messages or respond to emails. I am a single woman driving alone. I am a good driver and have done some scary roads, but I want to know if I can do the Muley Twist Canyon in a standard compact sedan.

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