Boulder Town Things to Do
Drive the Hell's Backbone Trail
The Hell's Backbone Trail was the old way into town from Escalante before hwy 12. During the winter when snows would close off the pass Boulder was pretty much shut off.
This used to be a pretty hairy 4x4 type road with a notorious bridge at the top. But they've graded the road and keep it maintained, and rebuilt the bridge and now it is a very nice forest road. Which means it is narrow and winding, but nothing scary. Unless you count that bridge. Even though now it is solid concrete (instead of disintegrating wood), there is still a 1500 foot drop on either side
If you've seen the section of highway 12 between the two towns taking Hell's Backbone trail would be a nice and interesting alternative. Definitely stop at the bridge for some outstanding views.Related to:
- Road Trip
Anasazi State Park
The Anasazi (now often known by the more politically correct term Ancient Puebloans) were the ancient inhabitants of the 4 corners area. The Fremont were the ancient inhabitants of the northern Colorado Plateau. Boulder is in the gray area where they both met. The small pueblo excavated and recreated at the museum is one of the furthest north Anasazi settlements found. It is far from other more populated settlements, though appears to have been abandoned on purpose about the same time as the other ancient settlers left their larger area in the mid 1300's.
The extent of the anasazi dwellings throughout Utah is finally beginning to be understood in the wider population, though their life, beliefs, and disappearance continue to be debated.
This small museum has some nice finds including a clovis point from the earliest inhabitants of North America. There is also a short film, a small display of a pueblo, interesting contrasts of pottery between the Fremont and Anasazi. Out back is the replica pueblo and excavated pueblo with a small kiva.
Combine a visit here with a visit to the Fremont Indian Museum state park near Richfield and the Edge of the Cedars Museum in Blanding for a more complete understanding of the ancient people who inhabited what is now Utah.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- National/State Park
Drive the Burr Trail
One of the wonderful side trips from Boulder is to travel the Burr Trail. The Burr trail was first built by John Atlantic Burr an early settler who needed a way to move his cattle between winter and summer ranges as well as to market. One early traveler, Josephine Catherine Chatterly Wood, wrote: 30 October 1882, "It is the most God-forsaken and wild looking country that was ever traveled. . . . It is mostly uphill and sandy knee and then sheets of solid rock for the poor animals to pull over and slide down. I never saw the poor horses pull and paw as they done today."
The road begins in the small town of Boulder heads cross country through the Gulch and Long Canyon out past the Circle Cliffs across the White Flats and down the Waterpocket fold switchbacks before heading south following the Bullfrog wash to what was then the Colorado River and is now Lake Powell.
Up until 1994-5 the entire road was dirt, subject to muddy conditions, wash outs and legal hassles over who had the right to pave it. Garfield County wanted to pave it in order to bring in tourists and business. Environmentalists argued that paving it would destroy the wilderness quality with more off road vehicles tearing up the pristine land. Eventually Garfield County won...at least to the border of Capitol Reef National Park. William Penn Mott, Jr., then director of the National Park Service, toured the trail and eventually recommended that it become an all-weather, low-speed national scenic route. His plan did not find support and it remains a dirt road through the park.
To travel the entire 68 mile route is a marvelous experience. This is some of the wildest and scenic country in the states. The switchbacks down the Water pocket fold are impressive. Imagine driving cattle down them! At the bottom of the switchbacks the road connects to the Notom Road coming south along the eastern side of the park. It too is unpaved. Both roads when in good condition are fine for regular passenger cars. But there can be rock falls, washouts, muddy roads, and the clay is especially bad when wet.
If all you can do is drive part of the way, then go the first 16-17 miles all the way through Long Canyon. You'll want to stop in Long Canyon and explore the short crevasse that some call a slot canyon. There are hikes that head out in both directions from the Gulch where there is also off road camping.Related to:
- National/State Park
Boulder Town Restaurants
Burr Trail Grill: The relaxed and comfy place
This is a nice place for lunch, though they are also open for lunch and dinner. We enjoyed our sandwiches and discovered the pies too late. It was the perfect place to stop before heading down the Burr trail. Good food, relaxed and down home feel. We will definitely be stopping again.Related to:
- Road Trip
Hell's Backbone Grill: A "Destination" restaurant
I finally was able to experience the food and service at Hell's Backbone Grill and have to say that it was fantastic. Absolutely everything I'd heard about how wonderful this was was true. It is on the small side, and they were full the night we joined them. So be sure to call ahead for reservations.
We were greeted as old friends that had never met, introductions all around. There was a sommelier (in Boulder? !!), the menu was interesting and short (Black Bean and butternut Posole, Chipolte Meatloaf for example), and the food delicious.
They grow as much of their own produce needs as possible and use local raised beef and lamb.
Favorite Dish: I picked the Goat Cheese Fondue and the Pumpkin Jenchilada. Both were exquisitely flavored and truly a treat for the taste buds.Related to:
- Road Trip
Kiva Koffehouse: A location to love
Situated on an overlook of the Escalante River valley, this place has Location written all over it.
But not only that, the vision of the builder was to weld the building into the location. It was built lovingly over many years in the spirit of a Kiva with natural materials gleaned slowly.
Coming from the south you'll hit the unassuming parking lot first and wonder if you believe the sign that this is it... It is. Turn off the road and park and walk down the steps to the entrance.
The food is simple and good and filling and served with heart.
Favorite Dish: They also have two rooms for rent. They share the wonderful view if you are lucky enough to find them available.Related to:
- Road Trip
Boulder Town Transportation
You'll need a car
Getting to Boulder is worth the drive all by itself. Coming from Torrey in the north over Boulder Mountain and the Aquarius plateau you get wonderful views of the Waterpocket fold of Capitol Reef, golden Aspen in the fall, campgrounds, waterfalls, and numerous backroads leading to lakes with great fishing. This road was only paved in the late 1980's leaving Boulder before that on a dead end road from Escalante.
From Escalante in the south you'll be driving a road not completed until 1971. Once you drive it you'll understand why as the rough rock over which it was built consists of gullies, and hogbacks, steep canyons and white slickrock. It offers uncomparable views of a wild and unforgiving land.
Bring a camera and take your time.Related to:
- Road Trip
Boulder Town Off The Beaten Path
When you stop at one of the...
When you stop at one of the many Scenic Views look around, but also down there might be some squirells walking around...and if you are lucky the eat right out of your hand..