Burley lies on the banks of the Snake River in Magic Valley, which is a part of the Snake River Basin. The Milner Dam, a few miles west of Burley, forms Milner Lake along this part of the river. The name Magic Valley arises from irrigation projects built in the early 1900s, which transformed this region from a desert to a productive farmland.
Founded about 1905, Burley has grown to 10,345 people, as of the 2010 census. Earlier, in the mid-1800s, the Oregon Trail passed through Burley, traveled by thousands of pioneers traveling to Oregon. U.S. Highway 30 was built through Burley around 1930, making it a hub on Idaho's major east-west highway. Since then Interstate 84 has largely replaced the highway, passing through the northern tip of town.
Burley is the county seat of Cassia County. The Snake River being the county's northern boundary, the city has also spilled over into Minidoka County, on the river's northern bank. State Highway 27 is Burley’s busiest street, connecting from the freeway to the downtown area. It continues southward to Oakley, and northward to Paul.
Burley is at 4,150 feet in elevation, in a very flat area. The Albion Mountains rise prominently several miles to the southeast.