The road runs a total distance of just under 14 miles (23 km), on a mixture of rural and urban residential/commercial streets. The 12-mile (19 km) section north of the M55 carries large amounts of container traffic to and from the Fleetwood container port.
The road begins at Kirkham, as a turning off the A583, the Kirkham by-pass(53°46′57″N2°53′39″W / 53.7824°N 2.8941°W / 53.7824; -2.8941 (A585 road (southern end))). It travels north for 1.5 miles (2.4 km), firstly as the Kirkham & Wesham By-Pass, then as Fleetwood Road, through Kirkham and Wesham, till it meets Junction 3 of the M55 at Wesham Circle. The road continues as Fleetwood Road in a roughly northerly direction for a further 3 miles (4.8 km), through Esprick and Singleton. This section is rural and fairly winding, although some curves were straightened in the 1970s when container traffic began using the road, most notably the series of bends in Thistleton at the turnings to Singleton village and Elswick. These were notoriously known as 'Hellfire Corner'.
The road meets the A586 Garstang New Road at Singleton where it turns west, sharing with the A586 for one mile (1.6 km). It continues north-west as Mains Lane for a further 1.5 miles (2.4 km), passing the A588 turning to Shard Bridge and Over Wyre, then sharing with the A588 until the River Wyre roundabout, where the A588 diverts south-west towards Poulton-le-Fylde. At this point, the road becomes Amounderness Way, which was built in the 1970s to allow container traffic to bypass Thornton. It continues through Norcross Roundabout, and then due north into Fleetwood, to Broadwater Roundabout, a total distance of about 4.5 miles (7.2 km). Some sections of this road are dual carriageway. Broadwater Roundabout is surmounted by a statue of Eros, a copy of that standing in Piccadilly Circus, London. From here, the road begins its last and newest section, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) stretch of Amounderness Way built on the old railway bed in the 1990s. It eventually terminates at the new Ash Street roundabout, near Fleetwood Freeport, where it joins the A587(53°55′09″N3°00′52″W / 53.9191°N 3.0144°W / 53.9191; -3.0144 (A585 road (northern end))).