U.S. Route 36 in Colorado
|Maintained by Colorado Department of Transportation|
|Length:||232.41 mi (374.02 km)
SH 36: 24.60 miles (39.59 km)
|Existed:||1926 – present|
|West end:||US 34 near Estes Park|
| E-470 in Broomfield
US 287 in Broomfield
US 287 in Westminster
I-25 / US 87 / I-270 in Welby
I-76 in Welby
US 6 / US 85 in Commerce City
I-70 / I-270 in Denver
I-225 in Denver
Peña Boulevard/To Denver International Airport in Aurora
US 40 / I-70 Bus. / US 287 in Aurora
E-470 in Aurora
US 40 / I-70 / US 287 near Byers
US 385 near Idalia
|East end:||US-36 at Kansas state line|
Rocky Mountain National Park to Boulder
U.S. Highway 36 begins at Deer Ridge Junction in Rocky Mountain National Park, where it intersects U.S. Highway 34 (Trail Ridge Road) on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. It exits the park at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and enters the town of Estes Park, where it is briefly overlapped with Business US 34 until it meets (but does not cross) the main US 34 again at an intersection shaped like the letter K. On its way out of Estes Park it intersects SH 7 at South St. Vrain Avenue, for the first of three times.
It then descends southeast through North St. Vrain Canyon to the town of Lyons, which it enters on Main Street. At 5th Avenue in Lyons, it intersects SH 7 again, beginning an overlap to Boulder which is signed only as US 36. At 5th Avenue and Main Street in Lyons, it divides into a pair of one-way streets with the eastbound direction traveling one block south on 5th Avenue and turning east onto Broadway Street, and the westbound direction using Main Street. The two directions reunite in two blocks and leave Lyons southeastward as four-lane Ute Highway. Just outside of Lyons, US 36 turns south at a signalized intersection onto two-lane North Foothills Highway, while SH 66 continues east to Longmont. From Lyons to Boulder, US 36 pretty much traces the edge of the foothills.
US 36 enters Boulder on four-lane-wide 28th Street, where it serves the city's main shopping area. On the north side of Boulder, it intersects SH 119 at Diagonal Highway, beginning a 1.4 mile overlap that extends until SH 119 turns west onto Canyon Boulevard towards Nederland. One block farther south, SH 7 diverges from its overlap with US 36 by turning east onto Arapahoe Avenue. Leaving the Boulder shopping district, US 36 crosses Boulder Creek and passes through the University of Colorado campus area as an expressway to the interchange with Baseline Road, where it meets Spur US 36, a two-block long connector along 27th Way to SH 93, signed only as "To SH 93" and "To US 36".
Boulder to Denver
Just after the Baseline Road interchange, US 36 curves to the southeast. At this point the stretch of US 36 originally built as the Denver-Boulder Turnpike begins, which was a toll road from its opening in 1952 until 1967, when the toll was lifted. The road intersects SH 157 Foothills Parkway on its way out of Boulder. Northwestbound traffic approaching Boulder on the turnpike can stop at a scenic overlook on a high hill, providing a panoramic view of the Front Range mountains, the City of Boulder, and its famous Flatirons rock formation; a monument to the Denver-Boulder Turnpike's original builders is also located here. Continuing southeast, the road enters the fast growing Denver suburbs of Broomfield and Westminster, which have become popular locations for High-Tech businesses, which can be seen lining the turnpike. An interchange at 96th Street provides access to the Northwest Parkway and thereby to the E 470 outer beltway around Denver. At an interchange with SH 121 and SH 128 in Broomfield, it meets (but does not cross) U.S. Highway 287. It then has another interchange with US 287 again at Federal Boulevard near 76th Avenue in Westminster. The interchange at 76th and Federal was the terminus of the original Denver-Boulder Turnpike when it was still a toll road, but in common parlance the Turnpike now extends all the way east to I-25.
Denver to Byers (Unsigned)
At the very complicated junction of US 36, I-25, I-76, and I-270, US 36 emerges overlapped and unsigned with I-270, and continues overlapped and unsigned with I-70 when I-270 ends near the former Stapleton Airport site. At Colfax Avenue, this I-70/US 36 overlap is also joined by US 287 (again) and US 40. From the interchange with Colfax Avenue, the road continues to Watkins and then to Byers, unsigned in its four-way overlap with I-70, US 40, and US 287. The former route through Bennett, Strasburg, and Byers is signed separately as State Highway 36.
Byers to Kansas State Line
At Byers, US 36 heads eastward on its own as a separate rural highway, while the I-70/US 40/US 287 overlap curves to the southeast. US 36 passes through several very small settlements including Last Chance, Lindon, Anton, and Cope in Washington County and Joes and Idalia in Yuma County. Many of the towns on this desolate 105-mile (169 km) section of highway are so small they do not provide basic traveler services such as gasoline, and winter drivers are cautioned by signs that there is no snowplowing at night. At Cope, it is joined by SH 59 for about 6 miles (9.7 km). In Yuma County, near Idalia, it jogs north, becoming concurrent with US 385 for about 3 miles (4.8 km) before turning east again and continuing about 10 miles (16 km) to the Kansas border.
The portion of U.S. Highway 36 within Rocky Mountain National Park is a toll road, requiring a park entrance fee.
The road from Strasburg east to the Kansas state line was added to the state highway system in 1922 as the Colorado part of a proposed "Kansas City-Denver Airline Highway" that would have cut 72 miles (116 km) from the existing highways between Denver and Kansas City. The planned route followed present U.S. Route 36 in Kansas to Mankato, but then turned southeasterly via Concordia and Clay Center to Manhattan, where it met the Victory Highway (now US 24 and US 40). The new state highway was assigned the Primary Road No. 102 designation, and kept its number when many others were changed in 1923.
The west end of State Highway 102 was initially at Strasburg, but by 1924 it had been shifted to Byers, using the present County Roads 10 and 197 to return to current US 36. In 1927–1929 the entire SH 102 became part of US 36, which was realigned to go west rather than southwest from Norton, Kansas. The west end was moved back to Strasburg in 1932–1934, and a number of right-angle turns were eliminated by constructing diagonal cutoffs west of Cope and at the state line in 1934–1935. US 36 was extended west in 1936–1937 as an overlap with US 40 on Colfax Avenue to downtown Denver, where it would end for the next 30 years. Paving began in 1937–1939 and was completed in 1947–1949, including a realignment off County Roads DD and 12 north of Idalia. The junction with US 40 near Strasburg-Byers was changed again in 1954–1955, now following County Road 181 east of Byers. Finally in 1958–1959 a realignment west of Idalia eliminated four more 90-degree turns.
The Denver-Boulder Turnpike was championed by business and university interests in Boulder due to there being no direct route between Denver and Boulder. The 17.3-mile (27.8 km) toll road stretched from Federal Boulevard (US 287) in Westminster to Baseline Road in Boulder, and opened on January 19, 1952 with a toll of $0.25. The Valley Highway from downtown Denver opened in 1952–1954, feeding directly into the Turnpike. Most of the new highway carried SH 185 (US 87), but traffic continuing north on that route initially had to exit at 70th Avenue, now SH 224, with the remainder of the route to Federal Boulevard becoming a realignment of SH 382. When the bonds for the Turnpike were paid off ahead of time in 1967, tolls were removed, and the road became State Highway 49, which also replaced all of SH 382. US 36 was also extended at this time, following the Valley Highway (by then part of I-25) from Colfax Avenue north to SH 49, and then overlapping SH 49 to the end at Baseline Road, SH 119 on 28th Street, SH 7 to Lyons, and SH 66 to end at US 34 in Estes Park. Late in 1968 these redundant state highway designations were dropped, resulting in the elimination of SH 49 and SH 102, realignment of SH 119 to go more directly in Boulder, and creation of gaps on SH 7 and SH 66. In 2012 the turnpike was also given the honorary name Buffalo Highway in recognition of the University of Colorado's mascot, though this name has not achieved common use.
Returning to Colfax Avenue east of Denver, the first part of I-70 in that area opened in 1961–1962, bypassing Watkins and Bennett and carrying US 36 (and US 40-287). The freeway was extended east past Strasburg and Byers in 1963–1964, including the final realignment of US 36 northeast of Byers. The old alignment was initially removed from the state highway system, but in 1964–1965 it returned as part of SH 8. When this route was largely eliminated in late 1968, this bypassed highway instead became State Highway 36 (and SH 40 east of Byers), with US 36 remaining on I-70. US 36 was realigned through Denver in 1970, following I-70 and I-270 north of downtown. (Note that, until 2000, I-270 ended at I-76, and US 36 traffic had to use short pieces of I-76 and I-25.) A final westerly extension came in 1977–1978, when US 36 replaced the western segment of SH 66 (except for a spur) from Estes Park into Rocky Mountain National Park and another junction with US 34.
In early September 2013, a 31-mile section of US 36 from Estes Park to Boulder was closed due to damage from the 2013 Colorado floods. For a time, the only route available in and out of Estes Park was a long detour through Nederland, Blackhawk, and Golden. The section in North St. Vrain Canyon west of Lyons was especially heavily damaged.  The road was finally reopened two months later with the help of the National Guard. Permanent repairs were started in January, 2014.
|Larimer||Deer Ridge Junction (RMNP)||0.000||US 34 (Trail Ridge Road) – Grand Lake, Horseshoe Park, Estes Park|
|Rocky Mountain NP||2.9||Bear Lake Road - Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Bear Lake|
|3.089||Beaver Meadows Entrance Station|
|4.959||Highway 66 - YMCA Center||former SH 66|
|Estes Park||6.982 (036A)
US 34 Bus. west (Elkhorn Avenue)
|west end of US 34 Business overlap|
|US 34 (Wonderview Avenue / Big Thompson Avenue) – Grand Lake, Loveland, Greeley||east end of US 34 Business overlap|
|0.395||SH 7 south (South St. Vrain Avenue) – Allenspark|
|Boulder||Lyons||20.357||SH 7 west (5th Avenue) – Allenspark|
|21.764||SH 66 east – Longmont|
|Boulder||32.175||Broadway Street - Business District||former SH 7|
|35.005||SH 119 north (Diagonal Highway) – Longmont||North end of SH 119 overlap|
|36.342||SH 119 south (Canyon Boulevard) – Nederland, Eldora Ski Area, Pearl Street Mall, Business District||South end of SH 119 overlap|
|36.533||SH 7 east (Arapahoe Avenue) – Lafayette|
|West end of Denver-Boulder Turnpike|
|37.601||To SH 93 / Baseline Road|
|39.198||SH 157 north (Foothills Parkway), Table Mesa Drive, South Boulder Road - CU Stadium|
|43.198||SH 170 west / McCaslin Boulevard – Superior, Louisville|
|Broomfield||45.3||West Flatiron Crossing Drive||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|45.825||StorageTek Drive, Interlocken Loop - Broomfield, Louisville||connects to Northwest Parkway|
|46.194||East Flatiron Crossing Drive||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|48.035||US 287 / SH 121 – Broomfield, Arvada, Lafayette|
|Jefferson||Westminster||50.378||104th Avenue, Church Ranch Boulevard|
|Adams||52.571||SH 95 (Sheridan Boulevard) / 92nd Avenue|
|54.858||US 287 (Federal Boulevard)|
|56.993||SH 224 (Broadway)||No eastbound entrance|
|I-25 south – Denver||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|I-25 north – Fort Collins||I-270 exit 0|
|East end of Denver-Boulder Turnpike; west end of I-270 overlap|
|I-76 east – Fort Morgan||I-270 exit 1; eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|I-76 – Fort Morgan, Grand Junction||I-270 exit 1; westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|I-70 west||East end of I-270 overlap; west end of I-70 overlap; westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|I-70 east (US 36 east / US 40 east / US 287 south)||SH 36 begins; US 36 remains on I-70|
|Watkins||79.73||To I-70 / Watkins Road (I-70 Bus. south)|
|Bennett||88.836||SH 79 south to I-70||West end of SH 79 overlap|
|89.21 (036C/036D)||SH 79 north – Prospect Valley||East end of SH 79 overlap|
|90.319||Kiowa-Bennett Road - Kiowa, Antelope Hills Golf Course|
|91.188||I-70 west – Denver|
|Strasburg||95||To I-70 / Wagner Street (I-70 Bus. south)|
|Byers||100.937||SH 40 east|
|I-70 (US 36 west / US 40 / US 287)||East end of SH 36; east end of I-70 overlap on US 36|
|Washington||Last Chance||135.583||SH 71 – Brush, Limon|
|Anton||155.614||SH 63 north – Akron, Arriba|
|178.048||SH 59 south to I-70||West end of SH 59 overlap|
|Yuma||185.382||SH 59 north – Haxtun, Yuma||East end of SH 59 overlap|
|211.109||US 385 south – Burlington||West end of US 385 overlap|
|213.654||US 385 north – Wray||East end of US 385 overlap|
|224.718||US-36 east||Kansas state line|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- "Segment Descriptions for Highway 36". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
- Colorado Highways, April 1922, p. 6
- 1923 list of state highways, reproduced in Highways to the Sky, Appendix C, p. 39
- Colorado Department of Transportation, official highway maps: April 1922, July 1924, July 1927, January 1929, 1932, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1939, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969, 1970
- Colorado Highways, July 1923, map of state highways
- United States Geological Survey, Byers 1:24000, 1956
- Superior Historian, March 2006
-  Work on U.S. Highway 36 west of Lyons underway as CDOT aims at Dec. 1 opening
- Flood-damaged US 36 to Estes Park reopening Monday, nearly 1 month ahead of schedule
- CDOT to Start Permanent Repairs on U.S. 36
|U.S. Route 36|