U.S. Route 50 in Colorado

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This article is about the section of U.S. Route 50 in Colorado. For the entire length of the highway, see U.S. Route 50.

U.S. Route 50 marker

U.S. Route 50
Route information
Maintained by Colorado Department of Transportation
Length: 467.583 mi[1] (752.502 km)
Existed: 1926 – present
Major junctions
West end: I‑70 / US‑6 / US‑50 at Utah state line
  I‑70 / US 6 in Grand Junction
US 550 in Montrose
US 285 in Poncha Springs
I‑25 / US 85 / US 87 in Pueblo
US 350 in La Junta
US 287 in Lamar
US 385 from Lamar to Granada
US 400 from Granada to Kansas
East end: US-50 / US-400 at Kansas state line
Highway system

Colorado State Highways

SH 47 SH 52
Red barn about 6 miles west of Poncha Springs on US-50.

In the U.S. state of Colorado, U.S. Route 50 is a major highway crossing through the lower midsection of the state. It connects the Western Slope with the lower Front Range and the Arkansas Valley. The highway serves the areas of Pueblo and Grand Junction as well as many other smaller areas along its corridor. The long term project to upgrade the highway from two lanes to a four lane expressway between Grand Junction and Montrose was completed in January 2005. Only about 25% of the remainder of highway 50 in Colorado is four lane expressway.

Route description[edit]

Western Slope[edit]

U.S. Highway 50 begins in Colorado at the Utah state line, concurrent with Interstate 70 as well as U.S. Highway 6. At Interstate 70 exit 11, U.S. Highway 6 & 50 end their concurrency with Interstate 70 and begin using the old highway alignment directly north of Interstate 70 while they travel through the communities of Mack, Loma, and Fruita. These communities were bypassed by Interstate 70. Near mile marker 15 the Colorado River adjoins Interstate 70 and runs nearby for the next 16 miles (26 km). In Fruita routes 6 and 50 intersect State Highway 340, the gateway to the Colorado National Monument. The monument's sandstone canyons and rock spires are visible to the south from the highways.

U.S. Highway 6 & 50 meet again with Interstate 70 at exit 26 where they begin a concurrent segment with Interstate 70 Business Loop. The three routes travel southeast towards downtown Grand Junction. Grand Junction is the home of Colorado Mesa University. U.S. Highway 6 ends it concurrency with U.S. Highway 50 and Interstate 70 Business loop with a free flowing, grade separated interchange at North Avenue. The two remaining routes continue south onto surface streets in downtown Grand Junction. At Grand Avenue, they once again intersect with Colorado 340, which forms a loop between Grand Junction and Fruita. There are several points of access to the Colorado National Monument from the highway 340 loop.

After turning onto two east–west one-way streets (Ute and Pitkin Avenues); U.S. Highway 50 detaches itself from Interstate 70 Business Loop, crosses the Colorado River and travels as an expressway, though suburban Grand Junction, to the cities of Delta and Montrose. Leaving Grand Junction and the area known as Orchard Mesa, the highway descends into the community of Whitewater and the Gunnison River valley. It intersects with State Highway 141 and begins a short concurrency with highway 141. Near this intersection Mount Sneffels (14,158 feet (4,315 m)) and the Sneffels Range of the San Juan Mountains are clearly visible 80 miles (130 km) miles to the south-southeast.

As it follows the Gunnison River valley in a southeasterly direction, it is bounded on the east by Grand Mesa, which rises to over 11,000 feet (3,400 m) and on the west by the Uncompahgre Plateau, averaging 9,500 feet (2,900 m) and rising to 10,300 feet (3,100 m). U.S. Highway 50 travels through Delta as a typical surface street, having junctions with State Highway 92 and State Highway 348. Then highway 50 heads towards Montrose in the Uncompahgre River valley, passing through Olathe as an expressway bypass. Olathe is the home of a popular annual sweet corn festival. Agriculture in the area is greatly enhanced by irrigation water supplied by reservoirs on the Gunnison River. U.S 50 arrives in Montrose on Townsend Ave. The route then junctions with U.S. Highway 550 and turns east onto the San Juan Avenue bypass and then onto Main St. heading eastward out of Montrose.

The highway is a four-lane expressway from the Utah border to the eastern boundary of Montrose except for surface streets in the towns of Grand Junction, Delta and Montrose. From Montrose east to the Kansas border it is primarily a two-lane highway with only short stretches of four-lane highway. The upgrade of the last segment of highway between Utah and Montrose was completed in January 2005. The first 94 miles (151 km) of route 50 is four-lane highway. Of the remaining 375 miles (604 km), only about 90 miles (140 km) had been upgraded to four lanes as of 2012, primarily around larger towns.

About ten miles east of Montrose, the highway intersects State Highway 347. This 5.2 miles (8.4 km) long highway provides access to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Highway 50 then passes over Cerro Summit, about 8,000 feet (2,400 m), descends to the small community of Cimarron on the Cimarron River and ascends again to the Blue Mesa Summit, 8,850 feet (2,700 m) before dropping into Blue Creek Canyon. 3 miles (4.8 km) north of the stream crossing, where Blue Creek empties into the Gunnison River, is the Curecanti Needle, a striking rock formation that is the symbol of the now defunct Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. The needle is now accessible only by boat since the abandoned railroad line was flooded by Morrow Point Lake, formed by the completion of the Crystal Dam in 1976. U.S. Highway 50 rises again over a third low pass before reaching State Highway 92. A short distance north of the intersection, highway 92 crosses the Blue Mesa Dam which forms Blue Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in the state of Colorado. Highway 50 crosses the reservoir at Middle Bridge, intersects State Highway 149 near the east end of the reservoir and continues into the town of Gunnison, home of Western State College of Colorado.

East of Gunnison the highway intersects with State Highway 114, passes through the communities of Parlin and Sargents and then ascends to Monarch Pass (elevation 11,312 feet (3,448 m)) on the continental divide. Monarch Pass is the highest point on the entire length of U.S. 50.

Arkansas River Valley[edit]

After descending from Monarch Pass, the highway enters the Arkansas River Valley near the town of Salida. The headwaters of the Arkansas are about 50 miles (80 km) north near Leadville, in Climax. The Arkansas is the second-longest tributary to the Mississippi-Missouri River system. U.S. 50 closely follows the Arkansas River from Salida to Kansas. East of Salida, the highway enters a deep canyon, dubbed Bighorn Sheep Canyon. There are several small communities in the canyon including Howard, Coaldale and Cotopaxi. The major industries in the canyon are fishing and river rafting.

Near mile marker 267, the highway crosses the river and leaves the canyon. A short distance later, County Road 3A leads to the rim of the Royal Gorge and its famous suspension bridge. The Royal Gorge Bridge is 1,260 feet (380 m) long and 956 feet (291 m) above the Arkansas River. It was built in 1929 and remains a popular tourist attraction that will soon reopen in 2014 after a devastating fire destroyed much of the surround park in 2013.

After passing by the Royal Gorge, Highway 50 lowers off Eight Mile Hill and passes by the scenic route Skyline Drive on its way into Cañon City. Fremont County, which includes Cañon City, is the home to 15 prisons, including ADX Supermax, the only federal Supermax prison in the United States.

U.S. 50 intersects State Highway 67, State Highway 115 and State Highway 120 in Fremont County before crossing into Pueblo County. Then the highway enters Pueblo West on its way to intersect with State Highway 45. Highway 50 enters Pueblo, the home of the annual [[Colorado State Fair], as a six-lane divided highway and joins Interstate 25 ]. Pueblo is at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, the beginning of the plains of southeastern Colorado. As the highway heads east across the plains, it generally follows the path of the Arkansas River until it reaches Kansas. Along the route it passes through a several small communities including Rocky Ford, Fowler and La Junta.

Just beyond La Junta, the highway passes Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site where travelers can find information about life on the plains. The highway continues on to Las Animas, Colorado, home of Boggsville National Monument, and Lamar.

Between Pueblo and Kansas, Highway 50 intersects with a number of state highways and U.S. highways. The U.S. highways are U.S. Highway 350, 287, 385 and 400. It runs concurrently with 287 and 385 for short distances and with 400 from Granada, Colorado to Dodge City, Kansas, a distance of 136 miles (219 km).

U.S. route 50 in Colorado ends at the Kansas state line, about 4 miles (6.4 km) east of Holly, Colorado, 467.6 miles (752.5 km) from the Utah border. Holly has the lowest elevation of any town in Colorado at 3,392 feet (1,034 m).

Junction list[edit]

County Location Mile[2] Destinations Notes
Mesa 0.000 I‑70 west / US‑50 west / US‑6 west Utah state line
1.814 Rabbit Valley I-70 exit 2
11.106 (070A)
11.179 (006A)
I‑70 east East end of I-70 overlap
Mack 11.782 M 8/10 Road former US 6 west / US 50 west
Loma 15.132 SH 139 to I‑70
Fruita 19.955 SH 340 south (Coulson Street) to I‑70
Grand Junction 26.080 (006A)
0.000 (070B)
I‑70 - Utah, Green River, Denver West end of I-70 Bus. overlap
2.423 Redlands Parkway south, Patterson Road, 24 Road Interchange
3.608 To US 50 / 25 Road to Riverside Parkway
4.367 US 6 east (North Avenue) East end of US 6 overlap; interchange
4.952 SH 340 west (Grand Avenue) - Colorado National Monument
5.661 (070B)
31.827 (050A)
To I‑70 Bus. east (Pitkin Avenue) / I‑70 east – Denver East end of I-70 Bus. overlap
32.235 To US 50 / I‑70 Bus. / Riverside Parkway Interchange
34.206 B 1/2 Road Interchange; former SH 340 east
38.504 SH 141 north (32 Road) to I‑70 east – Clifton, Denver West end of SH 141 overlap
Whitewater 41.137 SH 141 south – Gateway, Naturita East end of SH 141 overlap
Delta Delta 70.919 SH 92 east (1st Street) to SH 65 north / SH 133 east - Grand Mesa, Black Canyon National Park North Rim
71.428 SH 348 (6th Street)
Montrose Olathe 81.472
US 50 Bus. east – Olathe
82.613 SH 348 west (South 5th Street) – Olathe
83.145
US 50 Bus. west – Olathe
Montrose 91.878 US 550 south (Townsend Avenue) – Ouray former US 50 east
93.558 Main Street - Business District former US 50 west
100.545 SH 347 north - Black Canyon National Park
Gunnison CR 25 (Blue Mesa Cut Off) former SH 161
Curecanti NRA 131.129 SH 92 west – Crawford, Hotchkiss
148.052 SH 149 south – Lake City, Creede, South Fork
Gunnison 157.394 SH 135 north (Main Street) – Crested Butte
165.601 SH 114 – Saguache
Chaffee Poncha Springs 216.770 US 285 north – Buena Vista, Leadville West end of US 285 overlap
217.345 US 285 south – Monte Vista East end of US 285 overlap
Salida 221.379 F Street - Salida National Historic District former US 50 east
222.399 SH 291 north (Oak Street) / CR 105 - Salida National Historic District former US 50 west
Fremont Cotopaxi 245.396 CR 1A / CR 12 former SH 272
Texas Creek 252.663 SH 69 south – Westcliffe
Parkdale 267.330 CR 3 former SH 9 south
269.130 SH 9 north – Guffey, Hartsel USBR 76 west
Cañon City 278.704 SH 115 (9th Street)
279.222 15th Street
280.307 Raynolds Avenue
281.964 CR 20 (Mackenzie Avenue) former SH 267
285.633 SH 67 south / CR 67 north (Phantom Canyon Road) – Florence, Victor
289.769 SH 115 – Penrose, Colorado Springs, Florence Interchange
294.339 SH 120 (R Street)
Pueblo 296.578 CR 120 former SH 120
Pueblo West 305.811 McCulloch Boulevard West - Lake Pueblo State Park
307.339 McCulloch Boulevard
309.780 Purcell Boulevard
312.088 SH 45 south (Pueblo Boulevard) - Lake Pueblo State Park
Pueblo 314.512 Elizabeth Street former US 50 east/US 85/US 87
314.598 (050A)
101.389 (025A)
I‑25 north (US 85 north / US 87 north) / SH 47 east to US 50 east – Colorado Springs, La Junta West end of I-25/US 85/US 87 overlap
100.681 29th Street I-25 exit 100B
99.981 (025A)
315.960 (050B)
I‑25 south (US 50 Bus. east / US 85 south / US 87 south) – Trinidad South end of I-25/US 85/US 87 overlap
318.707 SH 47 (University Boulevard) / SH 96 west (4th Street) Western end of SH 96 overlap; interchange
321.640 Pueblo Memorial Airport Interchange
Baxter 322.130 SH 233 south
Devine 324.229 SH 231 south (36th Lane)
329.135 Pueblo Chemical Depot Interchange
North Avondale 329.334 SH 96 east – Ordway, Boone Eastern end of SH 96 overlap
332.246
US 50 Bus. west – Avondale
335.764 SH 209 north – Boone
Otero Fowler 350.909 SH 167 (Main Street)
Manzanola 359.712 SH 207 north (Park Street) – Crowley
366.970 SH 71 north – Ordway Western end of SH 71 overlap
Rocky Ford 368.109 SH 202 (2nd Street)
368.930 SH 71 south / SH 266 (12th Street) Eastern end of SH 71 overlap
Swink 374.504 Columbia Avenue former SH 205
La Junta 378.419 SH 10 west – Walsenburg
378.816 US 350 west (Grant Avenue) – Trinidad
380.231 SH 109 (Bradish Avenue) to SH 194 – Cheraw, Kim, Bents Old Fort National Historic Site
Bent Las Animas 398.769 SH 101 (Carson Avenue) - Boggsville National Historic District
400.160 SH 194 west – Bents Fort Interchange
404.627 SH 183 south – Ft. Lyon
420.744 SH 196 – McClave
Prowers 427.737 US 287 north to I‑70 – Eads, Kit Carson West end of US 287 overlap; interchange
433.499 CR 196 – Kornman, Bristol former SH 196
Lamar 435.390 US 287 south (Main Street) / US 385 south – Springfield East end of US 287 overlap, west end of US 385 overlap
Granada 452.769 US 385 north (Main Street) – Bristol, Sheridan Lake, Cheyenne Wells East end of US 385 overlap, west end of US 400 overlap (US 400 ends at the intersection)
458.488 Road 30 - Hartman former SH 196
Holly 463.506 SH 89 (First Avenue) – Lycan
467.583 US-50 east / US-400 east Kansas state line
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

Related U.S. Routes[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]


U.S. Route 50
Previous state:
Utah
Colorado Next state:
Kansas