U.S. Route 36 in Colorado

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U.S. Highway 36 marker

U.S. Highway 36

US 36 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by CDOT
Length232.406 mi[1] (374.021 km)
SH 36: 24.60 miles (39.59 km)
Major junctions
West end US 34 near Estes Park
Major intersections
East end US-36 at Kansas state line
CountryUnited States
CountiesLarimer, Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Washington, Yuma
Highway system
  • Colorado State Highway System
SH 35 SH 39

U.S. Route 36 (US 36) is a United States highway that travels from Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado to Uhrichsville, Ohio. In Colorado, the highway traverses an east–west route mostly in the northern portion of the Great Plains. At its west end, the road connects several small mountain towns such as Estes Park and Lyons to the larger metropolitan areas of Boulder and Denver. As it continues eastward, it connects to several other small towns and rural highways on the plains before crossing the state line into Kansas.

Route description[edit]

Rocky Mountain National Park to Boulder[edit]

Sign on US 34 approaching the western endpoint of US 36 at Deer Ridge Junction in Rocky Mountain National Park

US 36 begins at Deer Ridge Junction in Rocky Mountain National Park, where it intersects US 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 US 34 Business 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 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 westbound approaching Estes Park

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[edit]

Just after the Baseline Road interchange, US 36 changes to a southeasterly direction, using the route of the original Denver-Boulder Turnpike, a toll road from its opening in 1952 until 1967.[2][3] The road intersects SH 157 (Foothills Parkway) on its way out of Boulder. Northwestbound traffic approaching Boulder on the turnpike can stop at the Davidson Mesa Overlook, a scenic overlook 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.[4] 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) US 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 Denver-Boulder Turnpike now extends all the way east to I-25.

The US 36 bikeway, part of the multi-modal Fastracks US 36 Express Lanes Project, mostly parallels the road between Table Mesa Drive in Boulder and 80th Avenue in Westminster, the first 11-mile stretch between Westminster and Louisville/Superior opening on Bike-to-Work Day in June 2015,[5] the full route to Table Mesa in Boulder in March 2016.[6][7]

Denver to Byers (unsigned)[edit]

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 (the third time the two highways come into proximity) 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.

Byers to Kansas state line[edit]

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.[1]


Denver-Boulder Turnpike[edit]

The Denver-Boulder Turnpike was championed by business and university interests in Boulder due to there being no direct route between Denver and Boulder.[8] 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.[9]

Express lanes[edit]

Beginning in July 2012, the Colorado Department of Transportation built a high-occupancy toll lane (HOT lane) in each direction between Federal Boulevard and 88th Street in Louisville, Colorado.[10] Phase 1 of the project, costing $497 million, will open in summer 2015. High-occupancy vehicles and buses like RTD's Flatiron Flyer travel free in the HOT lanes, while single-occupancy vehicles must pay between $1.25 to $7.60, depending on time of day, or up to $13.68 without an electronic toll collection pass.[11] To accommodate the lanes, several bridges were replaced and shoulders were widened along the highway. Phase 2 of the project, anticipated to be complete by early 2016, will extend the HOT lanes from 88th Street to Table Mesa Drive in Boulder, Colorado, through a public–private partnership.[12]


The view of Boulder from westbound US 36 as the highway descends into the city

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).[13] The new state highway was assigned the Primary Road No. 102 designation, and kept its number when many others were changed in 1923.[14][15]

The west end of State Highway 102 was initially at Strasburg,[16] 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.[17] Finally in 1958–1959 a realignment west of Idalia eliminated four more 90-degree turns.[15]

When the tolls were removed from the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, 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,[14] 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.[15] In 2012, the turnpike was also given the honorary name Buffalo Highway in recognition of the University of Colorado's mascot,[18] 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/US 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.[15]

In early September 2013, a 31-mile (50 km) 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.[19] The road was finally reopened two months later with the help of the National Guard.[20] Permanent repairs were started in January, 2014.[21]

In July 2019, cracks appeared on the eastbound lanes of the highway in Westminster due to shifting soil underneath. The highway has been closed as construction crews try to address the problem.[22]

Major junctions[edit]

The mileposts in Larimer County temporarily reset at the concurrency with US 34. All exits are unnumbered.

LarimerDeer Ridge Junction0.0000.000 US 34 (Trail Ridge Road) – Grand Lake, Horseshoe Park, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National ParkWestern terminus
Rocky Mountain National Park2.9004.667Bear Lake Road – Moraine Park, Glacier Basin, Bear Lake
3.0894.971Beaver Meadows Entrance Station
Rocky Mountain National Park entrance fee required
4.9597.981Highway 66 – YMCA CenterFormer SH 66
Estes Park6.982

US 34 Bus. west (Elkhorn Avenue)
Western end of US 34 Bus. concurrency

US 34 (Wonderview Avenue / Big Thompson Avenue) / US 34 Bus. ends – Grand Lake, Loveland, Greeley
Eastern end of US 34 Bus. concurrency
SH 7 south (South St. Vrain Avenue) – Allenspark
SH 7 west (5th Avenue) – Allenspark
Western end of SH 7 concurrency
SH 66 east – Longmont
Western terminus of SH 66
SH 119 north (Diagonal Highway) – Longmont
Western end of SH 119 concurrency
SH 119 south (Canyon Boulevard) – Nederland, Eldora Ski Area, Pearl Street Mall, Business District
Eastern end of SH 119 concurrency
SH 7 east (Arapahoe Avenue) – Lafayette
Eastern end of SH 7 concurrency
To SH 93 / Baseline Road
West end of Denver-Boulder Turnpike
SH 157 north (Foothills Parkway) / Table Mesa Drive / South Boulder Road – CU Stadium
LouisvilleSuperior line43.19869.520
SH 170 west / McCaslin Boulevard – Superior, Louisville
Eastern terminus of SH-170; diverging diamond interchange opened Oct. 19, 2015
City and County of Broomfield45.372.9West Flatiron Crossing DriveEastbound exit and westbound entrance
45.82573.748 Northwest Parkway / Interlocken Loop – Broomfield, LouisvilleAccess to Denver International Airport
46.19474.342East Flatiron Crossing DriveWestbound exit and eastbound entrance
48.03577.305 US 287 / SH 121 – Broomfield, Arvada, Lafayette
JeffersonWestminster50.37881.076104th Avenue / Church Ranch Boulevard
Adams52.57184.605 SH 95 (Sheridan Boulevard) / 92nd Avenue
54.85888.285 US 287 (Federal Boulevard)
55.93190.012Pecos Street
55.95690.052I-25 Express Lanes southEastbound exit and westbound entrance

SH 224 east (Broadway) to SH 53
No eastbound entrance
I-25 south (US 87 south) – Denver
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance

I-270 begins
East end of Denver-Boulder Turnpike; western end of I-270 concurrency
See I-270

I-70 west / I-270 ends
Eastern end of I-270 concurrency; western end of I-70 concurrency; westbound exit and eastbound entrance; I-70 exit 279A
See I-70
I-70 east (US 40 east / US 287 south) / SH 36 west – Byers
East end of SH 36; eastern end of I-70/US/40/US 287 concurrency; I-70 exit 316
WashingtonLast Chance135.583218.200 SH 71 – Brush, Limon
SH 63 north – Akron, Arriba

SH 59 south to I-70
Western end of SH 59 concurrency
SH 59 north – Haxtun, Yuma
Eastern end of SH 59 concurrency
US 385 south – Burlington
Western end of US 385 concurrency
US 385 north – Wray
Eastern end of US 385 concurrency
US-36 east – St. Francis
Kansas state line
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

Colorado State Highway 36[edit]

State Highway 36 marker

State Highway 36


SH 36 is the stretch of former US 36 that runs from Aurora to Byers. Its western terminus is at exit 292 of I-70. Form there, it goes east through Watkins, Bennett, and Strasburg, meeting I-70 twice along the way before meeting I-70 for a third time at its eastern terminus (exit 316). This first junction with I-70 east of Aurora is in Bennett, at exit 306. The second such junction is at an underpass near Strasburg, with no access to or from the Interstate.

The highway was originally signed as part of SH 8.

Major intersections[edit]

Mileposts are based on US 36 mileage.

AdamsAurora76.394122.944 I-70 (US 36 / US 40 / US 287)Western terminus; I-70 exit 292
Watkins Road (I-70 BS south) to I-70
Northern terminus of I-70 Bus.

SH 79 south (1st Street) to I-70
Western end of SH 79 concurrency
SH 79 north (Adams Street) – Prospect Valley
Eastern end of SH 79 concurrency
county line
91.188146.753 I-70 – DenverNo access to I-70 east; I-70 exit 306
To I-70 / Wagner Street
SH 40 east
Former US 40 east
100.998162.541 I-70 (US 40 / US 287) / US 36Eastern terminus; I-70 exit 316; highway continues as US 36 east.
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b "Segment Descriptions for Highway 36". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2008-03-26.
  2. ^ "Denver-Boulder Turnpike 1952". The Archive. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  3. ^ Pettem, Silvia. "Shep, 'the turnpike dog,' remembered". DailyCamera.com. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  4. ^ Rubino, Joe (2015-02-09). "Here's looking at you, Boulder: Davidson Mesa scenic overlook reopened". Daily Camera. Retrieved 2015-02-10.
  5. ^ "US 36 Bikeway (part 1) opens June 24 - Bicycle Colorado". Bicycle Colorado. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  6. ^ "US 36 Bikeway to Boulder Open Tomorrow —". www.codot.gov. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  7. ^ "Completed US 36 Bikeway To Boulder Opens". CBS4 Denver. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Colorado State Roads and Highways, National Register of Historic Places Multiple Property Submission" (PDF). Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation Colorado Historical Society. p. 40. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
  9. ^ Superior Historian, March 2006
  10. ^ "US 36 Express Lanes Project Phase 1". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  11. ^ Aguilar, John (May 8, 2015). "Colorado's new express lanes, passes will take getting used to". The Denver Post. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  12. ^ "US 36 Express Lane Project Phase 2". Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved 30 May 2015.
  13. ^ Colorado Highways, April 1922, p. 6
  14. ^ a b 1923 list of state highways, reproduced in Highways to the Sky, Appendix C, p. 39
  15. ^ a b c d 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
  16. ^ Colorado Highways, July 1923, map of state highways
  17. ^ United States Geological Survey, Byers 1:24000, 1956
  18. ^ Bartels, Lynn. "Committee OKs renaming Boulder Turnpike the Buffalo Highway". The Spot. Retrieved 18 August 2018.
  19. ^ [1] Work on U.S. Highway 36 west of Lyons underway as CDOT aims at Dec. 1 opening
  20. ^ [2] Flood-damaged US 36 to Estes Park reopening Monday, nearly 1 month ahead of schedule
  21. ^ [3] CDOT to Start Permanent Repairs on U.S. 36
  22. ^ Osborne, Ryan (2019-07-14). "Cracked U.S. 36 still shifting; no timeline for reopening". KMGH. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  23. ^ Colorado Department of Transportation, Highway Data Explorer Archived 2012-09-10 at the Wayback Machine, accessed November 2013

External links[edit]

KML is from Wikidata

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