U.S. Route 50 in Colorado

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U.S. Route 50 marker

U.S. Route 50
Map of Colorado with US 50 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by CDOT
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
East end US-50 / US-400 at Kansas state line
Highway system
Colorado State Highways
SH 47 SH 52

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. 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 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, 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) 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-mile-long (8.4 km) 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. Before the highway climbs uphill and leaves the canyon, Parkdale, Colorado is home to rafting, mining and a recreational area along the river. A short distance later, Colorado State Highway 9 intersects from the north as the highway enters the Royal Gorge area. Fremont 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 reopened to the public in 2014 after a devastating fire destroyed much of the surrounding park in 2013. The bridge remained intact but some boards were blackened. The damaged boards were replaced to maintain the integrity of the bridge.

After passing by the Royal Gorge, Highway 50 lowers off Eight Mile Hill and becomes a divided four lane highway. It then passes by the scenic route Skyline Drive on its way into Cañon City. At 1st Street, the highway is known locally as Royal Gorge Boulevard. Fremont County, which includes Cañon City, is the home to 15 prisons, including ADX Supermax, the only federal Supermax prison in the United States, located south of Florence, Colorado.

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 Fowler, Rocky Ford 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 mi[2] km Destinations Notes
Mesa 0.000 0.000 I-70 west / US-50 west / US-6 west Utah state line
1.814 2.919 Rabbit Valley I-70 exit 2
I-70 east Eastern end of I-70 overlap
Mack 11.782 18.961 M 8/10 Road Former US 6 west / US 50 west
Loma 15.132 24.353 SH 139 to I-70
Fruita 19.955 32.114 SH 340 south (Coulson Street) to I-70
Grand Junction 26.080
I-70 – Utah, Green River, Denver Western end of I-70 Bus. overlap
2.423 3.899 Redlands Parkway south, Patterson Road, 24 Road Interchange
3.608 5.807 To US 50 / 25 Road to Riverside Parkway
4.367 7.028 US 6 east (North Avenue) Eastern end of US 6 overlap; interchange
4.952 7.969 SH 340 west (Grand Avenue) – Colorado National Monument
To I-70 Bus. east (Pitkin Avenue) / I-70 east – Denver Eastern end of I-70 Bus. overlap
32.235 51.877 To US 50 / I-70 Bus. / Riverside Parkway Interchange
34.206 55.049 B 1/2 Road Interchange; former SH 340 east
38.504 61.966 SH 141 north (32 Road) to I-70 east – Clifton, Denver Western end of SH 141 overlap
Whitewater 41.137 66.204 SH 141 south – Gateway, Naturita Eastern end of SH 141 overlap
Delta Delta 70.919 114.133 SH 92 east (1st Street) to SH 65 north / SH 133 east – Grand Mesa, Black Canyon National Park North Rim
71.428 114.952 SH 348 (6th Street)
Montrose Olathe 81.472 131.116
US 50 Bus. east – Olathe
82.613 132.953 SH 348 west (South 5th Street) – Olathe
83.145 133.809
US 50 Bus. west – Olathe
Montrose 91.878 147.863 US 550 south (Townsend Avenue) – Ouray Former US 50 east
93.558 150.567 Main Street – Business District Former US 50 west
100.545 161.811 SH 347 north – Black Canyon National Park
Gunnison CR 25 (Blue Mesa Cut Off) Former SH 161
Curecanti NRA 131.129 211.032 SH 92 west – Crawford, Hotchkiss
148.052 238.267 SH 149 south – Lake City, Creede, South Fork
Gunnison 157.394 253.301 SH 135 north (Main Street) – Crested Butte
165.601 266.509 SH 114 – Saguache
Chaffee Poncha Springs 216.770 348.857 US 285 north – Buena Vista, Leadville Western end of US 285 overlap
217.345 349.783 US 285 south – Monte Vista Eastern end of US 285 overlap
Salida 221.379 356.275 F Street – Salida National Historic District Former US 50 east
222.399 357.916 SH 291 north (Oak Street) / CR 105 – Salida National Historic District Former US 50 west
Fremont Cotopaxi 245.396 394.927 CR 1A / CR 12 Former SH 272
Texas Creek 252.663 406.622 SH 69 south – Westcliffe
Parkdale 267.330 430.226 CR 3 Former SH 9 south
269.130 433.123 SH 9 north – Guffey, Hartsel USBR 76 west
Cañon City 278.704 448.531 SH 115 (9th Street)
279.222 449.364 15th Street
280.307 451.110 Raynolds Avenue
281.964 453.777 CR 20 (Mackenzie Avenue) Former SH 267
285.633 459.682 SH 67 south / CR 67 north (Phantom Canyon Road) – Florence, Victor
289.769 466.338 SH 115 – Penrose, Colorado Springs, Florence Interchange
294.339 473.693 SH 120 (R Street)
Pueblo 296.578 477.296 CR 120 Former SH 120
Pueblo West 305.811 492.155 McCulloch Boulevard West – Lake Pueblo State Park
307.339 494.614 McCulloch Boulevard
309.780 498.543 Purcell Boulevard
312.088 502.257 SH 45 south (Pueblo Boulevard) – Lake Pueblo State Park
Pueblo 314.512 506.158 Elizabeth Street Former US 50 east/US 85/US 87
I-25 north (US 85 north / US 87 north) / SH 47 east to US 50 east – Colorado Springs, La Junta Western end of I-25/US 85/US 87 overlap
100.681 162.030 29th Street I-25 exit 100B
I-25 south (US 50 Bus. east / US 85 south / US 87 south) – Trinidad Southern end of I-25/US 85/US 87 overlap
318.707 512.909 SH 47 (University Boulevard) / SH 96 west (4th Street) Western end of SH 96 overlap; interchange
321.640 517.629 Pueblo Memorial Airport Interchange
Baxter 322.130 518.418 SH 233 south
Devine 324.229 521.796 SH 231 south (36th Lane)
329.135 529.691 Pueblo Chemical Depot Interchange
North Avondale 329.334 530.012 SH 96 east – Ordway, Boone Eastern end of SH 96 overlap
332.246 534.698
US 50 Bus. west – Avondale
335.764 540.360 SH 209 north – Boone
Otero Fowler 350.909 564.733 SH 167 (Main Street)
Manzanola 359.712 578.900 SH 207 north (Park Street) – Crowley
366.970 590.581 SH 71 north – Ordway Western end of SH 71 overlap
Rocky Ford 368.109 592.414 SH 202 (2nd Street)
368.930 593.735 SH 71 south / SH 266 (12th Street) Eastern end of SH 71 overlap
Swink 374.504 602.706 Columbia Avenue Former SH 205
La Junta 378.419 609.006 SH 10 west – Walsenburg
378.816 609.645 US 350 west (Grant Avenue) – Trinidad
380.231 611.922 SH 109 (Bradish Avenue) to SH 194 – Cheraw, Kim, Bents Old Fort National Historic Site
Bent Las Animas 398.769 641.756 SH 101 (Carson Avenue) – Boggsville National Historic District
400.160 643.995 SH 194 west – Bents Fort Interchange
404.627 651.184 SH 183 south – Ft. Lyon
420.744 677.122 SH 196 – McClave
Prowers 427.737 688.376 US 287 north to I-70 – Eads, Kit Carson Western end of US 287 overlap; interchange
433.499 697.649 CR 196 – Kornman, Bristol Former SH 196
Lamar 435.390 700.692 US 287 south (Main Street) / US 385 south – Springfield Eastern end of US 287 overlap, western end of US 385 overlap
Granada 452.769 728.661 US 385 north (Main Street) / US 400 begins – Bristol, Sheridan Lake, Cheyenne Wells Eastern end of US 385 overlap, western end of US 400 overlap
458.488 737.865 Road 30 – Hartman Former SH 196
Holly 463.506 745.941 SH 89 (First Avenue) – Lycan
467.583 752.502 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]


External links[edit]

KML is from Wikidata

U.S. Route 50
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