U.S. Route 50 in Colorado

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U.S. Highway 50 marker

U.S. Highway 50
US 50 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by CDOT
Length467.583 mi[1] (752.502 km)
Existed1926–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
Location
CountiesMesa, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Saguache, Chaffee, Fremont, Pueblo, Otero, Bent, Prowers
Highway system
Colorado State Highways
SH 47SH 52

U.S. Route 50 (US 50) is a part of the U.S. Highway System that travels from West Sacramento, California, to Ocean City, Maryland. In the U.S. state of Colorado, US 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. 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.

US 50 at Cerro Summit

About ten miles east of Montrose, the highway intersects SH 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 Colorado University.

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.

US 50 looking west entering Howard

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 several small communities including Fowler, Rocky Ford and La Junta.

US 50 in Lamar approaching the intersection with US 385 and US 287

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).

Major intersections[edit]

CountyLocationmi[2]kmDestinationsNotes
Mesa0.0000.000 I-70 west / US-50 west / US-6 west – SalinaUtah state line
1.8142.919Rabbit ValleyI-70 exit 2
11.106
11.179
17.873
17.991
I-70 eastEastern end of I-70 concurrency; I-70 exit 11
Mack11.78218.961M 8/10 RoadFormer US 6 west / US 50 west
Loma15.13224.353 SH 139 to I-70To I-70 via SH 139 south
Fruita19.95532.114 SH 340 east (Coulson Street) to I-70Western terminus of SH 340
Grand Junction26.080
0.000
41.972
0.000
I-70 / I-70 Bus. begin – Utah, Green River, DenverWestern end of I-70 Bus. concurrency, I-70 exit 26; Diverging diamond interchange;
2.4233.899Redlands Parkway south, Patterson Road, 24 RoadInterchange
3.6085.807 To US 50 / 25 Road to Riverside Parkway
4.3677.028 US 6 east (North Avenue)Eastern end of US 6 concurency; interchange
4.9527.969 SH 340 west (Grand Avenue) – Colorado National MonumentEastern terminus of SH 340
5.661
31.827
9.110
51.221
To I-70 Bus. east (Pitkin Avenue) / I-70 east – DenverEastern end of I-70 Bus. concurrency
32.23551.877 To US 50 / I-70 Bus. / Riverside ParkwayInterchange
34.20655.049B 1/2 RoadInterchange; former SH 340 east
38.50461.966 SH 141 north (32 Road) to I-70 east – Clifton, DenverWestern end of SH 141 concurrency
Whitewater41.13766.204 SH 141 south – Gateway, NaturitaEastern end of SH 141 concurrency
DeltaDelta70.919114.133 SH 92 east (1st Street) to SH 65 north / SH 133 east – Grand Mesa, Black Canyon National Park North RimWestern terminus of SH 92
71.428114.952 SH 348 (6th Street)
MontroseOlathe81.472131.116
US 50 Bus. east – Olathe
Western terminus of US 50 Bus.
82.613132.953 SH 348 west (South 5th Street) – OlatheEastern terminus of SH 348
83.145133.809
US 50 Bus. west – Olathe
Eastern terminus of US 50 Bus.
Montrose91.878147.863 US 550 south (Townsend Avenue) – OurayNorthern terminus of US 550; former US 50 east
93.558150.567Main Street – Business DistrictFormer US 50 west
100.545161.811 SH 347 north – Black Canyon National ParkSouthern terminus of SH 347
Gunnison CR 25 (Blue Mesa Cut Off)Former SH 161
Curecanti NRA131.129211.032 SH 92 west – Crawford, HotchkissEastern terminus of SH 92
148.052238.267 SH 149 south – Lake City, Creede, South ForkNorthern terminus of SH 149
Gunnison157.394253.301 SH 135 north (Main Street) – Crested ButteSouthern terminus of SH 135
165.601266.509 SH 114 – Saguache
Saguache
No major junctions
Gunnison
No major junctions
ChaffeePoncha Springs216.770348.857 US 285 north – Buena Vista, LeadvilleWestern end of US 285 concurrency
217.345349.783 US 285 south – Monte VistaEastern end of US 285 concurrency
Salida221.379356.275F Street – Salida National Historic DistrictFormer US 50 east
222.399357.916 SH 291 north (Oak Street) / CR 105 – Salida National Historic DistrictSouthern terminus of SH 291; former US 50 west
FremontCotopaxi245.396394.927 CR 1A / CR 12Former SH 272
Texas Creek252.663406.622 SH 69 south – WestcliffeNorthern terminus of SH 69
Parkdale267.330430.226 CR 3Former SH 9 south
269.130433.123 SH 9 north – Guffey, HartselSouthern terminus of SH 9; USBR 76 west
Cañon City278.704448.531 SH 115 (9th Street)Southern Terminus of SH-115;
279.222449.36415th Street
280.307451.110Raynolds Avenue
281.964453.777 CR 20 (Mackenzie Avenue)Former SH 267
285.633459.682 SH 67 south / CR 67 north (Phantom Canyon Road) – Florence, VictorNorthern terminus of SH 67; southern terminus of CR 67
289.769466.338 SH 115 – Penrose, Colorado Springs, FlorenceInterchange
294.339473.693 SH 120 (R Street)
Pueblo296.578477.296 CR 120Former SH 120
Pueblo West305.811492.155McCulloch Boulevard West – Lake Pueblo State Park
307.339494.614McCulloch Boulevard
309.780498.543Purcell Boulevard
312.088502.257 SH 45 south (Pueblo Boulevard) – Lake Pueblo State ParkNorthern terminus of SH 45
Pueblo314.512506.158Elizabeth StreetFormer US 50 east/US 85/US 87
314.598
101.389
506.296
163.170
I-25 north (US 85 north / US 87 north) / SH 47 east to US 50 east – Colorado Springs, La JuntaWestern end of I-25/US 85/US 87 concurrency; Western Terminus of SH-47; I-25 exit 101
100.681162.03029th StreetI-25 exit 100B
99.981
315.960
160.904
508.488
I-25 south (US 50 Bus. east / US 85 south / US 87 south) – TrinidadSouthern end of I-25/US 85/US 87 concurrency, western terminus of US 50 Bus.; I-25 exit 100a
318.707512.909 SH 47 (University Boulevard) / SH 96 west (4th Street)Western end of SH 96 concurrency; Eastern Terminus of SH-47; interchange
321.640517.629Pueblo Memorial AirportInterchange
Baxter322.130518.418 SH 233 southNorthern terminus of SH 233
Devine324.229521.796 SH 231 south (36th Lane)Northern terminus of SH 231
329.135529.691Pueblo Chemical DepotInterchange
North Avondale329.334530.012 SH 96 east – Ordway, BooneEastern end of SH 96 concurrency
332.246534.698
US 50 Bus. west – Avondale
Eastern terminus of US 50 Bus.
335.764540.360 SH 209 north – BooneSouthern terminus of SH 209
OteroFowler350.909564.733 SH 167 (Main Street)
Manzanola359.712578.900 SH 207 north (Park Street) – CrowleySouthern terminus of SH 207
366.970590.581 SH 71 north – OrdwayWestern end of SH 71 concurrency
Rocky Ford368.109592.414 SH 202 (2nd Street)
368.930593.735 SH 71 south / SH 266 (12th Street)Eastern end of SH 71 concurrency
Swink374.504602.706Columbia AvenueFormer SH 205
La Junta378.419609.006 SH 10 west – WalsenburgEastern terminus of SH 10
378.816609.645 US 350 west (Grant Avenue) – TrinidadEastern terminus of US 350
380.231611.922 SH 109 (Bradish Avenue) to SH 194 – Cheraw, Kim, Bents Old Fort National Historic Site
BentLas Animas398.769641.756 SH 101 (Carson Avenue) – Boggsville National Historic District
400.160643.995 SH 194 west – Bents FortEastern terminus of SH 194; interchange
404.627651.184 SH 183 south – Ft. LyonNorthern terminus of SH 183
420.744677.122 SH 196 – McClave
Prowers427.737688.376 US 287 north to I-70 – Eads, Kit CarsonWestern end of US 287 concurrency; interchange
433.499697.649 CR 196 – Kornman, BristolFormer SH 196
Lamar435.390700.692 US 287 south (Main Street) / US 385 south – SpringfieldEastern end of US 287 concurrency; western end of US 385 concurrency
Granada452.769728.661 US 385 north (Main Street) / US 400 begins – Bristol, Sheridan Lake, Cheyenne WellsEastern end of US 385 concurrency; western end of US 400 concurrency; western terminus of US 400
458.488737.865Road 30 – HartmanFormer SH 196
Holly463.506745.941 SH 89 (First Avenue) – Lycan
467.583752.502 US-50 east / US-400 east – Syracuse, Garden CityKansas state line
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

Related U.S. Routes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Colorado Department of Transportation, Highway Data Archived October 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 2007
  2. ^ Colorado Department of Transportation, Highway Data Explorer Archived September 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, accessed November 2013

External links[edit]

External links[edit]

KML is from Wikidata


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