Colorado Highways: US 160

Return to Routes 160-179
Colo Hwys Home    About


Location: Southern Western Slope > Southern Mountains > San Luis Valley > Southern Front Range > Arkansas Valley
Length*: 497.22mi
W End: New Mexico border just east of the Four Corners (link to Steve Riner's site)
E End: Kansas border east of Walsh (link to Richie Kennedy's site)
Nationally: W End: US 89 near Tuba City, Arizona; E End: US 67 near Poplar Bluff, Missouri (1444mi)

Counties: Montezuma, La Plata, Archuleta, Mineral, Rio Grande, Alamosa, Costilla, Huerfano, Las Animas, Baca
Places: Four Corners, Cortez, Mancos, Durango, Bayfield, Pogosa Springs, Wolf Creek Pass, South Fork, Del Norte, Monte Vista, Alamosa, Blanca, Fort Garland, North La Veta Pass, Walsenburg, Trinidad, Kim, Pritchett, Springfield, Vilas, Walsh

NHS: New Mexico border east to I-25 at Walsenburg, and along I-25 to Trinidad.

Freeway: While concurrent with I-25 from Walsenburg to Trinidad.

Expressway:

Business Routes: Mancos

Mountain Passes:

Scenic & Historic Byways:

Milepost Guide:

  • 0.00: New Mexico border (begin US 160 in Montezuma County)
  • 4.88: SH 41
  • 18.29: South jct US 491
  • 37.86: North jct US 491/Broadway, Cortez
  • 38.15: Spur US 491/Piņon Drive
  • 40.29: SH 145/State St., Cortez
  • 54.75: West jct BR US 160 west of Mancos
  • 56.06: SH 184 north of Mancos
  • 56.99: East jct BR US 160 east of Mancos
  • 61.79: Enter La Plata County
  • 72.75: SH 140
  • 83.20: Northwest jct US 550, Durango
  • 84.15: Northwest jct SH 3
  • 86.60: Southeast jct SH 3
  • 88.31: Southeast jct US 550
  • 91.47: SH 172
  • 112.25: Enter Archuleta County
  • 126.96: SH 151
  • 144.45: US 84, Pagosa Springs
  • 155.05: Enter Mineral County
  • 180.22: Enter Rio Grande County
  • 186.12: SH 149, South Fork
  • 202.08: SH 112, Del Norte
  • 215.69: West jct US 285/SH 15/Broadway, Monte Vista
  • 222.55: Enter Alamosa County
  • 232.74: East jct US 285/West Avenue, Alamosa
  • 234.00: SH 17 northeast of Alamosa
  • 247.92: SH 150/Enter Costilla County
  • 258.27: SH 159, Fort Garland
  • 278.64: Enter Huerfano County,North La Veta Pass
  • 294.17: SH 12 north of La Veta
  • 305.38: South jct BL I-25, Walsenburg
  • 305.52: North jct BL I-25
  • 306.35: I-25/SH 10 Exit 150 interchange east of Walsenburg
  • 344.57: I-25/Goddard Ave Exit 15 interchange, Trinidad (Las Animas County)
  • 344.65: SH 239
  • 350.76: US 350, Beshoar Junction
  • 382.77: SH 389 north of Branson
  • 416.53: SH 109 north of Kim
  • 431.69: Enter Baca County
  • 464.43: US 287-385 south of Springfield
  • 473.65: SH 100, Vilas
  • 497.22: Kansas border (end US 160)

Annual Average Daily Traffic (2008):

  • 1700 at New Mexico border
  • 2400 northeast of SH 41
  • 6500 on US 160-491 north of Towaoc
  • 15,600 on US 160-491 southwest of US 491, Cortez
  • 20,300 at Mildred St, Cortez
  • 6000 east of Mesa Verde National Park
  • 6500 east of SH 184, Mancos
  • 6400 east of SH 140, Hesperus
  • 20,000 west of US 550, Durango
  • 38,900 on US 160-550 northwest of Turner Dr, Durango
  • 8700 east of CR 222/223
  • 4600 at Bayfield
  • 3900 west of SH 151
  • 16,800 west of 4th St., Pagosa Springs
  • 4300 east of US 84
  • 2700 east of CR AA
  • 2800 east of Park Creek Rd
  • 5300 east of SH 149, South Fork
  • 4200 east of CR 19
  • 7900 west of SH 112, Del Norte
  • 5300 east of CR 5N
  • 10,600 on US 160-285 at Jefferson St, Monte Vista
  • 7300 on US 160-285 east of CR 3E
  • 21,600 on US 160-285 at 1st St, Alamosa
  • 9800 east of SH 17
  • 3600 west of SH 150
  • 3500 east of SH 159, Fort Garland
  • 2600 east of CR 450
  • 5100 east of SH 12
  • 8600 west of BL 25, Walsenburg
  • 8400 on BL 25/US 160
  • 1000 at I-25, Walsenburg
  • 11,400 on I-25/US 160 south of Aguilar
  • 3800 at I-25, Trinidad
  • 3600 east of Main Street
  • 560 east of US 350, Beshoar Junction
  • 270 east of CR 113
  • 180 east of SH 389
  • 200 east of CR 179
  • 270 east SH 109
  • 340 east of CR 10
  • 780 west of US 287-385
  • 910 east of US 287-385
  • 630 east of SH 100
  • 750 at Colorado St., Walsh
  • 320 at Kansas border

Guide:
US 160 starts off in the extreme southwest part of Colorado, a little less than a mile to the east of the Four Corners Monument. First a sidebar about Four Corners. All four corners of the states that meet there are Indian reservation land (Colorado is Ute Mountain Ute, the other three Navajo). It's not a federal monument and there is an admission fee, and it serves a dual role as a monument and Indian market. US 160 has no acknowledgment that you're briefly in New Mexico, other than the sign for NM 597 that leads to the monument.

From the New Mexico border, US 160 has a crossing over the San Juan River just inside the border, and climbs out of the river valley, crossing fairly flat terrian through the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation northeast toward US 491. Together, US 160-491 head north on a mostly straight alignment with a speed limit slowdown at the turnoff to Towaoc, then come into Cortez, going down Broadway. At Main St. on the west side of town, US 491 continues north, while US 160 turns east through downtown. East of Cortez, US 160 passes by the north side of Mesa Verde National Park, where the entrance road to it has a diamond interchange with US 160.

Continuing east, US 160 goes rolling through terrain. At Mancos it bypasses the main part of town to the north, and further east comes into Durango. The west side of town has US 160 winding its way through a fairly narrow canyon that is also a commercial strip, then it crosses the Animas River bridge and comes to a T intersection at US 550 south of downtown. US 160 turns southeast with US 550 and together they head southeast on an expressway out of town, along the Animas River. Then, US 550 splits off and goes south to New Mexico along the Animas, while US 160 goes east. Over the rolling terrain it goes to Bayfield, which it has a bypass to the north of. US 160 continues east on its rolling, scenic alignment through the San Juan National Forest, passing the Chimney Rock historical area. US 160 then heads into the tourist-oriented town of Pagosa Springs, using San Juan St. Just on the east side of town, US 160 meets the west end of US 84, one of the few places in the country where a 2-digit US route ends at a 3-digit one.

From Pagosa Springs, US 160 picks up the San Juan River and heads northeast up that toward Wolf Creek Pass. The west side of the pass features several switchbacks and a long, steep grade, with two runaway ramps. But there are two lanes each direction, making slow traffic not a concern. Milepost 159 features an unusual bridge which takes US 160 over a notch in the mountain side, heading eastbound one has an impressive view of it for a couple miles. There are also many pullouts to take in the scenic view of the valley below.

US 160 then picks up Wolf Creek, following that up to the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. The east side of the pass is different from the west side in that the canyons it uses (notably Pass Creek) are narrower than on the west side, making US 160 only two lanes some places rather than the four it is on the west side. The east side also features a snowshed to provide protection at an avalanche chute. A tunnel cuts through a hillside to bypass a narrow, curvy section of canyon. As it continues northeast US 160 begins using the valley of the South Fork of the Rio Grande, coming to the town of South Fork.

From South Fork, US 160 then follows the main Rio Grande and strikes out east across the San Luis Valley. It heads east through Del Norte on Grand Ave., then goes southeast, and into Monte Vista. It comes east into town on 1st Ave., and at the intersection with Broadway, meets US 285 and SH 15. US 160-285 together heads east out of town, and then goes southeast, getting to Alamosa.

In Alamosa, US 160-285 comes east into town along Main St. At Richardson Ave, the two directions split, with eastbound veering south to 6th St and westbound remaining on Main St. At West Ave, US 285 turns off to head south. US 160 continues east split on Main/6th through downtown, and on the east end of town at Denver Ave both directions turn north and rejoin, then crossing over the Rio Grande. US 160 has an intersection with SH 17, then continues east, turns southeast, goes through Blanca on Main St., east, through Fort Garland, then heads up the Sangre de Cristo Creek to North La Veta Pass. North La Veta Pass tops out at 9314 ft, and then US 160 drops down its east side via South Abeyta Creek.

Near La Veta, US 160 picks up the plain of the Cucharas River, going northeast to Walsenburg. It comes into town and uses 7th St, then in downtown at Main St hits BL 25. CDOT sources define US 160 as going northwest on that to 5th St, then northeast out to I-25 Exit 50. However, 5th St is only minimally marked as US 160, and signs in the field generally show it going south along BL 25 to Exit 49. Even though technically US 160 hit I-25 at Exit 50, that exit is only marked as SH 10.

US 160 goes south on I-25 to Trinidad, and at Exit 15 US 160 breaks off and heads east across the north side of town via the Kit Carson Trail bypass. At Beshoar Junction (a rail siding) US 350 goes northeast, while US 160 heads east. Between Beshoar Junction and Kim, there isn't anything of note except the intersection with SH 389 at Watts Corners. US 160 goes north past Kim's west side, then turns east again at SH 109, and then goes to Pritchett, where it goes north through town on Randolph Ave. US 160 then continues east, hitting US 287-385 south of Springfield. US 160 then follows an AT & SF Railway east past Vilas, Walsh, and Bartlett, and into Kansas.

Photo Gallery:

History:
US 160 is not an original 1920s US Highway in Colorado. It was extended west to Colorado from Kansas in 1932 and only as far west as US 85 in Trinidad. And, between Johnson, Kansas and Springfield, Colorado, it was on a different route. From Johnson it headed due west, then picked up current SH 116 to US 287, then went south to Springfield, then west. East of Trinidad, it also was shifted south of its current route so that from Watts Corner, it went south on current SH 389 to Branson, then west via Trinchera, and northwest to Beshoar Junction.

US 160 was extended north from Trinidad and west from Walsenburg over what used to be US 450 via Alamosa, Pagosa Springs, Durango, Cortez and Dove Creek to Utah in 1936. By 1938 the only sections of US 160 not paved were over Wolf Creek Pass and from Beshoar Junction to Kansas. US 160 was rerouted between Beshoar Junction and Branson onto its current alignment by 1950. By 1954, US 160 was rerouted east of Springfield, so that instead of using SH 116 it went east via Walsh to Kansas. By 1955 the only section of US 160 not paved was from east of Beshoar Junction to Pritchett. By 1959 only a segment from east of SH 389 to east of Tobe wasn't paved, and that was paved by 1963.

West of Walsenburg, US 160 originally used La Veta Pass. By 1964 it was moved to a new alignment to the north, but interestingly the CDH map for that year called it Sangre de Cristo Pass. That only lasted a year, though, by 1965 the name had been changed to North La Veta Pass.

West of Cortez, US 160 was rerouted from Dove Creek and the Utah border southwest along what had been US 164 to Four Corners in 1970. The Mancos and Bayfield bypasses were completed by 1972. The Durango southwest bypass and addition of SH 3 to the system was done in 1981. The Kit Carson Trail north Trinidad bypass was constructed about 1992.

Wolf Creek Pass saw several phases of reconstruction in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Most notable was the completion of the tunnel on the east side of the pass in November 2004.

The Main St/6th St one-way couplet in Alamosa was implemented in 2009. Previous to that Main St was two-way with both directions of US 160.

The Bayfield business route was turned back to the town in summer 2011.

Suggestions:
Needs to be an expressway between Cortez and Pagosa Springs.

Related Site: Historic US Highway Endpoints around Trinidad, CO (including US 160) by Dale Sanderson


Continue:

Page created 7 January 2008
Last updated 9 August 2014