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Location: Arkansas Valley > Eastern Plains > Metro
Denver > Northern Front Range
Length*: 316.05mi signed; 385.22mi implied
S End: Oklahoma border south of Campo concurrent with US 385 (link to Eric Stuve's site)
N End: Wyoming border northwest of Virginia Dale (link to Andy Field' site)
Nationally: S End: Port Arthur, Texas; N End: US 89 in Choteau, Montana (1791mi)
Counties: Baca, Prowers, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Lincoln,
Arapahoe, Adams, Denver, Jefferson, Broomfield, Boulder,
Places: Campo, Springfield, Lamar, Wiley, Eads, Kit Carson, Wild Horse, Hugo, Limon, Aurora, Denver, Westminster, Federal Heights, Broomfield, Lafayette, Longmont, Berthoud, Loveland, Fort Collins, Livermore
Broken Route: Discontinuous due to an unmarked multiplex
with I-70 from Exits 363 to 288.
Notes: A bypass on US 287 is planned for Lamar. CDOT will eventually built a freeway bypass of Lamar that will swing east of town, go across US 50, across the Arkansas River then return to US 50/287 west of the old SH 196 intersection north of downtown.
Scenic & Historic Byways:
Annual Average Daily Traffic (2008):
US 287 in Colorado is like US 287 in Wyoming and Texas: It cuts a huge diagonal swath across the state. On it, you will go from the High Plains to the bustling Denver metro to the rapidly expanding North Front Range.
US 287 in Colorado starts at the border with Oklahoma concurrent
with US 385. A note, US 287 isn't in Oklahoma for very long, because
it goes straight north/south across the panhandle between Colorado
and Texas. Anyway, US 287-385 heads north through the towns of Campo
and Springfield. Eventually, they get to Lamar, where at the
intersection of Olive and Main, they hit US 50. US 385 heads east out
with US 50 East, while US 287 and US 50 West go north out of town,
across the Arkansas River, then turn west.
Six miles west of Lamar, there is a trumpet interchange and US 287 breaks off of US 50 and heads due north. At SH 196 it passes by Wiley, and east of Eads hits SH 96 and curves west, concurrent with SH 96. On the southwest corner of town SH 96 leaves and US 287 agains heads due north. Eventually it intersects US 40, and the two head west through Kit Carson. They then head northwest through Wild Horse and Hugo, then east of Limon meet I-70 and US 24 at Exit 363. US 24-40-287 then goes northwest, curves back southwest, and goes through I-70 Exit 361. They then go through Limon, and west of town hit the intersection of US 24 and Spur US 24, where US 40-287 heads northeast to I-70 Exit 359. There, they disappear.
If one wanted to follow US 40-287, one would go west on I-70, then would see them again at Exit 288, on the east side of Metro Denver. There, US 40-287/BL I-70 break off, and follow Colfax Ave. through town. They go west along it through Aurora, into Denver, to downtown, past the State Capitol, and through I-25 Exit 210. All along Colfax, there are trailblazers with the three shields, arranged top to bottom as BL I-70, US 40, and US 287. At I-25 Exit 210, there is no mention on I-25 of US 287 or BL I-70, instead only US 40. West of I-25, there is a partial cloverleaf at Colfax Ave. and Federal Blvd., where US 287 heads north from Colfax.
From that interchange, US 287 heads due north along Federal Blvd., through I-70 Exit 272. Then it's into Westminster, and 12mi north of Colfax, it hits 120th Ave., where it turns west along that. Many maps show US 287 as having a large radius curve with traffic heading both directions on it to go between Federal and 120th west. However, this is not true. Northbound, one hits 120th head-on at a signal, and uses a double left to continue on 120th westbound. Heading south, however, there is a long, sweeping curve on a ramp that takes you from EB 120th to SB Federal. But it appears at one time the swooping curve did take traffic in both directions.
From Federal, US 287 heads west along 120th Ave., straddling the Westminster-Broomfield line. Just as 120th is heading west and about to hit the US 36 Boulder Turnpike, US 287 turns north into the central part of Broomfield. That corner basically has two interchanges, one at 120th (US 287)/Wadsworth (SH 121), and another at Wadsworth/US 36. If one is going north on US 287, there is a ramp from westbound 120th to northbound Wadsworth. Coming south on US 287, there is a trumpet-style "flyunder" ramp that takes you from southbound Wadsworth to eastbound 120th. Going from westbound 120th to southbound Wadsworth uses a tight loop ramp.
From the trumpet interchange, US 287 heads north through older central Broomfield. US 287 is not on a named street, just "Highway 287". While US 287 has been divided since before 120th Ave., it now has a slow speed limit. US 287 then breaks out of Broomfield, and is a full divided expressway up toward Lafayette. However, there are numerous signal lights along that stretch, so there is only a 55mph speed limit.
Just north of the intersection with SH 42 (Empire Road), US 287 veers off of its historic routing and takes a bypass around the west side of Lafayette. At the south end of the bypass, there are "Historic Oldtown Lafayette" signs which direct one to turn right onto US 287's old routing to get to Lafayette's center (the street is called Public Road). US 287 takes a nice expressway through the west side of town, using an alignment which utilizes decorative sound walls and street and pedestrian overpasses. My compliments to CDOT. The north end of the bypass hits old US 287 again where US 287 and SH 7 used to turn from east to north at Baseline Road. SH 7 runs concurrent with US 287 from Baseline Rd. to Arapahoe Ave. From Lafayette, US 287 uses a five lane undivided (center lane left turn) expressway up to the south side of Longmont with some scattered signal lights. There's a 60mph speed limit from Lafayette to SH 52 and a 65mph speed limit from SH 52 to Longmont.
The speed limit drops down at Pike St. on the south side of Longmont. US 287 goes north right through the gut of Longmont on Main St., and congestion can get pretty bad at some times. Because of the congestion in downtown Longmont, if you're planning on heading south on 287 to pick up SH 119 toward Boulder, I will suggest a much faster alternative: Turn west on SH 66 in the north part of town, and then head west for a mile to Hover St. You can then head south on Hover, which is straight and has a speed limit of 40mph, all the way to 119, and go toward Boulder.
North of Longmont, US 287 continues as a five-lane undivided expressway with a 65mph speed limit to SH 56 on the west side of Berthoud. There, US 287 bypasses to the west side of Berthoud with a four-lane divided expressway which features an overpass at CR 10E. US 287 turns east north of Berthoud, has a partial interchange with old 287 north of town then turns due north on a five-lane expressway with a 55 mph speed limit, finally reachingSH 60/Campion, then descends a hill down to Loveland.
Upon entering Loveland US 287 heads north on Lincoln Ave. At 14th Street SE, US 287 hits SH 402, where one can head east to I-25. South of downtown at about 7th St. South, US 287 splits up onto two one-way streets, with the split lasting 1.6mi. Northbound continues on Lincoln Ave. while southbound traffic is one block to the west on Cleveland Ave. They go right through the heart of downtown Loveland and have signal lights at every block for a while. However, signal coordination is nice, and one can usually hit green lights all the way through on the one-way streets.
On the north side of Loveland at about 18th St., the two one-way streets merge back together on Lincoln Ave. US 287 then heads northwest on Buchanan Ave. for above a half mile, then goes north on Garfield Ave. From Loveland to the south side of Fort Collins, US 287 is a five-lane undivided expressway. About four miles is 55mph with sections at either end at 50 or 40mph.
There are numerous signal lights between Loveland and Fort Collins, but US 287 finally enters Fort Collins proper at Harmony Road. US 287 uses College Avenue right up through the middle of town, and is a stoplight-choked commercial strip the whole time.
In downtown Fort Collins at Mulberry St, if you are heading north and want to take SH 14 out toward I-25, this is where you would turn right. From Mulberry St., US 287 takes College Ave. north right through the central, old part of downtown Fort Collins. Starting at the next intersection north, Magnolia, and going to Jefferson St., College has diagonal parking in its center between the two directions. The stalls are easy enough to get into, but getting out is a pain. The problem is it is impossible to see whether anyone is coming to back out of them, so what most people do is simply crank their wheel all the way to the left and pull forward and then head back in the direction opposite they came from.
At Jefferson St., US 287 hits SH 14. SH 14 has been coming northwest on Riverside Ave. and Jefferson St., then merges heading north with US 287. Coming south, people are advised to turn left on Jefferson in order to get to I-25. SH 14 and US 287 North is a favorite route for truckers to get from Denver to Laramie and then points west. This area of town is the convergence of five rail lines, and delays can get pretty long at times due to all of the switching around that trains have to do.
North of downtown US 287/SH 14 continues north on College, over the Poudre River via the North College Gateway Bridge, then uses a five lane undivided roadway with a 40mph speed limit up toward the SH 1 intersection. At SH 1, there is a signal light, then US 287 drops down to a narrow two lane road with a 45mph speed limit. It curves and eventually heads due west.
The south end of the Laporte Bypass is a signalized T intersection. Going off to the west is Larimer CR 54G (old US 287), which heads toward Laporte. Going east and north are 287, but there is a long ramp which takes northbound 287 traffic from the old alignment onto the bypass. The Laporte Bypass is a nice two-lane roadway paved with concrete and a 65mph speed limit. The north end ties in with the south end of a previously existing divided expressway which went from north of Laporte to Ted's Place. It also has one grade separation (Taft Hill Road/CR 19).
The Laporte Bypass was the first stage in a multistage project that was supposed to provide a much better route from Ted's Place to I-25. The other stages would have involved building an expressway of some sort from the current south end of the Bypass southeast to hook up with SH 14 east of Fort Collins, but all of that was shot down due to environmental and land use concerns.
US 287's divided portion ends at Ted's Place, where US 287 and SH 14 diverge, with 14 heading west to the Poudre Canyon. From Ted's Place, US 287 keeps its 65mph speed limit all the way to Wyoming. While it is only two lanes there are climbing lanes added for trucks various places. Immediately north of Ted's Place US 287 enters into a valley between two hogbacks known as Hook and Moor Glade. US 287 heads straight due north for five miles through the valley. On the west side of the road, look for a large boulder that has been named Haystack Rock. It looks like it was deposited by a glacier, or there was one heck of a frost heave that pushed it up. People have painted various messages on the rock, everything from the "God Bless the USA" to the "Class of 98 Rules" variety. Also while in Hook and Moor Glade, off to the east side of the road you can glimpse an old Burlington Northern Railroad bed, which used to end at quarries on Gage Hill east of Livermore.
In fact, old alignments of US 287 can be seen all over the place along it between Livermore and Wyoming. Most places it is overgrown with weeds now, but the Larimer CR 45H loop north of Virginia Dale is an old section of 287.
From Hook and Moor Glade, US 287 climbs up the side of the west hogback to Owl Canyon. Owl Canyon is not a town, but only a locale, referring to the intersection of US 287 and CR 72, which goes east to Owl Canyon. One can also access the Buckeye Road (CR 70) exit of I-25.
From Owl Canyon, US 287 climbs up Gage Hill. US 287 then drops down to Livermore. From Livermore, US 287 goes up and down a couple of ridges, then settles down and heads straight northwest for quite a long distance from the Cherokee Park turnoff. There is not a whole lot out there, save a few farmsteads and grazing pronghorn antelope.
Virginia Dale is on pretty much on every map, but don't let that fool you. The "town" of Virginia Dale consists of a closed down restaurant and two abandoned houses. The "town" has signs on the road, but there is now nothing there. Also, at Virginia Dale the geography changes instantly. While one has been seeing grassland since Livermore, one is suddenly thrust into an area dominated by rocks, evergreens, rocks, and rocks. Just about halfway between Virginia Dale and the Wyoming border is a rest area on the west side of the highway. US 287 then hits the Wyoming border ending its Colorado run.
Expressway north of Laporte open by 1972. Undivided expressway
between Loveland and Fort Collins open by 1979. Interchange at US 50 northwest of Lamar completed in 1988. Two-lane Laporte
bypass open 1989. Broomfield to Dillon Road expressway open 1995.
Dillon Road to SH 42 expressway open 1996. Lafayette bypass open
1997. Lafayette to Longmont expressway open 1998. Longmont to SH 56
expressway open September 2000 (which replaced a subpar two-lane road with no shoulders). SH 60 to SH 402 expressway open
The Berthoud bypass opened in August 2006. Prior to being on the
bypass US 287 turned east and passed through town on Mountain Ave
concurrent with SH 56, then turned north again on the east side of
town. The opening of the Berthoud bypass was delayed about a year due
to soil problems during construction.
Here's part of an e-mail on the construction of the US 287 expressway north of Broomfield, from Ben Kiene:
In response to your question about U.S. 287, the portion between Broomfield and Dillon Road (poorly marked Boulder CR 168) was widened around 1994-95. The next segment to Empire Road (SH 42) was finished the following year. While this was being done, the Lafayette Bypass was being built on a new alignment about 1/2 mile west of old 287.
Highway 287 used to continue straight north past Highway 42. Old Hwy 287 can be reached by turning at the light between SH 42 and South Boulder Rd, which is Public Road. Coming from the south at this intersection, there is a large sign pointing to "Historic Old Town Lafayette." When the bypass was built, I thought that this road would be posted as Business 287, but it seems that the street is maintained solely by the City of Lafayette. Old 287 followed Public Rd. to the T-intersection at Baseline Rd.(SH 7). From there you had to turn left and follow Baseline until US 287/SH 7 curved north where the current Baseline/287 intersection is.
Anyway, the longer segment from there to Longmont was widened in 1997-98. During that construction, US 287 was detoured over county roads (95th St, I think), which was something of an inconvenience for commuters.
Since I live in Broomfield, I drove 287 from Ft. Collins on my way home once. I found that this route takes about 30 minutes longer than I-25, mostly because of the 2-lane segment from Loveland to Longmont. I also think the speed limit from Longmont to Lafayette should be raised to 65.
US 287 had over 20 different phases of construction from the
Oklahoma border to Limon from the mid-1990s through 2012 as part of
CDOT's portion of the Ports to Plains Corridor. The corridor, a
Congressional high priority trade corridor from Laredo, Texas to
Denver, has been upgraded by the states it goes through. CDOT
resurfaced the US 287 portion of the route in concrete with shoulders
and passing lanes to better accommodate the heavy truck traffic the
corridor sees. The final segment was reconstruction of the 2 miles
through Kit Carson, which finished in August 2012. TRANs bonds helped accelerate many of the earlier phases of the work.
Mark old US 287 along Public Road in Lafayette as Business Route US 287, and that can also be done to old US 287 through Berthoud.
Last updated 9 March 2014