Colorado Highways: US 50

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Location: Central Western Slope > Central Mountains > Southern Front Range > Arkansas Valley
Length*: 441.48mi signed; 467.58mi implied
W End: Utah border on unmarked overlap with I-70
E End: Kansas border east of Holly (link to Richie Kennedy's site)
Nationally: W End: Jct I-80 in Sacramento, Califonia; E End: Ocean City, Maryland (3011mi)

Counties: Mesa, Delta, Montrose, Gunnison, Saguache, Chaffee, Fremont, Pueblo, Otero, Bent, Prowers
Places: Grand Junction, Delta, Olathe, Montrose, Gunnison, Monarch Pass, Poncha Springs, Salida, Howard, Caņon City, Penrose, Pueblo West, Pueblo, Fowler, Manzanola, Rocky Ford, Swink, La Junta, Las Animas, Lamar, Granada, Holly


Freeway: Short concurrent section with I-25


Business Routes:

Auxiliary Routes:

Broken Route: US 50 is nonexistent west of Grand Junction, disappearing at I-70 Exit 26.

Mountain Passes: West of Poncha Springs, Monarch Pass (11,312ft; 6.4% grade).

Scenic & Historic Byways:

Milepost Guide:

  • Begin US 50 in Mesa County at I-70 Exit 26 northwest of Grand Junction
  • 31.76: Westbound BL 70 at Ute Ave. and 5th Ave., Grand Junction
  • 31.83: Eastbound BL 70/Pitkin Ave
  • 38.50: West jct SH 141
  • 41.13: East jct SH 141, Whitewater
  • 52.95: Enter Delta County
  • 71.00: SH 92, Delta
  • 71.42: SH 348/6th St., Delta
  • 77.88: Enter Montrose County
  • 81.56: North jct BR US 50, Olathe
  • 82.61: SH 348, Olathe
  • 83.14: South jct BR US 50
  • 91.87: US 550 at San Juan Ave/Townsend Ave, Montrose
  • 100.54: SH 347 east of Montrose
  • 116.68: Enter Gunnison County
  • 131.12: SH 92 west of Sapinero
  • 148.05: SH 149 west of Gunnison
  • 157.39: SH 135/Main St., Gunnison
  • 165.60: SH 114 west of Parlin
  • 181.60: Enter Saguache County
  • 190.61: Enter Gunnison County
  • 199.28: Enter Chaffee County, Monarch Pass
  • 216.77: North jct US 285, Poncha Spgs
  • 217.35: South jct US 285
  • 222.38: SH 291, Salida
  • 225.58: Enter Fremont County
  • 252.66: SH 69, Texas Creek
  • 269.13: SH 9
  • 278.70: SH 115/9th St., Caņon City
  • 285.63: SH 67 north of Florence
  • 289.76: SH 115 interchange, Penrose
  • 294.33: SH 120
  • 296.15: Enter Pueblo County
  • 312.08: SH 45, west Pueblo
  • 314.60: I-25/SH 47 Exit 101 interchange, Pueblo
  • 315.71: I-25 Exit 100A interchange
  • 318.70: SH 47-96 interchange
  • 322.13: SH 233
  • 324.22: SH 231, Divine
  • 329.33: SH 96 west of North Avondale
  • 332.24: BR US 50 east of Avondale
  • 335.76: Jct SH 209
  • 348.84: Enter Otero County
  • 350.90: SH 167/Main St., Fowler
  • 359.71: SH 207/Park St., Manzanola
  • 366.97: West jct SH 71
  • 368.10: SH 202, Rocky Ford
  • 368.93: East jct SH 71/SH 266
  • 378.41: SH 10, west La Junta
  • 378.82: US 350/Grant Ave.
  • 380.23: Spur SH 109/Bradish Ave.
  • 388.75: Enter Bent County
  • 398.76: SH 101/Carson Ave., Las Animas
  • 400.16: SH 194 interchange north of Las Animas
  • 404.62: SH 183
  • 420.74: SH 196
  • 426.71: Enter Prowers County
  • 427.73: US 287 interchange northwest of Lamar
  • 435.39: US 287-385/Olive and Main Sts., Lamar
  • 452.76: US 385/Main St., Granada
  • 463.50: SH 89, Holly
  • 467.58: Kansas border (end US 50)

Annual Average Daily Traffic (2008):

  • 27,900 on BL 70 southeast of I-70
  • 37,500 on BL 70 southeast of CR 24.5
  • 32,700 on BL 70 southeast of SH 340
  • 35,200 south of BL 70
  • 14,800 southeast of CR B.5
  • 12,000 southeast of SH 141, Whitewater
  • 8900 southeast of CR 6.5
  • 18,800 south of SH 348, Delta
  • 13,500 south of Pioneer Rd.
  • 11,000 north of SH 348, Olathe
  • 16,000 south of Falcon Rd.
  • 17,000 northeast of San Juan Ave.
  • 3500 east of SH 347
  • 3000 east of CR V81
  • 2500 east of SH 92
  • 3500 east of SH 149
  • 11,500 west of SH 135, Gunnison
  • 2600 east of SH 114
  • 1800 at Monarch Pass
  • 2600 east of CR 240
  • 4100 on US 50-285, Poncha Springs
  • 11,700 east of 16th St., Salida
  • 4300 east of SH 291
  • 2900 west of SH 69
  • 6300 east of SH 9
  • 24,300 east of SH 115, Caņon City
  • 11,900 east of SH 67, Florence
  • 8100 west of SH 120
  • 12,600 east of West McCulloch Blvd., Pueblo West
  • 39,200 east of Purcell Blvd.
  • 45,700 west of I-25/SH 47, Pueblo
  • 62,400 on I-25/US 50
  • 32,600 east of I-25
  • 19,600 east of SH 47-96
  • 6800 east of SH 231
  • 4800 east of BR 50
  • 5600 east of SH 167, Fowler
  • 4700 east of CR 5.5
  • 5200 east of Catalpa St., Manzanola
  • Southeast of Main St., Rocky Ford (2 one-way streets): 5100 eastbound, 7200 westbound
  • 10,200 at Swink Dr.
  • 16,300 east of SH 10, La Junta
  • 3300 east of CR 31
  • 5700 east of Ash Ave., Las Animas
  • 3600 east of SH 194
  • 2500 west of SH 196
  • 7800 east of US 287 North
  • 16,300 north of US 287-385, Lamar
  • 6000 east of US 287 South
  • 2400 east of CR 22.5
  • 2600 east of US 385, Granada
  • 4100 west of SH 89, Holly
  • 1800 at Kansas border

The first place US 50 appears is I-70 at Exit 26, where it heads southeast toward Grand Junction with US 6 and BL 70. Closer in to downtown, US 6 breaks off at an interchange and heads east on North Ave., while US 50/BL 70 continue southeast as a suburban semi-expressway that includes an interchange with Redlands Pkwy. In downtown, they curve east, and split onto two one-way streets. Eastbound is on Pitkin Ave., and WB on Ute Ave. At 5th St., US 50 turns due south and heads over the Colorado River. From there, US 50 is an almost-freeway through suburbia to SH 141, with a full interchange at Riverside Pkwy and partial interchange at B.5 Road.

From Grand Junction, US 50 heads southeast through near-desert along the Gunnison River to Delta. It's 65 mph expressway petty much the whole way. At Delta US 50 turns south onto Main St. and heads right through downtown. Then, it's expressway southeast toward Montrose, passing through Olathe, where there is a bypass to the east of town, with old US 50 marked as a business route. In Montrose, US 50 heads southeast into town on Townsend Ave. Northeast of downtown at San Juan Ave and US 550, US 50 takes a turn east and uses San Jan Ave to bypass around the northeast side of downtown. East of downtown US 50 turns northeast on Main St and heads out of town.

US 50 then heads east from Montrose, a ways south of the Gunnison River, and providing access to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park via SH 347. East of SH 347, US 50 climbs up and over Cerro Summit, a high point dividing the Cedar Creek valley from the Cimmaron River basin to the east. East of Cerro Summit US 50 spends awhile not following any defined valleys, instead curving and skipping around until finally dropping down next to the Gunnison River near Blue Mesa Dam.

Blue Mesa Dam is west of Sapinero, and SH 92 goes across the dam and intersects US 50. US 50 parallels the south shore of the massive Blue Mesa Reservoir for a while then crosses over the north side via a long bridge. Curecanti National Recreation Area surrounds Blue Mesa Reservoir and US 50.

East of the end of Blue Mesa Reservoir, US 50 enters Gunnison, heading east through town on Tomichi Ave. US 50 then follows the Tomichi Creek hay-making valley southeast to Sargents, then goes northeast via Agate Creek. Climbing Monarch Pass, US 50 has a fairly straight alignment, with few sharp corners. The east side down the South Arkansas River features an even straighter alignment than the west side. The crest of Monarch itself is at 11,312 feet, and features a large parking area and general store that makes a handy rest stop. Nearby there's a gondola that can take you the last 500 feet to the top of Monarch Ridge.

After decending down Monarch Pass, US 50 enters the valley containing Poncha Springs and Salida. Poncha Springs is the crossroads town where US 50 intersects US 285. It's then a short 5 or so miles to Salida, the epicenter of the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. US 50 then picks up the Arkansas River and will ultimately follow it east all the way to Kansas, but between Salida and Parkdale it is in the narrow Arkansas River canyon, aka Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Of the towns US 50 passes through while in the canyon, Howard is the largest. Texas Creek is a "town" of a single building. At Parkdale, US 50 breaks out of the Arkansas River canyon and goes over the rolling terrain to the north of it. It would be hard for US 50 to be alongside the Arkansas from Parkdale to Caņon City because it is in Royal Gorge at that point, making road-building an impossibility. Don't forget to stop by the Royal Gorge Bridge.

US 50 becomes a divided expressway as it goes over the rolling terrain north of Royal Gorge, then comes down a hill and warps down to a city street as it enters the west side of Caņon City. US 50 goes through town on Royal Gorge Blvd. (which is appropriate) passing one block to the south of the main part of downtown. US 50 then becomes expressway on the east side of town, all the way to Pueblo. Much of the stretch is fairly desolate, with Penrose about halfway along it. Eventually US 50 comes to the expanse of suburbia in Pueblo West, then meets I-25 Exit 101 on the north side of Pueblo. US 50 goes south on I-25, but, if you're planning on simply driving through and are going to La Junta or something, it would be best to simply head through the interchange, and go onto SH 47, and take that southeast to US 50 on the east side of Pueblo.

US 50 leaves I-25 at Exit 100A, and heads east through the northern part of Pueblo as a divided expressway. At the 4th St interchange SH 96 joins US 50 and head east out onto the heavily irrigated and farmed Arkansas valley plains along SH 96's historic routing along the north side of the river. Meanwhile, BR US 50 starts at SH 96 at 4th St. and Santa Fe Ave. in downtown Pueblo, and heads south, and then east. US 50 goes past the Pueblo Airport and through Baxter and Devine, remaining an expressway. At the entrance to the Pueblo Chemical Depot there's a trumpet interchange, and immediately east of that SH 96 breaks off to the northeast and US 50 warps down to a two-lane road. US 50 crosses over the south side of the Arkansas, and east of Avondale BR 50 meets US 50 and ends.

US 50 and SH 96 are on opposite sides of the Arkansas until US 50 hits Fowler, at which point SH 96 curves northeast. US 50 continues following the Arkansas Valley across the plains, passing through Fowler and Manzanola. From Manzanola to Rocky Ford US 50 features a four-lane section with a narrow painted median, while sandwiched in between the BNSF railroad on the south and crop fields on the north.

At Rocky Ford US 50 splits onto two one-way streets through town, with EB on Elm Ave. and WB on Swink Ave. A short section on the west side of town has the two directions several blocks apart, but just one block apart in the main part of town. Heading southeast toward Swink, US 50 becomes a divided expressway and just west of town swoops down and under the BNSF railroad.  On the east side of Swink US 50 continues as a divided expressway southeast to La Junta.

US 50 goes east through La Junta on 1st St, a five-lane street passing between downtown and northside rail yards. SH 109 in town is not directly met because a bridge takes SH 109 over US 50, the railroad and the river, so a jog south and east on city streets is needed to get to it. East of La Junta US 50 has a somewhat odd section of divided highway. The eastbound and westbound roads feature different vertical alignments, with the westbound road continually dipping and climbing while the eastbound road has a more consistent elevation. The expressway ends about 4 miles east of town.

US 50 then goes to Las Animas, where it heads east into town on Thompson Blvd, then turns north at Bent Ave. It follows that north out of town and across to the north side of the Arkansas, turning east at the SH 194 interchange. US 50 has a short divided section to the SH 183 intersection at Fort Lyon, and north of John Martin Reservoir finally settles into an arrow-straight due east alignment. It passes though the crossroads burg of Hasty then comes to the US 287 interchange south of Wiley. US 287 joins US 50 at that trumpet interchange and an expressway takes them east then south and across the Arkansas (again).

US 50-287 enters Lamar, heading south on Main St. to Olive St., where US 50 turns east and goes concurrent with US 385. A local-maintained Truck US 50 provides a bypass around the busiest part of downtown. They continue east to Granada, where at Goff Ave. and Main St. US 385 heads north on Main. That is also the western end of US 400, and US 50-400 continues east. Halfway between Granada and Holly, they cross over to the Arkansas' north side (again), then go through Holly on Colorado St. From there, it's four short miles east to the Kansas line.

For a story of life along US 50, check out the July 7, 1997 issue of Time Magazine.

Photo Gallery:

US 50 is an original 1920s US highway. It has remained pretty much on the same alignment in the rural areas of Colorado. However, it, along with US 6, originally went into Utah west of Mack via current CR M.8, rather than along the alignment of I-70. By 1938 all of US 50 was paved except for Monarch Pass, which was paved by 1946.

In Pueblo and Pueblo County US 50 has undergone a lot of changes over the years. Originally US 50 came from its current alignment at the Fremont/Pueblo County line and drifted southeast into what is now Pueblo West, crossing the Turkey Creek arroyo near present-day Corrizo Springs Ave. US 50 then shot straight east through present-day Pueblo West on a section line that lines up with the westbound road of US 50 at the SH 45 intersection (some maps show a phantom line along this alignment, even though development in Pueblo West has obliterated any road that was along this alignment at one time). From the current US 50/SH 45 intersection US 50 originally went southeast on Wild Horse Rd (a.k.a. Baker Steamer Rd) into Pueblo, then using 29th St (and maybe 24th St at one time) east to Elizabeth St. From Elizabeth St US 50 went south and east through Pueblo using 25th St, Court St, 15th St, Main St, 4th St and Santa Fe Ave. From Santa Fe Ave US 50 went east out of town on the current business route. [Some info from Dale Sanderson and Steve Riner]

The first major change for US 50 in Pueblo County came about 1934. The routing was changed so it no longer went through present-day Pueblo West, instead from the Pueblo/Fremont line US 50 was moved to its current alignment all the way to the north side of Pueblo, intersecting US 85-87 at Elizabeth St and then heading south as before. In Pueblo itself the route US 50 used through town was changed by 1947 using Elizabeth St heading south, then east on 9th St and south on Santa Fe Ave and out east as before.

By 1951 the routing of Us 85-87 on the north side of Pueblo had been moved to an expressway alignment along current I-25, and US 50 used that heading south into town. That road fed onto 13th/14th Streets (which appear to be two one-way streets) that took US 50-85-87 west to Grand Ave., US 50 then went south to 9th St, east to Santa Fe Ave., south and then east out of town. By 1954 things had been switched around again, now US 50-85-87 came south into town to 13th St then continued south on Santa Fe Ave, with US 50 continuing south on Santa Fe Ave then east out of town. The current route of US 50 north of Pueblo east of I-25 was built about 1957, with the former route along Santa Fe Ave and east of town becoming the business route.

East of Caņon City, US 50 and SH 120 were originally reversed from what they are now, with US 50 going through Florence and Portland. They were bypassed with US 50 being moved to the north by 1950. By 1958 the expressway east of La Junta was in place. By 1960 it was expressway from Rocky Ford to La Junta. Expressway from Delta half way to Olathe opened by 1974, and from Olathe to Montrose opened by 1975. By 1977 the Olathe expressway bypass opened, as well as the sections from Caņon City to east of SH 120 and from west of SH 45 to I-25. The expressway from US 287 southeast into Lamar opened by 1988, with the interchange at US 287 being built the same time. The gap in the expressway northwest of Olathe was closed by 1994. Expressway segements between Grand Junction and Delta were done in multiple phases in the early 2000s with completion in 2004.

In Montrose, US 50 originally came south on Townsend Ave and turned east on Main St. That meant that intersection was turn in US 50 as well as the ends of US 550 and SH 90. In May 2010 CDOT rerouted US 50 around the northeast side of downtown on San Juan Ave. Main St from Townsend to San Juan was turned back to the city while US 550 was extended north to San Juan to still meet US 50. The San Juan Ave bypass was built by the city in the 1990s was was signed as a local-maintained US 50 truck bypass until the transfer happened.

Alvin Edlund, Jr. of Salida has written an extensive article on the history of US 50 in Colorado. It is available on, Wulf Berg's site.

Related Site:, from Wulf Berg of Virginia.


Page created 30 May 2005
Last updated 9 March 2014