The largest city in Colorado and the state capital is Denver, the Mile High City. Situated at 5,280 feet above sea level, Denver rests at the foot of the impressive Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, and at the crest of a gradual rise in elevation from east to west across the Great Plains. A hub of commercial activity for not only Colorado but all surrounding states, Denver is a transportation center, with three major highways, a major airport, and a variety of railroads serving the city.
Denver is also the gateway to the ski resorts in the mountains, including world-class facilities in Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs, Winter Park, Breckinridge, Loveland Pass, and many other mountain locations. Finally, with a downtown redevelopment and an economic boom largely due to telecommunications, Denver is an attractive environment for finding work. Major league teams in Denver include football's Denver Broncos, baseball's Colorado Rockies, hockey's Colorado Avalanche, and basketball's Denver Nuggets.
Map of Denver prepared by Matt Strieby - August 2008.
Three major Interstate highways pass through the metropolitan area of Denver. Two of these routes, Interstate 25 and Interstate 70, bisect the state north-south and east-west respectively. Both freeways carry significant volumes of traffic, as they both form part of longer national routes. Interstate 25 north leads to Wyoming and Montana; Interstate 25 south leads to Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Albuquerque, and El Paso. Interstate 70 brings traffic from the west, including origins as varied as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. Heading east, Interstate 70 crosses the Great Plains and Midwest en route to the east coast, ultimately wrapping up its journey in Baltimore. Interstate 76, coming in from the northeast, provides connections to Interstate 80 east to Omaha, Chicago, and New York City.
Two spur Interstate routes provide for alternate routes around the metropolitan area. Interstate 225 connects Interstate 25 with Interstate 70 east of downtown, and Interstate 270 connects Interstate 70 with Interstate 25 north of downtown. The most recently completed stretch of Interstate in Colorado was the Interstate 270 connector between Interstate 25/U.S. 36 and Interstate 76; it was fully opened in 2003.
Denver has several U.S. Highways passing through its metropolitan area, but all of them at one point or another are silently merged onto an Interstate highway.
U.S. 6, the nearly transcontinental route coming into Denver from the heights of the Rocky Mountains, splits from Interstate 70 near Golden, then passes through Lakewood and west Denver as the 6th Avenue freeway. From the eastern terminus of the 6th Avenue freeway, U.S. 6 takes one of the most convoluted routes through Denver. First it turns north on Interstate 25, then heads east on Interstate 70, makes turn north via Vasquez Boulevard, continues north via Colorado Boulevard, then merges onto eastbound Interstate 76 to exit town.
U.S. 36, which was extended west to encompass the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, enters the metropolitan area as a freeway connecting Boulder with Denver. Changing into Interstate 270 after passing Interstate 25, U.S. 36 avoids downtown, and it silently merges onto eastbound Interstate 70 to continue toward the plains of Eastern Colorado.
U.S. 40 follows Business Loop I-70/Colfax Avenue through downtown, connecting with Interstate 70 at either end.
U.S. 85 enters the metropolitan area following Santa Fe Drive, then merges onto Interstate 25 just south of downtown. It transitions from Interstate 25 northbound onto Interstate 70 eastbound, exits at Vasquez Boulevard, briefly joins Interstate 76 eastbound, and then exits onto its expressway south of Brighton. U.S. 85 parallels Interstate 25 from this point north to Cheyenne, Wyoming, via Greeley.
U.S. 87 is silently merged with Interstate 25 for its entire length in Colorado. Not once does U.S. 87 depart from Interstate 25, and only one shield remains in the entire state to remind motorists that it still exists. Even maps can't explain how poorly the route is signed in Colorado: even the business loop through Colorado Springs (Nevada Avenue) is not signed as U.S. 87.
U.S. 285, entering the metropolitan area from Park County to the southwest, becomes Hampden Avenue as it passes through Denver and Englewood. It passes U.S. 85/Santa Fe Drive, then ends at its junction with Interstate 25 and Colorado 30.
U.S. 287 comes into Denver from the north along Federal Boulevard, then turns east along Colfax Avenue (Business Loop I-70 and U.S. 40). U.S. 287 silently merges onto Interstate 70 along with U.S. 40 at Exit 288.
Many of the surface streets and expressways crossing the metropolitan area are state highways, some of which are profiled below:
Colorado 2 is Colorado Boulevard from U.S. 285/Hampden Avenue in Denver north to Colorado 7 (near U.S. 85) in Brighton.
Colorado 8 is Morrison Road from U.S. 285 south of Morrison east to Colorado 121/Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood.
Colorado 26 is Alameda Road from Colorado 95/Sheridan Boulevard at Lakewood-Denver City Limits east to Interstate 25 Exit 208 in Denver.
Colorado 30 is a mix of several urban roadways. The last two segments (Havana Street and Hampden Avenue) were formerly part of U.S. 285 until the late 1970s:
Gun Club Road from just east of E-470 at the Quincy Avenue exit north to a transition into 6th Avenue
6th Avenue from Gun Club Road, west around Buckley Air National Guard Base to Havana Street
Havana Street from 6th Avenue south to the Hampden Avenue curve
Hampden Avenue from the curve west to Interstate 25/Exit 201 and U.S. 285
Colorado 32 was the former designation for Tower Road from Interstate 70 Exit 286 south to Business Loop I-70 and U.S. 40-287/Colfax Avenue; it was decommissioned in the late 1990s.
Colorado 33 was the former designation for several city streets passing through downtown Denver, including portions of Auraria Parkway, the Larimer Street/Lawrence Street couplet, and 40th Avenue. It was decommissioned in the late 1990s.
Colorado 35 is Quebec Street from Interstate 70 Exit 278 north to Interstate 270 Exit 4. Quebec Street south of Interstate 70 used to continue as Colorado 35 south to the entrance to the former Stapleton International Airport at Martin Luther King Boulevard, but it was decommissioned.
Colorado 36 is the old U.S. 36-40-287 From Interstate 70 Exit 292 east to Exit 316 via Watkins, Bennett, Strasburg, and Byers.
Colorado 44 is 104th Avenue from U.S. 287 in Westminster east to Colorado 2 east of Interstate 76 in Thornton.
Colorado 53 is a difficult to locate route, following North Broadway from Interstate 25 Exit 215 north to Colorado 224.
Colorado 58 is one of two state-numbered freeways (the other is the portion of the beltway designated as Colorado 470). It connects U.S. 6 and Colorado 93 in Golden with Interstate 70 Exit 265).
Colorado 72 takes a northwesterly trajectory to leave the metropolitan area, following Ward Road from Interstate 70 Exit 266 north into the foothills via the Peak to Peak Highway. The highway reaches its northern terminus at Colorado 7 near Raymond.
Colorado 75 angles from Colorado 470 northeast to U.S. 85/Santa Fe Drive via Platte Canyon Road.
Colorado 83 starts at Colorado 2/Colorado Boulevard, then turns southeast along Leetsdale Drive to leave Denver. Changing into Parker Road, Colorado 83 provides an alternate route south to Castle Rock and Colorado Springs.
Colorado 88 is separated into two sections. The western section begins at Business Loop I-70/U.S. 40-287/Colfax Avenue west of downtown Denver, following Federal Boulevard south to Belleview Avenue.
Colorado 121 is Wadsworth Boulevard from Lockheed Martin plant at Kassler north to U.S. 287 in Broomfield.
Colorado 177 is University Boulevard from Colorado 470 north to U.S. 285/Hampden Boulevard.
Colorado 224 is Broadway, 70th Avenue, Washington, and 74th Avenue connecting U.S. 36 at Broadway in Westminster with U.S. 6-85/Vasquez Boulevard in Commerce City.
Colorado 265 is Brighton Boulevard, starting at Interstate 70 Exit 275 northeast to U.S. 6-85 north of the Colorado 2/Colorado Boulevard separation in Commerce City.
Colorado 391 is Kipling Street from U.S. 285/Hampden Avenue north to Interstate 70 Exit 267 in Wheat Ridge.
Colorado 470 is the southwestern quarter of the Denver Beltway, connecting U.S. 6 in Golden with Interstate 25 Exit 194 near Centennial. It was at one time planned as Interstate 470 until federal funds were revoked in the 1970s.
Colorado 2/Colorado Boulevard south
Southbound Colorado 2 connects to Interstate 76 and U.S. 85 via this connecting route. Note that U.S. 6, which is also located on Interstate 76, is unsigned. U.S. 6 tends to appear, disappear, and reappear throughout the Denver metropolitan area. Colorado 2 is a major route in metropolitan Denver, following Colorado Boulevard through much of the city. North of Denver, Colorado 2 follows old U.S. 6. Photo taken 02/02/02.
Colorado 88/Federal Boulevard north
This picture shows northbound Colorado 88 (Federal Boulevard) at Bryant Street in Denver. Note the signage indicating that Federal Boulevard leads to North U.S. 287. In fact, at Colfax Avenue, Colorado 88 ends and U.S. 287 continues north along Federal Boulevard. This merge is located along the ramps connecting to U.S. 6/Sixth Avenue Freeway. Photo taken 02/02/02.
Colorado 88/Belleview Road east
Eastbound Colorado 88/Belleview Road at Junction Interstate 25/Exit 199 in Arapahoe County. Photo taken 02/02/02.
Colorado 265 north
First shield along northbound Colorado 265 as it approaches Interstate 70 at Exit 265. Photo taken 11/10/03.
The only non-state maintained freeway in the metropolitan area that is not a toll road is Federico Pena Boulevard, which connects the Interstate 70/225 interchange with Denver International Airport. Pena Boulevard is maintained by the city of Denver. For more, see Pena Boulevard.
Hampden Avenue west
Westbound Hampden Avenue approaches Colorado 83/Parker Road interchange in Aurora. Photo taken 11/10/03.
Steele Street north
The Steele Street bridge, which crosses Interstate 25 south of downtown Denver, was replaced in 2002-2003 as part of the T-Rex project. Photo taken 11/10/03.
The City of Denver uses signs such as this one to signify the transition of a city street from one name to another, which is very helpful. Here, St. Paul Street ends and Steele Street begins just south of the Steele Street crossing over Interstate 25. Photo taken 11/10/03.
Lincoln Avenue east
Eastbound Lincoln Avenue at Junction Interstate 25 in Lone Tree. This kind of sign, which identifies the lane that accesses each direction of Interstate 25, is a new standard that was implemented in the late 1990s throughout the state at freeway approaches. Photo taken 11/10/03.
View of the transition from eastbound Lincoln Avenue onto the loop ramp to northbound Interstate 25 in Lone Tree. Photo taken 11/10/03.
There are two other non-state freeways (aside from Pena Boulevard) that are part of Denver's freeway network. Both of these highways are toll roads that constitute a portion of Denver's beltway. One of the highways is E-470, which provides a bypass of the metropolitan area to the east, connecting with Interstate 25 at Exit 194 south of the city and Exit 228 north of the city. The other is the recently completed Northwest Parkway, which connects U.S. 36 in Superior with Interstate 25 at Exit 228.
Prior to reaching the Denver Civic Center, Police Headquarters, and Public Library, eastbound 14th Avenue approaches Cherokee Street. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Fourteenth Avenue bends a bit to the south to avoid the Civic Center. Above the trees, the Colorado State Capitol comes into view. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Prior to reaching the grounds of the state capitol, 14th Avenue reaches Broadway. Broadway is the old alignment of southbound U.S. 85 and westbound U.S. 6 before they were moved to the freeway system around downtown. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Two blocks east of Broadway, 14th Avenue reaches Sherman Street. To the north of this intersection is the state capitol, but this photo shows a church near the southeast corner of the intersection. Photo taken 08/27/04.
18th Avenue west
Upon reaching Broadway, one-way (westbound) 18th Avenue comes to an end. At this historic intersection with Broadway, which is the old alignment of U.S. 6 west and U.S. 85 north, motorists are today afforded a five-lane choice. The two left lanes (#1 and #2 lanes) turn south onto Broadway (old U.S. 6-85); the #2 and #3 lanes turn onto southwestbound Trementon Street (one-way); the #3, #4, and #5 lanes all turn right onto 18th Street northwestbound. There is no right turn onto Broadway since it is one-way southbound. Photo taken 08/27/04.
16th Street Mall south
The 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver is closed to most vehicular traffic, although a shuttle bus travels the length of the urban street. Many shops, restaurants, and offices line the street, which is popular with residents and visitors to Denver. Funds from the Interstate 470 project were diverted in part to construct this pedestrian friendly mall. Here is a view of 16th Street Mall near Market Street looking south. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Nearing the southern end of the mall, southbound 16th Street approaches Court Place and Broadway, which is the former route of south/westbound U.S. 6-85 through downtown. The golden top of the Colorado State Capitol Building shines brightly in the afternoon sunshine. Photo taken 08/27/04.
17th Street north
Looking north on 17th Street at Wynkoop Street is Denver's Union Station, which is the railroad station for downtown. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Wynkoop Street northeast
Coors Field, home to Major League Baseball's Colorado Rockies, rises at the northeastern end of Wynkoop Street near 19th Street and Union Station. The ballpark is located at 20th Street and Blake Street. Photo taken 08/27/04.
This perspective of Coors Field shows the northern end of the ballpark. It was opened for Major League play in 1995 to host the expansion Rockies, and it was expanded to seat over 50,000 fans. The 20th row of seats in the Upper Deck is painted purple to signify the mile-high elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Here is a view of the southern end of Coors Field, as seen from Wynkoop Street. Photo taken 08/27/04.
Wynkoop Street southwest
Here is a sign for Wynkoop Street at the intersection with 18th Street about two blocks southwest of Coors Field in Lower Downtown Denver. To the south is the gleaming high rises of the downtown financial district. Photo taken 08/27/04.