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U.S. Highway 50 - Fremont County

Transcontinental U.S. 50, which originates in the floodplains of the Central Valley of California near the capital city of Sacramento and travels across the middle of the country until finding sand in Ocean City, Maryland. In Colorado, U.S. 50 traverses the state, connecting Grand Junction, Montrose, Caņon City, Pueblo, La Junta, and Lamar together. To the east lies the state of Missouri; to the west, U.S. 50 partners with Interstate 70 to cross the Grand Valley, Green River, and San Rafael Reef.

U.S. 50 East
We begin our journey on eastbound U.S. 50 after the Royal Gorge turnoff (County Route 3A). This mileage sign provides the distance to Caņon City (8 miles) and Pueblo (45 miles). To Interstate 25 south, continue east on U.S. 50 to Pueblo. To Interstate 25 north, follow U.S. 50 east to Colorado 115 north to Colorado Springs. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Continuing east, U.S. 50 approaches a junction with Colorado 67 south and Phantom Canyon Road north. This intersection is near the Fremont County Airport. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Colorado 67 is a rather disjointed route, since two sections of it were turned over to local maintenance by the counties. This section of Colorado 67 starts at Colorado 96 in Wetmore and ends at U.S. 50 here. Use Phantom Canyon Road north to make the connection with the second section of Colorado 67, which begins at Victor and continues north to U.S. 24 at Divide. After a silent merge with U.S. 24 east, the third section of Colorado 67 begins at U.S. 24 in Woodland Park and ends in the town of Deckers. A fourth and final section of Colorado 67 begins at Rampart Range Road in Douglas County and travels in a northeasterly direction to end at U.S. 85 near Sedalia. The third and fourth segments are joined by a county route. Photo taken 08/28/04.
This eastbound U.S. 50 reassurance shield is posted after the Colorado 67 and Phantom Canyon Road intersection east of Caņon City. Photo taken 08/28/04.

The next interchange along eastbound U.S. 50 is the junction with Colorado 115, which travels northeast past Fort Carson to Colorado Springs, where it ends at U.S. 85 near Interstate 25. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Colorado 115 travels south from here into Florence, then turns west through Lincoln Park to end at U.S. 50 in Caņon City. In effect, Colorado 115 parallels U.S. 50 between Caņon City and Florence. Photo taken 08/28/04.
U.S. 50 West
After the Colorado 115 interchange in Penrose, this mileage sign provides the distance to Caņon City and Salida. Photo taken 08/28/04.
A westbound U.S. 50 reassurance shield is posted after the Colorado 115 interchange. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The Fremont County Airport is served by this connector from westbound U.S. 50 near Caņon City. Private and commercial aviation uses the airport, which also serves some of the sightseeing tours around Royal Gorge. Photo taken 08/28/04.
After the airport intersection, U.S. 50 west next approaches Colorado 67. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound U.S. 50 continues as a multi-lane divided highway after the Colorado 67/Phantom Canyon Road junction. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Colorado 67 is a rather disjointed route, since two sections of it were turned over to local maintenance by the counties. This section of Colorado 67 starts at Colorado 96 in Wetmore and ends at U.S. 50 here. Use Phantom Canyon Road north to make the connection with the second section of Colorado 67, which begins at Victor and continues north to U.S. 24 at Divide. After a silent merge with U.S. 24 east, the third section of Colorado 67 begins at U.S. 24 in Woodland Park and ends in the town of Deckers. A fourth and final section of Colorado 67 begins at Rampart Range Road in Douglas County and travels in a northeasterly direction to end at U.S. 85 near Sedalia. The third and fourth segments are joined by a county route. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Here is a view of westbound U.S. 50 after the Colorado 67/Phantom Canyon Road intersection. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Caņon City comes into view as U.S. 50 west descends into the valley. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound U.S. 50 enters Caņon City, home of the Historic Royal Gorge Route Railroad. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Use Field Avenue north to reach Central Avenue, which feeds into the historic downtown area and business district. Photo taken 08/28/04.
U.S. 50 west meets Colorado 115 again, this time in Caņon City at the intersection with 9th Street. Colorado 115 travels southeast via 9th Street toward Florence. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Upon leaving Caņon City, U.S. 50 west passes by this power plant. The next destination along westbound is the Royal Gorge. Photo taken 08/28/04.
A curios shop is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of U.S. 50 and Skyline Drive. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Here is a view of westbound U.S. 50 after the Skyline Drive intersection. note the passing lane for uphill (westbound) traffic. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound U.S. 50 approaches the turn off to Fremont County Route 3A, which travels south to the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River. Photo taken 08/28/04.
County Route 3A travels south from U.S. 50 to the Royal Gorge Bridge, the highest suspension bridge in the world. Built as a link across the Royal Gorge of the Arkansas River, the bridge today serves more as a regional attraction for visitors to Central Colorado. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Side Trip: Royal Gorge Bridge
From U.S. 50 south to the Royal Gorge Bridge, follow Fremont County Route 3A south for about four miles. While most motor vehicles are prohibited from using the suspension bridge, pedestrians and bicyclists are welcome on the bridge. Several parking lots are located adjacent to the theme park at the south end of County Route 3A. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Unlike many other counties in Colorado that use the standard blue and yellow pentagon marker, Fremont County uses a green square shield such as this one for its signed county route network. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The county route ends at the north entrance into the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park. From here, the suspension bridge is not yet visible, but it is less than a mile from here. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Built in 1929, the Royal Gorge Bridge was built to span the narrow yet deep chasm that funnels the Arkansas River through the Rocky Mountains. Known as the Grand Canyon of the Arkansas River, the Royal Gorge is notable for being extremely deep yet very narrow, as the canyon floor is only about 50 feet wide on average and several hundred feet wide on top. With a depth of over one thousand feet, the canyon is that much more impressive and beautiful. In addition to the Arkansas River, a railroad passes through the Royal Gorge, but there is not much room for anything else. This view looks south on the bridge. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Again looking south on the Royal Gorge Bridge, it is notable that the floor of the bridge is nothing more than wood planks. When permitted cars, golf carts, and bicycles travel the bridge, the planks rumble from the added weight. According to the official web page, the walkway is made of 1,292 wooden planks on top of over 1,000 tons of steel that serve as the floor of the bridge. Even more striking is the superstructure of the bridge, which incorporates 2,100 strands of No.9 galvanized wire, weighing over 300 tons. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The towers of the suspension bridge rise 150 feet, supporting what is generally regarded as the world's tallest suspension bridge. Below the bridge, the Arkansas River churns as much as 1,053 feet below the deck of the bridge, over one-fifth of a mile down! The main span between the two towers is 800 feet long, and the total length of the bridge including the approaches is 1,260 feet, about a quarter of a mile long. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Now at the midpoint of the Royal Gorge Bridge, we are 1,053 feet above the level of the Arkansas River. This makes the Royal Gorge Bridge the tallest suspension bridge in the world. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The strands of wire that are bundled together to keep the bridge suspended above the Arkansas River are visible at midspan. It is near here that the bridge is at its highest level above the river. The theme of the bridge's design appears to incorporate the simplicity of the design without covering the components that support the bridge. As a result, the bridge towers and cables are immediately visible and recognizable for their role in supporting the bridge. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Now at the south end of the bridge, the cables anchor into these two points. A roadway continues from this end, connecting to a continuation of County Route 3A and eventually County Route 3. This road continues to loop back to U.S. 50 near the confluence of the Arkansas River and Currant River. Since vehicular access to the bridge is limited, it is best to visit the bridge from either County Route 3A from the northeast or County Route 3 from the northwest. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Looking down from near the midpoint of the Royal Gorge Bridge are these views of the Royal Gorge. The river and railroad are squeezed into a very tight canyon. The Royal Gorge theme park offers an incline rail that takes visitors to the bottom of the gorge. The incline is very steep due to the limited room in the canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
A plaque on the bridge commemorates the registration of the Royal Gorge Bridge on the list of National Historic Places. Built in 1929 for $350,000, the bridge would cost over $20 million in 2000 dollars (based on the official webpage) ... and it is not clear if that figure includes environmental analysis (NEPA) studies and mitigation or not! Photo taken 08/28/04.
Now looking north on the Royal Gorge Bridge, the towers each carry an American flag on top. A flag from each of the 50 states is flown along both sides of the bridge, so visitors from the U.S. can find the flag of their state of residence. They are listed in alphabetical order. Photo taken 08/28/04.
For instance, here is the Wyoming state flag, flown near the southern tower, as seen on the bridge looking north. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Wrapping up the Royal Bridge tour, here are some photos of the bridge as seen from several overlooks near the bridge as well as the cable car that ferries passengers across the gorge to the east of the suspension bridge. Photos taken 08/28/04.

Page Updated July 9, 2005.