Interstate 70 East - Mesa County

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Interstate 70 U.S. 6 U.S. 50 East
Welcome to Colorado sign posted next to the Utah state line on I-70. A pull off affords a stopping point for motorists. 08/10/16
Mesa County sign, touting monuments, mesas and memories. Speed limits reduce from 80 to 75 miles per hour as travelers enter the Centennial State. 08/10/16
I-70 makes an S-curve southeastward at around 4,900 feet in elevation beyond the first confirming marker in Colorado. 08/10/16
The unincorporated communities of Mack and Loma represents the first population centers along Interstate 70 since Green River, Utah. Grand Junction follows in 26 miles. 08/10/16
The Colorado welcome center lies 19 miles east of the state line at just off the freeway in the city of Fruita. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 enters Rabbit Valley at Exit 2 in one half mile. 08/10/16
Exit 2 connects the nearby Trail Through Time, a 1.5 mile long loop by the Mygatt-Moore quarry. Excavations at the quarry have unearthed a variety of dinosaur bones.1 08/10/16
Eastbound I-70 reaches the diamond interchange (Exit 2) with Rabbit Valley Road. Unpaved roads tie in from the north and east at Exit 2. 08/10/16
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Interstate 70 meanders northeast through Rabbit Valley to milepost 5. 08/10/16
Emerging from Rabbit Valley, Mack Mesa and the Salt Creek valley spreads into view. 08/10/16
A wide open view of Interstate 70 east at milepost 6. The Colorado River flows a short distance to the south. 08/10/16
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The community of Mack appears to the east as Interstate 70 lowers around 200 feet in elevation from a nearby bluff. 08/10/16
U.S. 6 splits from Interstate 70 & U.S. 50 at Exit 11 to overtake Old U.S. 6-50 at Mack. 08/10/16
The first independent segment of U.S. 6 east in Colorado, inventoried by CDOT as Route 006A, travels 15.00 miles from Exit 11 to Mack, Loma, Fruita and Exit 26. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 U.S. 50 East
Interstate 70 angles southeast, parallel to bluffs rising to the north of the Colorado River. 08/10/16
Loma and the adjacent city of Fruita line U.S. 6 (and old U.S. 50) over the next seven miles. The regional service center of Grand Junction is just seven miles further. 08/10/16
A port of entry operates along I-70 east just ahead of the Loma exit. 08/10/16
Colorado 139 commences a 72.07 mile route north to Colorado 64 east of Rangley from I-70 at Exit 15. 08/10/16
Commercial truckers depart the eastbound freeway for the Loma area weigh station just ahead of Exit 15. 08/10/16
SH 139 stems north from the diamond interchange (Exit 15) with I-70 across ranch and agricultural areas to U.S. 6 at Loma. North from there, SH 139 represents a scenic highway through western Garfield County to Douglas Pass and the Canyon Pintado Historic District. 08/10/16
The distance Book Cliffs come into view as I-70 winds eastward. 08/10/16
Travelers on I-70 east see the Colorado River for the first time as the river flows west into Horsethief Canyon. 08/10/16
Denver debuts on eastbound mileage signs in Colorado at 260 miles out. Grand Junction lies ten miles ahead. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 spans the north channel of the Colorado River twice on bridges built in 1970. 08/10/16
SH 340 originates in the city of Fruita just north of upcoming Exit 19. The state highway leads south to connect with Kings View Road west toward the McInnis Canyons National Conversation Area. 08/10/16
SH 340 north ends at parallel U.S. 6 via Aspen Avenue and Coulson Street. U.S. 6 runs along Union Pacific Railroad tracks along the south side of the Fruita street grid.
Prior to construction of I-70, SH 340 followed Maple Street south to a truss bridge across the Colorado River. 08/10/16
The first rest area for Interstate 70 east in Colorado resides off the freeway along SH 340, south of Exit 19. 08/10/16
Colorado National Monument lies south of the Colorado River around Monument Mesa and Monument Canyon. Rim Rock Road stems south from SH 340 to the park area. 08/10/16
Eastbound I-70 & U.S. 50 reach the dumbbell interchange (Exit 19) with Colorado 340 in Fruita. The state highway runs south of the Colorado River to Redlands and Roseville, ending in 13.34 miles at U.S. 50 in Grand Junction. 08/10/16
A south side frontage road accompanies Interstate 70 east through Fruita as the UP Railroad parallels to the north. Motorists reach Grand Junction in six miles and the east suburb of Clifton in 17 miles. 08/10/16
Three interchanges line Interstate 70 east within the city of Grand Junction starting with the business loop in 1.25 miles. 08/10/16
One mile ahead of the diverging diamond interchange (DDI) with Business Loop I-70 east, U.S. 6 and the split with U.S. 50 east on I-70. The business route travels southeast into Grand Junction, where the routes divide: Business Loop I-70 and U.S. 50 serve Downtown, while U.S. 6 follows North Avenue to Colorado Mesa University. 08/10/16
Within Downtown Grand Junction, U.S. 50 branches to the southeast toward Delta, Montrose and Durango (via U.S. 550); from the U.S. 550 junction in Montrose, U.S. 50 then travels east to Gunnison, Salida, Canon City and Pueblo. 08/10/16
Exit 26 departs Interstate 70 as the freeway spans River Road and the UP Railroad. U.S. 50 combines with U.S. 6 from the north, forming a commercial arterial southeast to Mesa Mall and the Rimrock Marketplace retail area. Business Loop I-70 serves industrial areas along the UP Railroad to the east of the Grand Junction business district, returning to I-70 at Clifton. 08/10/16
Replaced guide signs at the then diamond interchange (Exit 26) for Business Loop I-70 east and U.S. 6-50. A joint project between CDOT and the City of Grand Junction converted the exchange into a DDI by November 2013. 10/18/04
Interstate 70 east
Interstate 70 generally bypasses Grand Junction to the north, straddling or staying just inside the city limits east through milepost 29. 08/10/16
Road 24 crosses paths with I-70 next in one mile at Exit 28. Business Loop I-70 loops back to I-70 in 11 miles. 08/10/16
A dumbbell interchange (Exit 28) joins Interstate 70 with 24 Road north to Appleton and south to Mesa Mall, U.S. 6-50 and Redlands Parkway west to Redlands. 08/10/16
Continuing east, Interstate 70 passes through suburban areas of north Grand Junction to Horizon Drive (Exit 31). U.S. 6 returns to the freeway at Palisade in 14 miles. 08/10/16
Horizon Drive meanders northeast from 26 1/2 Road near St. Marys Hospital as a commercial boulevard to Interstate 70 near Bookcliff Country Club. 08/10/16
Grand Junction Regional Airport (GJT) is located northeast of Exit 31 via Horizon Drive. 08/10/16
An array of traveler services and lodging line Horizon Drive within the vicinity of Exit 31. A joint $6.6 million, CDOT and City of Grand Junction project converted the diamond interchange with Horizon Drive into a dumbbell interchange in 2016.2 08/10/16
Interstate 70 shifts south around Grand Junction Regional Airport (JCT) to Indian Wash. 08/10/16
Progressing five miles east toward Clifton, I-70 runs alongside the Government and Highlane Canal. Denver is now 244 miles away. 08/10/16
Mount Garfield (el. 6,637 feet), East Orchard Mesa and Horse Mountain rise along the eastern horizon. 08/10/16
Business Loop I-70 and Interstate 70 converge at a trumpet interchange (Exit 37) in unincorporated Clifton in one mile. 08/10/16
Exit 37 leads motorists southwest to SH 141 and Grand Junction. SH 141 provides a cutoff from Clifton to U.S. 50 east to Delta.
The original design of Exit 37 was a wye interchange with no eastbound access to Business Loop I-70 west. 08/10/16
Confirming marker for Interstate 70 east posted beyond Business Loop I-70 at Moulton Valley. 08/10/16
The freeway passes just south of the Mount Garfield summit. Agricultural areas spread to the south toward the Colorado River. 08/10/16
Travelers on I-70 east next enter the town of Palisade in six miles. Turning northward from there, Interstate 70 continues another 19 miles to the town of De Beque. 08/10/16
A chain up area lines the eastbound lanes ahead of milepost 39. I-70 is around 4,800 feet above sea level at this point. 08/10/16
Gusty winds are likely as Interstate 70 enters eastern reaches of Grand Valley, south of Mount Lincoln. 08/10/16
Elberta Avenue ties into I-70 from U.S. 6 (8th Street) to the south at a diamond interchange (Exit 42) in one mile. 08/10/16
Elberta Avenue south from Exit 42 to U.S. 6 east was formerly a business loop for Interstate 70 through Palisade. U.S. 6 doubled as the business loop east from the south side of town to Exit 44. 08/10/16
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Interstate 70 hugs the bluff line north of Palisades through a series of S-curves to milepost 44. 08/10/16
Leaving Grand Valley, I-70 spans the Colorado River and merges with U.S. 6 east at a wye interchange (Exit 44 on westbound). 08/10/16
Interstate 70 U.S. 6 East
Curving north, Interstate 70 and unsigned U.S. 6 follow the Colorado River to Cameo at Exit 46. 08/10/16
The diamond interchange (Exit 46) at Cameo links with local roads west to a power substation and Coal Canyon. 08/10/16
Reassurance marker for I-70 east posted after Cameo and east of Main Canyon. 08/10/16
The next exit serves the Island Acres section of James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. The park resides just west of the freeway across from Whittaker Flats. 08/10/16
A truck stop is located on the east side of the diamond interchange (Exit 47) for James M. Robb Colorado River State Park. 08/10/16
Cliffs rise to 5,855 feet to the east of Asbury Creek in this scene along Interstate 70 east after milepost 47. 08/10/16
A parking area lies 1.5 miles ahead by Beavertail Mountain. 08/10/16
The Garfield County town of Parachute is 25 miles to the northeast. Denver is now 228 miles away. 08/10/16
Colorado 65 starts a 61.38 mile route to Colorado 92 near Delta at Exit 49 in one mile. 08/10/16
SH 65 turns south from Plateau Valley to reach Powderhorn Ski Area in 19 miles. 08/10/16
Exit 49 leaves I-70 & U.S. 6 east for SH 65 (Grand Mesa Scenic Byway) east to Mesa, Skyway and Grand Mesa National Forest. SH 330 stems east from the highway in ten miles to Molina and Collbran. 08/10/16
Grand Valley Diversion Dam appears alongside Interstate 70 just beyond Exit 49. 08/10/16
The forthcoming parking area utilizes a portion of old U.S. 6 along the east banks of the Colorado River. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 makes nearly a 180 degree turn ahead of Beavertail Mountain. 08/10/16
Directly overlaying most of old U.S. 6, Interstate 70 north through De Beque Canyon was completed in 1989. 08/10/16
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The I-70 bridges across the Colorado River at Beavertail Mountain were built in 1985. 08/10/16
The freeway cuts through the sandstone and shale bedrock of Beavertail Mountain through a pair of curved tunnels east of milepost 50.3 08/10/16
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The Beavertail Tunnels were the first tunnels in the United States to use curved sidewalls. The design previously used in Europe provides a superior structure section and is visually pleasing. The tunnels were bored with a large rotating cutter.3 08/10/16
Drivers emerge from the Beavertail Tunnel to cross the Colorado River again and merge with the parking area on-ramp (old U.S. 6). 08/10/16
A lengthy exit less stretch ensues as I-70 & U.S. 6 progress northward through De Beque Canyon. 08/10/16
Scene along Interstate 70 east of Roberts Canyon and north of Silvey Flats. 08/10/16
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Curving northwest toward Jackson Canyon along I-70 between Bunkwater Ridge and Long Point. 08/10/16
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Turning north again, I-70 passes by Monument Canyon across from the UP Railroad siding of Akin. 08/10/16
Rock outcrops along Interstate 70 & U.S. 6 east of Track Ridge. 08/10/16
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A roadway separation sees the westbound lanes shift across the Colorado River while the eastbound mainline remains directly over old U.S. 6. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 exits De Beque Canyon beyond milepost 58. Speed limits increase from 65 to 75 miles per hour at the frontage road system overpass for old U.S. 6. 08/10/16
Frontage roads accompany the freeway north to the diamond interchange (Exit 62) with 45 1/2 Road south and 45 Road north. 08/10/16
De Beque lies just across the Colorado River via 45 Road. Although not acknowledged from Exit 62, U.S. 6 partitions with I-70 here to rejoin its old alignment northeast to Parachute. Inventoried as Route 006M by CDOT, the second independent segment in Colorado from the west totals 26.59 miles. 08/10/16
Interstate 70 east
CDOT recorded 17,000 vehicles per day (vpd) along I-70 leading east from De Beque in 2015. 08/10/16
Parachute, located ten miles ahead, represents the next traveler services along Interstate 70 eastbound. Rifle offers a wider range of options in 27 miles. 08/10/16
Back to back bridges along Interstate 70 take travelers across the Colorado River and its associated channel. U.S. 6 spans the river to the west along a two-span through truss bridge built in 1945.4 08/10/16
The fifth crossing of the Colorado River along Interstate 70 eastbound. 08/10/16
Advancing east from milepost 64, I-70 and U.S. 6 converge across a low rise mesa. 08/10/16
Samson Mesa rises from the Colorado River valley in this scene east from Interstate 70. 08/10/16
U.S. 6 parallels I-70 to the east to the Garfield County line. Mount Logan (el. 8,402 feet) rises to the north. 08/10/16


 
Sources:
  1. Trail Through Time | Colorado West Outdoors.
  2. I-70 Exit 31 Horizon Drive Roundabouts. CDOT Project web site.
  3. Glenwood Canyon I-70 Final Link - 50th Anniversary of the Interstate System. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).
  4. De Beque Bridge, Bridgehunter.com.


Photo Credits:

10/18/04, 08/10/16 by AARoads

Page Updated 03-24-2017.

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