Interstate 70 West - Clear Creek County


Interstate 70 west
Just into Clear Creek County, this view shows the downgrade of Interstate 70 west from Floyd Hill to Clear Creek Canyon. Photo taken 02/02/02.
Interstate 70, U.S. 40 and U.S. 6 converge at Exit 244 in three quarters of a mile. Photo taken 11/08/03.
U.S. 6 east through the Clear Creek Canyon includes several tunnels as well as a connection to the Peak-to-Peak Highway, Colorado 119 north to Black Hawk and Colorado 72 at Nederland. Photo taken 11/08/03.
U.S. 6 winds 14.3 miles east through Clear Creek Canyon, from Exit 244 to Colorado 58 (Golden Freeway) and 93 in Golden. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Interstate 70 overtakes U.S. 6 & 40 west from Clear Creek Canyon to Idaho Springs. The freeway crosses over left-hand ramps with the US routes at Clear Creek. Photo taken 02/02/02.
U.S. 40 ties into U.S. 6 from Floyd Hill nearby as the north frontage road of Interstate 70. Photo taken 08/29/04.

Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 West
This mileage sign provides the distance to Idaho Springs (3 miles), U.S. 40 west (10 miles), and Grand Junction (214 miles). It is a long way to the Eastern Slope of the Rocky Mountains! Photo taken 08/29/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40 is Exit 243, Clear Creek County Route 314/Hidden Valley. The county route follows the old alignment of U.S. 6-40 around the tunnels, thus providing an alternate route. Clear Creek County Route 314 rejoins the freeway at the Idaho Springs business loop exit. Photo taken 11/10/03.
Westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 243, Junction Clear Creek County Route 314/Hidden Valley. While there are no frontage roads between Exit 244 and Exit 243, some have considered the concept of a frontage road to help facilitate traffic flow between Idaho Springs and U.S. 6/Clear Creek Canyon. Photo taken 11/10/03.
Here are several views of the approach to the Idaho Springs Twin Tunnels along westbound. Photos taken 08/29/04.
Interstate 70 reaches Idaho Springs, home to 1,889 people as of the 2000 Census. It is not much bigger than Georgetown, but it is classified as a city in the census and gets the only official business loop between Mesa County and Golden. The city is perhaps best known for its mineral baths, hence the name Idaho Springs. One of the more interesting side trips from Idaho Springs is the "Oh My God" Road, which connects Idaho Springs with Central City and Blackhawk (Colorado 119 in Gilpin County) via Clear Creek County Route 279 and Gilpin County Route 279. Photo taken 08/29/04.
The next exit along westbound is Exit 241A, Junction Business Loop I-70 east into Idaho Springs. The business route follows the old alignment of U.S. 6-40 through downtown via Colorado Boulevard. The two U.S. highways remain on the Interstate bypass. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Use Exit 241A for a Clear Creek County Visitors Center located in Idaho Springs. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 241A, Junction Business Loop I-70, which leads into Idaho Springs at Exit 241A. Exit 241B is for Clear Creek County Route 314. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Immediately thereafter, the only warning for Exit 241B (Junction Clear Creek County Route 314) is this gore point signage. County Route 314 heads east as the frontage road/old alignment parallel to Interstate 70 on the south side of the freeway. It reconnects with the freeway at the Hidden Valley exit and allows for a bypass of the Idaho Springs Twin Tunnels. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 is Colorado 103 south to Mount Evans, 0.75 mile. The square, light blue shield is used here to identify an official scenic route. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Colorado 103 is a National Forest Scenic Highway, and a national forest information center is located in Idaho Springs. This exit also leads into downtown Idaho Springs, which is just north of the freeway. Photo taken 08/29/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 240, Colorado 103/Mount Evans Highway South to Colorado 5, the highest paved road in the country. Colorado 5 leads to the summit of Mount Evans, elevation 14,264. In addition, Colorado 103 loops back toward Denver via Juniper Pass and Squaw Pass, changing into Clear Creek County Route 103 and Jefferson County Route 66 before meeting Colorado 74/Evergreen Parkway in Wah Keeney Park. Photo taken 08/29/04.
At the top of the ramp to Colorado 103 from westbound Interstate 70 is this sign, which indicates that Colorado 103 travels south to Mount Evans and the Arapaho National Forest. Photo taken 08/29/04.
View of the Colorado 103 overpass over Interstate 70 in Idaho Springs. If Interstate 70 were to be widened to three lanes in each direction as has been officially proposed previously, this bridge would have to be replaced or substantially reconfigured. This bypass was built in 1960, and its age shows in the design. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 is Exit 239, Junction Business Loop I-70 East to Idaho Springs, 0.25 mile. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 239, Junction Business Loop I-70 East to Idaho Springs. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 is Exit 238, Junction Clear Creek County Route 275 West, Fall River Road, one-half mile. County Route 275 follows the Fall River toward Fall River Reservoir, St. Mary's Glacier, and Fox Mountain. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 238, Junction Clear County Route 275 West, Fall River Road. Photo taken 11/08/03.
This gore point signage is located at the offramp for Exit 238, Fall River Road, along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40. The old alignment for U.S. 6-40 is located to the south of the freeway here. Photo taken 11/08/03.
here is another neutered Interstate 70 shield after Exit 238; once again, the U.S. 6 and U.S. 40 shields are omitted. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40 is Exit 235, Junction Clear Creek County Route 261/Dumont, one mile. County Route 261 leads northwest along Mill Creek Road into the Arapaho National Forest. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 235, Junction Clear Creek County Route 261 northwest/Dumont. The old alignment of U.S. 6-40 switches from the south to the north side of the freeway here. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6-40 is Exit 234, Downieville and Lawson. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Take advantage of the services at Exit 234 or Exit 228; there is not much between Georgetown (Exit 228) and Dillon-Silverthorne (Exit 205 in Summit County). Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 approaches Exit 232, U.S. 40 west, one mile. This is a major interchange, as travelers may choose either route to reach various mountain destinations and western Colorado. U.S. 40 enters Empire, then immediately ascends Berthoud Pass (Elevation 11,315 feet), while Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 continue toward Loveland Pass. Until the late 1990s, a cutout U.S. 40 shield was located between Interstate 70 and Empire. An old alignment of U.S. 6 leads from Empire south to Interstate 70 via Clear Creek County Route 251 via Empire Pass to Georgetown. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Either westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 or westbound U.S. 40 is advisable as the best route to Salt Lake City. One could take U.S. 40; Interstate 70 and U.S. 6; or Interstate 70, U.S. 50, and Interstate 15 to Salt Lake City. Photos taken 11/08/03 and 11/10/03.
U.S. 40 west (Exit 232) leads to such popular resorts as Winter Park and Steamboat Springs. The highway also connects to the remote northwestern corner of Colorado, including Dinosaur National Monument and Vernal, Utah. Finally, U.S. 40 provides a back route into central Wyoming, via northbound Colorado 125 west of Granby or northbound Colorado 13 at Craig. Photos taken 11/08/03 and 02/02/02.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6-40 reaches Exit 232, U.S. 40 westbound. An overhead variable message sign is present at the gore point, and the VMS is visible in the distance to the left of the picture. On snowy or windy days, the message sign illuminates warnings to motorists. In addition, winter avalanches and whiteout conditions during storms may occur on U.S. 6, which result in occasional road closures. U.S. 40, which has closely followed Interstate 70 since Baltimore, leaves Interstate 70 behind permanently at this exit. U.S. 40 meets its end at Interstate 80 near Park City, Utah, and Interstate 70 ends at Interstate 15 in Cove Fort, Utah. Neither route makes it to the ocean. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Interstate 70/U.S. 6 West
For views of bighorn sheep, this sign advises visiting Georgetown; however, we have not tried to search out the sheep at this exit. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is Exit 228, Georgetown, one mile. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Georgetown has a population of 1,088 per the 2000 census and is home to the famous Georgetown Loop Railroad. This picture shows westbound at Exit 228 into Georgetown. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 approaches Exit 226, Silver Plume, one mile. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Silver Plume (elevation 9,118 feet, population 203) is one of the highest towns in Colorado, but not as high as Alma (elevation 10,578 feet, population 179) along Colorado 9 south of Frisco. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Here is another neutered Interstate 70 shield after Exit 226 along westbound; these are more prevalent in the high country. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Here is a view of Interstate 70/U.S. 6 west prior to reaching Exit 221. Note the variable message sign, which indicates that icy conditions may exist at higher elevations ahead. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is Exit 221, Bakerville/Graymont, one mile. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 reaches Exit 221, Bakerville/Graymont. Photo taken 11/08/03.
This mileage sign along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is found after Exit 221; it provides the distance to U.S. 6 exit, Silverthorne, and Grand Junction. Photo taken 11/10/03.
Here are several views of Mount Bethel, elevation 12,705 feet, as seen from westbound. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 enter the Arapaho National Forest between Exits 221 and 218. Photo taken 11/08/03.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is Exit 218, which leads to the Herman Gulch Trail. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 approaches Exit 216, U.S. 6/Loveland Pass Road west, one mile. First photo taken on sunny 11/08/03; second photo taken on snowy 11/10/03.
U.S. 6 and Interstate 70 separate again at Exit 216: Interstate 70 passes through the Eisenhower Tunnel (with 6 to 7% grades on the approach and descent), while U.S. 6 climbs to the top of the Loveland Pass. All hazardous material cargo trucks must exit here and take U.S. 6 rather than the Interstate 70 tunnel. Use U.S. 6 west to the Loveland Ski Resort, which is the first one available on westbound Interstate 70. Loveland Ski Resort is located adjacent to the Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 interchange at Exit 216. Use U.S. 6 for some stunning views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. After crossing into Summit County (and leaving Clear Creek County), U.S. 6 connects to the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area just southwest of Loveland Pass, then descends into Dillon. First photo taken on a sunny 11/08/03; second photo taken on snowy 11/10/03.
Interstate 70 West
Now free of its remaining U.S. route, Interstate 70 enters the Eisenhower Tunnel without any companions. U.S. 6, meanwhile, provides an alternate route over Loveland Pass, while Interstate 70 burrows underneath the pass. Both routes are well over 11,000 feet, and the surrounding mountains reach elevations of 13,000 or even 14,000 feet. In fact, Colorado's Front Range is well-known for the quantity of peaks that exceed 14,000 feet. The highest of these mountains is Mt. Elbert, which is located southwest of here near Leadville via Colorado 91 and U.S. 24. Photo taken 02/02/02.
There is a pull-out for brake inspection and vehicle checking before entering the Eisenhower Tunnel. This area may also be used for security inspections and chain installation or removal as needed. Photo taken 11/08/03.
This signage for the Eisenhower Tunnel on westbound Interstate 70 is located adjacent to the parking area shown in the previous photo. This sign provides the elevation of the tunnel at 11,013 feet. It would be neat if another sign were present that showed that Interstate 70 is the highest Interstate highway in the country. First photo taken 02/02/02; second photo taken 11/08/03.
The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest vehicular tunnel in the world. When originally constructed with one bore (the westbound tunnel), it was known as the Straight Creek Tunnel. However, it was renamed for President Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose name is associated with the entire Interstate Highway System. Today, the Eisenhower Tunnel consists of two separate bores. The North Tunnel was constructed in phases between March 1968 and March 1973; the South Tunnel was constructed between August 1975 and December 1979. Each tunnel is a little more than 1.69 miles long. For more information on the tunnel, visit the Colorado Department of Transportation webpage. Photo taken 11/08/03.

Page Updated January 22, 2006.

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