Interstate 70 - Garfield County (Westbound)


Interstate 70/U.S. 6 West
Upon entering Garfield County and leaving Eagle County, westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 immediately enter the narrow world of Glenwood Canyon. The four-lane freeway nearly squeezes itself out of room in the canyon, but it remains at freeways standards with four lanes for its entire length through the canyon. However, it took many years to accomplish this feat. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 continue west through Glenwood Canyon. For more, visit Matt Salek's Glenwood Canyon: An Interstate 70 Odyssey. Photos taken 08/28/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is Bair Ranch, which includes a rest area and a variety of trails and public lands access. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 reaches Exit 129, Bair Ranch and Rest Area. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The freeway enters White River National Forest as it proceeds west through Glenwood Canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The westbound lanes of Interstate 70/U.S. 6 are at a higher elevation than the eastbound lanes. The eastbound lanes tend to remain closer to the level of the river, while the westbound lanes remain above the other direction. This allows for the freeway to fit into the tight and narrow canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.

Interstate 70/U.S. 6 west remains on an elevated viaduct, with tunnels to allow for minimal disruption to the canyon. All five of the tunnels in the canyon (two eastbound, three westbound) have similar design features, including lane allocation sign bridges. These signals allow for temporary re-routing of traffic for maintenance needs as well as emergencies. The first tunnel (Reverse Curve Tunnel) on westbound is not paralleled by a similar tunnel on eastbound. Instead, eastbound traffic follows Old U.S. 6 around the base of the mountain through which the westbound tunnel was bored. Photos taken 08/28/04 (interior tunnel pictures taken 10/18/04).
At the time this photo was taken, lane controls were in effect in the second tunnel (Hanging Lake Tunnel), with the left lane closed (red "X" above the lane) and the right lane open (green arrow above the lane). Photos taken 08/28/04 and 10/18/04.
After exiting the second tunnel, the lane controls were still in place. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The westbound lanes continue at a higher grade than the eastbound lanes, which is a prevailing theme in Glenwood Canyon. An engineering marvel, the use of a bridge span in an environmentally challenging environment for the westbound lanes made this freeway very difficult to construct. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Towering cliffs and rock formations dominate the view through Glenwood Canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Even as the highway turns, the westbound lanes remain at a higher elevation. There are two exits along eastbound (Exit 123, Shoshone and Exit 125, Hanging Lake) that are inaccessible from westbound. Use Exit 121 to travel east again to those areas. Photo taken 08/28/04.
This picture shows the relationship of the river, bike trail, eastbound lanes, and westbound lanes in the context of the canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 is Exit 121, Grizzly Creek (with return access to Hanging Lake), which features another rest area. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Grizzly Creek features camping, hiking, white water rafting, and other outdoor activities in Glenwood Canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 reaches Exit 121, Grizzly Creek. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Interstate 70 west passes over the interchange for Grizzly Creek. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Traffic merges onto Interstate 70/U.S. 6 west from Grizzly Creek. Photo taken 08/28/04.
A neutered Interstate 70 shield is posted after the Grizzly Creek onramp. Photo taken 08/28/04.
This picture shows the railroad, river, bike trail, and freeway in context. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Interstate 70 leaves White River National Forest. Photo taken 08/28/04.
A rest area and camping facilities are available at Exit 119, which is the next exit along westbound. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 reaches Exit 119, No Name. Photo taken 08/28/04.
As westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 pass through Glenwood Canyon, the westbound lanes remain elevated above the eastbound lanes. Even this tunnel in the canyon along westbound is higher than the eastbound carriageway. But as a result of this height, the westbound lanes provide stellar views of the river and eastbound lanes as well as views of the bridge itself as afforded by curves in the canyon. Photos taken 11/08/03.
Most of the typical Interstate highway amenities are available in Glenwood Springs, the western anchor to the Glenwood Canyon. Photo taken 11/08/03.
This is the last tunnel along westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 in Glenwood Canyon. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 enters the No Name Tunnel (Tunnel #3). The freeway through Glenwood Canyon, including the tunnels, was built in stages through the 1970s and 1980s, with work completed by 1992, when the Hanging Lake Tunnel (Tunnel #2) was completed. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Interstate 70 now enters Glenwood Springs, home to 7,736 people as of the 2000 Census. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Colorado 82 is a fairly long state route that arcs from Glenwood Springs south to Carbondale, then east to Snowmass and Aspen, the famous ski resort. Colorado 82 is a divided highway from Glenwood Springs to Aspen, then becomes a two-lane highway east of Aspen. The highway crosses over Independence Pass/Continental Divide, elevation 12,093 feet, then passes by the highest peak in Colorado, Mt. Elbert, elevation 14,433 feet. This section of highway over the pass is closed in the winter. Colorado 83 ends at its junction with U.S. 24 near Granite. Photo taken 08/28/04.
Westbound Interstate 70/U.S. 6 reaches Exit 116, Colorado 82 East to Glenwood Springs and Aspen. Glenwood Springs is the first major community along westbound Interstate 70 since Eagle and Vail. It is home to a large hot springs pool and bathing area, located to the northeast of the Colorado 82 interchange. This exit also connects to an old stretch of U.S. 6-24 that should be a business loop, connecting Exits 116 and 114 via 6th Street. Photo taken 08/28/04.
This shield assembly is found at the base of the ramp from westbound Interstate 70 to eastbound Colorado 82 in Glenwood Springs. Colorado 82 passes through or near Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, El Jebel, Basalt, Snowmass, and Woody Creek before reaching the city of Aspen. At the base of the ramp, traffic turns right, goes a short distance north and then east to a bridge, and the bridge flies over Interstate 70/U.S. 6. Photo taken 11/08/03.
Continuing west, Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 pass through the heart of Glenwood Springs. Downtown is located just south of the freeway, while the hot springs and several commercial areas are located north of the freeway. On this day, the rain paused long enough for us to take a photo of this neutered Interstate 70 shield found shortly after the Colorado 82 exit. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 is Exit 114, Mel Ray Road (West Glenwood). This exit connects to Old U.S. 6-24, which follows 6th Street on a frontage road on the north side of the freeway. Somewhat surprisingly, locals still refer to the north frontage road as Old U.S. 6-24, not only U.S. 6. The north frontage road does not continue very far west; it ends at a cul-de-sac after the Exit 114 interchange. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 reach Exit 114, West Glenwood/Mel Ray Road. To downtown Glenwood Springs, Glenwood Airport, and Colorado 82 south, take Mel Ray Road south to Midland Avenue, then take Midland Avenue southeast. Midland Avenue connects to downtown via West 7th Street and to the airport via Airport Center Road. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 is Exit 111, Junction County Route 134, South Canyon Creek Road and Junction Old U.S. 6-24. To the south, County Route 134 travels to the Glenwood Springs city landfill, then travels south to provide ranch and local access. To the north, the county route transitions into a frontage road that follows the old alignment of U.S. 6-24 west to Chacra (Exit 109), then continues west to Newcastle, where U.S. 6 departs from the freeway and merges back onto its old alignment. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Continuing west, the next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 is Exit 109, Junction Garfield County Route 137 to Canyon Creek and Chacra. The county route provides local and ranch access, but it ends in the valley formed by Canyon Creek to the north. This exit also connects to Old U.S. 6-24, but mainline U.S. 6 remains on Interstate 70 until the next exit (Exit 105). Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 reach Exit 109, Canyon Creek. The old alignment of U.S. 6-24, which is now the frontage road, comes into view on the north side of the freeway. Notice the lack of a right of way fence separating Interstate 70 from the old U.S. highway. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Autumn colors abound on this rainy morning in the Colorado Rockies. While the deciduous trees such as aspen change leaf color in anticipation of winter, the evergreen (pine) trees keep their leaves throughout the year. The areas of yellow found mixed in with the deep greens can be seen from this valley near Canyon Creek on westbound Interstate 70 after Exit 109. Photo taken 10/18/04.
More leaves changing color dominate the scene as wisps of low clouds hang in front of Grand Hogback, the mountainous ridge that dominates the skyline in the background. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 is Exit 105, U.S. 6 west to New Castle. U.S. 6 follows its original alignment on the north side of Interstate 70 between New Castle (Exit 105) and west of Rifle (Exit 87), offering a rare alternate route along this stretch of Interstate 70. Certain maps, including Google Maps as of 2006, show U.S. 6 through New Castle, Silt, and Rifle as cosigned with U.S. 24, but it is not signed as such in the field. However, local residents sometimes refer to the older alignment as "Highway 6-24." Photo taken 10/18/04.
In the shadow of Grand Hogback, westbound Interstate 70 and westbound U.S. 6 part ways. They will remain separated for a little less than 20 miles. Use U.S. 6 for local access to New Castle, Silt, and Rifle, or continue west on Interstate 70 for through traffic. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Fall colors contrast with the green sagebrush mountains as Interstate 70 continues west toward Silt. U.S. 6 follows the frontage road to the north of the freeway. Photos taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 is Exit 97, Junction Business Spur I-70/Ninth Street north to Silt and U.S. 6 (Main Street). Photo taken 10/18/04.
The Town of Silt is the next incorporated area found along westbound Interstate 70. Touted as the town "where the sun rises with a smile" and "gateway to the outdoors," Silt is located near national forest lands, a blue heron rookery, and the Colorado River. To the north is Harvey Gap State Park, which features the Harvey Gap Reservoir. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Unsigned Business Spur I-70 travels south along 9th Street to U.S. 6/Main Street in downtown Silt (approximately 0.17 mile per Colorado State Highway Log (courtesy of Colorado Highways [Matt Salek]). Photo taken 10/18/04.
After departing Silt, westbound Interstate 70 continues in a valley, with the freeway moving from the north side of the Colorado River to the south side of the river. Interstate 70 remains south of the river until west of Rifle, when U.S. 6 merges back onto the freeway. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Low clouds and fog partially obscured the Roan Cliffs, which dominate the view from here on a clear day. Continuing west in the wide Cactus Valley, this mileage sign provides the distance to Rifle, Grand Junction and Interstate 15 via Interstate 70 west. It is rare to see the junction between two Interstates listed on a highway sign 330 miles away! Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 is Exit 94, Junction Garfield County Route 315/Mamm Creek Road. This exit serves the Mamm Creek area south of the freeway and also connects to Garfield County Airport. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 reaches Exit 94, Junction Garfield County Route 315/Mamm Creek Road to the Garfield County Airport. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Continuing west, Interstate 70 remains on the south side of the Colorado River, while both U.S. 6 and the Union Pacific Railroad remain on the north edge of the river. Due to its proximity to the river, Interstate 70 retains a riparian look, even though this area does not get nearly as much precipitation as those areas in the high country. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound is Exit 90, Colorado 13 north to Rifle and Rifle Gap State Park. Colorado 13 is a major north-south route in northwestern Colorado, as it follows the Grand Hogback ridge north out of Garfield County and into Rio Blanco County. The highway meets U.S. 40 in Craig, then changes into Wyoming 789 upon entering the Equality State. Photo taken 10/18/04.
At an elevation of 5,345 feet above sea level, Rifle is much lower in elevation than most of the mountain resort communities west of Denver within the Rocky Mountains, but Rifle is still over a mile high in elevation. The City of Rifle is home to 6,784 people as of the 2000 Census. Projections call for this population figure to double to 12,560 people by 2025. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The first entrance into Rifle is via Exit 90, Colorado 13. Colorado 13 exits Interstate 70, travels north across the Colorado River, and merges with westbound U.S. 6 to enter downtown Rifle. U.S. 6 remains on the north bank of the Colorado River, while Interstate 70 stays to the south of the mighty river. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 reaches Exit 90, Colorado 13 north to Rifle. To the north of town via Colorado 13 and Colorado 325 are Rifle Gap State Park and Rifle Falls State Park. Colorado 325 travels about 11 miles to the northeast of Colorado 13 to serve both parks, and it ends at the entrance to the Rifle Mountain Park. Rifle Gap State Park features the Rifle Gap Reservoir, which was constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1968 in a valley formed by East Rifle Creek and West Rifle Creek. The 325-acre reservoir covers an area formerly occupied by the ranching settlement of Austin, which is now under water. Rifle Falls State Park (formed in 1966) is home to a "cascading triple waterfall" that is the focal point of the park. The falls, which produce a great deal of spray, are accessible via the Coyote Trail. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Now exiting Interstate 70, the westbound offramp reaches this traffic signal. Turn right (north) to follow Colorado 13 over the Colorado River and into Rifle. To the north of Rifle, Colorado 13 begins a long and sometimes lonely journey to the Wyoming State Line, traveling north to the Colorado 325 turnoff, continuing northwest to Rio Blanco, then north to Meeker, Axial, Hamilton, and Craig (U.S. 40). North of U.S. 40, Colorado 13 travels north through Fortification before transitioning into Wyoming 789 at the small town of Baggs. Wyoming 789 then travels north into Central Wyoming, meeting Interstate 80 west of Rawlins. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Back on the Interstate 70 mainline, beautiful autumn colors dominate the landscape as the freeway continues to follow the riparian area alongside the Colorado River within the Cactus Valley. Photo taken 10/18/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Parachute (16 miles), Palisade (49 miles), and Grand Junction (62 miles). Of these, Grand Junction remains the control city and is the regional center in Western Colorado for commerce. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 is Exit 87, U.S. 6 east to Rifle. A business loop for Rifle does not currently exist, but one could have been defined between Exit 87 (U.S. 6) and Exit 90 (Colorado 13). In this vicinity, Interstate 70 again crosses over the Colorado River, and the freeway now follows the north bank of the river. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 merges with westbound U.S. 6 once again at Exit 87. The two routes will remain merged on a shared alignment west until Exit 44, when Business Loop I-70 and U.S. 6 depart the freeway en route to Palisade. Photo taken 10/18/04.
As is typical on shared alignments of Interstate 70 and U.S. 6, only Interstate 70 is signed. The freeway angles southwest to follow the Colorado River toward Grand Junction. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Magnificent mountain scenery, amplified by autumn colors and lifting clouds caused by a rain storm, is readily apparent on Interstate 70 throughout Garfield County, including this scene southwest of Rifle. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along westbound Interstate 70 is Exit 81, Junction Garfield County Route 323 (Rulison Road) south to Rulison. The county route also travels south across the Colorado River to serve ranches on the south side of the river. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Westbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 reach Exit 81, Junction Garfield County Route 323 (Rulison Road) south to Rulison. The county route travels south past the frontage road (Old U.S. 6), the Union Pacific Railroad tracks, and the Colorado River before meeting Garfield County Route 320 on the south bank of the river. Photo taken 10/18/04.
The next exit along southwestbound Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 is Exit 75, Junction Garfield County Route 215/Parchute Creek Road northwest to Parachute and Junction Garfield County Route 300/Battlement Parkway east across the Colorado River to ranch areas and a stone quarry/gravel pit. Photo taken 10/18/04.
Interstate 70 and U.S. 6 connect to the town of Parachute, home to 1,006 people as of the 2000 Census. This is the last community located within Garfield County along westbound Interstate 70. Now reaching Exit 75, use Garfield County Route 215 (Parachute Creek Road) northwest to the town of Parachute and then north to local access to ranches along the Carr Creek. This exit also serves Garfield County Route 300/Battlement Parkway, which connects to areas south of the Colorado River. Photo taken 10/18/04.
This mileage sign provides the distance to Exit 62, DeBeque; Exit 44, Palisade; and Grand Junction (via Exit 37). The freeway leaves Garfield County and enters Mesa County, the westernmost county on Interstate 70 in Colorado. Photo taken 10/18/04.

Page Updated February 5, 2006.

© AARoads