End of US highway 285

View a map showing this route.

Photo credits: Stephen Taylor; me

Approx. time period North terminus South terminus
1936-1959 Denver, CO (Broadway) Sanderson, TX
1959-1969 Denver, CO (I-25, exit 208) Sanderson, TX
1969-1979 Aurora, CO (Colfax) Sanderson, TX
1979-present Denver, CO (I-25, exit 201) Sanderson, TX

Usually I limit the scope of this website to just the endpoints of US routes. However, I've driven US 285 from end-to-end, and I've taken hundreds of photos along the entire route. So if you'd like to see more of this highway, check out the US 285 photo page. Or, you can check out this map showing the ecological regions through which US 285 passes.

During the first ten years of the US highway numbering system, US 285 began in Denver, as it does now. But the route actually went north from the city - mostly along what is now US 287 - to Laramie WY. I have a separate page for US 285 [I].

1936 was a year of big changes for western US highways. That's when the designation "US 285" was given to the same basic route that the highway follows today. Back then US 285 began in central Denver - but about 30 years later it was rerouted in order to function as more of a bypass around the city (click here for photos and more info on 285's historic endpoints in the Denver area). From Denver, US 285 heads west and south. In the mountains, the road wasn't paved until about 1938; here's a photo illustrating what it looked like prior to then. US 285 continued through central Colorado, then New Mexico, ending in west Texas.

US 285 was first routed along Hampden Avenue in 1969. We'll start by heading east on Hampden, or "north" on the final segment of US 285. The earliest photos I've taken are on the left. Most signs in the area were replaced in 2006, and I'm showing those on the right. The last northbound 285 shield is just past the five-way intersection with Dahlia Street/Happy Canyon Road:

Feb. 2001

Nov. 2006 (full-rez version)

That's the final reference to US 285. In the distance you can see where 285 ends: the ridge atop which I-25 runs through the south metro area. Approaching that interchange, the next sign assemblies are shown below:


Feb. 2001
(Currently no equivalent)
A bit further ahead, the signage shown below is on the gore that splits the southbound I-25 onramp from eastbound Hampden:

Feb. 2001

Nov. 2006 (full-rez version)
In the background of the left photo, you can see a large green overhead sign; it directed downtown Denver traffic left towards Fort Collins via northbound I-25. That's shown close-up below:

Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)

Oct. 2008 (full-rez version)
Because of the curved fence, I had to take the photo on the left from the onramp to southbound I-25. Mounted on the support for that sign was an "End US 285" assembly; it's shown close-up in the photo below:

Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)
(Currently no equivalent)
Despite the fact that there are ten US route termini in Colorado, this was one of only three that were marked with an "End" sign (the others are US 24 and the west end of US 350). This one was interesting because it was a 3-digit highway on a 2-digit shield, and I'm guessing it dated back to 1979. Literally days after I took that photo, the whole assembly was removed for construction - the photo below shows it in pieces, lying on the ground by the northbound offramp:

Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)

Now only 20% of Colorado's US route termini are posted with "End" signs: that was the last we've seen of the sign indicating the end of US 285. By 2006, reconstruction of this overpass was complete, and it appeared that signage replacement was done as well.

Below, we'll head the opposite direction (west on Hampden):


Feb. 2001

Nov. 2006 (full-rez version)
That's just west of Monaco Street. The interchange ahead is where CO 30 ends and US 285 begins. In the photo below, I was a bit further ahead, in the median just east of the intersection:

Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)

In the middle ground, you can see the first mile or so of US 285 (the traffic light barely visible in the distance is the aforementioned Dahlia/Happy Canyon intersection). You can see the auxilliary traffic lights and other signs of the impending construction that was about to take place at this interchange. On a clear day, the vista from the Hampden overpass is spectacular. In this part of town, I-25 runs along a ridge separating two of Denver's major watersheds, and then Hampden sits on top of the freeway. So there's a nice view of downtown to the north, as well as just about the entire Front Range to the west (but unfortunately there's usually too much traffic to do any rubbernecking). In the photo above, that's the Mt. Evans massif on the left. Above the FedEx truck, the left green light is obscuring the little saddle between Chief Mountain and Squaw Mountain (near Squaw Pass). These "twin peaks" are actually not very high, but they're prominent on Denver's horizon because of their proximity to the city. Santa Fe Mountain is the blue peak at far right (near Idaho Springs); visible between it and Squaw is a snow-covered peak: I believe that's Republican Mountain, above Georgetown and Silver Plume.

Below is a closer shot of the green sign, and the "End" signage mounted on its support:


Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)

Nov. 2006 (full-rez version)
In the middleground of both photos above you can see "End CO 30" assemblies; those are shown close-up in the photos below:

Jan. 2004 (full-rez version)

Nov. 2006 (full-rez version)

Where CO 30 ends is where US 285 begins. In the photo on the left, the colored pigment in the paint was just about gone - I imagine that sign had been there since 1979. Or maybe it was moved from its original location on 6th at Havana (see map). That's where CO 30 ended when it was originally commissioned in 1955 - at the time Havana was CO 70. US 285 replaced CO 70 in 1969, and then when US 285 was cut back to I-25 in 1979, CO 30 was extended south and west along former US 285/CO 70, ending at this interchange.

During the 1990s, I'm quite certain I recall that the first southbound US 285 sign used to be just west of this spot: on the other side of the one-way signs visible in the left photo above. But as of early 2001, only a tall, empty post stood there. So at the time, the first 285 sign heading "south" (west on Hampden) was about 3/4 mile further west from here (below): When new signage was initially installed in 2006, there was no US 285 confirming assembly (as you can see in the photo above). But within a few months after that, one had been added (below):

Feb. 2001

Jan. 2007 (full-rez version)
The photo above was looking west on Hampden, just past the intersection with Dahlia and Happy Canyon. Notice the lack of a "South" tab. I believe that was intentional: until about 2002 there were no directional tabs posted with any of the US 285 shields heading either direction on Hampden between I-25 and Kipling Street (which is 10 miles west of I-25). That's probably because - although 285 is ultimately a north/south highway - these final 10 miles along Hampden are about as east/west as you can get. So I imagine the thought was that posting "North" and "South" signs along that stretch would confuse people. But in about 2002, I noticed that "North" and "South" tabs had been added to most 285 markers. I'm glad there's a 285 marker there now, but it's a little misleading when viewed in the context of that "600 FT" sign (it could be misconstrued to mean that you have to make a turn in 600 feet in order to continue following US 285). Actually that sign existed prior to the construction, and it refers to the fact that the right lane ends in 600 feet. I believe the sign shown above left is gone now, so now the next 285 sign doesn't appear until the junction with CO 2 (Colorado Boulevard).
Now for some shots from northbound I-25:

Feb. 2001

Oct. 2008 (full-rez version)
Note that no cardinal directions are given for the highways on these signs (it's the same on the signage from southbound I-25). I think that's intentional, to prevent confusion: US 285 is technically "South", but that's west on Hampden. And CO 30 is kind of a directionless route which very few people would have a reason to follow from end to end...

Feb. 2001

Oct. 2008 (full-rez version)
Note how CO 30 formerly had a "North" tab here (left photo). Maybe that was because the route obviously heads the opposite direction of US 285. But the other terminus of CO 30 is on Gun Club Road at Quincy Avenue, which is mainly east but also slightly south of this point. So I think "East" is the more appropriate way to sign that route, and that's what was done on the new assembly (right).

As I've said, it used to be that US 285 itself was not signed with directionals until 10 miles west of this point. However, directional signage is used on some of the intersecting highways, and more of it has now appeared along Hampden itself. Knowing how best to sign Hampden has probably always been a challenge for CDoT. It can be confusing for people who come to an interchange with Hampden, knowing it's an east/west road, but seeing that their options are to go either "North" or "South" on 285. Personally, I think signage for 285 should transition to "East/West" at Kenosha Pass: signs along 285 south of there wouldn't change, but east of Kenosha it would be considered an east/west route and signed accordingly. Since US 285 terminates in Colorado, this is a viable option for CDoT, because it wouldn't affect any other state, and there are precedents for this type of situation in other states.

At the north terminus of US 285, it's hard to even imagine what must be going on in the vastly different world that exists at its other end - 846 miles to the south in Sanderson TX. Since I share my namesake with the town of Sanderson, I've visited a couple times; more info about Sanderson is available on this page. US 285's terminus is at its junction with US 90. Westbound traffic is directed onto a slip ramp before the stop sign at mainline US 90:


Taylor, Sep. 2000

me, Aug. 2013 (full-rez version)
My first visit to Sanderson was in 1988; back then, TXDoT didn't have an "End" sign at the junction with US 90, so I didn't take a photo of the terminus. But by 2000, one had been added, and it was still there at the time of my second visit:

Taylor, Sep. 2000

me, Aug. 2013 (full-rez version)
The shots below were taken looking west on US 90; Sanderson's main business district is about a half-mile behind the camera:
Taylor, Sep. 2000
me, Aug. 2013 (full-rez version)

If you take that right turn, you'll immediately see the first northbound US 285 sign:


Taylor, Sep. 2000

me, Aug. 2013 (full-rez version)
In the background is a green mileage sign that may prompt you to turn around and top off that gas tank - Ft. Stockton: 64 miles.