|Auxiliary route of US 85|
|Length||846 mi (1,362 km)|
|South end||near Sanderson, TX|
| / / at Fort Stockton, TX|
|North end||/ / at Denver, CO|
|States||Texas, New Mexico, Colorado|
U.S. Route 285 is a north–south United States highway, running 846 miles (1,362 km) through the states of Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. The highway's southern terminus is in Sanderson, Texas at an intersection with U.S. Route 90. US 285 has always had an endpoint in Denver, Colorado, although the original US 285 went north from Denver (that segment is now a part of U.S. Route 287). Today the highway's northern terminus is in Denver, at exit 201 on Interstate 25.
US 285 is a secondary route of US 85, which it crosses in metro Denver, and historically crossed again in Santa Fe, New Mexico (today its parent route has been largely replaced by Interstate 25, and as a result US 85 is no longer signed in New Mexico). US 285 also intersects a sibling route, US 385, in Fort Stockton, Texas.
Trucking makes up a large portion of the route's traffic, but along much of its route the road is also used for local travel from one town to the next. The northern section of US 285, from Santa Fe to Denver, traverses mountainous and rocky terrain; with that in mind, anyone using the road should check weather conditions during the winter months.
As 285 traverses north on the eastern plains of New Mexico, it passes through Carlsbad, Artesia and then Roswell. In Artesia the route intersects with U.S. Route 82. In Roswell, the route intersects with U.S. Route 70 and U.S. Route 380. The route next heads northwest to Vaughn where it has a brief concurrency with U.S. Route 54 and U.S. Route 60. The route then continues northwest and has a junction with Interstate 40 at Clines Corners.
Heading north out of Clines Corners, the route continues towards the state capital. At the outskirts of Santa Fe, the route becomes concurrent with I-25, U.S. Route 84, and its unsigned parent (U.S. Route 85) for several miles heading west through the foothills of the Sangre De Cristo Mountains to Santa Fe. After exiting I-25, US 285 follows Saint Francis Drive through Santa Fe. The route continues north by northwest to Española and Chamita, where the concurrency with US 84 ends. The route then traverses the Carson National Forest where 285 now makes a long climb up to the Colorado Plateau, passing through Ojo Caliente as it ascends to the San Luis Valley. After crossing US 64, the highway passes through the village of Tres Piedras, New Mexico at the south end of the valley, then proceeds north to the Colorado border.
Heading north from the Colorado border, US 285 passes through the main part of the San Luis Valley, eventually reaching Alamosa. As the highway heads north, it begins to ascend to the northern end of the valley and eventually climbs over Poncha Pass, elevation 9,012 feet (2,747 m), and drops sharply down the other side into the Arkansas River Valley.
The highway brushes Salida and follows the Arkansas River north up the valley, then takes a sharp eastward turn just before the small town of Buena Vista. 285 then climbs over Trout Creek Pass, elevation 9,346 feet (2,849 m), and enters the high-altitude South Park basin.
A few miles north, the highway passes through Fairplay and the historic South Park City site, then reaches its highest elevation: 10,051 feet (3,064 m), at the summit of Red Hill Pass. US 285 then leaves the South Park basin and climbs over Kenosha Pass, elevation 10,001 feet (3,048 m), and skirts the south side of the Mount Evans massif as it descends its way through the foothills range towards Denver.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (April 2015)
This section relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (April 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
The short segment between US 50 at Salida and US 24 at Buena Vista closely parallels the original U.S. Route 650, which was designated in 1926, but eliminated in 1936 when US 285 was commissioned along its present extent from Sanderson to Denver, mostly replacing state-numbered highways.
Between Denver and Como, US 285 mostly follows the route of the Denver, South Park and Pacific Railroad, part of the original narrow gauge transcontinental railroad. The route skirts the south side of the Mount Evans massif, then descends into and crosses the South Park. Como in Colorado's South Park still houses one of the few remaining narrow gauge roundhouses. The transcontinental railroad route breaks away from US 285 at Como, going northwest over Boreas Pass en route to Breckenridge, the historically rich gold fields of Leadville, and eventually connecting to California.
|Browse numbered routes|