A Busy Road In Colorado Springs Could Take You All The Way To Canada

Listen Now
2min 09sec
Public Domain, Credit Nick Nolte
Today on Peak Past with Matt Cavanaugh, a look at a road in the Pikes Peak region that runs all the way from Mexico to Canada. There’s a chance you’ve driven it without even knowing.

The following is part of KRCC's "Peak Past" essay series.

U.S. Route 85 is a nearly 1,500-mile-long highway that runs through El Paso, Texas, to New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota and through Fortuna, North Dakota, on into Canada. 

It’s the ultimate up-down, and not the typical side-to-side cross-country roadtrip route…but there are some pretty epic road stories in America’s rear-view mirror.

In 1903, a doctor named Horatio Nelson Jackson took a $50 bet to prove he could drive a car across the country. He had no car at the time, no experience driving, no maps and very few roads. He signed up a mechanic buddy to come along, left San Francisco on May 23, and just over two months later pulled in to New York City. 

In 1919, then-Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower led an 81-vehicle convoy across the US from Washington, DC to California in 62 days.

Around here, in 1914, as a way of driving tourism, some locals dreamed up the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway to get some cross-country traffic to come through Colorado Springs.

Image courtesy Federal Highway Administration
According to the Federal Highway Association, the Pikes Peak Ocean-to-Ocean Highway is the shortest transcontinental highway in the United States. Roughly, it follows the fortieth parallel. Starting at New York City, the highway runs westward in almost a straight line, except where the country makes that impossible, to Los Angeles, California.

With these early experiments in road-tripping, by 1926 the United States built the Numbered Highway System. In general, even numbers go east-west (think Highway 24), and odd numbers go north-south.

Like U.S. Route 85. It mostly runs with I-25, but, if you’ve been on Nevada Avenue between Uintah and Fillmore in Colorado Springs, those are miles 647 and 648 of the CanAm Highway. So if you’re heading north on Nevada, when you cross Fillmore, keep going, and you’ll be in Canada in a mere 830 miles. 

It can be hard to see the destination from the road. But try to remember we’re always part of a much larger and much longer road. So enjoy the ride!

Until our next mountainside chat—be good, be well, and no matter what, climb on.

Peak Past with 2 logos Pueblo Recycleworks and Gold Hill Mesa

Peak Past (formerly Peak Perspectives) is a weekly segment written and voiced by Matt Cavanaugh, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army and a resident of Manitou Springs where he lives with his wife and two young children. Through his writing, Cavanuagh explores life in the Pikes Peak region, including the gradients and subtleties of our lives in the shadow of America's Mountain. 

You can find more work by Cavanaugh here.

KRCC's Abigail Beckman manages the "Peak Past" series. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of KRCC or Colorado Public Radio.

Peak Past is sponsored by Pueblo Recycle Works and Gold Hill Mesa.