The oldest paved road in Colorado was not the state's first road, nor is it the oldest road, but the story of the first time the Centennial State poured concrete for a public road dates back to 1918.

Read More: Colorado is Home to America's Longest Continuous Street

Some of the very first projects to establish roads in Colorado began when the state was still a territory, and the 1861 Kansas Legislature began authorizing bridges and toll roads that would allow for travel in what would become the Centennial State.

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Colorado's Early Roads

If you have ever crossed the Arkansas River in Pueblo, Colorado, you are crossing over one of Colorado's first road projects dating back to the 1860s. By the 1880s Colorado gave the green light for Otto Mears to begin building his "Million Dollar Highway" through the San Juan Mountains. Otto's project was one of Colorado's first highways but it was still a dirt road. Colorado's first paved road wasn't far behind.

Read More: The Story Behind Colorado's Beautiful Million-Dollar Highway

Colorado's First Paved Roads

It's an interesting coincidence that the art of pouring concrete roads in Colorado would begin in a place that would later be known as one of Colorado's popular art districts in the Denver Metro. Colorado's Santa Fe Drive, also known as U.S Route 85, ran from Littleton to Denver. The road was built as part of the Federal Highway Act of 1916 which generated $73,939 to build the first paved road in Colorado just 2 years later.

Colorado's Santa Fe Drive Today

Here is what Colorado's first paved road looks like today as you drive from Littleton to Denver. Like the rest of Colorado's original six federally funded highways, these roads were built by prison inmates between 1905 and 1926. Colorado's original 1916 highway plan included:

  • US 85: Denver-Littleton, $73,939.
  • 1-25/US 85: Pueblo-Trinidad, $261,191
  • US 24: Granite-Twin Lakes, $37,089
  • SH 13:  Rifle-Meeker, $79,082
  • SH 145: Placerville-Norwood, $7,408
  • US 287/385: Lamar-Springfield, $10,030

MORE: These are the Busiest Highways in Colorado

What are the top 10 busiest highways in the state of Colorado? It usually seems like it's whichever one I am driving on. Scroll on to see the Top 10 busiest highways and the volume of traffic moving through these areas on a daily basis.

Gallery Credit: Wes Adams

LOOK: 10 Crazy Cool Facts About Colorado's Steepest Highway

One of Colorado's legendary scenic byways also happens to be one of the steepest highways in America. We're headed up to the Slumgullion Summit to take a look at Colorado 149 in Hinsdale County. This historic route through the San Juan Mountains features an incredible view of the Uncompahgre Peak and wilderness area.

Gallery Credit: Wesley Adams

KEEP GOING: Highest Paved Road in the U.S. is Mount Evans Scenic Byway

Colorado is a beautiful state with so many things to do and see. Everyone knows about our sports teams, tremendous restaurants, and outdoor activities. But did you know that Colorado is home to the highest paved road in the United States? It's true. Mount Evans Scenic Byway hits an elevation of 14,130 feet according to Wikipedia.