Take a ride on the Ronald Reagan Highway: Stretch of I-25 in El Paso County is named in honor of  former president


This week’s edition of “Get to know your Highway” focuses on Interstate 25, specifically the part that that runs through El Paso County.

That stretch of road is “officially” known as the Ronald Reagan Highway.

You know you’re on the Ronald Reagan Highway when — if you are traveling north to south from Denver to Pueblo — when you hit mile marker 163 in Monument. A green and white sign is on your right as you enter El Paso County.

But how did, and why did, that stretch of I-25 come to be named after our 40th President of the United States of America?

On Oct. 7, 2003, then Colorado Gov. Bill Owens and then state senator (now congressman) Doug Lamborn dedicated the road in a ceremony.

Lamborn and then state representative Lynn Hefley introduced the legislation naming the highway during the previous session.

“I’m just very proud that Colorado is honoring President Reagan in this way,” Owens said at the ceremony. “He did a lot of wonderful things for our country and I think it will be a nice way to remember him.”

Lamborn’s effort actually began in 2001. It was inspired by the Reagan Legacy Project, which wanted every county in the United States to name something prominent after Reagan.

Interstate 25 actually stretches from Interstate 90 near Buffalo, Wyoming, south to Interstate 10 near Las Cruces, New Mexico. The 1,062-mile stretch of highway is the main north-south expressway through Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.

The section of the I-25 that runs through Pueblo County is called the “John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway,” named after the 35th President of the United States.

Historical nicknames for this route have included the Valley Highway (through Denver), Monument Valley Highway (through Colorado Springs), and the Pueblo Freeway (through Pueblo).

I-25 is also considered to be part of the unofficial Pan-American Highway, which runs from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Ushuaia, Argentina.

As you travel the highways and byways of Colorado, keep in mind that other sections of road are named after the famous and not-so-famous.

U.S. 285 from Denver to the New Mexico line has been christened the “Ralph Carr Memorial Highway.” Carr, a Republican, served as governor from 1939 to 1943.

U.S. 285 also crosses the 38th Parallel, the basis for the dividing line between North and South Korea. So it only makes sense that the stretch from its junction with Colo. 17 south of Villa Grove through Saguache and Monte Vista to Alamosa is known as the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway, as is Colorado 17 from Alamosa north to the U.S. 285 junction.

Here are others:

Gerald Ford Memorial Highway, I-70 in Eagle County.

Mother Cabrini Memorial Highway, I-70 in Jefferson County.

Tuskegee Airmen Memorial Highway, I-70 from Tower Road to Brighton Boulevard in metro Denver.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway, Colo. 115 from El Paso County’s southern border north to the intersection with South Nevada Avenue in Colorado Springs.

The two tunnels under the Continental Divide at the top of I-70 are named for Dwight D. Eisenhower, the president who started the interstate highway system and who was a frequent visitor to Colorado, and Edwin C. “Big Ed” Johnson, a Colorado senator and governor who promoted I-70 through Colorado.