Current and historic US Highway ends in Monticello, UT

Photo credits: Chris Elbert; Jeff Jensen; Bruce Kasprzyk; me

Highway Approx. time period
US 666 1970-2003
US 163 1983-1985
US 491 2003-present

It's not easy to get a grasp on the many changes that have taken place with regard to the US highway system in the Four Corners region. I don't have a complete set of maps, but here's the history (as I understand it) that relates to Monticello:

When the US routes were commissioned in 1926, US 450 served Cortez CO, Monticello and Moab UT, ending at (actually near) Crescent Jct. UT (that's exit 180 on I-70, northwest of Moab). US 666 began at Cortez, heading south through Towaoc CO and Shiprock NM. At the time, Monticello-Bluff UT-Kayenta AZ was not on the US highway system, and neither was Towaoc-Mexican Water-Kayenta-Tuba City AZ.

In 1934, US 450 was replaced by an extended US 160. Nothing else changed.

So for over 40 years - up until 1970 - no US routes ended in Monticello. But then US 160 was truncated at Cortez, and was routed instead through Towaoc-Mexican Water-Kayenta-Tuba City. The US 666 designation was extended north from Cortez along old US 160 to Monticello. However, old US 160 from Monticello to Crescent Jct. was assigned a new number: US 163. That designation was also extended south from Monticello, through Bluff, ending at the new 160 at Kayenta.

In 1982, US 191 was extended south from Yellowstone National Park. In Utah, it was co-signed with US 163 from Crescent Jct through Moab and Monticello to Bluff, where it split off and went due south, meeting US 160 at Mexican Water.

The next year - apparently viewing this as an unnecessary multiplex - UDoT removed the US 163 signs north of Monticello. Two years later, they were removed north of 163's current terminus at Bluff. (I use this terminology because apparently AASHTO never approved these truncations.)

Finally, in 2003, US 666 was decommissioned and replaced with the new US 491 designation. So Monticello has marked the endpoint of three different US routes over the years:

Jensen, 2002

That was looking west on Center Street; US 191 is routed across the intersection at the light, Main Street (those are the Abajo Mountains in the distance). That US 666 sign was changed by September 2003; compare a later photo of the same sign assembly:

me, July 2004

US 666 and 491 have ended here, and remember that the north beginning of US 163 was to the left for a few years. That assembly had been replaced again within a few years:

Elbert, July 2010

Matter of fact, all signage at this junction was replaced just a few years after US 666 was changed to US 491: the two-digit shields were replaced with three-digit versions, and at the same time all references to "Old US 666" were removed. Below we're looking south on US 191:

me, July 2004

US 491 begins to the left; the signage ahead (at the intersection itself) is shown close-up below:

me, July 2004 Elbert, July 2010

US 163 used to begin straight ahead (at least according to UDoT's signage). US 666 used to begin to the left, but now that's the west beginning of US 491 (the highway is signed east-west in Utah). If you take that left, you'll soon see a confirming marker...

me, July 2004 Elbert, July 2010

...and not far beyond that used to be an assembly to make sure everybody had it straight:

me, July 2004

When I was there, northbound approach signage was virtually invisible behind tree branches; a better shot is shown below:

Kasprzyk, Mar. 2009

The signage shown below was posted at the actual intersection:

me, July 2004 Elbert, July 2010

That was the north end of US 163 for a short time; later the west beginning of US 666; and now it's the west beginning of US 491.