Three hikers stop at a scenic Rocky Mountain overlook on the Berthoud Pass trail

Berthoud Pass

Berthoud Pass is one of those scenic mountain drives that you just really need to do at least once in your lifetime. The pass goes through the Rocky Mountains, and is located directly on U.S. Highway 40, just north of the junction with I-70. Making Berthoud Pass very accessible and with far less traffic than other mountain roads.

Not only is Berthoud Pass a scenic high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains, it is one of the grand entrances into Grand County. Named for the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad Edward Berthoud Berthoud Pass, the pass provides a route between Clear Creek Canyon to the upper valley of the Fraser River. The pass was discovered in 1861, at which point it was determined the pass would work only for wagons, and not for the railroad.

It's also the fastest route between Winter Park and Steamboat Springs from Denver, as well as the Colorado Front Range. The drive over Berthoud Pass into Grand County is breathtaking and provides great views of the Rocky Mountains from 11,000 feet. Along the drive, there are several stopping points and overlooks to take in a view or to even hop out for a quick hike. 

It's important to note though that the pass has been known to be a bit difficult to traverse for some drivers. In fact, it's often referred to as a "white-knuckle drive." This is due to the fact that there are steep (6.3%) grades on both sides of the pass, and quite a few switchbacks. But do not worry as you embark on your drive, Berthoud Pass is a well-maintained four-lane alternating highway and is equipped with guard rails and other safety measures.

Address Information: 
U.S. Route 40 Empire to Winter Park, CO 
Elevation: 11,307 ft (3,446 m) | Length: 6.2 mi | Elevation Gain: 1,591 ft
County: Clear Creek County | Grand County
Mountain Range: Continental Divide 

For road conditions and closures, visit

Things to Do on Berthoud Pass

Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding

Once an operating ski resort, backcountry skiiers and snowboarder flock to Berthoud Pass to shred 65 advanced to expert slopes on 1200 acres. Most back-country enthusiasts will drive to the summit of the pass and park, then hike to their desired location, and ski down. It is not uncommon to see skiers and boarders looking for a ride back to the top of Berthoud pass after an exhilarating run.

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing
As you descend into Winter Park on Berthoud Pass, look for "Second Creek" trail located on the second to last curve of the pass. "Second Creek" Trail is a perfect place to snowshoe or cross-country ski. Along the trail there is a small hut that offers you a place to rest and enjoy a snack before heading back to your car.


Scenic Photography

Berthoud Pass is truly breathtaking and provides unbelievable views around every curve. Surrounded by the Continental Divide, endless waterfalls, and soaring to over 11,000 feet in elevation, Berthoud Pass offers endless photo opportunies. Make sure to bring your camera and snap some unforgettable photos of your journey.


From Berthoud Pass, you can access a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels.  From the reknown Continental Divide Trail at Berthoud Pass to Mt. Flora hike to see the turquoise blue Ethel Lake, there is a hike for everyone along Berthoud Pass.

Please be cautious when partaking in any of these activities on Berthoud Pass. Please keep in mind that this area is considered the backcountry, and without any ski patrollers or rangers formally roaming the mountain. Have fun, be prepared and proceed at your own risk.

Inspired by Roadtrippers.

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