Discover Berthoud Pass, a can’t-miss scenic mountain drive in Colorado. Situated amid the soaring Rocky Mountains, this pass is located right on U.S. Highway 40, just north of its junction with I-70. What sets Berthoud Pass apart is its accessibility and the notable absence of the usual traffic congestion found on other mountain roads.
Elevation: 11,307 ft (3,446 m)
Elevation Gain: 1,591 ft
Length: 6.2 mi
Visit Berthoud Pass
Berthoud Pass was discovered in 1861 and named for the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad, Edward Berthoud. After surveying the spot, it was determined the pass would work only for wagons and not for the railroad. That’s why today cars can traverse the switchbacks right into Winter Park.
Not only is Berthoud Pass a scenic high-mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains, it is one of the primary entrances into Grand County. It provides a route between Clear Creek Canyon to the upper valley of the Fraser River. As you wind through the paved road, you can take in the craggy peaks and towering pine trees — and in the winter, you might even spot a backcountry skier carving down the mountainsides.
It's important to note though that the pass can 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 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 — equipped with guard rails and other safety measures.
Things to Do on Berthoud Pass
Conveniently, Berthoud Pass is the fastest route to Winter Park from Denver and the Colorado Front Range. Surrounded by the vast Continental Divide and rushing waterfalls, Berthoud Pass offers endless photo opportunities. Make sure to bring your camera and snap some pictures of your journey. Along the way, there are several stopping points to take in a view or even hop out for a quick hike.
Backcountry Skiing and Snowboarding
Once an operating ski resort, backcountry skiers and snowboarders 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 along the road with a thumb up, looking for a ride back to the top 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 path, there is a small hut that offers a place to rest and enjoy a snack before heading back to your car.
From Berthoud Pass, you can access a variety of hiking trails for all skill levels. From the Continental Divide Trail at Berthoud Pass to the Mt. Flora hike to bright-turquoise Ethel Lake, there is a hike for everyone along Berthoud Pass. Please be cautious when partaking in any of these activities on Berthoud Pass. Keep in mind that this area is considered the backcountry, without any ski patrollers or rangers formally roaming the mountain. Have fun, be prepared and proceed at your own risk.
Learn about backcountry safety before embarking on your backcountry adventure. Check snowpack conditions ahead of time and always bring proper gear. See these resources for more information.
A gateway to backcountry adventures, Berthoud Pass provides access to hiking and snowshoeing trails as well as panoramic views of surrounding peaks.
Once you get to Grand County, use one of our local transportation options to navigate from town to town.
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