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Berthoud Pass in Colorado 2024-2025

Drivers, backcountry skiers and hikers can't get enough of this scenic pass

Best time: all year round

Berthoud Pass
Berthoud Pass
Berthoud Pass

A scenic Berthoud Pass is located high in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado. Berthoud Pass connects upper Clear Creek Canyon to the upper valley of the Fraser River in Middle Park. The pass traverses the Continental divide of America that stretches from the Bering Streit to Magellan Strait. The Highway 40 going through the pass serves as a grand entrance into Grand County with stunning panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from 3.446m (11,307ft).

The pass was discovered in 1861 and named after the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad Edward Berthoud. The Pass provides the fastest direct route from Denver to Winter Park, Steamboat Springs, and the Colorado Front Range. 6.3%-grade inclines and switchbacks make the driving experience here quite challenging, but the road is well maintained, paved and equipped with guard rails, so it's quite safe in comparison with other mountain roads in Colorado.

Berthoud Pass used to host a ski resort, that closed in 2003. Now it attracts backcountry skiers and snowboarders, who take turns in driving to the summit and then skiing down. Winter Park on Berthoud Pass also has trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. "Second Creek" Trail offers a perfect route and a small hut to warm up. In the summer, many hikers complete The Continental Divide Trail from Berthoud Pass to Mt. Flora that includes a beautiful Ethel Lake.

Practical info

What's the history behind Berthoud Pass?

Berthoud Pass traverses The Continental Divide of America and was discovered in 1861. The pass was named after the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad, Edward Berthoud. The previous ski resort located there was closed in 2003, and now Berthoud Pass is a popular place for backcountry skiers and hikers, offering a beautiful scenic landscape to explore. Show more

What are some of the things you can see while driving through Berthoud Pass?

Driving through Berthoud Pass offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from 3,446m (11,307ft). You'll have a grand entrance into Grand County with studded pine trees, alpine tundra, and panoramic views of the Blue River Valley. You can see untouched expanses of nature, alpine lakes, and raging rivers. The snowdrifts sculpted by the wind, beautiful yarrow, and butterflies are also worth admiring. Show more

Is it possible to go skiing or snowboarding at Berthoud Pass? If so, what options are available?

Yes, Berthoud Pass is a place where you can go skiing or snowboarding. Backcountry skiers and snowboarders take turns driving to the summit and skiing or snowboarding down. The previously closed ski resort does provide some marked trails, offering various challenging ski landscapes to explore. However, note that only advanced backcountry skiers or snowboarders with appropriate avalanche equipment and knowledge should ski there. Show more

Are there hiking trails in the vicinity of Berthoud Pass?

Yes, Berthoud Pass has a lot of hiking trails to explore. The Continental Divide Trail from Berthoud Pass to Mt. Flora is a famous hiking trail in the area. You'll also be able to appreciate the beautiful Ethel Lake. The summer season provides various hiking routes, while the winter offers snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, with snow-capped trees providing a beautiful view. Show more

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