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Berthoud Pass

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


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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.

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