Berthoud Pass

Berthoud Pass, a white-knuckle drive in Colorado

Berthoud Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.446m (11,307ft) above the sea level, located in Clear Creek County, in the U.S. state of Colorado. The pass is located west of Denver.

How long is Berthoud Pass?

Located in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado, the road to the summit is paved. It’s called U.S. Highway 40. The pass sits on the way from the historic town of Empire (Clear Creek County) to Winter Park (in Grand County). It’s 38.62km (24mi long).

Who is Berthoud Pass named after?

Remember this is is a mountainous area, climbing up a high mountain. The pass has steep grades on either side (6.3%), along with winding switchbacks and many tight spots.  It has a large number of switchbacks on the southern side and traverses the continental divide at the Front Range and it’s named for Edward L. Berthoud, the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad during the 1870s.

Is the Berthoud Pass open?

Due its climb in elevation over thousands of feet, and pass through remote areas, it is important when driving in these conditions to be prepared. Check weather forecasts before leaving home, and remember that it becomes cooler and often more prone to storms at higher elevations. Be prepared with jackets, water, and emergency kit in your car. This infamous road, U.S. Highway 40, north of its junction with Interstate 70 in Clear Creek Canyon, can be closed anytime because avalanches and heavy snowfalls can sometimes block some sections of the road and can be extremely dangerous due to frequent patches of ice.

Is Berthoud Pass dangerous?

The drive is truly breathtaking and provides unbelievable views around every curve. Parts of the pass are three lanes. It's curvy and steep, but the exposure is not that bad in comparison to other passes. A gravel steep road east the pass climbs up to Colorado Mines Peak, a mountain peak at an elevation of 3.812m (12,506ft) above the sea level.


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