Berthoud Pass is a high mountain pass in the Rocky Mountains of central Colorado in the United States. The pass is located west of Denver, and provides a high route between upper Clear Creek Canyon to the upper valley of the Fraser River in Middle Park to the north. The pass traverses the continental Divide at the Front Range, on the border between Clear Creek County and Grand County.
The pass is named for Edward L. Berthoud, the chief surveyor of the Colorado Central Railroad during the 1870s. Accompanied by Jim Bridger, Berthoud discovered the pass in July 1861 while surveying a possible route for the railroad. Berthoud reported that the pass was suitable as a wagon road, but not as a railroad. The pass has steep grades on either side (6.3%), along with winding switchbacks and many tight spots.
The pass is currently the route of U.S. Highway 40, north of its junction with Interstate 70 in Clear Creek Canyon. It provides the fastest road access to Winter Park and a secondary route to Steamboat Springs from Denver and the Colorado Front Range. However, the pass is one of the most notoriously difficult passes in Colorado for motorists, based on its height as well as the large number of switchbacks on the southern side of the pass.
Berthoud Pass Ski Area :
Once home to the now-defunct Berthoud Pass Ski Area, the pass is a destination for local backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers due to its abundance of steep and challenging terrain and plentiful snow. The twisting road on both sides of the pass also makes "car shuttles" possible, eliminating the need for skiers and snowboarders to hike back to the top of the pass after each run.
The ski resort was closed in 2002 due to financial problems caused by lack of water and sewage at the top of the pass. In 2003 the lifts were taken down, while some people continued to ski using snowcats for lift transportation. In 2005 the Colorado DOT began using a fund to restore the area to its natural state. First on the list was the demolition of the historic lodge.
A new warming hut was opened at the top of the pass in May 2008, along with an expanded parking area, two sceneic viewing areas and a new summit marker sign. The ski lodge and facilities had been in use since the early 1950s and the new warming hut includes modern features such as composting toilets, radiant floor heating and green construction.