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U.S. Forest Service

Rocky Mountain Region Viewing Area


White bog-orchid and elephanthead lousewort. White bog-orchid and elephanthead lousewort. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Indian paintbrush. Paintbrush. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Whipple’s penstemon. Whipple’s penstemon. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Berthoud Pass Trailhead

Forest: Arapaho National Forest

District: Clear Creek Ranger District

Description: The Berthoud Pass Trailhead is located on the Continental Divide about 1.5 hours drive west of Denver. It offers a variety of summer and winter activities, including wildflower viewing. The site contains a warming hut with vault toilets, interpretive information, and is open year round. Recreational opportunities include hiking along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST). From the trailhead, one can hike 19 miles on the CDNST through the Vazquez Peak Wilderness to the Herman Gulch Trailhead, just west of the historic mining town of Georgetown. Alternatively, one can hike to nearby James Peak through the James Peak Wilderness. Winter activities include backcountry skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Read more about the Berthoud Pass Trailhead…

Viewing Information: The best time to see wildflowers at the Trailhead area is from late June to early August. There are many different wildflowers to encounter. Some of the more striking flowers include white bog-orchid (Limnorchis dilatata), elephanthead lousewort (Pedicularis groenlandica), white marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala), paintbrush (Castilleja spp.), western wallflower (Erysimum asperum),Whipple’s penstemon (Penstemon whippleanus), American bistort (Polygonum bistortoides), and bluebells(Mertensia ciliata).

Safety First: Berthoud Pass Trailhead is located 11,307 feet above mean sea level. Weather can change quickly. Thunderstorms with lightening, hail, or snow commonly form in the afternoons, and temperatures can drop rapidly. The parking lot, while spacious, can be a busy place in any time of the year, so be mindful of motor vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Berthoud Pass Trailhead is a developed recreation area, and as such, requires that pets be leashed while in the developed area. Some trees have been affected by pests, so be aware of hazard trees in and around the area. Weakened and dead trees fall without warning, with little or no help from the wind.

Directions: From Denver, drive west on Interstate 70 continuing past Idaho Springs to Exit 232 and US-40. Take US-40 about 14 miles toward Winter Park to the summit of Berthoud Pass. The parking area is on the east side of the highway.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek Ranger District, (303) 567-3000

Closest Towns: Empire and Winter Park, Colorado.