Skip to main content

2016 Summer Mountain West Road Trip Part 1; US Route 40 Berthoud Pass

Back in 2016 I took two significant road trips to the Mountain West region.  The first trip was during the summer months when all the mountain passes in the Rockies had cleared.  I flew in from California and stayed my first night in Denver.  The following day I started out by heading west on I-70 into the Rockies where I picked up US Route 40.  I took US 40 over Berthoud Pass to US 34 to reach Rocky Mountain National Park.






At the bottom of Berthoud Pass about 8,600 feet above sea level is the small town of Empire.  Empire has less than 300 residents left and founded in the early 1860s during the silver boom in Clear Creek Valley.




US 40 west of Empire begins to climb to Berthoud Pass via series of switchbacks that are largely two-lanes.  I thought the grade was pretty solid but I the climb is steep enough that the climb to Berthoud Pass is likely a dangerous one in the winter months.  Berthoud Pass lies at an elevation of 11,307 feet above sea level which makes it among the highest all-year mountain passes in the United States.


Berthoud Pass was discovered in 1861 by surveyors for the Colorado Central Railroad.  While the grade of Berthoud Pass was considered to be viable for a wagon route it was ultimately found to be too steep for railroad service.  Berthoud Pass can be see on this 1884 map of Colorado as a wagon route.

1884 Map of Colorado

When the US Route system was created in 1926 Berthoud Pass was selected as part of the alignment in Colorado.  An early version of the US Route system in Colorado can be seen on this 1941 State Highway Map.

1941 State Highway Map

The views from the top of Berthoud Pass aren't the most scenic but there was a nice view of the down hill grade approaching Winter Park.



Part 2 of this trip can be found here:

2016 Summer Mountain West Road Trip Part; Rocky Mountain National Park and US Route 34/Trail Ridge Road

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Old NY 10 and Goodman Mountain in the Adirondacks

  Old highway alignments come in all shapes and sizes, as well as taking some different forms after their lifespan of serving cars and trucks has ended. In the case of an old alignment of what was NY 10 south of Tupper Lake, New York, part of the old road was turned into part of a hiking trail to go up Goodman Mountain. At one time, the road passed by Goodman Mountain to the east, or Litchfield Mountain as it was known at the time. As the years passed, sometime around 1960, the part of NY 10 north of Speculator became part of NY 30, and remains that way today from Speculator, past Indian Lake and Tupper Lake and up to the Canadian Border. At one time, the highway was realigned to pass the Goodman Mountain to the west, leaving this stretch of road to be mostly forgotten and to be reclaimed by nature. During the summer of 2014, a 1.6 mile long hiking trail was approved the Adirondack Park Agency to be constructed to the summit of the 2,176 foot high Goodman Mountain. For the first 0.9 mi

Oregon State Highway 58

  Also known as the Willamette Highway No. 18, the route of Oregon State Highway 58 (OR 58) stretches some 86 miles between US 97 north of Chemult and I-5 just outside of Eugene, Oregon. A main route between the Willamette Valley region of Oregon with Central Oregon and Crater Lake National Park, the highway follows the Middle Fork Willamette River and Salt Creek for much of its route as it makes its way to and across the Cascades, cresting at 5,138 feet above sea level at Willamette Pass. That is a gain of over 4,500 in elevation from where the highway begins at I-5. The upper reaches of OR 58 are dominated by the principal pinnacle that can sometimes be seen from the highway, Diamond Peak, and three nearby lakes, Crescent, Odell and Waldo (Oregon's second largest lake). OR 58 is chock full of rivers, creeks, mountain views, hot springs and waterfalls within a short distance from the highway. OR 58 was numbered as such by the Oregon State Highway Department in 1940. OR 58 is a del

Siuslaw River Bridge - US 101 in Florence, Oregon

  As the Oregon Coast Highway (US 101) was being completed across the State of Oregon during the 1930s, a number of bridges needed to be built to cross some of the state's finest rivers. In Florence, Oregon , the Siuslaw River Bridge was designed and constructed to help fill in the gaps between different coastal communities. Built in 1936, the Siuslaw River Bridge is a bascule bridge flanked by two reinforced concrete arches that spans across the Siuslaw River. The bridge and the river get their names from the Siuslaw tribal people who make their home along the river valleys of this part of the Oregon Coast. Today, the bridge provides a vital link connecting US 101 and the Central Oregon Coast to points north and south. The total length of the Siuslaw River Bridge is 1,568 feet, stretching across the river. But more specifically, the bridge is made up of a north approach with eight spans of reinforced concrete deck girder totaling 478 feet in length. There is a main span in three