Berthoud Pass is special not only because its a really cool and scenic mountain drive, but because it was the gateway to my summer vacations. My family has owned a condo in Winter Park since the early 80's and nearly every single summer we spent a week there cultivating and building memory after memory.
To get to Winter Park though you had to break off the main interstate and head up U.S. Highway 40 first through the speed trap of Empire and then on to the pass.
At the bottom of the pass there is a massive u-turn that starts your slow decent of nearly 3000 vertical feet in just a couple miles of road. Before the road was widened and bigger guardrails were put in place it was a terrifying drive for someone not in control of the car. For much of the pass you can look to your right and be level with the tops of very tall trees and on some occasions nothing.
My dad who is a very good driver owned that mountain. He would pass with ease and fly around corners as we dug our fingers in our seat cushions and held our breath. Several summers I made our city's all-star baseball team and my dad I would drive down and back each day of our vacation in our little red Ford Fiesta. That thing was built for zipping around those mountain corners. It was also a stick shift which my dad worked as deftly as Mario Andretti.
On the way up the pass there is this amazing mountain to the right which has a massive crater at the top. I always imagined it was a extinct volcano that someday might come back to life as we were driving up.
At the top of the pass there is a breathtaking view of the continental divide that goes on for seemingly hundreds of miles. We've never lingered long though because the fun of summer awaited below.
As you drive up and down keep your eyes peeled for a number of water falls. The biggest and best is right before the last switchback at the bottom. It flows under the road so you get to see it twice on either side.
If you are ever in Colorado take the time to drive the pass. The views and experience are fantastic.