Things to Do in Twin Lakes

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History of Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes was settled in 1865 and was then called Dayton.  It became an important transportation town between Leadville and Aspen, where silver and gold were discovered, and a rough toll road was established over Independence Pass.

 Additionally, a hotel was constructed on the south shores of the natural Twin Lakes, now dammed to augment its water storage.  The hotel only lasted 25 years, but at the time Interlaken was known for its deluxe accommodations and Twin Lakes was described as the most charming summer mountain resort in Colorado.

Today, Twin Lake is home to 196 folks.  Most of the businesses line three short blocks of Highway 82 and include a General Store, a few options for lodging, limited dining, and kayak, SUP, and canoe rentals.

Where to Stay in Twin Lakes

The lodging options in Twin Lakes are limited, so plan ahead.  You may choose from Twin Lakes Roadhouse Lodge & Cabins, The Twin Lakes Inn & Saloon, Windspirit Cabins, and the Mount Elbert Lodge.  The first three are in town, while the Mount Elbert Lodge is further West.

Of the accommodations in town, only Windspirit Cabins allow dogs.  Both the Roadhouse Lodge and the Twin Lakes Inn are historic.  The Roadhouse Lodge is known for its famous cinnamon roll, and the Inn provides nightly dinner in the summer and lunch and brunch on the weekends.

twin lakes roadhouse lodge

Camping in Twin Lakes

If camping is more your style for a weekend getaway, there are a selection of campgrounds including Dexter, Lakeview, Parry Peak, Twin Peaks, and White Star.  There is also dispersed camping off CR25 and CR24. 

The camping off CR25 is near the lake shore and more crowded.  The camping up CR24 is more secluded with some lake views.  Both have excellent cell service coverage.

camping at twin lakes

Now that you know where to stay in Twin Lakes, here is a list of things to do in Twin Lakes:

Take a Hike

The are plenty of hikes around the area from easy to difficult.  You may stroll many paths along the lake shore for something easy or try climbing the tallest mountain in Colorado, Mt. Elbert, for something hard.  For something in between, try a segment of the Colorado Trail.

view from the summit of mt elbert

DISCLAIMER: 14ers are dangerous.  Know your limits, and do not attempt without proper acclimation and safe weather. And support the local Search and Rescue by purchasing a COSAR card for $3, as they have to rescue a lot of people and dogs that don’t know their limits.

Go for a Bike Ride

Hiking and biking seem to go hand in hand in Colorado.  Many of the surrounding trails are used for both activities.  Again, you may bike some of the easy trails along the lake shore or explore a segment on the Colorado Trail.  Also, there are many backroads.  I found one off of CR 25 by the dam and the trailhead to the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.

The dirt road is closed to vehicles, so it is a great one to ride or hike up and then descend the other side into a ranching area with beautiful views.  Need a bike? Visit Twin Lake SUP & Cycle.

ranch land at twin lakes

Get Out on the Lake

Seeing as Twin Lakes is named for its two glacial lakes, there are many lake activities from kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddling. Need equipment? Try Twin Lakes Canoe & Kayak Adventures or Twin Lakes SUP & Cycle.

Go Fishing

Twin Lakes has many fishing access points on it, and the general store has bait, lures, and even rods if you didn’t bring your own.  The lakes feature Rainbow, Brown, Lake, and Cutbow Trout.  Be sure to check the current regulations for the bag and possession limit with Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

the general store at twin lakes

Take a Tour of Interlaken

The remains of Interlaken may be found on Twin Lakes South shore.  Interlaken was once a luxury resort complete with a log tavern, dance hall, pool hall, stables, ice house, and a six-sided privy that could accommodate six guest rooms. It is only reachable by hiking or by boat. 

The hiking trail begins at the southeastern edge of the lake and follows a portion of the Colorado Trail before it branches off.  The easy round-trip with little elevation gain is 4.6 miles.  See the AllTrails app for directions and a map.

The boat tour to Interlaken takes place twice a day during the summer at 11am and 1pm.  Twin Lakes & Interlaken Boat Tours features a 24-foot pontoon boat with seating for up to 14 passengers.  Not only does the boat tour go to Interlaken, but also it floats about the glacial lakes as the operator describes the area.

interlaken

Stroll Around the Historic Buildings

It won’t take long to stroll the streets of Twin Lakes, but its worth a look around.  While most people would be inclined to walk around the businesses, don’t forget the historical area by the visitor center on the lake side of the street.

In fact, the visitor center used to be a brothel and bar, so take a step inside to see the pictures and to grab other information about the area.

historic building in twin lakes

Take a Scenic Drive

The once rough tollway to Aspen, is now an extremely scenic drive to Independence Pass.  The road is not open in the winter and is never open to vehicles over 30 feet, so take the appropriate cautions.  There are some hikes at the top of the pass, and just on the other side before you get to Aspen is Independence Ghost Town.

independence mine

Take a Side Trip

Twin Lakes is conveniently located to several interesting mountain towns in Colorado.  Head West to go to Aspen, North to land in Leadville, and South to explore Buena Vista and Salida.  All of these towns are only an hour away or less and have lots to offer.

leadville
Leadville

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Published by

Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

2 thoughts on “Things to Do in Twin Lakes

  1. Wow, I’ve stayed in Twin Lakes a couple times and I had no idea that there was so much to do in the area. Thanks for the thorough writeup. I’ll use this next time I’m up there.

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