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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.