Monday, 6 Dec 2021

What to do in Twin Lakes, Colorado's prettiest tiny mountain town

Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems). Find our previous Staff Favorites here.

After just one long weekend this summer in Twin Lakes, my boyfriend and I started to dream of owning a home there.

We spent four days together with a small group of friends driving a scenic stretch of Highway 82, which juts west toward the Continental Divide just south of Leadville, and twists and turns up over Independence Pass, on to Aspen.

What a special place, just two hours and change from Denver but secluded enough among sloping, towering peaks, protective aspen trees and mirror-surfaced lakes to feel far away from everything. The town was quaint, the Airbnb we found beautiful and the setting, simply transfixing. Here’s what we loved about Twin Lakes.

The town and its surroundings make for a natural home base for visiting Leadville and Buena Vista (30 minutes away to the north and south, respectively), as well as Aspen, an hour’s drive west in summer over the pass. But we found plenty to do even without those day trips, starting with a 4-mile roundtrip hike along the lake to the National Historic Site of the 142-year-old Interlaken resort. There you can wander the well-preserved grounds and even tour the inside of the former hotel owner’s private home, complete with a glassed-in cupola at the top.

On a clear morning, before any afternoon storms rolled in, the lakes are calling for a float, either on stand-up paddleboards, kayaks or canoes. If you’re not bringing your own equipment, check out Twin Lakes SUP & Cycle in town. The business rents out local SOL paddleboards from Telluride and Badfish Boards out of Salida. Once on the lake, views to the west of the Sawatch Range are unmatched.

Perhaps the most special of our Twin Lakes discoveries was the Alpenglow Airbnb, which has been featured on the design and architecture pages of publications like Dwell and Apartment Therapy. Two local Colorado couples worked together to renovate the three-bedroom A-frame with uninterrupted views of La Plata peak. The finished house is stunning for a group getaway.

If you’re able to snag a weekend here (and it does book up months in advance), your stay will include lovely amenities like local coffee in the mornings, a wraparound deck for dining and hot-tubbing under the stars, even a telescope for nights with clear, dark skies. Who am I kidding? It was mostly what started us on a Twin Lakes house hunt within a day of arriving for our trip. It’s the type of place and setting that leads you again and again outside.

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