A high-altitude basecamp for biking, hiking, and paddling adventures in the Colorado Rockies.
Twin Lakes, Colorado is a tiny community tucked into the mountains between Leadville and Buneva Vista, about a two-hour drive from Denver. Sitting at 10,152 feet, it’s one of Colorado’s highest elevation towns. Twin Lakes is best known for its pair of sparkling blue reservoirs - the Twin Lakes. Boating, fishing, and camping are popular activities at the lakes, and nearby Independence Pass provides easy access to hiking, backpacking, and backcountry skiing in the high country. Campers will find several lakeside campgrounds along the Twin Lakes Reservoir and several dispersed camping areas in the surrounding San Isabel National Forest.
Leadville is one of Colorado’s favorite old mining towns, and it’s only thirty minutes to the northeast of Twin Lakes. Surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains, Leadville is an adventure town steeped in gold rush history. Whether you’re seeking climbing adventures in the high country, gorgeous mountain scenery, or a glimpse into the region’s wild mining days, Leadville offers an abundance of outdoor fun. From RV parks to scenic National Forest campgrounds, campers have plenty of options in Leadville including the popular Crescent Mining Camp and Silver Dollar Campground.
Heading west from Twin Lakes on Highway 82 is the historic byway to Independence Pass. It’s one of the highest paved roads in Colorado and travels up and over the Continental Divide from Twin Lakes to Aspen. There are several national forest campgrounds on both sides of the pass and numerous trails, ghost towns, and scenic views to explore along the way.
Aspen is only an hour’s drive from Twin Lakes via the Independence Pass Road. Aspen may be known best for its skiing, but it’s a genuine outdoor adventure town for hikers, mountain bikers, and rock climbers the rest of the year. The Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness offers some of the most scenic hiking in Colorado. The waters of the Roaring Fork River also offer some of the best fly fishing in the state.
The best time for hiking, boating, and fishing is from June through early September. Campgrounds in the area are typically only open during this time as well, making summer the busiest season but the best time to visit. Avoid the crowds by visiting midweek and staying away on holiday weekends. Independence Pass is closed in winter and does not open until the Thursday before Memorial Day. Depending on early season snow, Independence Pass typically remains open until late October or early November.