Colorado

The 6 Best Camping Spots Near Twin Lakes, Colorado

Posted by
Sarah Boles
March 28, 2023
Updated August 01, 2023

best camping twin lakes colorado
Photo: Grant Matthews

Camping in Twin Lakes offers easy access to the best of Colorado’s high country and stunning views you can’t find anywhere else.

To the west, Mount Elbert, Colorado’s tallest peak, looms over you, reflected perfectly in the lake. Mount Massive, Colorado’s second tallest peak, and its surrounding wilderness look over the reservoir to the north. To the south lies the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness, which includes eight more of Colorado’s famous fourteeners.

During the mining boom of the late 1800s, the village of Twin Lakes was a crucial stop between Aspen and Leadville. Nowadays, the glacial lakes are a hub for all things outdoor adventure, creating the perfect alternative to Colorado’s more popular (and expensive) mountain towns.

From water sports to paddling, hiking, and mountain biking, the region has all you could ever want. Plus, the Twin Lakes Reservoir is stocked with trout, making it a popular fishing destination during the summer months.

Camping in Twin Lakes gives you access to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail and the Colorado Trail, as well as trailheads for routes up Mount Elbert and La Plata Peak. Some of the best lake camping in Colorado for sure! Visitors can also hike the relatively tame Interlaken Trail around the reservoir.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re planning a visit to the area: Expect to find weekend crowds in July and August, no matter where you camp. Reservations open up six months in advance and fill quickly. Visit during the week to enjoy less traffic at your campsite. Try to plan your stay during the week to make it easier to find a site and enjoy the fresh air and some solitude.

No matter what your adventure holds, Twin Lakes has an ample amount of campsites – dispersed and traditional – perfect for every type of camper. Read on for details about the best camping near Twin Lakes.

Best Campgrounds Near Twin Lakes

The Twin Lakes area has five established campgrounds within five miles of downtown, all located along CO-82. Some sit directly on the shore of the lake, some follow the rocky banks of Lake Creek, and others nestle you in amongst the pines. All campgrounds are above 9,000 feet.

Expect the Twin Lakes area campgrounds to have no potable water available (as has been a trend these past few years). Plan to bring enough water to hydrate your adventures, to cook with, and to fully extinguish your campfires.

Dexter Point Campground

twin lakes camping - dexter point
Photo: Sergey Malomuzh
  • Distance to town: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation: 9,200 feet
  • Number of campsites: 19
  • Operational dates: Memorial Day weekend → last Sunday in September
  • Why camp here: Access to a boat ramp, Colorado Trail, Interlaken Trail

When you turn off Highway 24 onto 82, you will quickly come across the Dexter Point Recreation Area, home to a small campground and boat ramp. Consider Dexter Point Campground if your Twin Lakes adventure involves boating or access to the Colorado and Interlaken trails.

Dexter Point features 11 tent sites, many along the lakeshore, and eight RV sites. The RV area is really just a large parking lot, however, any size RV will fit, which takes out some of the guesswork for those with bigger rigs. All sites at Dexter Point are first-come, first-serve. Once you select a site, scan the QR code which allows you to pay via the recreation.gov app.

The recreation area has no potable water or electricity. The campground shares a vault toilet with the boating site. While the boat ramp can get busy during peak season, users pay a daily fee to access it, which cuts down on the crowds slightly. The other boat ramp for Twin Lakes is located on the west side of the reservoir, closer to town, and sees more traffic. Note that your nightly camping fee includes the daily recreation area fee, so you don’t need to pay twice.

Pro tip: Make sure to download the recreation.gov app in advance as cell service for many carriers is nonexistent at Dexter Point.

Lakeview Campground

 

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  • Distance to town: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation: 9,500 feet
  • Number of campsites: 33
  • Operational dates: Memorial Day weekend → Labor Day
  • Why camp here: Proximity to South Mount Elbert Trailhead

Nestled between the Mount Elbert Forebay and the Twin Lakes Reservoir, Lakeview Campground is just a short drive through the woods up County Road 24.

The campground has 33 primitive campsites organized in loops, each featuring a mix of tent and RV-friendly non-electric sites. Reserve sites in loops A through F ahead of time online through recreation.gov. Loops G and H have first-come, first-serve sites located on the northwest side of the campground, closest to the Mount Elbert East Ridge Trailhead.

Lakeview Campground has no potable water or electricity…though it does feature famously clean vault toilets, as well as great views of the reservoir. Besides the easy access for those looking to bag a fourteener, the Colorado Trail runs along the west and south edges of the campground, and visitors enjoy traveling up nearby County Road 122 to explore Lily Pond or hike on the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.

Related Read: 7 Best Things to Do in Estes Park in Winter

Whitestar Campground

  • Distance to town: 1 mile
  • Elevation: 9,200 feet
  • Number of campsites: 65
  • Operational dates: Reservable Memorial Day weekend → Labor Day
  • Why camp here: Accessibility, closest to downtown

If you enjoy waking up to expansive views of calm water surrounded by rolling green hills and towering rocky mountains, then head to Whitestar Campground. Here, even your trips to the trash can provide epic, sweeping views.

Located right off Highway 82, Whitestar Campground excels in accessibility. It offers 65 non-electric sites easily accessible by vehicle, on foot, and even via watercraft.

Speaking of views and being close to it all, Whitestar Campground sits on the north shore of the Twin Lakes Reservoir. You can access the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail just north of Whitestar where it crosses Highway 82. The Colorado Trail also wraps around the reservoir before continuing south.

Split into three loops, sites in Whitestar’s Ridge Loop are first-come, first-serve from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Reserve a campsite in the Sage and Valley loops on recreation.gov for the same period. The Sage Loop remains open for three additional weeks in September on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Parry Peak Campground

  • Distance to town: 2.6 miles
  • Elevation: 9,500 feet
  • Number of campsites: 25
  • Operational dates: Memorial Day weekend → Labor Day
  • Why camp here: Access to the rushing waters of Lake Creek

If a view of the lake from your campsite is not a requirement, head west on CO-82 past downtown. In exchange, Parry Peak Campground provides gorgeous views of Parry Peak, access to the rocky banks of Lake Creek, and shady campsites nestled among the aspens and pines.

Parry Peak Campground has 25 primitive first-come, first-serve sites near the rushing waters of the creek. Campsites offer the standard amenities for Twin Lakes area campgrounds: vault toilets, picnic tables, fire pits, epic views, and no potable water.

Pro tip: You cannot pay through the recreation.gov app at Parry Peak. Plan to have exact cash or write a check.

Twin Peaks Campground

 

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  • Distance to town: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation: 9,600 feet
  • Number of campsites: 35
  • Operational dates: Memorial Day weekend → end of September
  • Why camp here: Access to fly fishing, trails

A bit further down CO-82 lies Twin Peaks Campground. Situated above the roaring waters of Lake Creek, Twin Peaks Campground has 35 first-come, first-serve sites.

Similar to neighboring Parry Peak Campground, Twin Peaks is the place to stay if exploring or fishing along the banks of Lake Creek sounds more exciting than waking up to views of the Twin Lakes Reservoir. Campsites sit above the creek, so expect to fall asleep to the sounds of fast-moving water. The campground has trails that lead down to the river.

Head to the southernmost sites of Twin Peaks Campground (toward the back) to avoid road noise during the day from the traffic heading through Independence Pass. These sites are closest to the creek as well. Just like at Parry Peak Campground, you must pay with cash or check upon arrival; you cannot pay via the recreation.gov app.

Pro tip: Head to Twin Peaks Campground in mid-late September to witness the contrast of the golden aspens, green pines, and a dusting of snow collecting on the high peaks set against a backdrop of blue skies. Even this late in the season, the creek still rushes with water.

Best Dispersed Camping Near Twin Lakes

If staying in an established campground isn’t your thing (or in your budget), the Twin Lakes area has ample dispersed camping on hand. Colorado permits dispersed camping in national forests and grasslands. The area surrounding Twin Lakes falls in the Pike-San Isabel National Forests and the Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands.

Keep in mind that dispersed camping here means no access to toilets, water, or trash services, so following Leave No Trace principles are especially important when dispersed camping. Do your best to use an established dispersed site to minimize impact and pack out all of your trash.

You will find dispersed sites along forest roads throughout the area, however, Twin Lakes Area North is the most popular place for dispersed camping.

Twin Lakes Area North

  • Distance to town: 3 miles
  • Elevation: 9,400 feet
  • Why camp here: Free gorgeous views

To reach this dispersed camping area, head west on CO-82 toward Twin Lakes and past the Dexter Point Recreation Area. A bit further on your right, turn north onto County Road 24 towards Lakeview Campground. As you climb up the road, begin to look for dispersed sites once you enter the woods.

Twin Lakes Area North is the most popular place for dispersed camping in the area for good reason. It’s very close to town and the reservoir, and you do not need a four-wheel drive vehicle to safely reach the area.

Expect the dispersed campsites to fill quickly during the summer months, especially on the weekends. Also, expect the towering pines and aspens to shade you, the crisp mountain air to invigorate your lungs, and the views of the Twin Lakes Reservoir and the surrounding Sawatch Range to fill your heart. No matter where you make your base camp, you will not regret a camping trip to Twin Lakes, Colorado.

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