Johnny Canoe Paddle Fest at Twin Lakes

Johnny Canoe Paddle Fest at Twin Lakes ColoradoTucked between Buena Vista and Aspen on the eastern side of Independence Pass and surrounded by multiple fourteeners is the small town of Twin Lakes. Though its population doesn’t top 200, its scenery and the serenity it affords are mighty.

Aptly named for the state’s two largest glacial lakes that sit at the edge of Lake Creek Valley, this hidden gem of a town is a wonderful place to hike, fish, stand up paddleboard, or canoe. As you arrive, you’ll notice the steeped, forested mountains that encircle the lakes and the green meadows that lap their shores, and you’ll quickly understand why these lakes are so special. To paddle Twin Lakes is to feel as though you’ve stepped into a treasure box of tranquility and beauty. To hike its trails is to discover the ultimate in peace and a true escape from it all.

July 9, 2016 might be the perfect day to visit Twin Lakes because it’s Johnny Canoe Paddlefest, a super fun event sponsored by Twin Lakes Canoe and Kayak Adventures. The festival’s boating race is designed for anything that can be paddled or sailed (no motors, please). Try your hand at crossing two miles across the lake and back, and see if your time is the fastest.

Don’t have a boat? Don’t worry. Boats can easily be rented at Twin Lakes Canoe and Kayak for half price. Jump in at the Red Rooster Boat Launch anytime between 9am and 3pm, and be sure to stay for food and fun, which start at 4pm.

Register the day of the race for $40 or pre-register by calling Johnny Canoe at (719) 251-9961. Registration fees get you entered, a tee-shirt, a meal after the race, and prizes donated from Twin Lakes, Leadville, and Buena Vista businesses.

Take in the beauty of Twin Lakes while also having a great time paddling across the water. I promise, after spending a weekend in this little town, you’ll go home telling your friends that you might have just discovered the most beautiful place in Colorado.

For more information visit:

Where to stay:
Twin Lakes Roadhouse Lodge and Cabins – (719) 486-9345
Experience the peaceful quiet of scenic Twin Lakes, Colorado. Decide between fishing, boating, hiking, or simply walking around the 130-year-old dirt streets of this historic mountain village.

Twin Lakes Inn – (719) 486-7965
Once a stage stop on the way to Aspen and then a brothel, Twin Lakes Inn asks that you leave your mundane, motel-chain notions behind and come experience true Western hospitality.

Mount Elbert Lodge – 719-486-0594
Offering Colorado vacation cabins and individual rooms for rent on Lake Creek, Mount Elbert Lodge is situated at the base of the Black Cloud Trail, the shortest route up Mount Elbert.

Where to camp:
There are many San Isabel Nation Forest Campgrounds in Twin Lakes. These include Dexter Point, Lakeview, Parry Peak, Twin Peaks, and White Star.

Where to eat:
The Twin Lakes Inn – (719) 486-7965
This restaurant inside The Twin Lakes Inn serves up tasty meal choices within an historic setting.

photo credit: Carol Milisen

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Lindsay Diamond is a novelist and freelance writer living in the mountains of central Colorado. Visit to learn more.