Late 1800s Resort at Twin Lakes, CO - Interlaken Hotel

Clapboard front of restored Interlaken Hotel without porch. Windows and doorways are boarded up to discourage vandalism and help preserve structure from weather.
View the full size image of the Clapboard front of restored Interlaken Hotel without porch

Interlaken was once one of the most attractive tourist resorts in Colorado. The hotel complex was started in 1879 and enlarged after James V. Dexter bought the lakeside resort and grounds in 1883. The resort became a popular summer retreat for those that rode the train to a stop nearby and then took a short ride by stage or carriage to the south side of Twin Lakes. The resort was a popular stop for those on the way over Independence pass or nearby mining communities.

The Interlaken Hotel and resort boasted some of the best facilities for the time. The hotel and hotel annex provided comfortable rooms with a view of the forest and lakes. The resort boasted a log tavern, pool hall, and sheds to accommodate guests and their horses.One notable building was a unique six-sided privy with a separate room and door for each side reserved for rooms in the hotel. Additional structures included a 16 stall horse barn with tack room, storage, and hay loft; another barn for milk cows, chickens, and additional storage; ice house, granaries, and laundry.

Detail of a portion of the back of the log hotel showing replaced logs.           Granaries.
View the full size images (Back of cabin, Granaries)

Stables (horse barn)           Six sided privy
View the full size images (Stables, Six Sided Privy)

Guests came to Interlaken to relax. Pastimes included horseback rides, fishing, hunting, and powerboat (steam) rides. Gourmet dining and the scenic surroundings added to the western flavor of the resort.

Dexter's house after relocation and restoration. The Mount Elbert Powerplant whose construction precipitated the relocation is seen across the lake at the right of the porch roof.
View the full size image of Dexter's house after relocation and restoration

The most notable structure remaining at the Interlaken complex is Dexter's private cabin which was constructed in the mid-1890's to reflect his nautical background. A glass enclosed cupola sits atop the second story to provide Dexter with views in every direction. The house interior was trimmed with imported wood and sported lavish rugs and decorations. As with his hotel, Dexter spared no expense to afford comfort. Sadly, the resort fell out of favor shortly after the turn of the century when private irrigation interests constructed the original Twin Lakes Dam. While not affected directly by the larger lakes, people associated stagnant shallow water with malaria and other diseases and the resort gradually became less popular. Eventually nearly all the buildings were abandoned and began to deteriorate.

Drawing of hotel showing detail of some of the restoration work done by Reclamation
View the full size drawing of hotel showing detail of some of the restoration work done by Reclamation

In 1979, the Bureau Of Reclamation agreed to record and stabilize the historic district that includes the Interlaken Hotel. Some of the buildings were beyond repair but others were stabilized or repaired. The hotel, hotel annex, two granaries, stable, laundry, privy and cow barn were preserved. The hotel, Dexter's cabin, and two granaries were relocated so they could not be inundated by the Bureau's new Twin Lakes Dam and Mount Elbert Power Plant. About $425,000 was spent in the project that preserved a glimpse of the past that can be seen at Twin Lakes, Colorado. Access to the site managed by the U.S. Forest Service is by trail or boat across the lake.

Last Updated: 7/2/15