Rocky Mountain National Park is popular for hiking, sightseeing, and in the last couple years has gained tons of notoriety as a top elopement destination. But with the increase in outdoor tourism (crowds), timed entry reservations, and new permit regulations, it might not give you the secluded, private elopement experience you’re hoping for.
This may be the first spot that comes to mind for many reasons- after all, people come from all over to visit Rocky Mountain National Park. It has beautiful views and easily accessible locations, but there are so many spots in Colorado that offer the same things, without the crowds (or timed entry). And don’t worry- all of these places also have cute mountain towns similar to Estes Park nearby!
The pros and cons of Rocky Mountain National Park
Not hating on this incredible national park! People love it for a reason! When considering it for an elopement location here are a few things to think about. You have to have your ceremony in a designated ceremony site and get an elopement permit, which is $300. All of the ceremony sites are beautiful and easily accessible so its super easy to include guests! However, your permit does not do anything more that allow you to get married at the site. Its still public and not reserved, which means people will walk by and still have access to the area. Parking is also not guaranteed. If privacy or a remote feeling location is really important, make sure to factor that in.
Another thing to consider, if you’re having your ceremony outside of the park, is the required timed entry reservations that are active May-October. Each car must have their own reservation and it can be competitive to get one depending on the day and time of year.
Things like permits and timed entry can take away a bit of the flexibility that elopements allow, especially if there’s bad weather or certain aspects of the day are taking longer.
Elope in Summit County
Summit County has no shortage of options for elopement locations. From lakes to mountain passes, wildflowers, insane fall colors, hiking and non hiking options, it really has it all! Especially during the week, its easy to find locations that are way more private for an intimate, middle of the mountains feel. There’s also lots of locations that are fairly close together if you want to adventure to multiple spots. The nearby towns of Dillon, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Silverthorne offer no shortage of places to stay, eat, and shop too.
Elope in the Collegiate Peaks Area
Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, and Leadville are three mountain towns that are pretty much in a straight line going up highway 24. Buena Vista is about 40 minutes south of Leadville with Twin Lakes sandwiched in between. This area is also home to the two biggest mountains in Colorado- Mount Elbert and Mount Massive. Its also famous for a collection of 14ers known as the Collegiate Peaks- Mounts Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia. Boasting two incredible mountain passes, multiple hot springs, hiking and non hiking locations, sweeping views, huge mountains, great off roading/four wheeling, and picturesque mountain towns, this area is a phenomenal elopement destination. Its a bit further from Denver (between 2-2.5 hours) and not along the I70 corridor, so it tends to be a little less crowded than other mountain towns!
Elope on the Western Slope
If you’ve ruled out Telluride, Silverton, or Ouray as an elopement destination because they’re so far from Denver- here’s your sign to reconsider! This area has some of the most incredible views in the state, the mountains are super steep out there so it makes them seem HUGE. With amazing colors in the fall, endless wildflowers in the summer, waterfalls, the bluest lakes, incredible off roading, and the iconic Million Dollar Highway, Colorado’s western mountains are an amazing option for an elopement. Bonus, there’s far fewer people because its so far from Denver. This is an especially great area if you’re okay with hiking, but amazing views free of people can be reached by off roading as well. Not super comfortable with driving four wheeling roads on your own? This whole area has tons of incredible guided options! There’s also no shortage of places you can get to via normal SUV. There really is something for everyone!
Elope in Crested Butte
Crested Butte is a small mountain town just on the other side of the mountains from Buena Vista, about 4 hours from Denver. This little town is famous for its wildflowers in the summer (seriously- there’s a whole festival) and its amazing colors in the fall. While there are fewer non hiking lake options here, there are no lack of views. The entirety of Kebler Pass and Gothic road will have you saying “wow” over and over again.
Elope in Idaho Springs
Idaho Springs is an amazing location for really small elopements (just the two of you or maybe up to 5 guests). It has lakes, mountain passes, aspen trees, sweeping views, and the town is super cute! Bonus- its only about an hour from Denver. There are some amazing hiking options, but if hiking isn’t your idea of an incredible elopement day, don’t worry! There are plenty of spots you can drive to that will make it look like you went on an entire adventure to get there. If you want to include more guests, check out Juniper Mountain House for your ceremony!
Colorado is amazing and has so many amazing locations to explore! Rocky Mountain National Park is a great starting point for elopement locations, but its totally worth looking around a bit and seeing if there’s something even better out there. And if trying to find an epic location is super overwhelming, well, that’s what a Colorado elopement photographer is for!