Eloping in Buena Vista and Leadville: The Ultimate Guide

March 1, 2024

Nestled in the heart of Colorado, Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, and Leadville offer a picturesque and enchanting backdrop for couples seeking a unique and intimate elopement experience. These three mountain towns sit in a line along highway 24, Buena Vista is the furthest south and Twin Lakes sits in the middle, making it easy to include multiple locations and backgrounds during an elopement day. Buena Vista, with its stunning views of the Collegiate Peaks and the Arkansas River, offers a perfect blend of outdoor adventure and small-town charm. Twin Lakes, surrounded by towering peaks, boasts the state’s largest glacial lakes and provides a tranquil escape into nature. Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States, is steeped in mining history and showcases Victorian architecture against a backdrop of the Sawatch Range. Together, these towns offer a unique blend of outdoor recreation, historical charm, and scenic landscapes, making them an ideal destination for those seeking an intimate and memorable elopement experience.

Why choose the Buena Vista/Twin Lakes/Leadville area?

These destinations are celebrated for their breathtaking natural beauty, featuring scenic landscapes, majestic mountains, and charming settings that provide the perfect canvas for a romantic celebration. Beyond the stunning aesthetics, these towns offer a sense of tranquility and seclusion, allowing couples to exchange vows in a serene environment away from the hustle and bustle of larger cities. With a variety of outdoor venues, historical sites, and a welcoming atmosphere, Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, and Leadville create an ideal environment for couples looking to embark on a memorable and romantic elopement journey.

In addition to incredible views this area is home two fully paved mountain passes (amazing views with very little work), lakes, wildflowers, and the two biggest mountains in the state (along with several other 14,000ft peaks). One of the best things about the area? Its pretty much 2.5 hours from any major city, like Denver or Colorado Springs, so it doesn’t see near the same amount of traffic as closer mountain towns like Breckenridge.

The best time of year to elope in Buena Vista/Twin Lakes/Leadville

There are lots of versions of this answer all over the internet that will say something along the lines of “any time of year!”, and honestly- that’s just not true. If you’re looking to enjoy summer weather, wildflowers, and lots of green , then late June-August is the perfect time. It takes a while for snow to melt at higher elevations which means months like April- early June can have a lot of mud and leftover snow. This area has incredible fall colors which tend to show up late September- early October. If you’re a winter person, there are still some great location options! Locations are a little more limited in winter months, both mountain passes close and many roads aren’t plowed, but there are still some great options! The best winter elopement months are going to be December-March.

Don’t forget that the weather in town can be totally different than at 12,000ft on top of a mountain pass!

Elopement locations in Buena Vista/Twin Lakes/Leadville

There are no shortage of amazing location options in this area! If you like to hike, there are plenty of amazing alpine lakes and trails with mountain views. If hiking isn’t your thing, or just not your idea of a perfect wedding day, say your vows among aspen trees or at one of the two lakes that don’t involve hiking before driving up a mountain pass for those expansive, top of the world views! One of the coolest things about this whole area are the number of very different locations near each other, which means you can have a lake, forest, and mountain views all in one day!

While Buena Vista and Leadville are great for small elopements or hiking elopements, if you’re thinking of having guests (less than 20), Twin Lakes is going to be the most accessible with the best views.

Do you need a permit to elope in Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, or Leadville?

Unfortunately, there’s no one answer to this question. It varies based on the number of people and things like setting up chairs/arch. After much contact with the rangers, however, it is generally safe to assume there is not a permit needed for a two person elopement (as of 2024).

What activities are in Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, or Leadville?

For mountain towns, there are tons of activities to in this area! All of them have great off-roading (jeep trails and rentals), hiking, and views. Leadville and Buena Vista are much larger than Twin Lakes and have great restaurants and breweries! Whether you’re looking to add activities during your elopement day, or just to do while visiting, there is no shortage of options!

Buena Vista:

  1. Whitewater Rafting: Navigate the Arkansas River’s rapids for an exhilarating adventure.
  2. Hiking Trails: Explore the numerous trails, including those around the Collegiate Peaks, offering stunning views.
  3. Hot Springs Soaking: Relax in one of the local hot springs, such as the Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort or Cottonwood Hot Springs.
  4. Rock Climbing: Buena Vista is a rock climbing paradise, with options for various skill levels.
  5. Ghost Towns Exploration: Discover the nearby ghost towns like St. Elmo and Vicksburg for a glimpse into the area’s history.
  6. Fishing: Cast a line in the Arkansas River or nearby lakes for excellent fishing opportunities.

Twin Lakes:

  1. Boating: Enjoy a peaceful day on the water at Twin Lakes, Colorado’s largest glacial lakes.
  2. Scenic Drives: Take a scenic drive along a mountain pass or around the Turquoise Lake for breathtaking views.
  3. Hiking and Backpacking: Explore the trails surrounding Twin Lakes, offering a mix of easy strolls and challenging hikes.
  4. Bird Watching: The area is rich in birdlife, providing opportunities for birdwatching enthusiasts.
  5. Historic Interlaken Resort: Visit the site of the historic Interlaken Resort, offering a glimpse into the past.

Leadville:

  1. Leadville Historic District: Stroll through the downtown area, filled with Victorian architecture and historical sites.
  2. Mining Heritage Tours: Learn about Leadville’s rich mining history through guided tours like the Matchless Mine Tour.
  3. Tabor Opera House: Experience a show or take a tour of this iconic opera house dating back to the 1870s.
  4. Mineral Belt Trail: Enjoy a bike ride or walk on this 11.6-mile trail that encircles Leadville, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
  5. Leadville Railroad: take a scenic ride through the Rockies.
  6. High Mountain Pie: entirely an opinion, but it has the best pizza in the state

Places to stay in Buena Vista, Twin Lakes, or Leadville

There are not shortage of great Airbnbs, hotels, and VRBOs in any of the mountain towns, however, most eloping couples prefer staying in Buena Vista or Leadville (even if their elopement is in Twin Lakes) because there are restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops. Remember to check reviews and amenities to find the accommodation that best suits your preferences and needs during your stay!

Buena Vista:

  1. Surf Hotel & Chateau: A stylish and modern hotel located along the Arkansas River, offering comfortable rooms and stunning views.
  2. Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort: A resort with a range of accommodations, including lodge rooms and cabins, nestled in a picturesque mountain setting with access to hot springs.
  3. Cottonwood Hot Springs Inn & Spa: A relaxing retreat with lodging options and natural hot springs pools for a rejuvenating experience.
  4. Buffalo Peaks Bed and Breakfast: A cozy B&B with comfortable rooms and a welcoming atmosphere, situated close to downtown Buena Vista.
  5. Creekside Chalets & Cabins: Quaint cabins surrounded by nature, offering a peaceful and secluded lodging experience.
  6. Three Elk Retreat: a cabin is nestled on six treed acres backed by Three Elk Creek. Amenities include: pool table, indoor hot tub, sundry games for young and old, a jetted bath tub, and two decks with serene outdoor seating.

Twin Lakes

  1. Twin Lakes Inn: A historic inn offering comfortable rooms with scenic views, located near Twin Lakes.
  2. Mount Elbert Lodge: Rustic cabins and lodge rooms nestled in a mountain setting, providing a peaceful retreat.
  3. Creekside Cabin: Creekside Cabin offers a truly unique escape in Twin Lakes, nestled along a clear mountain stream on an acre of land that backs to the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness.
  4. Cozy Mountain Home: spacious home with porch and mountain views
  5. This area is smaller than Buena Vista and Leadville, and is much better suited to Airbnbs or VRBOS

Leadville

  1. Delaware Hotel: A historic hotel in downtown Leadville with Victorian charm and comfortable accommodations.
  2. The Columbine Inn: A family-friendly inn with comfortable rooms an a convenient location near downtown.

How to have a stress free adventure elopement experience

Choosing to have an adventure elopement or small adventure wedding means you get to focus on what you want out of your day and not stress about catering to tons of other people. Embrace the quality over quantity- have a timeline that allows you to savor moments instead of bouncing from thing to thing, if you’re having guests take the time for real interactions. This day gets to be about what the two of you want! For more detailed tips on how to plan an amazing, stress free elopement click here!

Sample timelines for your Buena Vista Elopement

Your timeline should be totally custom to your day and what you’re envisioning, but here are a couple ideas of ways to lay your day out or fun activities to include!

Elopement with hiking

  • 6:30 AM: Begin hike at trailhead
  • 6:30 AM – 9:30 AM: Hike
  • 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM: Change into wedding attire
  • 10:20 AM – 10:30 AM: First Look
  • 10:45 AM – 11:00 AM: Ceremony¬†
  • 11:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Couples Portraits
  • 11:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Pop champagne and first dance
  • 12:15 PM- 12:45 PM: Picnic
  • 1:00 PM- 1:45 PM: Hike over to 2nd location
  • 1:45 PM – 2:00 PM: Couples Portraits
  • 2:00 PM- 2:30 PM: Hammock/hang out time
  • 2:30 PM: Photographer Departure Time

Elopement with no hiking

  • 1:30 PM: Photographer Arrival Time at location
  • 1:30 PM – 1:45 PM: First Look
  • 1:50 PM – 2:30 PM: Travel from first look to Jeep Guides
  • 2:45 PM – 5:45 PM: Jeep tour- couple’s photos while on tour
  • 6:00 PM – 6:40 PM: Travel from Jeep tour to ceremony location
  • 6:50 PM – 7:05 PM: Ceremony 
  • 7:10 PM – 7:20 PM: Group Portraits 
  • 7:25 PM- 7:35 PM: Quick golden hour couple photos
  • 7:35 PM- 8:00 PM: Picnic by the lake
  • 8:00 PM: Photographer departs

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