You made the epic choice to elope– right on! Maybe you’re researching locations, or maybe Colorado has always been at the top of your list. Either way, this guide will tell you everything you need to know for how to elope in Colorado. From location suggestions to activities or permits, all of the details are here to help you have an epic, memorable, stress free adventure elopement.
Let’s teleport for a second (if only). You’re standing on top of a rugged, rocky peak and you feel the hands of the love of your life intertwined with yours. Endless miles of towering mountains are all around you. The warm sun is casting the most stunning glow ever on the mountain tops. You take a breath in, and you feel the crisp, clean mountain air fill your lungs as a nice cool breeze (or sometimes, a wild wind), surrounds you. Or maybe you are peeking your head out of a tent on that same mountain and staring at an incredible sky-span of stars and the Milky Way. Maybe you took a ski lift to the top of a mountain, said your vows, and then raced your loved one down in fresh powder. Hot springs, jeeping, rock climbing, kayaking, snow shoeing, and magnificent views. Colorado really has it all.
So we get it, Colorado is awesome, but what else does it have to offer for adventure elopements? Self solemnizing!! What does that mean exactly? It means that you don’t have to have an officiant or a witness present during your ceremony. It also means that your pup can stamp your marriage license (like our dog did for us!). Colorado also offers easy to access beautiful locations, great food, and solitude during your elopement if you’re down for an adventure. Are you sold yet? Keep on reading to learn more about how to elope in Colorado.
Colorado offers elopement locations all over the entire state. You can reach epic beauty via a hiking or jeeping adventure, or you can access beautiful views from some parking lots. We have something to offer for all adventure levels. This list only scratches the surface, and you can find even more options in our 100+ page client guide! We can help you narrow down a location, lock in all of your permits, and add fun activites to your adventure elopement in any location.
Colorado is BIG. There are airports peppered throughout the entire state, but most people find it easy to just fly into Denver. You can find great locations within 2 hours of Denver, but some locations take extra work (like 6 hours worth of driving kind of work). The extra work is WORTH IT, and the drives are beautiful!
The San Juans are our bread and butter. This is one of our favorite pockets of Colorado, and is also where we got married. They offer solitude, sturdy adventures, and incredible views. The San Juans are great for a summer or fall elopement and showcase vast valleys of wildflowers and mountain peaks as far as the eye can see. Fall aspen are beautiful and abundant in this area, and the towns are easily “hallmark level” cute.
The San Juans are perfect for full day or multi-day adventures. There are a handful of locations here that can be accessed for a shorter elopement, but to really soak up the area for all it has to offer, we suggest committing to a big adventure. The area is full of hikes to glacial lakes or jeep routes to expansive mountain views (many of which last for a few hours). It’s all worth it and adds so much fun and adventure to your day! Based on your vision for your day, we can help you narrow down a hike or jeeping location that’s the perfect fit for you.
Technically, Telluride, Ouray, and Silverton are all nestled within the San Juans along with Lake City and a few other mountain towns. However, we think they deserve their own section because you can choose to elope in town if you aren’t down for a big adventure into the mountains! These towns offer epic mountain views right from the main streets. Ouray, labeled the “Switzerland of America”, and Telluride both have really cute main strips that give major “mountain town” vibes. There are also shorter hiking trails and lakes nearby that are easy to access and equally beautiful.
Another perk to eloping in town is the convenience of services. Food? Right there. Spa and lodging? See you in five. Ouray also offers hot springs and Telluride has a free gondola up to Mountain Village. Both areas have established ceremony sites if you are leaning more towards a microwedding. Of course, we are all for epic adventures, and it’s easy to add those onto your day from these locations! Many view packed trails are just right outside of town. This is a great option for couples thinking of eloping with family members and then going on an epic adventure right after.
Wandering Weddings lists Rocky Mountain National Park as one of the best places to elope in Colorado, and for good reason. This expansive park has something to offer for everyone, from gorgeous views straight out of the car to jaw dropping alpine lakes that can be reached after a day of hiking. RMNP is stunning, and as long as you are okay doing the tango with other crowds, it’s a great place to elope.
RMNP has a specific list of locations within the park that you can elope at. Apart from your actual ceremony, you can explore throughout the park to take more adventurous photos. You can check out their ceremony locations list here. Our personal favorites for ceremonies in the park are Bear Lake, 3M Curve, Sprague Lake, and Upper Beaver Meadows. After your ceremony, our favorite photo locations are Trail Ridge Road (incredible road that reaches elevations of over 12,000 ft!), Dream Lake, Sky Pond, and Chasm Lake. With all of these locations, there is something to offer for couples that aren’t down to hike or couples that want to hike all day.
Rocky Mountain National Park is sandwiched between Estes Park and Grand Lake. Both towns have great services to offer for lodging, food, and fun activities to add to your elopement. We have had couples elope in the national forest around Grand Lake to have a permit-free, secluded ceremony, and then adventure into the park for photos after. If you’re staying in Estes, our favorite restaurant is Bird & Jim, and the escape room in town was awesome enough to let me hide a pregnancy announcement in the room for Michael. Both towns have a great mountain feel, and they are perfect for getting on the water in the summer or walking down snowy roads in the winter.
If you’re still wondering how to elope in Colorado with the logistics of a national park, we are here to help! We can guide you with the permit process, connect you with vendors, and give you tips on how far out to plan to secure your permits. When you’re eloping in a popular destination like Rocky Mountain National Park, we suggest a weekday ceremony at sunrise. This will help with the crowds, and sunrise in the mountains is beautiful!
Indian Peaks Wilderness is located mostly within Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests. This is roughly near Boulder and south of Estes Park, so it is within the relative distance of DIA as your major airport. This little gem of wilderness in Colorado is full of beautiful lakes, towering pines, and massive, rocky, peaks. If you’re looking for “epic”, this is one place to find it.
The permit system in this area has been changing with Covid, but this ranger district is great to work with, and many times we have not needed a permit for this area. Brainard Lake Recreation Area does require a timed entry reservation, and they do have a reservable campground. This campground, Pawnee, books up 6 months in advanced so you need to be on it with reservations!
The lake you see here, Brainard Lake, is accessible from the parking lot. It is a great option for couples looking for something easy to get to. However, Indian Peaks has SO MUCH MORE to offer. We recommend lacing up your hiking boots and committing to a longer adventure.
Since this area is higher in elevation, it is graced with a longer winter. The area is typically accessible from mid-June to late-October. However, we had an elopement planned here in the middle of October one year and we had to move their luxury picnic because the blizzard was trying to blow it away. The couple braved the cold for their ceremony and it made for beautiful, wintery photos. Check out their cabin + lakeside elopement here!
If you want to learn more about the epic locations in Indian Peaks, give us a shout. Our client guide dives into the hiking options in the area as well as distance, rating, and tips for hiking in/with wedding gear. Indian Peaks offers super dramatic landscapes, so it should definitely be considered when you’re figuring out how to elope in Colorado. The adventure is so worth it!
Michael and I love this area so much that this is where we plan to settle down one day. Twin Lakes is a little pocket of Colorado that is nestled between a ton of 14ers (mountains that go above 14,000 ft. in elevation). The views are beautiful, and you can find a great ceremony site with or without hiking. We also love Twin Lakes because the location is often permit-free.
When you elope in Twin Lakes, you can easily add water activities to your day. Want to say your vows in a canoe? Go SUPing around the lake before an afternoon picnic? You can do it all here and you can rent boats right in town. Twin Lakes is surrounded by luxury home rentals to elevate your day. The town is very small and gives great mountain vibes, and you can find more services (like a spa or grocery store) in Leadville or Buena Vista – both 20 minutes away.
Twin Lakes is at the base of Independence Pass. You can add this pass as an adventure to your day to get some epic photos, and then go for a luxury lunch in Aspen in the afternoon!
Another aspect that we love about twin lakes is that you can create a fun Colorado road trip itinerary if you fly in and out of Denver. It is easy to add pit stops in Vail, Breckenridge, or other mountain towns to really soak up Colorado while you’re here! If you live here already, it is a great chance to sight see in our local towns.
This area is great for spring, summer, fall, or winter! If you are a snowboarder or a skiier and want to add winter sports to your day, this is a great place to do that. If you are looking for a summer hike with wildflowers, you can find it all here. Breckenridge is also a tourist town. That means you will find all sorts of accommodations, really yummy food, lots of adventure (like white water rafting or mountain biking), and ways to pamper yourself. You can hit all of your bases here.
Sapphire Point Overlook and Blue Lakes tend to be the most popular locations to elope in Breckenridge. Because of the accessibility of Sapphire Point, that means it will also draw a crowd soaking in the view. When you get a permit, it allows you to elope in a location but it does not grant you exclusivity to the location (this is true for anywhere). However, we have never had an issue with others not being respectful of what is happening.
This is another area that is great in spring, summer, fall, or winter. Crested Butte gives MAJOR mountain town/hallmark village vibes. The houses and businesses are painted really fun colors and create such an awesome environment to elope in. This area has lots of mountain biking, skiing/snowboarding, and some great summer bouldering (fun fact – Michael proposed to me in Crested Butte after a day of bouldering with my family).
Crested Butte holds a wildflower festival every summer, so that alone tells you that wildflowers are abundant in the area. The Aspen are also beautiful in the fall, and this is a great place to walk through FEET of snow right in town.
There are lots of locations that are accesible either from town or via a short hike, but Crested Butte also holds a “secret” trailhead to one of Colorado’s prettiest backpacking locations. You can also find mountain-lined alpine lakes outside of town, and jaw-dropping hike-in camping locations – especially when you consider 4×4 roads.
If you’re leaning towards a micro-wedding, Crested Butte offers wedding venues in the area with beautiful views. The sunsets in CB are stunning, and this is also a great area to catch the Milky Way!
Maroon Bells is a super iconic spot in Colorado. You have probably seen a picture of these mountains somewhere in your life, and that’s because the peaks are beautiful! Maroon Bells has a regulated ceremony site that must be reserved in advanced, as well as other locations that require a permit. When a place is this popular, having a reservation like this will give you peace of mind. You will also need to reserve a shuttle from Aspen to access the parking lot.
Maroon Bells offers shorter hikes, medium hikes, 14ers (we only recommend these specific 14ers to very advanced hikers. They are labeled “The Deadly Bells” for a reason), and multi-day backpacking trails. When you are in this area of Colorado, you can also easily add a visit to Aspen, Marble (best bbq around), or Glenwood Springs. You will find great hiking, hot springs, white water rafting, and lots of good food!
This area (like many others in Colorado) is very fragile. There are lots of regulations in place to protect the land, which is important to do! When making a list on how to elope in Colorado, be sure to put Leave No Trace at the top.
Loveland Pass is a mountain pass that is easily accessed from Denver. There are hiking trails and lakes along the pass, and mountains are everywhere you look. This is a gorgeous spot for a sunrise elopement, and it’s easy to create a unique elopement plan with this location. You can go deeper into the mountains after your ceremony, stay close by for a dip in some hot springs or a luxury picnic, or you can have a celebratory dinner in Silver Plume, Georgetown, or Idaho Springs.
While we are exploring passes, we also love Independence Pass, Red Mountain Pass, Monarch Pass, as well as various 4×4 passes throughout the state. These areas can give you dramatic backdrops, Colorado wilderness, and solitude. Definitely worth considering when you’re figuring out how to elope in Colorado!
If you’re after solitude, a big adventure, or a Colorado-heavy experience, you should consider a national forest elopement or backpacking to your ceremony site. This is a great way to soak in incredible views, get away from the crowd, and make your elopement last as long as possible. We got married in a national forest, and one of the biggest perks is how easy the permit process is (if you even need one). You can find national forest elopement sites with little or no hiking. If you are craving a longer adventure, Colorado offers incredible backpacking experiences.
There are national forest and backpacking locations all over the state that would be the perfect spot for an adventure elopement. When you start the process with us, we can help you narrow down these locations based off of where you are coming from and what kind of an adventure you are after.
One reason people choose to elope is because they want something simple. The chaos, stress, and amount of work a wedding takes just doesn’t appeal to them. We get it. Sometimes permits, licenses, and the legal side of eloping can start to feel a little complicated. Take a deep breath. We are here to help you make sure you have all of your ducks in a row!
Not only do you need one, you should want one. Permits were created to help control traffic and abuse against the wilderness around us. They exist to protect the land we are using. As an advocate for the environment and choosing to leave the spaces better than we find them, I fully understand that securing a permit is doing my part to help take care of the land. We expect our eloping couples to want to take care of the land too. You want the mountains and nature to stay beautiful and cared for so you can continue to visit your elopement location years and years later!
Permits do not give you exclusive use to a space. They exist to regulate the space, but typically not to reserve it for only you. However, we have never had other hikers or visitors show disrespect towards our couples when they are getting married. Typically, the cost of permits goes directly to the preservation, protection, and growth of public lands. It might be an extra step, but you can feel good about your purchase.
Not all locations require permits, but most national parks or public areas do. We can make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row with permits. Some are very easy to get, and some require you to plan ahead. The cost of most permits is dependent on location, typically $50-$300.
If you want to do your own research, some good words to google are “special use permit” “commercial use permit” “elopement permit” or “wedding permit” + the location that you want to elope in. You will find accurate information on national park, national forest, or ranger district websites.
Have more questions? Our client guide and planning process is structured to answer all of your questions when it come to how to elope in Colorado.
You can not legally get married without a marriage license, but you can still have a commitment ceremony or a symbolic ceremony. These ceremonies are very real and still unify you as a couple, even if you can’t file taxes together.
Depending on your travel plans and the court house you are picking up your marriage license from, you can either start the process online or stop by the courthouse to pick it up. You do not need to get your marriage license in the county you are eloping in. For some locations you will need to make an appointment. You will need a valid ID, and the fee is $30. Some locations take multiple forms of payment, and others do not. Be sure to research the location you are using to pick up your marriage license.
Colorado is self solemnizing! This means that you do not have to have an officiant or a witness. You can even have your dog stamp your marriage license if you want to (we did!).
Absolutely! In some cases, like international elopements, this is what we recommend!
You might even already be married by the time you decide to plan your elopement. Couples make this choice for a variety of reasons, like tax or health purposes, military reasons, immigration, you name it. Your day is still epically special even if you are already married.
Again, the day you get married is spiritual, emotional, mental, and heart guided. It is so much more than when you sign a piece of paper. If the legal aspect is getting in the way of having the elopement of your dreams, sign the documents at home. Your vows will still hold all of the weight.
If you’re not sure what is the best fit for you, we can help you walk through your options. Sometimes legally getting married during your elopement makes sense and adds to the fun. If you feel like it’s taking away from the fun, then don’t let that into your day. You can sign the papers anytime.
When we say, “expect the unexpected”, this is what we mean. Of course, no one can predict every lightning strike, flash flood, or moose charge. However, we do everything we can to take preventative safety measures. For example, we will check the weather far away from canyon locations because it does NOT need to be raining where you are (or currently raining) for a flash flood to happen. Watershed from 50 miles away can create flash flood conditions.
We also will do everything we can to stay below treeline during a storm, and we know the best measures to take if you are about to be struck by lightning. We are educated in wildlife safety to minimize the risk of being hurt by local wildlife.
This only scratches the surface of wilderness safety and first aid, and this isn’t meant to scare you. It’s to let you know that dangers of the wilderness are very real, and you might encounter these adventures during your day. It’s also to let you know that your safety is important to us, and we will stay educated to keep you in good hands. Some things are out of our control. This is a calculated and accepted risk. Don’t let it keep you from the beauty of the backcountry.
Yes, really! Altitude sickness is no joke, and I can tell you from first hand experience that it is miserable. Preventing altitude sickness is a “better safe than sorry” scenario. You would much rather do too much than not do enough and be sick your entire elopement day.
To prevent altitude sickness, we recommend:
Though unlikely, this is a very real possibility. While chances are low that you will actually get struck by lightning, there are inherent risks with outdoor adventures. It’s much more common to experience a sprained ankle, sunburn, or something that involves a quick and easy recovery. We will do everything we can to prepare for and mitigate any risks. Things still happen, and it’s all part of the accepted adventure.
For insurance purposes, we require that you follow all rules for any activities that we participate in. For example, if we rent a canoe, your lifejacket will be required.
If you do get injured, we are first aid certified and will take care of you to the best of our abilities, or call on experienced medical personnel to step in. We care about all of our clients and will keep you in good hands.
This is another opportunity for me to say that what happens and what’s included on your elopement day is up to you. If you want to do your own hair, skip the cake, and self-solemnize in the cabin back yard, cool. If you want all of the works to take your day up a notch, cool. Your day is immensely special no matter what you do, and we are here to help all of the moving parts come to life.
Your elopement is just as important and deserves just as much thought, care, attention, hype, and everything in between as a traditional wedding day. Instead of going all out on party favors and a venue, you are intentionally going all out on activities that are in line with you and your love story. So, yes, it’s totally okay to make your elopement big and full of fun. This is a chance for you to create a day full of things that you and your partner love.
We will help you coordinate activities, vendors, and anything else you need to have an epic day. We have great recommendations for our clients to keep their day sustainable, to support local, and we have options to accommodate disabilities. The outdoors are for everyone, and we are stoked to help make them accessible.
Want to kick your feet up and just show up to an awesome day? We’ve got you covered. We offer all-inclusive package that cover every vendor you might need, adventure activities like helicopter rides or a sailboat excursion, and even a massage in the morning. Our all-inclusive packages also take care of luxury accommodations the night before and after your elopement. We will have a few questionnaires for you to fill out so we can lock in your vibe, and then you really get to just show up and have an awesome day!
Colorado is ALWAYS beautiful. You can’t go wrong with the season you pick. To avoid crowds, we suggest eloping during the weekday no matter the season, and avoid major holidays if you can.
Honestly, spring can be a tricky time for Colorado. Many trails are still snowpacked (upper 4×4 roads have snow to the end of May), and the weather is unpredictable (who am I kidding, it’s always unpredictable in Colorado). However, spring in Colorado means you can play in the snow without having to be super bundled up. It’s a fun time to mesh the seasons!
Summer in Colorado is soooo sweet. The wildflowers are abundant, and the weather is perfect for so many outdoor adventures. The milky way peaks in the summer, so it’s a great time for stargazing too! The temp stays really comfortable in higher elevations, and you’re really likely to get a sunshine-filled day! Summer is a great time to elope in Colorado.
You can not go wrong with a fall elopement in Colorado. The golden aspen cover the mountainsides, and the weather is absolutely perfect! The last weekend of September is labeled “color weekend” in various parts of the state because that is typically when the aspen peak. However, there is ALWAYS a chance of snow (or a blizzard) in the fall – especially in October.
We love the snow, and winter is one of our favorite seasons. Winter elopements in Colorado are so dreamy. Fluffy pillows of snow pile on the towering trees, and if you’re lucky, you will get a gentle falling snow on your day. Winter does come with some risks – major roads are often closed down for storms, and there is a chance that it could blizzard on your elopement.
This is another area where you really get to pick your own adventure. Colorado has everything to offer when it comes to accomodations. Depending on what your dream elopement looks like, you could spend the surrounding days sleeping in:
That list only scratches the surface! Depending on where you decide to elope, we are happy to give you suggestions on great places to stay to really make your elopement memorable.
We all pack differently and need different items in our bag to feel comfortable on a trip. Maybe you are heading into the mountains from Denver, or maybe you are coming from the East Coast. Some of us are “carry on only” people, and some of us are “3 suitcases, a backpack, and a personal item” people. No matter what type of person you are, here are a few things we suggest keeping in every bag:
If you’re looking for a winter wonderland for your Colorado elopement, you’re going to want to stay warm and cozy. Here is where you can start with winter gear:
You made an epic choice deciding to elope in Colorado. When it comes to HOW to elope in Colorado, my biggest piece of advice is to BE FLEXIBLE. Colorado deals some wild cards when it comes to weather. It’s not uncommon to have a blizzard, mudslide, or a wildfire. This can (and has) impact your elopement plans and push you to swap to a “plan B” location or date. You are at the mercy of the mountains, so embrace it! Be flexible and have a back up plan.
Additionally, wear sunscreen, drink water. and cheers to you for deciding to elope in colorful colorado.
We would love to go on an adventure with you! Michael and I are a traveling adventure elopement photo, video, + planning team. We chase loving souls and deep emotion, and we go wherever the wind takes us. Check out our blogs below for recent work, or reach out to plan your epic day. We can’t wait to get you in front of our lens!
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