So you’ve decided you want to elope in Colorado. First off, congratulations on your engagement and on deciding to celebrate your marriage your way in the Rockies! In 2023, my wife and I ditched a large, traditional southern wedding and eloped in Colorado. Best decision we ever made!
However, now that you’ve made the decision, you probably have no idea how to start planning or where you want to elope. But don’t stress, I’ve got you covered! I wrote this guide to teach you everything you need to know about how to elope in Colorado.
I’m going to tell you the best places to elope in Colorado, the top reasons why more couples every year are choosing to elope in Colorado and provide you with a roadmap to get you started with planning.
There are so many different places you can elope in Colorado. Large weddings are very complex and require a lot of moving parts, which can get old real quick. When planning your elopement, there is much less to coordinate, and so much more fun to be had while doing it.
Eloping can also be easier on your bank account, and the investments you do make into your elopement feel much more intentional.
This means that you don’t need an officiant for your wedding, or witnesses. Just the two of you are required to sign your Colorado marriage license to make it legal. Or, if you want to bring your dog along on your day, your dog can sign your license!
Of course, you can opt to have an officiant and witnesses, but they aren’t needed for legal purposes.
There is always a formula or rule sheet that couples feel like they have to follow when they plan a traditional wedding. It’s the only way they’ve seen it done before, so they feel like what they have to do.
When you elope, the world is your oyster and the possibilities are endless! There are so many incredible ways that you can infuse your histories and personalities into your big day. You could elope at a trail or area that has a special place in your heart. Maybe scratch a destination off of your bucket list. There is no rule book or formula, so you can make the day feel however you want it to.
Many wedding venues do offer beautiful areas like meadows or woods for photos. However, nothing will compare to the beautiful views that Colorado’s wilderness offers. Everyone’s jaws will drop when they see your wedding images after your Colorado elopement!
Elopement days are also much more relaxed and slow-paced than traditional weddings. This will put you more at ease on your day and will allow you to open more on your wedding day.
Not only do you have the power to plan your day how you want it, but you’ll explore an incredible new landscape and make incredible memories along the way.
I have had the opportunity to photograph countless traditional weddings that were very intentional. But, nothing can beat exchanging private vows at an alpine lake, taking a short trail up to a mountain peak for a couple’s portraits, and the rush of adventure down your spine as you explore the Rockies on your wedding day.
I say this from experience because my wife and I eloped in Colorado. What we “should have done” was plan a large wedding in Kentucky with 200+ guests. Instead, we eloped our way, and we couldn’t have been happier with our decision.
When deciding what location and scenery you want to pick for your elopement, Colorado offers so many options. Majestic fourteeners with incredible views and alpine lakes, rolling sand dunes, deep canyons, and towering red rocks, the options are endless.
Here are the best (and also, my favorite) places to help couples elope.
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite places for a Colorado elopement. I love it so much, that this is where my wife and I eloped! An RMNP elopement is very easy to plan. The park offers so many incredible views and the nearby towns offer lots of activities and amenities.
If you decide to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are a few more things to consider. The park does have a few more restrictions in place than other locations. To elope in the park, you have to apply to reserve one of their 12 designated ceremony sites (the application costs $300) and you aren’t able to bring decorations into the park. Despite these regulations, I think RMNP is still one of the best places for your elopement. The park is also only an hour and a half drive from Denver Airport and has the town of Estes Park sitting on its east border, and Grand Lake to the West.
My favorite ceremony site in the park is 3M Curve (see the photo below for reference) and my favorite locations for couples portraits are UTE Trail along Trail Ridge Road, Dream Lake, and West Alluvial (just to name a few!) If Rocky Mountain National Park piques your interest, click here to read my full RMNP elopement guide!
The best place to elope in Breckenridge (in my opinion) is at Loveland Pass and Loveland Pass Lakes. If you’re envisioning a private, intimate ceremony with your dogs surrounded by water and high peaks, this is the place for you! The trail is a short 1.5-mile loop high in the mountains that takes you to three beautiful alpine lakes. The trail is very easy to navigate, but the views are stunning!
There are no regulations to elope at Loveland Pass (outside of Leave no Trace and Marriage Licenses) making this a great place to elope in Colorado. Only an hour and a half drive from Denver makes this location incredibly easy to get to and find lodging at.
Crested Butte is probably the most secluded option for your elopement. Crested Butte is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver, and is in a more secluded part of the state. Crested Butte is one of the best places to elope in Colorado in the Summer. In June and July, the mountainsides are covered in colorful wildflowers, and couldn’t ask for better weather!
Crested Butte also offers many secluded Aspen tree groves, hidden waterfalls, alpine lakes, and even a nice ski lodge and resort! My two favorite places to elope in Crested Butte are Emerald Lake and Gunnison National Forest.
If you’re looking for a luxurious elopement experience in the mountains, Aspen has it. Aspen has many luxury resorts, lodges, and amenities it offers to visitors.
Aspen is also only an hour’s drive from two beautiful locations, the Maroon Bells and Independence Pass! The Maroon Bells have been said to be the most iconic view in Colorado. Home to Maroon Peak, one of just a handful of the fourteeners in Colorado, the Maroon Bells is perfect for your elopement.
The Maroon Bells are very popular and have a lot of foot traffic, so this is one thing to consider when picking where you want to plan your elopement. There is also only one way to host your ceremony here – you must reserve the Maroon Bells Amphitheater, and this is not very easy to do. The actual process of reserving it is very easy, but it books up very, very quickly. However, you can easily have your ceremony on a beautiful trail nearby, and acquire a photography permit for $50 that allows you to take portraits in the park.
Independence Pass is a more secluded, lower foot traffic location in Aspen. The drive up to Independence Pass Overlook is full of incredible views, and many places you can pull off for photos. Independence Pass’s terrain gives off major Scottish Highland vibes, and offers many alpine lakes, rushing rivers, and of course, great views.
If privacy/intimacy is the most important aspect to you, Telluride is the most remote place to elope in Colorado on this list. Even more remote than Crested Butte. Telluride is about a 6.5-hour drive from Denver International Airport, which is a good size drive.
Telluride does have a regional airport nearby (Montrose Regional Airport) which is only an hour and a half drive from Telluride. However, flights to the airport are very limited and oftentimes very pricey.
If you’re ready to lace up your hiking boots, adventure is rushing through your veins, and you’re ready to hit a trail, Telluride has so much to offer eloping couples. The best places to elope in Telluride are Bridal Veil Falls, Hope Lake, Handies Peak, American Basin, and anywhere your 4×4 can get you!
One important thing to know about Colorado – the weather is very unpredictable. Many of the mountain passes are closed from November to Mid May due to winter conditions, so I recommend eloping between late May and mid-October.
If you want dryer conditions and lots of lush green, July and August are your best bet! Want to add pristine fields of wildflowers or roaring waterfalls into the mix? June or July is best! Around early September, the aspens begin to turn yellow, and fall is in full swing.
The pros to eloping in the Summer months are that almost all of the best places are open, but the con is that that is when you can expect the most people to be hiking on the trails. The pro of winter is that most people tend to stay inside or stick to ski resorts. The con to the Winter is that many roads and mountaintops won’t be accessible due to the icy conditions.
Some areas in Colorado have more rules to follow than others (for example Rocky Mountain National Park has more rules than Crested Butte.) However, there are some rules to universal rules to follow, no matter where you decide to elope.
Always make sure that you are following Leave No Trace guidelines when you are eloping and out in the wilderness. Here are the seven basic principles to follow:
Click here to read and learn more about each principle of Leave No Trace!
Hey! My name is Ethan Lewis and I’m a Colorado elopement photographer who helps adventurous couples from all over the States seamlessly plan the elopement of their dreams in the Rockies. My wife and I ditched a traditional, southern wedding and eloped in Colorado.
Now, I’m passionate about helping others achieve the same thing we did – a wedding day full of fulfillment, love, and an unforgettable adventure. As your elopement photographer in Colorado, I’ll help you plan an elopement that is a pure reflection of your story from start to finish. I’ll be with you every step of the way – guiding, cheering, and adventuring. The storyteller who is fully invested in your tale and how to best tell it!
I capture the memories and dreams of adventurous couples across the US and beyond. Adventure elopements, destination weddings, micro-soirees - if you have a story you want to share with the world, I’d be honored to tell it.
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