So, you want to know how to elope in Crested Butte? You’ve picked well! Crested Butte is perfect for couples who want to plan an intimate elopement in the heart of the Rockies away from the big crowds. Crested Butte is a small, secluded ski town near Gunnison National Forest in Western Colorado about a 4.5-hour drive from Denver.
Crested Butte ticks all the boxes off the eloping couples checklist. It’s a private and intimate setting, offers beautiful and affordable lodging options, and of course, stunning views everywhere you look. Seriously, everywhere!
However, because it is more remote, there is more homework and research to do when deciding to elope here. This guide was written to provide you with all the information and answers you need to know to plan your dream Crested Butte elopement. Ready to do this? Let’s get started! 🙂
There are many reasons why couples should elope in Crested Butte, but I did my best to highlight the top reasons.
This is perfect if you value privacy and desire an intimate setting for your wedding. Denver is about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from the town, which for most is very doable.
Battling crowds is one of the most difficult things to work around when you elope. The best solution is to avoid the hotspots where other tourists gather. Yes, there are many other incredible places to elope in Colorado that are a much shorter drive from Denver, but if you value privacy, the extra two-hour drive is worth it!
No matter where you look, you are always surrounded by breathtaking views. The town sits among the Elk Mountains Range in the Rocky Mountains and is home to the iconic namesake, “Crested Butte.” This mountain reaches up to 12,162 feet and watches over the town like its guardian angel.
In the summer months (June – August) Crested Butte is known for its mountainsides and fields being home to colorful wildflowers as far as the eye can see.
Colorado’s mountain and ski towns are known for their luxurious experiences and views. But, many people don’t find out how overpriced and overly crowded they are until it’s a little too late.
Crested Butte is the complete opposite! Don’t get me wrong, Vail and Aspen are beautiful and are worth the visit, but I don’t think they compare to the mountainsides and more comfortable, casual atmosphere Crested Butte offers. The town is also home to many beautiful lodging and restaurant options that still provide a luxurious feel, at a fairer price.
Unlike Rocky Mountain National Park (which is one of my favorite places to help couples elope), Crested Butte has few rules to abide by. Other than “Leave No Trace” and marriage licenses, there isn’t much holding you back from exploring CB! This will allow you to chart your own course, discover new trails, and make unforgettable memories along the way.
Though it’s a small town, Crested Butte has much to offer to the Colorado wedding community! You can easily find all the vendors you’ll need in town, making one of the most common stress points in planning very easy!
There are soooo many incredible hidden gems that provide you with jaw-dropping views for your elopement in Crested Butte. Below is a list of my favorites, and the best part is that you can access so many of them from the same road – it’s all connected!
Please Note: Many of the locations and trails I am about to list may or may not be open due to road conditions caused by winter weather. Consult with your photographer (that could be me!) when deciding on where to go for your portraits.
I wanted to start the list off with Gothic Road because this road connects it all! There are many roads and trails that split off from Gothic Road that take you to many of the other locations I am about to list.
Gothic Road is a scenic mountain road that has the most stunning views of the area wherever you look! You can get out of the car for photos anywhere along the road! From aspen tree groves to fields full of wildflowers and a rushing creek, Gothic Road has it all!
The majority of Gothic Road is unpaved but is still relatively traversable for most cars in ideal weather conditions.
Emerald Lake is my favorite place for a Crested Butte elopement! It’s an alpine lake secluded up in the mountains that are surrounded by lush trees and grassy areas that are sure to be full of wildflowers in the summer! The best part of Emerald Lake – the water is a rich emerald color (hence the name!)
You can get to this location by staying on Gothic Road for about 30 minutes. The lake is part of a short 1.5-mile loop trail (.8 miles one way) rated as easy and has a parking lot nearby. The road is narrow and can feel like off-roading, so plan accordingly with your vehicle! The lake is only accessible between late June and mid-September due to snowy conditions.
Paradise Basin is a high mountain pass located only about 15 minutes from Emerald Lake! Paradise Basin offers multiple pull-offs and trailheads with incredible views, but my favorite is a pull-off with a pretty alpine lake and a fuller view of the surrounding mountains.
Sunsets here are a thing to remember. When the sun begins to set and the light hits the peaks just right, the colors from the alpenglow will leave you speechless.
Woods Walk Trail Head is one of the ceremony sites owned by the Crested Butte Land Trust. It’s a perfect option for couples planning a ceremony with friends or family. The site is a short walk from the town, so orchestrating a dinner or reception after the ceremony is easy!
A short hike down a well-groomed trail is required to get to the ceremony site.
Peanut Lake is the second ceremony site that can be reserved from the Crested Butte Land Trust. Peanut Lake offers the same amenities and proximity to town as Woods Walk but features different scenery. If an alpine lake is more of your vibe, this location is perfect!
Peanut Lake is not available during the winter months.
If you’re like me, having a visual reference is huge in helping me process information! Feel free to view and use the map I created by click here.
Let’s keep this section short and sweet. Crested Butte is incredible year-round, but the best time of the year to elope in Crested Butte is anytime between July and October. The weather is more predictable, all of the trails and mountain passes are open, and the colors are vibrant.
The weather during the Springs months (May – June) is very unpredictable, and snow tends to linger in the alpines. However, it’s still an incredible time of the year to plan your elopement, just come prepared with lots of backup plans in case there are still some road and trail closures.
Eloping in Crested Butte in the winter is like getting married in a winter wonderland. It’s truly a unique and incredible experience! However, many higher roads and passes will be closed due to winter conditions, and you must be ok with being out in the cold. Winters in the Rockies are no joke, so be prepared!
Many national parks and forests sometimes require couples to apply for and obtain a wedding permit to elope. Every area is different, therefore, I don’t want to give legal advice online. I do advise every couple to do the homework and find out. No one wants a hefty fine on their wedding day!
Click here to read about Gunnison National Forest’s photography and film policy.
When couples work with me, I’ll do all of the permit research on their behalf! I have made it my mission to help my couples as much as I can to ensure that they are having a seamless experience.
The most important legal procedure to follow is making sure you file the legal paperwork required for your marriage! Here are a couple of things you must know about marriage licenses in Crested Butte:
Self-solemnizing means that you don’t have to have an officiant or witnesses present to sign your marriage license to make it legal! All that is required are your signatures. If you want – your pup can even sign your marriage license!
My name is Ethan Lewis and I am an elopement photographer who helps couples from all over the states seamlessly experience the Rockies on their wedding day. In 2023, my wife and I ditched a large wedding and decided to elope in Colorado. Now, I’m passionate about helping others achieve the same thing that we did – a wedding day full of adventure, intimacy, and love.
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’ve got you covered! Click here to find more guides and post I’ve created just for you!
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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