Are you ready to elope in Colorado? If you’re looking for THE Colorado elopement guide with the best locations to elope and the best planning tips for the big day, then you have found the right place!
I am based out of Northern Colorado and have traveled all over this beautiful state. I have planned many, many elopements including my own and know all of the top spots for every type of day. In this guide I will outline some of the most popular locations and some more secretive stunning spots! There's so many amazing reasons why eloping in colorado is the best!
Why choose Colorado?
Colorado has so many unique things that make eloping so much easier! Did you know in Colorado you don't need an officiant or witness? And you can even have your dog or cat sign your marriage license! All of these unique things make Colorado the perfect place for an elopement whether your a local or looking for a destination. To make the process even easier, you can get married the same day you get the marriage license, with no waiting period. Licenses can be obtained in person or through virtual appointments for those from out of state! Since Colorado allows self-solemnization, the simple marriage license process is made even easier. Fun-fact I have even gotten to sign as the witness for multiple of my couples after they elope!
One of the first and most important steps in planning an elopement is selecting a location. Making this choice is so vital because once a spot is chosen, all of the other decisions can be made. such as finding a place to stay, a ceremony site and all of the perfect vendors! Colorado is HUGE and has many varieties of locations. From mountain ranges, to sand dunes, to gorgeous lakes, giant canyons and even the wide open front range.
If you need help deciding what location is perfect for you, reaching out to your photographer can be a great first step. Once you have a photographer (I'd love for it to be me) then you have their expertise to find a spot catered to you. When my clients book we discuss the optimal look that they are trying to achieve, after that I'll send a location list with images and details (distance, accessibility, time of year) so they can lay out all of the options to find the best one!
What time of year?
Colorado is perfect for this question, the reason why? Because all seasons in Colorado are stunning in there own way. Winter brings tons of visitors to Colorado for skiing, snowboarding and other snow activities. If you can bare the cold then the snow season may be perfect for you. Spring can be tricky, but if done well you can see some gorgeous greenery and stunning lakes! Summer is the start of what I call "busy season" or you may know as "wedding season". There's a big reason why and that's because in the summer months Colorado comes to life. The peaks of mountains open due to snow melt, flowers bloom and temperatures rise. This season is the go-to for most couples. On the other hand fall in Colorado is unbeatable. The iconic aspen trees change colors and many mountain and front range locations cool down. While western Colorado and the higher elevations can get a bit chilly in late fall, if you can deal with the cold it's worth it for the views and photos. No matter that season you choose you'll get to experience true Colorado weather. That may be one of the 300 days of sunshine per year, a snowstorm or the iconic thunderstorms with stunning rainbows after. If you're lucky you'll even get to be here for a multi-season day and get to experience many of seasons we have to offer.
My favorite locations in Colorado
Below I will highlight some of my favorite spots, the price point for the area, the best season for the location, and how far it is from DIA and alternative ways to get there!
Telluride is unique compared to many mountain towns. It is pretty far away from most cities and is a 7 hour drive from DIA. But you can always fly into Grand Junction for a shorter trip. Many mountain areas have little to no permitting process, and it's close to quite a few smaller towns that have gorgeous views such as Durango, Ouray and Pagosa Springs. I personally think this area is prettiest in fall and summer, but if you can make it up there in possible snow, winter and spring can be beautiful. I would say this are is around a $$ price point. Some popular locations close to town are Trout Lake, Bridal Veil Falls and Telluride mountain village.
Boulder is located less than an hour from DIA and is an amazing town. With daily access to some of the most gorgeous views of the flatirons and rocky mountains there's endless options to choose from. Boulder is accessible during all seasons and has special charm to each. Some of the favorite spots in the area are Lake Isabelle, Sunrise amphitheater (can hold up to 50 guests), Lost Gulch and Boulder reservoir. Boulder would be around a $$ price point since its so easily accessible from a wide range of area. As a bonus the mountains are so close to town that you can always pop in for some amazing food before or after!
Breckenridge is only 2 hours from DIA and by far my favorite mountain town. With may accessible locations and a few secretive ones it is perfect for everyone! Breckenridge is easily accessible in the summer and fall months, but can be gorgeous in winter and spring. Breckenridge has an amazing downtown, many hiking trails and lots of spots to sightsee and watch wildlife. Some of my favorite spots in Breckenridge are Sapphire point, Blue lakes and Boreas pass. Breckenridge is affordable at the $$ price range.
Colorado Springs is a very popular area that is growing quickly. Around 90 minutes from DIA, it's an easy trip. Most locations in Colorado Springs are accessible year around. Garden of the Gods is for sure the most popular location within this area, but some other great ones are Manitou springs, Palmer lake and the Paint Mines. Colorado springs would be in the $ price range, especially since Garden of the Gods is actually free to elope in!
Rocky Mountain National Park
One of the most iconic national parks in the states is conventialy located around 90 minutes from DIA. RMNP does have limited elopement permits per year, but for $300 if you can get your hands on one it will be stunning! Usually the best season to elope here is June-October, but others can work. Theres 12 locations in the park to choose from for a ceremony site, but photos can be done anywhere!
Located only 15 minutes outside of the town of Estes it makes for an amazing weekend getaway. I would put RMNP in the $-$$ price point.
Buena Vista is a small town about 3 hours from DIA. This small town is perfect for those looking for an outdoor space that is less busy than many mountain towns in Colorado. The weather here makes it perfect for late spring and early summer weddings as it is often sunny and warmer than the front range! Buena Vista can be a bit more expensive since it's such a tiny area so I would put it in the $$-$$$ price range.
While Fort Collins is known as a growing college town, some of the sights are phenomenal. Fort Collins and the Northern Colorado area is around an hour from Denver. This area is accessible year around and can be perfect for any season elopement. Horsetooth is the most popular elopement locations in the area, with a stunning reservoir, cliffsides, climbing rocks and water sports. This is the perfect location for a couple that wants either to mix the old town vibe and outdoors into one or for a rock climbing adventure couple!
Locations that I have not photographed at that I LOVE!!
As an elopement and wedding photographer I will always have my bucket list of locations in my home state that I really want to shoot at. I may not get the opportunity due to where my clients choose! These locations listed below are my "Bucket List" and if you are eloping at one of them I will give you half off any of my elopement packages!
Crested Butte is magical, I have wanted to shoot an elopement here since day 1! So much event that I am actually planning my elopement here in 2024. Tucked in the San Juan mountains about a 4 hour drive from DIA, is the gorgeous scenery and small town vibe. With many, many locations to choose from it's the perfect location.
Great Sand Dunes
This location is exactly as it sounds, a National Park that is quite literally dunes...of sand! It is even better than you could imagine. The dessert look but without the heat. Just like any other national park there is permitting and small fees but it's worth every piece! It's around 4 hours from DIA.
Aspen is luxurious and perfect for any couple, even if you aren't into the luxury of the town there is more nature than you expect. Aspen is about a 4 hour drive from DIA. I have shot in Aspen but never an elopement, and my goal would be to shoot at Maroon Bells. Maroon bells is a famous elopement or micro wedding location right outside of the town of Aspen.
Guanella Pass / 14ers & 13ers
Guanella pass is right at the base of one of Colorado's most famous 14ers, Mt. Bierstadt. As well as this stunning location it is my hope to shoot a sunrise elopement on top of one of colorado's many 13ers or 14ers. Don't worry though, I have done one before and can make it up. So if your up for the challenge for some epic pictures, so am I.
Add a personal touch into your elopement
Now that you have found some location inspiration, let's make the day more about you two as a couple! Many couples will add in personal activities or details to make the day even more special to them. Checkout below for some extra addition inspo!
Climbing & Bouldering
Many Colorado locations allow climbing and even have clips made into the rocks for ease! Add some flare to your day by climbing with your partner.
Off-roading can be done in so many places in Colorado. If you are looking to add some thrill to your elopement it's the perfect addition!
Hiking & Backpacking
Lots of Colorado's hidden gems and secret locations require hiking. If you are up for a hike you can escape crowds and have an even more private day.
Like we had talked about earlier, dogs & cats make the perfect addition to any elopement. Since they can legally be your witness why not bring along your furry family members.
Are you ready?
Now that you know the ins and the outs to eloping in the beautiful state of Colorado you can start planning your special day. Feel free to reach out to me through my website or social medias with any questions or to inquire about your elopement or wedding! I look forward to hopefully working with you and hope you have the most perfect elopement for you.