Eloping in Colorado
When you think of Colorado you see grand mountains, beautiful blue lakes, colorful wildflowers and cute skiing towns. Colorado boasts it all, plus so much more. In this blog I am going to mention my favorite elopement locations, but don't feel limited by that. Colorado offers so much more than the mountains. There are Great Sand Dunes, desert landscapes east of Denver or red rock formations that will remind you of Utah, or Garden of Gods just outside Colorado Spring. As someone who loves hiking and landscape photography, I was attracted to CO for its mountainous views, and one of my favorite spots, and also best elopement locations is Ouray and the wilderness around. Let's start from here...
Ouray is a small mountain town in San Juan Mountains (many don't know but these are not a part of Rocky Mountains) nestled perfectly between the rugged canyons, and unparalleled beauty of the San Juans, which earned it the titles the “Switzerland of America,” Located in Southwestern Colorado, Ouray is famous for its hot springs (make suer to visit Orvis before you go anywhere else), outdoor activities (hiking, jeep tours, mountain biking), and its historic charming downtown. Anyone looking for for a beautiful scenery and activities will enjoy this little town. You can also take a scenic drive south on the famous “Million Dollar Highway” to Silverton or Durango.
Obtaining a marriage license in Ouray County is pretty easy. All you have to do is go to the county clerk’s office and make sure both of you have your driver’s license or passport. The cost is $30 and you can get the license on the same day as your ceremony. What is great about Colorado, is that you can self-solemnize your vows, which means you aren’t required to have an officiant marry you or any witnesses, though your dog can “sign” their paw print as your witness!
The nearest major airport is Denver, about 5.5 h away. You can also fly to Grand Junction or Montrose. Ouray has a lot of lodging options, and I'd be happy in recommending some. A few hotels in Ouray even have their own private hot springs for their guests! If you are thinking of eloping in Ouray, I strongly recommend renting a Jeep for your trip, or hiring one (happy to recommend a company). Many of my most popular elopement locations in Ouray require a 4WD to get to them, plus it allows you for more intimate experience. In terms of permits there are some locations that require those, and some that don't. I would help you assist you in obtaining, any if needed, and the cost varies from 50$-300$ (depending on a group size, props, location). To learn more about Colorado elopement packages, click here.
Breckenridge in another beautiful location in CO. Many people want to elope in the Rocky Mountain Nation Park for the grand views, but they don't realize permits for RMNP must be reserve at least 6 months in advance, cost around 150$, and the locations for actual ceremony are very limited. Meantime a few hour drive east and you find yourself in equally beautiful location without the restrictions and hassle. Breckenridge in another cute mountain town, closer to Denver than Ouray. It's mainly known for its skiing slopes, but it offers so much as an elopement location.
Some of the most popular ceremony locations are Loveland Pass, Sapphire Point, Dillon lake (they require permits and reservation in advance), The Blue Lakes I personally like, St Mary's Glacier and more. As always you have the option to hike to you dream locations (I know many more epic location that require hikes for the adventures), or to drive to a location. I will be happy to help you decide and photograph that dream elopement.
Crested Butte Elopement
This mountain town is known for its laid-back atmosphere and world-class hiking and skiing. Crested Butte is the ideal elopement location for couples looking for more remote locations and celebrate with a quiet, nature-centric ceremony. Crested Butte is located 4.5 hours from Denver International Airport, which means couples eloping here should consider staying in this idyllic town for a few nights. You can read my other blog on how to elope in Crested Butte right here.
Beautiful alpine lakes, wildflower fields, mountain views and historic downtown. After your mountain adventure you can enjoy dinner in one of the local restaurant or go to any of the great breweries.
Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
To elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, you need to pay a $300 permit fee to reserve one of the designated wedding ceremony sites in the park. That usually requires booking that permit months in advance. You will also need to pay the $30/car entrance fee to the park or buy a National Park Pass. Many couples choose to elope in RMNP because of proximity to Denver or Estes Park where you’ll most likely base yourself in (it is a cute town tucked in a large valley, surrounded by mountains. )
Rocky Mountain National Park is an all-year destination for your elopement depending on how adventurous you are! The best time for hiking elopements is May through October when the trails are clear of snow. Most of the trails are available for snowshoeing during the winter get ready for winter storms.
There are thirteen designated wedding ceremony locations within Rocky Mountain National Park. There can be no more than two elopements/ceremonies per location- per day. There can be no more than six ceremonies within the park per day. You can find out more about these locations/max guest limit or if they're dog friendly sites here.
When to Elope in Colorado?
That really depends on what theme you're after. Winter wonderland or summer wildflowers? The weather can and most likely will be unpredictable most of the years. Spring and early summer guarantee after noon storms (that's why I'll help you pick Plan B location), mid summer offers the best wildflowers, late summer and fall beautiful colors and mostly blue skies. Worth keeping in mind it can start be snowing as late as late June, and as early as mid October. In winter access to most mountain passes are closed so options on where to elope are limited, but still plenty.