In a state that is full of beautiful places to elope there is one location I get asked about more than anything else: Rocky Mountain National Park. It makes sense, if you think about it. RMNP is one of the most well-known places in Colorado and the views are stunning. What most people DON’T know though is that eloping in the park is incredibly challenging – and that there are many choices that, in this elopement photographer’s opinion, are even better! If you’re wondering where to elope in Colorado … that isn’t in Rocky Mountain National Park … this post is for you!
Why RMNP isn’t the best place for a Colorado elopement
Several years ago RMNP decided to restrict elopements to *only* their designated wedding site. That meant no more backcountry elopements. No more spontaneously finding a beautiful spot to say your vows. No more getting married far from the crowds at RMNP. These days, if you want to get married in the park you have to reserve one of their actual wedding sites (even if it’s JUST the two of you!) for a specific time on a specific day.
Add to that the fact that they’re only allowing 250 weddings/elopements per year and that all 2021 spots were booked in JANUARY and eloping in the park becomes nearly impossible!
…. why that may be a good thing!
I’m going to let y’all in on a little secret – RMNP is beautiful and iconic but there are SO many places that are just as pretty that also lack the crowds, heavy restrictions, and difficulty in planning. You just have to know how to find them! The options are literally endless. Even after 13 years in this beautiful state I’m STILL finding new epic spots!
So with all that in mind, here is my list of …
The 5 of the Best Places to Elope in Colorado besides RMNP
A quick note about this list: I’m including general locations here. Each of these spots has endless options of more specific locations (trails, alpine lakes, etc.) but I save those super secret spots for my clients! 🙂
Eloping in Breckenridge, Colorado is perfect for couples who want BIG mountain scenery, tons of things to do, and to not be too terribly far from Denver (and its giant airport). Breck is an adorable, bustling mountain town with tons of restaurants, shops, hiking trails, and basically anything you want to do. Summer and winter are both very busy but in the fall things quiet down … just as the aspens are really starting to glow!
Oh, Crested Butte, you’re so lovely!! CB is one of my absolute favorite parts of Colorado and if I were going to pack up and move anywhere tomorrow it would be high on the list of choices. This town is STUNNING. It’s surrounded by mountains and trails and if you come at the right time of year the wildflowers can be as tall as, well, YOU! If you’re into mountain biking, this is your mecca! Rip the 401, scarf down some Secret Stash pizza, and marry your person in one of the most beautiful places around!
I love BV for elopements because it’s reasonably close to Denver (2.5 hour drive) and a little bit quieter than a lot of the ski towns. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some incredible things to do! BV is your quintessential river town – rafting, kayaking, and fishing are all huge here. Book a stay at the Surf Hotel, soak in Mt Princeton Hot Springs, and have the best damn day of your life!
Whenever someone asks me where to elope in Colorado for the BEST scenery I always, always recommend Telluride and the San Juan Mountains. Then I tell them that it’s a 6 hour drive from Denver and I lose some of them but for those who are willing to make the trip? MAGIC awaits. The San Juans are glorious. Jagged peaks, blue water, glorious aspens, a thriving mountain community, and gondolas that are not just free for you but also free for your dog make Telluride a once in a lifetime Colorado elopement spot.
Want to know more? Check out my guide to eloping in Telluride!
Aspen is glitzy and glamorous … and gorgeous. If you want to base your elopement out of a beautiful spot … and maybe rub elbows with some Hollywood A-listers while you’re at it … Aspen is for you. Aspen is SO much more than its fancy clientele though! The Roaring Fork Valley is absolutely beautiful and a perfect place to hike, mountain bike, and fly fish (the Frying Pan River is a personal favorite!) as part of your trip!
And if you REALLY want to stick with RMNP? You have options!
While eloping in RMNP is heavily restricted, you can still get married outside the park and head in for photos or an adventure! Wedding reservations are difficult to get but portrait photography permits are super easy – you just can’t say your vows while you’re there (by the way, if you think this rule is silly I am RIGHT THERE WITH YOU).
This is a PERFECT option for couples who wanted more of a venue for their ceremony (whether that’s an actual venue or something like an AirBnB!) but who want to sneak away for a solo elopement-style adventure!
Figuring out where to elope in Colorado when RMNP is not an option can be challenge, especially for folks coming in from out of state, but it’s totally doable! Need help? Get in touch! I’m happy to enable your wild wedding ideas! 🙂