How to get married in Rocky mountain national park

Your RMNP Elopement + Wedding Guide

A Local’s Guide to eloping in RMNP

If you’re thinking about eloping in Colorado chances are that Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) has been on your radar. RMNP can be a perfect place for your Colorado elopement for some couples (and not a great match for others). In this guide we’ll talk about who should elope in RMNP and how to make it happen!

What is an RMNP elopement?

In this guide, for simplicity’s sake, I’ll be using the term “elopement” but everything in this guide applies to weddings of all sizes in RMNP. The largest of the RMNP wedding sites hold 30 people (and in fact many couples go much, MUCH smaller at these sites) so noone getting married in the park is having a massive wedding.

Call it a wedding, call it an elopement, call it whatever you want! In this guide I’m going to call it an elopement. 🙂

Is ROcky Mountain national park a good place to Elope?

RMNP is stunningly gorgeous and can be a great place to elope IF you plan ahead and know what you are getting into!

Several years ago the Park began strictly limiting where elopements can happen – which is to say that, now, to elope iN RMNP you must reserve one of their established wedding sites (true backcountry elopements are not allowed). These sits are beautiful but they do fill up early so planning ahead for your RMNP elopement is key!

The good news is that while the only place in RMNP where you can have your ceremony is at your reserved site, you are allowed to take pictures anywhere in the Park!

For couples who are having guests at their elopement, RMNP is ideal in a LOT of ways! Getting there from Denver is super easy, nearby lodging and restaurants are plentiful, and having a reserved site means no worries bout fending off other folks on your wedding day. It also means actually having bathrooms nearby.

TLDR: If you are planning a last minute elopement or want to hike deep into the backcountry for your ceremony, RMNP isn’t for you. If you are planning ahead and have some family coming along, it’s perfect!

When is the best time of year to Elope in ROcky mOuntain National Park?

Summer Elopements in RMNP (June – August)

Summer is the busy tourist season but don’t let that scare you. The park is absolutely gorgeous in the summer and the options for hiking are endless! If you want to get married in RMNP in summer make sure you are EXTRA on top of getting your wedding permit!

Fall elopements in RMNP (September – November)

Fall is the most gorgeous season of all in Colorado. The air is crisp, the aspens are turning, and everything feels extra cozy. In RMNP you’ll have the benefit of getting to witness the elk rut and here them bugling! I LOVE fall!

Winter elopements in RMNP (December – APril-ish)

I would say that winter is one of the best times to elope in RMNP AND that RMNP is one of the best places to elope in winter in Colorado. Why? Getting there from Denver is easy in winter (unlike heading up I-70) and the Park Service keeps the roads pretty clear. The crowds are lower than they are at other times of the year and the snow makes everything magical!

Spring elopements in RMNP (APril-ish to May)

I’m not going to lie: Spring is my least favorite time of year in our mountains and RMNP is no exception. The weather is highly unpredictable and melting trails make for lots of mud. Having said that, if you want to elope in Colorado in Spring, this is probably one of the best places to do it! Want better weather for sure? I recommend heading west to the Moab desert or Olympic National Park

are dogs allowed in RMNP? Can you have your dog at your RMNP wedding?

If you want your dog to be a big part of your elopement or wedding day (and I’m RIGHT there with you!) there are better options than RMNP. Dogs are not allowed on trails in the park. While it is possible to snap some photos with your dog in the parking lot, they can’t really join you at your ceremony site.

Note: Morraine Park Discover Center is the only RMNP wedding site that allows dogs.

Want to elope with your dog? Check out my guide on Eloping with a Dog in Colorado!

RMNP Wedding Permits

RMNP wedding permits

RMNP wedding permits cost $300 and include your two hour site reservation, photography permit, and entrance for three vehicles. The Park strictly limits the number of permits available (ranging from 40-60 depending on the month) and high demand months (June-October) fill up FAST. You may request a permit one year from the date of your wedding or elopement.

What if you can’t get an RMNP Wedding permit?

You absolutely MUST have a permit to get married in the park – please do not break this rule as not only could it ruin your day if you get caught but it could also cause the park to crack down on weddings and elopement even more (and get all photographers kicked out). We are guests in the Park and it’s super important to follow the rules!

If you are unable to get a wedding permit for RMNP you have other options! Contact a local elopement photographer/planner (hi, that’s me!) and they will help get you sorted out – whether that means finding a place outside the Park for your ceremony (and then taking photos inside it!) or recommending a different spot in Colorado (which we have tons of!).

rocky mountain national park wedding and elopement sites

3m Curve

Max Ceremony Size: 15

Max Number of Vehicles: 3

Location: Near Estes Park, 3.5 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

alluvian fan bridge

 Max Ceremony Size: 20

Max Number of Vehicles: 5

Location: Near Estes Park, 7 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

bear lake naturE trail

Max Ceremony Size: 20

Max Number of Vehicles: 5

Location: Near Estes Park, 11 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

copeland lake

Max Ceremony Size: 30

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: Near Estes Park, 13 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center in Wild Basin area

Harbison meadow picnic area

Max Ceremony Size: 30

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: West side of park near Grand Lake

hidden valley

x Ceremony Size: 30

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: Near Estes Park, 6 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

Lilly Lake Dock

Max Ceremony Size: 20

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: Near Estes Park, 6.4 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

moraine park amphitheatre discovery center

Max Ceremony Size: 30

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: Near Estes Park, 6.4 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

** Dogs permitted!**

sprague lake

Max Ceremony Size: 15 summer / 30 winter

Max Number of Vehicles: 3 summer / 10 winter

Location: Near Estes Park, 7 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

timber creek campground amphitheatre

Max Ceremony Size: 20

Max Number of Vehicles: 5

Location: West side of park near Grand Lake

upper beaver meadows

Max Ceremony Size: 30

Max Number of Vehicles: 10

Location: Near Estes Park, 1.5 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center

Do you need an officiant to get married in RMNP?

No! Colorado allows self-solemnization which means that all you need to get married here is a marriage license and a partner who wants to marry you! You do not need witnesses or an officiant to get married. 75% of my couples choose to self-solemnize (get married with no one officiating!)

How to elope in RMNP

1. Choose your RMNP elopement photographer and planner

Yes, I may be a little biased but that’s just because I’ve been a part of so many of these things! Booking your elopement photographer early in the process will make your life so much easier. Why? Because we help with ALL of these other steps! Don’t just look for pretty picture. Choose someone you vibe with and can trust to make your elopement dreams a reality!

2. reserve your ceremony site

Ceremony site book up fast, especially during the busy summer and fall seasons, so get on this ASAP! If you have any questions about sites, what time of day to book, etc. ask your photographer! They’re here to help you every step of the way!

3. Hire your other vendors

Once you know where and when you’ll be doing this thing it’s time to build your dream team! Your RMNP elopement photographer will get you recommendations for elopement friendly vendors to help make your day perfect. While some couples choose to do everything themselves, others invest in hair and makeup, florals, a private chef, etc. It’s totally your call!

4. Plan your day with the help of your photographer

A good elopement photographer will come up with a timeline for your day that is stress free and maximizes your enjoyment of the day while also making sure you get the good light for killer photos. Note that not all photographers do this which is why its really important to work with an elopement specialist! We’re here to help make your day perfect.

5. have the best damn day of your life

Here is where it all comes together! You’re going to marry your person and you’re going to do it in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Slow down. Breathe. Enjoy every moment of it. This day is going to FLY by and all you’ll be left with is the memories … and pho

6. RElive the magic. Forever.

Done well, the photos from your day will take you right back to that moment in that place with that person. Cherish these photos – and please make sure you print them! If your photographer doesn’t offer books or albums (all of my couples get one!), ordering from a reputable printer is an option. I can’t stress this enough: Please print your photos!

rocky mountain national park elopement packages

Want me to help you plan an incredible elopement adventure in RMNP? I’m in!

RMNP Elopement Packages begin at $6000.

All packages include comprehensive elopement planning/consulting, flexible photo coverage (beginning at 4 hours), high-resolution digital photos, and a physical album so you can remember this day forever!