**Currently booking through December 2023!**
Telluride Elopement Guide
How to Elope in Telluride
**Updated for 2022**
A Telluride Elopement Photographer’s Guide to Eloping in the San Juan Mountains
If you are thinking of eloping in the mountains and are looking for the most beautiful place in Colorado, look no further than Telluride and the San Juan Mountains. Yes, it’s kind of a pain to get to. Yes, it’s really far from Denver. Yes, it’s kind of expensive but trust me when I say its SO WORTH IT! While Telluride is famous for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, there is SO MUCH more to this place and the beautiful San Juan Mountains that surround it than that!
In this guide I’m going to give you the low down on how to elope in Telluride and the San Juans. Here is everything you need to know to have an epic mountain elopement or intimate wedding in the most beautiful places in Colorado!
Meet your Telluride Elopement Photographer
Hi! I'm Jen Dz!
I’m a Colorado-based elopement photographer who helps couples have easy and unforgettable elopements in the San Juan Mountains (and beyond).
I‘ve lived in Colorado since 2007 and know this place like the back of my hand – so it means a lot when I tell you that the San Juans are, without question, the most beautiful part of the state and one of the best places in Colorado, if not the U.S., to elope!
My goal for this guide is to help you decide whether Telluride and the San Juans are the right spot for your Colorado elopement – and to help yo make it happen!
This is going to be one hell of an adventure. Let’s get started!
The term ”elopement” confuses a lot of people, especially since the definition has changed dramatically in recent years. When I talk about “elopements” I am talking about itty bitty weddings with anywhere from 0 to 20-ish guests. So everything from a true ”elopement” to a tiny destination wedding is fair game here! These are my specialties!
“Telluride” is also a term I use out of simplicity since it is the most famous town in the area. In this article I am talking about ALL of the San Juan Mountains of Colorado – which includes not only Telluride but also Ouray, Durango, Ridgway, Silverton, and more!
But first let’s clear a few things up!
How do you get to Telluride and the San Juans?
It’s FAR … from everywhere. Which is part of its magic. Telluride sits at the end of a slot canyon in the San Juan mountains of Colorado. It’s around a 6 hour drive from Denver airport (in good weather) but a world away from the hustle and bustle of the front range. If you want to cut out part of the drive, consider flying into Montrose or Grand Junction and driving from there. Telluride also has a small airport which may be worth looking into!
For the purposes of this article I’m going to not just talk about Telluride but also the San Juan mountains in general. Telluride itself may be the fanciest and most well known town in these parts but there are lots of other beautiful and more affordable options as well. Let’s take a look at the other home bases for your “Telluride” or San Juan mountain elopement!
Best Places to Elope in Telluride and the San Juan Mountains
The San Juan Mountains are full of incredible spots for an elopement and where you decide to do the thing will largely depend on the type of scenery you are looking for and the amount of adventure you want (or don’t want!) to have!
Out of a deep concern for protecting these places I don’t go into specific locations for backcountry spots (I save those for my clients!) but hopefully this will get the wheels turning on where to elope in Telluride and what that could look like!
Want to get married on top of a mountain without even leaving town? This is for you! San Sophia is on top of the mountain and accessed by the gondola. It features STUNNING views of the town of Telluride and Bridal Veil Falls. It’s also an excellent spot for a wedding with guests.
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls is an absolutely epic Telluride elopement location. It is at the end of town and can be seen from just about everywhere! A hike or Jeep ride takes you to a mossy, misty wonderland at the base of the tallest freestanding waterfall in Colorado!
Telluride Elopement Locations
In a Backcountry Basin
Some of the BEST places to elope in Telluride are off the beaten path and accessed only by hike, Jeep, or ATV. These spots offer wildflowers, waterfalls, views for miles, and very few people!
Alta Lakes Observatory
Alta Lakes Observatory is SO FREAKING COOL. This cabin is up a bumpy road and surrounded by mountains and lakes. It is an ideal location for an elopement or small wedding with guests as well!
At a Private Residence
Private residences can be the perfect staging spot for elopements (and backup location in case of bad weather) or venues for small weddings. I always recommend this option for folks who are having a lot of guests!
At a Campground
Hiking and backpacking elopements are perfect options for couples who are up for an adventure and want to get away from the crowds. The San Juan Mountains have incredible hiking and backpacking (and camping in general!).
On Top of a Mountain Pass
Telluride and the San Juans have some of the most beautiful 4×4 roads in Colorado. If your idea of adventure involves Jeeps or ATVs (or hiking, obviously!), you have tons of options for getting way up high.
Best Places to Stay in Telluride + the San Juan Mountains
The San Juans have everything from super lux accomodations to cute little cabins in the woods. Whether you're looking for a luxury resort experience or just want to chill somewhere pretty, there is something for everyone in this area!
The four main towns that make up the Telluride area are Telluride, Ridgway, Silverton, and Ouray. Each town has it's own vibe!
Telluride is far and away the most bougie of the bunch. It sits at the end of a slot canyon and is full of boutique shops and restaurants and, of course, legendary skiing. The gondola runs all summer long and takes visitors (and their dogs!) to the top of the mountain for free!
Ridgway is a tiny mountain town with a handful of restaurants, a grocery store, and a very laid-back vibe. It is a great jumping off point if you want to visit both Telluride and other towns in the San Juans during your trip. Every time I'm there I think that Ridgway is a place I would love to live!
Take a drive from Ouray on the breathtaking Million Dollar Highway and eventually you will find yourself in the tiny mountain town of Silverton. This stunning places feels like the old west with dirt roads and mountain vibes.
Ouray is a bustling little town with everything you could want – from restaurants to shops to hot springs. It is much smaller and less fancy than Telluride – which also means it is more affordable. Ouray is also the jumping off point to one of my favorite elopement locations in the San Juans!
Getting a marriage license in the San Juan Mountains is easy!
How to Get a Marriage License in Telluride
As with everywhere in Colorado, getting legally married in Telluride and the San Juan Mountains is incredibly easy. Simply go to a county clerk's office bring your paperwork, and be ready to raise your hand and promise you're not related to each other by blood (weird, right?!).
Because Colorado is a self solemnizing state you do not need an officiant or witnesses to get married here!
Marriage licenses can be picked up at the San Miguel County courthouse in Telluride or any other county clerk's office in Colorado.
How to Elope in Telluride and the San Juan Mountains
Choose your Telluride elopement photographer
I ALWAYS suggest choosing your photographer first (even if it's not me – although I hope it is!). A good photographer will be able to help you find the best elopement locations, choose the right time of year, lock in any vendors, and come up with a timeline. The whole process is so much easier when you bring in the professional help early on!
Choose your Ceremony Location
Figuring out where you will have your ceremony early will help figure out the rest of the day and how it will all go down. Every photographer is different but for me, this is always where I start with my couples! We'll run through a bunch of options and choose a location that fits the scenery and level of adventure you want!
Book Lodging and Book Any other Vendors
Once you have a general idea of the areas you will be exploring or where you want to get married, it's time to book other vendors! While you definitely DON'T need to hire other folks, many people choose to invest in flowers, hair and makeup, catering, cake, and/or Jeep or ATV rentals.
For an awesome list of lodging options, click here!
Take a deep breath and ENJOY EVERY MOMENT!
This day is going to FLY by – make sure to slow down and enjoy every moment of it!! It's not about pictures or pressure or stress or everyone's expectations. It's about the two of you getting married, maybe with some family and friends (or just your favorite dog) in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!
elopement based out of a resort in Telluride will be far more expensive. While Telluride itself isn't the cheapest part of Colorado, there are definitely options for every budget!
Adding things like hair and makeup, florals, officiants, Jeep rentals, etc CAN drive the cost up but you don't really need any of those things. It's ALL up to you!
The cost of your Telluride elopement or intimate wedding will depend largely on where you base your elopement and the type of activities you do during the day!
A simple San Juan Mountain elopement based out of an affordable AirB BNB in Ouray, Silverton, or Ridgway will be relatively inexpensive while a more involved