**NOTE – Due to COVID, all elopement ceremony locations in the park are currently restricted to 10 persons or fewer throughout 2021. Additional parking restrictions may apply due to construction and road closures.**
Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s iconic, distinctive, and so full of mountains you will need weeks to explore all the incredible trails in this most famous Colorado National Park. Whether you’ve lived your whole life in Colorado or are traveling in to experience all our state has to offer, the park should be high on your list of must-sees. Rocky Mountain is understandably crowded with tourists, but there are several ways to avoid the biggest crowds so your elopement can still be intimate, special, and deeply personal. First, let me get some of the basics out of the way!
How to elope at dream lake: You can’t.
How to elope on trail ridge road: You can’t.
Yup. The thing with RMNP is that you can only elope, get married, exchange vows, or have any kind of ceremony at one of the 12 designated sites. You cannot elope on any trail, pull off or campground besides these areas. Dream Lake and Trail ridge road are super popular spots for engagements and proposals, as they should be – they’re amazing! But having an elopement ceremony in either spot is illegal. Luckily, the wedding sites are incredible and each offer something different, which I will outline below. Elopements and intimate weddings are best when they are deeply personal, so keep reading to determine which spot might be right for you! The fact that this National park has a robust framework for allowing elopements & weddings means the process is relatively simple compared to other national parks – it’s $300 to apply and all their rules and regulations are laid out on the website. And YES, you can travel to any other location in the park outside of the designated ceremony sites to take photos before or after your ceremony. RMNP only allows 2 weddings per site per day, 6 weddings per day in the entire park, and only 250 for the entire 2021 year, so these sites do book up months in advance. Reach out early to secure your elopement spot!
Here’s my detailed map of all the elopement & intimate wedding locations in Rocky Mountain National Park. Click on each site to see more photos! AND – I have a more details map with additional photo locations and sites OUTSIDE the park where you can have your ceremony. Get in touch to see it!
1. 3M Curve
How to Elope at 3M Curve. This is my favorite spot to elope in rocky mountain national park. It’s just a short walk from the small lot. In the summer, screeching hawks soar above the huge panoramic view of Long’s peak and the rockies. This spot is simply the prettiest in the park, and because there aren’t any trails that start here, it can be easier to find parking in the small lot. It’s stunning in every season, so don’t hesitate to make this your elopement location. No restrooms.. but come on, this view!
2. Sprague Lake
How to Elope at Sprague Lake: If you want a lake view, this is my first choice in Rocky for your elopement! A short, flat, accessible 0.4 mile walk from the parking area leads you to a tiny dock with a great view of Hallett, Otis and Flattop peaks. Early mornings are best here and the lake gets more and more crowded as the day goes on. It’s a perfect place for a sunrise elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park – and one of the best for wildlife as well, last time I was there I saw a family of 3 mink! See a Winter Sprague Lake Elopement Here.
3. Hidden Valley
How to elope at Hidden Valley: While this initially doesn’t seem like a spot with a huge vista, there’s some flexibility here on where you can have your ceremony. This is a spur road on the way up Trail Ridge Road, and hardly anyone visits it! Right off the parking lot, there’s a rushing brook and several small bridges that cross it as it cuts through a glacial draw. A steep trail leads you away from everyone and into seclusion – walk as far up as you want to a spot that feels just right for the two of you! In the winter you can even sled down the slopes, making this a fun and private location in any season. Let’s talk about the possibilities here!
4. Upper Beaver Meadows
How to Elope at Beaver Meadows: Another beautiful field with everything you need for a beautiful elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park. This open, flat green meadow has groves of aspens to lose yourself in, mountains rising up from the horizon, and beaver brook running right through it! Take a moment to explore the areas away from the parking lot to decide on a spot that’s right for your intimate wedding. Because the access road is closed in winter, this area is seasonal.
5. Moraine Park Amphitheater
How to elope at Moraine Park Amphitheater: If you’ve dreamed of getting married in the forest, or you have a larger guest count, this may be the perfect rocky mountain national park elopement location for you! Ponderosa pines surround this amphitheater with built in seating. Just steps outside of the grove lies the incredible view of Moraine Park, where glaciers carved a valley between the high peaks, and a river runs through the meadow. Basically, it’s so pretty it seems fake. 😉 If you desire photos in this dreamy valley, the moraine park amphitheater is the best place to do it up! Side note: if they removed just ten trees, this would hands down be the most popular wedding spot in the park! Gahhh!
6. Bear Lake
How to Elope at Bear Lake: This lake occupies a central part of the park at over 9,000ft elevation. The varied forest comes right down to the edge of the shore, so you can either step out onto one of the big rocks in the lake to have your ceremony or follow my lead to one of the few perfect spaces on the shoreline. But because this is one of the most popular areas of the park, ceremonies are only allowed in the off season, on weekdays between Columbus day and memorial day to reduce congestion. It can be quite cold at this elevation, but the easy access and beautiful views speak for themselves! Bathrooms are available and the path is semi-accessible. When the lake freezes over, you can stand on the ice to say your vows on your elopement day, making it a perfect spot for a winter rocky mountain national park elopement.
7. Lily Lake
How to Elope at Lily Lake: Lily lake actually has a few spots where you can have your elopement ceremony – and you won’t have to wait in line to enter the park through the busy entrance stations to get here, since it’s located just south of Estes Park on Rt 7. Long’s peak can be viewed in the distance, and round knobby mountains enclose this peaceful lake. A small dock on the east side of the lake, and the picnic area to the south are two great spots for intimate mountain elopement ceremonies. There’s also a short hike up the hill for even better views and more epic elopement photos in rocky mountain national park. Fall is the best time to elope at Lily lake. See an offbeat Lily Lake Elopement Here.
8. Alluvial Fan Bridge
How to elope at Alluvial Fan Bridge. This is the only place to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park with a waterfall, and it’s best in spring and fall. A short but uphill path from the parking lot winds through the rocky shore to a narrow bridge overlooking the falls. People will be walking all over the shores of roaring river, so this spot isn’t as private as some of the others, and it’s good to keep in mind that there’s no shade. The surrounding areas are stunning for photos, with some of the best aspen groves and short drives to big mountain views.
9. Copeland Lake
How to elope at Copeland Lake: Of all the lakes you can get married at in Rocky, this one is the least dramatic, but also the most private. Located a short walk from the Wild Basin entrance near Allenspark, a bare rocky shoreline surrounds the still water. You can walk as far around the shoreline as you like to find a spot that’s just right for you two- and you can even invite your dog! The nearby old growth forest and short walk to Copeland cascades is a must do for any hiking elopement at Copeland lake! You can also rent llamas to take into the park at the wild basin entrance, if you know the right people!
10. Harbison Meadows
How to elope at Harbison Meadows: This picnic area’s main feature is a small pavilion on a sage brush meadow with mountains in the distance – very distant! While elk and other wildlife are common here, the lack of shade and close proximity to the parking lot makes this spot very harsh during daylight hours, but might be wonderful at sunrise or sunset. Hardly anyone stops here on the west side just a few miles from the Grand Lake entrance station, so if you’ve got accommodation in Grand Lake then this might be the rocky mountain national park elopement spot for you!
11. Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater
How to elope at Timber Creek Amphitheater: I’ll be straight up- of all the places in rocky mountain national park to elope, this location isn’t my favorite. It’s located in the Timber Creek Campground on the west side of Trail Ridge Road, and the huge amphitheater stage backing makes it feel developed. Just beyond the trees, there is a river, but it can’t be seen from the ceremony area. It is accessible with bathrooms, but you’re also in the middle of what could be a very busy campground. Let me show you some more spectacular spots in and around grand lake!
Before or after your elopement ceremony, you can head out on one of the many world class hikes that Rocky has to offer. You can pack a picnic of all your favorite cheeses and small bites. You can fire up your camp stove in a picnic area and make pancakes for breakfast. You can play your favorite song on your phone and share your first dance in a meadow with only the birds as witnesses. You can see the sunrise on an alpine lake. Rent a sports car and drive it with the top down. You can snowshoe, sled, make snowangels and snowpeople and catch snowflakes on your tongue. Watch your shadows grow long as you watch the sun set on the tundra, then stargaze with a blanket. Not to mention all the experiences Estes Park has to offer (tram ride anyone?). The point is – it’s not about making pretty photos for hours – it’s about celebrating your relationship and the things you love doing together for a full day of awesome experiences. Happy people, happy photos! The (blue) sky is the limit! The highest paved highway on the continent and home to true tundra, Trail ridge road is one of the best places in the park. Here are my favorite overlooks on the iconic Trail Ridge Road.
Let me show you around the rest of the park’s incredible scenery!
To see more of each location, just get in touch with me! I LOVE sharing my local national park and helping more people experience the beauty of the rocky mountains. With constantly changing regulations and closures, the value of having a local guide to this vast park is huge. So – ready to plan your rocky mountain national park elopement photography with me?
Get in touch!
Here’s a sample timeline for a full day Rocky Mountain National Park elopement!
10:30am getting ready at a cabin in Estes Park
11:30 First Look and Lunch together
12:30 Estes Park tramway ride & watch video messages from loved ones together
2:00 Tram down and enter Rocky Mountain National Park
3:00 Swing in hammocks in an aspen grove
4:00 Ceremony at 3m Curve
4:30 Family Photos & Toasts
5:00 Shared Cake and First Dance
6:30 Romantic portraits on Trail Ridge Road
8:30 Cook pancakes for dinner on a camp stove