Boulder, Colorado is one of the most picturesque towns in the states. The iconic five Flatirons on Green mountain are postcard-pretty and make Boulder instantly recognizable. This front-range town is roughly equidistant from Denver’s airport, the college town of Fort Collins, and the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park town of Estes Park, making it easy to access and close to everyone. The views are right there, and the options for accommodation and ice cream shops, fine dining experiences, and world class outdoor adventures are plentiful. In this guide I’ll show you around this town and you’ll see why it’s a great place to plan an intimate elopement in Colorado. Many of these locations are located within City of Boulder Open Space Mountain Parks, or OSMP for short, and reserving picnic shelters or the amphitheater is done through their website for between $50 and $400. Additionally, this org provides annual photo permits to elopement photographers working in Boulder. In order to use a trail on OSMP lands without reserving a picnic shelter, it is the photographer who is granted permission through their commercial use permit, so having a boulder elopement photographer on your team is essential in making your location dreams come true in many cases. Locations not within OSMP, like Betasso and Bald Mountain, may be in county parks and require a different process. The Indian peaks wilderness offers backpackers and experienced hikers the chance to elope at lake Isabelle, Brainard lake, Lake Mitchell and more so long as the group size does not exceed 12. Then there are the state parks.. are you confused yet? For almost all locations, there’s no guarantee you will be granted permission, so keep an open mind and start planning early!
How to Elope in Eldorado Canyon State Park
This state park is one of the first places I visited when I came to Colorado to see if I wanted to live here. I did some solo hiking at sunset in January and the scenery blew my mind and captured my heart all at once. And yup, I live here now! This canyon is cut by a powerful river, flanked by caves and rock climbing routes on one side and forests & hiking on the other. If you are looking for a beautiful mountain elopement location, with a little hiking this could be perfect for you. As with most if not all Boulder elopement locations, there’s a lot of conflicting information on the internet about what is allowed here in terms of events, special use permits, and especially weddings. I’ve photographed an elopement and a first look in the park though, so I know it’s possible and permissable under the right circumstances! The key is to request to have your elopement on a weekday; better yet if it’s between October and April; and the fewer guests you have, the more likely you are to be approved. It can take between 3 and 6 months to get the right approval for your event. The continental divide overlook is 3 miles up but is PERFECT for an elopement – see an Eldorado Canyon Continental Divide Overlook elopement here. I also love the Fowler trail for portraits before or after your elopement here. Dogs are also allowed to attend your elopement in this park if kept on leash.
Mountain view: YES.
Bathrooms: pit toilets at trailheads
Accessible: only the bridge and fowler trail
Cost to use: almost always free
How to Elope at Sunrise Amphitheater in Boulder
One of the most classic elopement spots in Boulder is the Sunrise Amphitheater. Sunrise and early morning through mid afternoon are best. While it has stone row-seating for close to 100 people to gather, the majesty of this lookout would still fit the vibe for an intimate boulder elopement, and the surrounding woods and lookout points are gorgeous. You can even have some music and decor here. Like all Flagstaff mountain summit elopement locations, road access closes in the winter so this is best as a summer location. Unless you’re willing to walk up in the winter- it’s possible! See a sunrise Amp intimate wedding here!
Mountain view: No, city view
Bathrooms: yes, pit toilet nearby
Cost to reserve: $100 to $400
Stone Shelter and Wood Shelter
These two reservable picnic sites are also up Flagstaff summit road. The Stone Shelter is the prettier of the two, and comes with 28 outdoor picnic tables in long rows. There’s a gorgeous lookout to the north of this site that would make a very pretty elopement location. If you are looking for a simple and casual boulder elopement location, this would be a perfect solution!
Mountain View: meh. small view over some rocks facing north
Bathrooms: pit toilet nearby
Cost to reserve: $50 to $275
How to Elope at Artist Point & May’s Point
Artist Point and May’s point are also located at the very top of Flagstaff mountain road, and they may be my favorite of the summit locations! May’s point involves a short hike, but the 360 degree views give huge payoffs. Artist point is an easy short walk through the woods over rocky terrain to a private-ish viewpoint, with casual picnic tables scattered in the trees. It’s simple, it’s beautiful, and ready for your boulder elopement.
Mountain view: yes, especially from May’s point
Bathrooms: pit toilet nearby
Accessible: not even a little bit
Cost to use: free
How to Elope at Lost Gulch Overlook in Boulder
This rocky overlook has one of the biggest mountain views to easiest access ratios in all of Colorado, so it’s no wonder it’s very popular with locals and tourists (and smokers). You can’t get married here on a weekend or during the busiest times of the day. It’d be a crowded hot mess! However, at sunrise on a weekday this location can be empty, even in summer, and it is simply stunning. The surrounding area also has a few hidden gems that I can take you to for more privacy and the same mountain and cliff views. You cannot wear heels here, because you will absolutely break all your ankles, so you’ll have to consider yourself an off-road kind of couple to elope at lost gulch.
Mountain view: Yes, the best
Accessible: not remotely
Cost to use: free
How to Elope at the Flatirons
Chautauqua (sha-tack-wah) Park is a national treasure– and it’s extremely popular, both as a stop off for tourists and the starting point for most of the trails into the flatirons. Finding parking here on a weekend is practically mission impossible. (Cue music.) In winter and at sunrise, it’s possible to get approval here for a super short elopement ceremony if you remain on trail, leave no trace, and don’t obstruct other hikers’ right of way. There are a few great spots!
Mountain view: yes
Bathrooms: yes, flushing!
Accessible: One spot yes, many spots no
Cost to reserve: free
How to Elope at Bluebell Shelter
The Bluebell Shelter has views of the flatirons, while being away from the busiest area of the tourist-clogged Chautauqua park. This stone shelter is covered, with open sides, and is located a 3/4 mile uphill walk on Bluebell road. There’s even a small set of amphitheater-style seats to accommodate a few guests. Once you have this shelter reserved, your elopement ceremony can take place on trail nearby. Again, if you are able to plan for sunrise, a weekday, or an off season date, this will improve your chances of being approved to have your elopement ceremony at Bluebell Shelter.
Mountain view: yes, moderate
Bathrooms: at trailhead 3/4 mile away
Cost to reserve: $50-275
How to Elope in Nederland
I know an amazing hidden gem of a spot in Nederland, away from the hubbub of Boulder but close enough for a pleasant day trip. Big snow-capped peaks line the horizon, and in June & July, this mountainside is bathed in wildflowers. A large clump of young aspens provides great fall color in late September. You can explore the area until you find a spot that feels perfect for you two. Of course, this location doesn’t want for much and would be just as gorgeous under the cloak of winter.
Mountain view: yes, great
Accessible: maybe partially
Cost to reserve: free
How to Elope at Green Mountain Lodge
This lodge was recently reopened for the public to book. Located a short but magical walk from Realization point on Flagstaff mountain, this secretive stone cabin is nestled in a protected area of the forest with tons of bird life and neat plants. It’s close to a popular trail, but there’s no road noise to disturb you.
Mountain view: no, surrounded by forest
Cost to reserve: $50 to $275
But wait, there’s more! Halfway House, Boulder Falls, Bald Mountain, Dream Canyon, Marshall Mesa, Boulder Canyon, Settler’s Park, Crown rock.. all these incredible Boulder locations are perfect for photos or an intimate elopement in Boulder.
I have to also mention the amazing venues that are usable around here – Lone Hawk Farm, Oxford Road Farm (That’s where I got married! They have a killer treehouse!) The Greystone Castle, Rembrandt Yard art gallery, Chautauqua Dining hall, and Flagstaff House make great elopement locations in boulder if hiking just isn’t your thing, or if you can’t imagine getting married without a few of your closest friends, or you just want to eat indoors!
Great Boulder area Elopement Vendors
Boulder Blooms – https://www.boulderblooms.com/
MJM Designs – http://mjmdesignsllc.com/
Fawn’s Leap – https://www.fawnsleap.com/
Pam Zola Weddings – http://pamzolaweddings.com/
Phil Gallagher – https://www.officiantphilgallagher.com/
Ceremonies with Lisa – https://www.ceremonieswithlisa.com/
I know Boulder. I’m ready to be your Boulder elopement photographer & guide – all that’s missing is you! Get in touch soon so I can help you find the perfect spot at the perfect time of year!