How to Elope at Great Sand Dunes National Park
Welcome to my newest favorite Colorado National Park! If you’ve been wondering how to elope at Great Sand Dunes National Park, you’re in the right place. For those of you visiting from the front range of Colorado – that is, the area around Denver and Colorado Springs where the plains meet the mountains – you’re going to want to stay near the dunes because it’s a good 3 – 4 hour drive. This will give you more time to explore and check out all the areas around this amazing Colorado National Park. See a couple’s colorful adventure at Great Sand Dunes here.
Get in touch to start planning your Great Sand Dunes Elopement!
Here is a preview of the map my couples get when booking:
This map is like a virtual tour of the Great Sand Dunes National Park & surrounding area with color photos I’ve taken of each place. So you can see all the great spots without without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a great visual key to picking out the elopement spot that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free!
About Great Sand Dunes National Park
The dunes are the tallest in all of North America, rising over 800′ from the valley floor. The largest dunes are closest to the accessible area, which means you’ll have to hike up them to see most of the dunefield on the other side. The huge Sange De Cristo mountains, home of nine 14,000’+ peaks, wrap around the eastern edge. During the spring months, meltwater from the high peaks forms Medano creek and it’s one of only three places in the world where you can experience surge flow. I’m telling you – this incredible landscape is SO much more than just piles of sand. The geology and hydrology of the area is truly fascinating.
Eloping Legally in the Park
Every National Park is vastly different in its rules for couples wanting to elope or even have their photo taken. Great Sand Dunes National Park has a unique process! To have an elopement or intimate wedding ceremony here, you have to fill in a special use permit AND choose a location outside of the wilderness area. However, almost all the dunes are in the wilderness area! What’s a couple to do? This is where I come in! With my commercial use permit, I can photograph ceremonies anywhere in the park – including on the iconic dunes! This is a necessary step for a true dune experience.
What to do around the Dunes
There are many experiences nearby to take your elopement day to the next level! Sand sledding or boarding is popular here to get your heart rate up. Play in the creek together and tube down it when the water is high enough! You can ride horses on the sand and experience guided tours, fine dining, and great accommodations at the nearby Zapata Ranch. They even have Bison! There are long and short hikes to lakes, waterfalls, and views of Mt. Blanca peak everywhere, trees to hammock in, and wildlife to watch. Consider a jeep or ATV tour to some of the more alpine and remote areas. And you can even bring your leashed dog into this National Park! There are a few gorgeous picnic areas for celebrating with cake afterwards.
When to Elope at Great Sand Dunes NP
It’s no secret that the dunes can be hot in the summer – how about 140 degrees on the sand! That’s enough to give you second degree burns. When considering how to elope at Great Sand Dunes National Park, timing is everything! Winter is a great option here, and there are plenty of aspens if you crave that fall color. Spring is the busiest month in the park, but there are still ways to get away from the crowds if you know the park well. Get in touch with me to talk timing and get more recommendations!
I’m a nomadic and colorful elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and my cats. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. The Great Sand Dunes is one of my very favorite national parks. Maybe I’ll see you there!
I offer full day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in National Parks and the wild lands outside of them. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. Get in touch below!
Contact me! It’s no biggie!
Here are my other Colorado National Park elopement guides to check out:
– Rocky Mountain National Park
– Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
More elopement guides in Colorado:
– Garden of the Gods
– Colorado National Monument
– Boulder, Colorado
– Maroon Bells
– Summit County
– Mt. Evans
Other elopement locations with Sand Dunes:
– White Sands National Park
– Death Valley National Park
– Snow Canyon State Park