Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Photographer Packages & Complete Guide for 2024


Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Photographer

I’m Lucy – Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photographer. This incredible park is one of the most well known in the west. It’s iconic, distinctive, and so full of mountains you will need weeks to explore all the incredible trails. 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. In this guide I’ll share all the how-tos and go over all 11 of the Rocky Mountain National Park elopement locations.

How to elope at Dream Lake: You can’t.

Getting Married in Rocky Mountain National Park

You can only elope, get married, exchange vows, or have any kind of ceremony at one of the 11 designated sites within the park and nowhere else. Dream Lake and Trail Ridge Road are super popular spots for portraits, engagements and proposals, as they should be – they’re amazing! But having an elopement ceremony in either spot is illegal. Luckily, the legal Rocky Mountain National Park elopement locations are incredible and each offer something different. Elopements and intimate weddings are best when they are deeply personal, so keep reading to determine which spot might be right for you!

How to Elope at Rocky Mountain National Park

While there are some rules here, planning an elopement at Rocky Mountain National Park isn’t tough. I’ll break it down for you into 5 easy steps.

  1. Pick your season and date range.
  2. Hire a local Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photographer.
  3. With the help of your photographer, select a ceremony location and time and apply for your ceremony permit
  4. Book your accommodation, rental car, flights, officiant or flowers if desired.
  5. Pickup your Colorado Marriage License and approved permit and ELOPE!

2024 Rocky Mountain National Park Ceremony Locations

Updated Feb 10 2024

The fact that this National Park has a framework for allowing elopements 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 to take photos before or after your ceremony. RMNP only allows 2 elopements per site per day, 6 elopements per day in the entire park, and only 250 for the entire year, so these sites do book up months in advance. Reach out early to secure your elopement spot! If all the dates are booked up, contact me for my list of ceremony locations outside the park. Here is an in-depth guide to all 11 of the approved ceremony locations:

3m Curve Elopement Location

This is my #1 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.

  • Bathrooms: NO
  • Dogs Allowed: NO
  • Max People: 15
  • Max cars: 3

Sprague Lake Elopement Location

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. See a Winter Sprague Lake Elopement Here.

  • Bathrooms: Yes, pit toilet at trailhead
  • Dogs allowed: NO
  • Max People: 15 in Summer, 30 in winter
  • Max cars: 3 in Summer, 10 in winter

Hidden Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park

While this initially doesn’t seem like a spot with a good view, there’s some flexibility here on where you can have your ceremony. Hidden Valley is a short spur road off Trail Ridge Road, and hardly anyone comes here. Right off the parking lot, there’s a rushing brook and several cute wooden bridges that cross it. A steep trail can lead you into total seclusion. Walk as far up as you want to a spot that feels just right for the two of you!

  • Bathrooms: Yes, pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: no
  • Max people: 30
  • Max cars: 10

Upper Beaver Meadows Wedding Location

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. 

  • Only available in summer from Mid May to Mid October
  • Bathrooms: yes, pit toilet nearby
  • Dogs allowed: NO
  • Max people: 30
  • Max cars: 10

Moraine Park Amphitheater Ceremony Location

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. Side note: if they removed just ten trees, this would hands down be the most popular wedding spot in the park! Gahhh! 

  • Not available in 2023
  • Bathrooms: Yes, indoors nearby
  • Dogs allowed: Yes on leash
  • Max people: 30
  • Mac cars: 10

Bear Lake Elopement Location in RMNP

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! When the lake freezes over, you can stand on the ice to say your vows. See a Bear Lake Elopement in the fog here!

  • Bathrooms: Pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: No
  • Max people: 20
  • Max cars: 5
  • ONLY allowed on weekdays between Columbus Day and Memorial Day

Lily Lake Elopement Location in RMNP

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. A small dock on the close side of the lake, and the picnic area to the south are two great spots for ADA Accessible elopement ceremonies. Fall is the best time to elope at Lily Lake. See an offbeat Lily Lake Elopement Here.

  • Bathrooms: Nearby pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: Yes on paved trail
  • Max People: 10 at the dock, 20 on the trail or 30 at the picnic area
  • Max cars: 10

Alluvial Fan Bridge Ceremony Location

The Alluvial Fan Bridge ceremony location is the only place to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park that features a waterfall, so it’s best in Spring like May and June. A short but uphill path from the parking lot winds through the rocks to a narrow bridge overlooking the cascades. People will be walking all over the shore of the river, so this spot isn’t as private.

  • Bathrooms: Nearby pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: NO
  • Max people: 20
  • Max cars: 5

Copeland Lake Ceremony Location (Wild Basin Entrance)

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! You can also rent llamas to take into the park at the wild basin entrance, if you know the right people! 

  • Bathrooms: Nearby pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: YES
  • Max people: 30
  • Max cars: 10

Harbison Meadows Elopement Location (Grand Lake Side)

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.

  • Bathrooms: NO
  • Dogs Allowed: NO
  • Max People: 30
  • Max cars: 10

Timber Creek Campground Wedding Location (Grand Lake Side)

I’ll be straight up- of all the places in Rocky Mountain National Park to elope, this location is my least 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! 

  • Bathrooms: yes, pit toilet
  • Dogs allowed: No
  • Max people: 20
  • Max cars: 5

Elopement Locations outside the Park

If you were unable to snag one of the coveted ceremony permits for one of the 11 ceremony sites, fear not! There are several locations outside of the park’s borders that may serve as a great elopement location for you. Before or after your ceremony, you may enter the park for photographs and adventure. This is a great compromise! Some of my favorite locations outside the park are:

  • The O’Connor Pavilion
  • Mary’s Lake
  • Cherokee Draw
  • Black Canyon Inn Pavilion
  • Wild Basin Lodge
  • Dao House
  • Knoll-Willows
  • Storm Mountain
  • Indian Peaks Wilderness
  • The St Vrain River
Purchase the Rocky Mountain Location Map

Here is my map of Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement locations!

So.. where are all these locations? This map is my custom made virtual tour! To get access, purchase the map below or book me as your Mountain National Park Elopement photographer. It even includes my additional locations outside the park. So you can see all the best spots without leaving your living room. If you’re a photographer planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement site 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 your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Photographer

I’m a colorful Rocky Mountain National Park 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. Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most classic and beautiful elopement locations. Maybe I’ll see you there!

See a Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement

Tina & Stuart eloped in Rocky Mountain National Park in the fall of 2021. It was a crisp October day, but the herds of elk and fall colors made up for the cold temperatures. They had an amazing day exploring my favorite places in the park!

When to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

This is a high elevation mountain park. Winter’s icy grip lasts from mid October to the end of April & May at some elevations. Be prepared with layers and lots of water, no matter the season! I’ve been to Rocky in every month, and here’s a summary of what you can expect in each season!

  • Winter: Highs of 45 degrees, wind, blizzards, and icy road conditions. Low temps down to -35.
  • Spring: Highs in the 50’s and it may snow. Trails and roads may still be snowpacked, icy, or inaccessible. Lows around 32.
  • Summer: High temperatures in the 70’s, but 20-30 degrees cooler in the alpine elevations. Trail Ridge Road will be open! Lows down to 45 or 50 at night. Expect roadwork and crowded trails.
  • Fall: 50s and 60s for the daily high, low chance of rain, and some meadows may be closed during the Elk Rut. Lows in the 30s and 40s and a chance of snow comes around as early as October.

Eloping on a weekday

After choosing which season fits your goals, look at a calendar of weekdays! Like most National Parks, visitation and queues to get into the entrance stations are at their peak on weekends and especially holidays. Independence Day and Labor day are insanely busy. Avoid those weekends at all costs!

Other Great Photo Locations in RMNP

This park has so much to offer! Let me show you around. The pristine lakes are definitely a highlight, and hiking to them is on almost everyone’s to do list. The most popular hike in the park starts at Bear Lake and passes Nymph Lake, Dream Lake and ends at Emerald Lake. Helene, Cub, Gem and Haiyaha lakes are also incredible. Seek out Adam’s or Ouzel Falls for the waterfall lover. Moraine Park and Horseshoe Park have gorgeous glacial valley views.

Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road is one of the highlights of any visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the highest paved route in the lower 48 at over 12,100 feet in elevation at the summit. You will get to experience true tundra here, and it will be windy and 20 to 30 degrees colder than the lower areas of the park. There are NO ceremony locations on Trail Ridge Road, but you can come here for photos before or after your ceremony or on another day.

  • You cannot drive here from mid September to June as the road is closed under deep snow for the entire winter
  • Trail Ridge Road is 48 miles long with 11 miles above treeline
  • The road rises over 4,000 feet from the start to the summit
  • You will see wildlife: Moose, Elk, Pika, and Marmots are common.

What to do during your elopement in RMNP

While it’s not required that you hike to elope here, many couples want to. 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 charcuterie. Fire up your camp stove in a picnic area. Play your favorite song on your phone and share your first dance in a meadow. You can see the sunrise on an alpine lake. 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.  

Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Timeline

Here’s a sample timeline for a full day Rocky Mountain National Park elopement! Don’t short change yourself by choosing a 1 or 2 hour elopement when your day should be packed with all your favorite things!

10:30 Getting ready at your cabin in Estes Park
11:30 First Look in the forest 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

How much does it cost to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park?

The answer of course is that it depends! Aside from the $30 Colorado Marriage License, great photography and a ceremony permit from the National Park, the rest of your expenses will vary greatly. Here is a breakdown of a hypothetical elopement in Rocky for just 2 people:

$30 Colorado Marriage License
$300 Ceremony Permit
$700 to $2500 Accommodation – cabin, condo or chalet
$5,000 to 10,000 Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photographer
$500 to $5,000 your elopement clothes
$400 Florist (optional)
$800 to $1200 Officiant (optional)

= $7,000 to 20,000 depending on your preferences and needs.

2024 Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Packages

I offer Rocky Mountain National Park elopement packages including all day photography, officiating and planning services. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees. These prices are for 2024.

All inclusive elopement packages start at $15,000

2 Day elopements in RMNP – $9900

1.5 Days of elopement photography – $7900

1 Full day adventure elopement in RMNP – $6900

Up to 4 hours elopement in RMNP – $5500 – **Only available on select Sept 2024 dates**

Does a photographer need a permit in Rocky Mountain National Park?

As of January 1, 2024, RMNP removed its requirement for portrait photographers to have permit or Commercial Use Authorization. This means that photographers shooting families, engagement sessions, pre or post wedding portraits or any other portrait photos do not need a permit, and they must get timed entry.

Rocky Mountain National Park Timed Entry – 2024

With constantly changing regulations and closures, the value of having a local Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photographer is huge. In 2024, the park administrators have again implemented a timed-entry system for visitors from May 24th 2024 to October 20 2024. In addition to your National Parks pass, you will need a Timed Entry Pass during those dates – UNLESS you have an approved ceremony permit, which exempts you from needing timed entry. If you are getting married outside the park and going into the park for portraits, you will need timed entry.

Types of Timed Entry:

1. The Bear Lake corridor Pass
This is for the Bear Lake road area AND the entire recent of the park. Only the Bear Lake, Moraine Park Amphitheater and Sprague Lake elopement locations are up this road. In addition, the trailheads for Glacier Gorge, Bear Lake, Dream Lake, Emerald Lake, Lake Hiayaha, and others are up this road. You will need a timed entry permit for going up this road from 5am to 6pm.
2. The Rest of the Park WITHOUT Bear Lake road
Just what is sounds like! You can access every other part of the park. The grand lake side, the lumpy ridge area, the wild basin entrance, Lily lake, trail ridge road and everything else. You will need a timed entry permit for these areas from 9am to 3pm.

Getting into RMNP in 2024

You will need a National Park Pass or daily pass to enter at every entrance to RMNP. This is in addition to a Timed Entry ticket, which is sometimes required. See above.

Construction! Avoid the fall river entrance on the Estes Park side in 2024 as major renovation is causing long backups. Choose the Beaver Meadows entrance lane instead.

Where to stay in Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park is the gateway town on the East side, and it is packed with cabins to rent! Search google maps for ‘cabin’ ‘yurt’, ‘glamping’ or ‘bungalow’. On the west side of the park, near the Timber Creek and Harbison Meadows elopement locations, look in the towns of Grand Lake and Granby. For some unique stays, check out my list of unique Airbnbs near Rocky Mountain National Park.

Do we need an officiant to elope in Rocky Mountain?

No, an officiant is not required to make your marriage legal here in Colorado! Because Colorado recognizes your power to declare yourselves married, or, ‘self-solemnize’, you can sign your marriage license as your own officiant. It’s not difficult – I did it myself in 2019! This applied to all Colorado locations including Rocky Mountain National Park. If you want a friend or minister to officiate your ceremony, by all means do it, but it is optional! Additionally, witnesses are not required.

Getting your Colorado Marriage License

You can obtain a Colorado Marriage License from any county courthouse in Colorado. Some courthouses require an appointment to be made in advance, so check in carefully to ensure availability. You can take that Marriage license anywhere in the state within 32 days of picking it up. Once it’s signed, you send it back to the courthouse you got it from. And yes, the rumors are true – Colorado allows dogs to “sign” the back of the marriage license with an ink-pad paw print. So your dogs can be your witnesses if you want!

Ready to make RMNP your elopement location? Get in touch!

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