The Ultimate Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Guide
If you’ve been dreaming about a picturesque, Colorado elopement for you and the love of your life but you’ve never been able to nail down the perfect location, I’m about to rock your world, lovebirds.
Let me introduce you to—what I consider to be—one of the most perfect places in the entire state of Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful, epic, and stunning national parks in the United States, Rocky Mountain National Park (usually lovingly shortened to RMNP) is an adventurous elopement spot that provides you with year-round views and beauty.
Whether you’ve been dreaming of a snow-covered winter elopement with scenic views that don’t quit or you’re all about a summertime, wildflower field romp among the towering mountains and beside the sparkling lakes, RMNP has a little bit of everything to offer lovers like you.
Full disclosure, I live in CO, so maybe I’m a little biased, but RMNP (and its gateway town Estes Park) are truly fabulous beyond words.
But listen, you don’t have to just take my word for it. Dive into this blog and get all the deets so you can see why I’m super obsessed (and why you will be soon, too!).
The Top Reason to have a Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Wild Spaces & Stunning Landscapes
RMNP is one of the most visited national parks in the United States. One step into the park would show you the obvious reasons why.
While lots of areas in Colorado can offer you these things, there’s truly just something otherworldly about RMNP. What makes this landscape so stunning? The Rockies. The Rocky Mountains span something like 3,000 miles of ridgeline (try to picture that in your head for a minute, I’ll wait) and RMNP specifically offers some of the highest peaks along these ridgelines within CO.
In other words, you’ll feel literally on top of the world—you can see for miles. So, yeah, it’s rugged and exciting, but it’s also filled with some seriously diverse landscape features.
Sparkling lakes? Yep. Miles and miles of hiking? Totally. Tons of meadows and wildflower fields? You bet. Snowy peaks, lush old-growth forests, alpine tundra, and epic wildlife? All of that and more, my friend.
You get a whole lot of epic options in one area, and all of it is totally next-level when it comes to a Colorado-style elopement.
Easy Access from Denver
RMNP feels like it’s in the vast wilderness where no one else could reach you—but realistically, it’s a pretty quick and easy drive from Denver.
This is especially helpful if you’re flying into the Denver International Airport, have family or friends joining you for your ceremony, or want access to some of the best vendors in the country (conveniently located in Denver).
About 1.5 hours from Denver (traffic dependent, of course), RMNP is an easy-to-get-to spot with well-maintained roads, likely taking you through fun spots like Boulder along the way (all depending on your route).
Small Town Charm Nearby
Just to the east of RMNP is the small, quaint, and totally charming gateway town of Estes Park. Estes is like a little, dreamy mountain town that only exists in the movies.
What it lacks in big city-accommodations it makes up for in cute restaurants, adorable lodges and Airbnb’s, and lots of wildlife. Plus, there are all kinds of unique attractions within this town’s limits to keep you busy and entertained.
The real perk, of course, is that you’re just steps away from the entrance to RMNP, making it a fabulous option for your RMNP elopement accommodations.
You can get married in RMNP at almost any time of the year! While some location spots might not be accessible in the winter or closed during peak season, there are lots of options for your elopement and your ceremony even in the thick of the winter or the busiest summer season.
Rugged Adventure or Laid-Back Ease
One of the best things about RMNP is that there’s something for everyone. Want to do an epic backpacking loop for your elopement?
There are tons of long, backpack-worthy trails just waiting for you in the summer. More of a drive-up-to-your location kinda couple? There are stunning views that require little to no hiking whatsoever.
Whether you want to backcountry ski, snowshoe, hike, mountain bike, drive, or just meander through a meadow, there are all sorts of options for whatever your hearts truly desire.
The Best Locations for Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
RMNP is, without question, straight-up stunning. You could literally trek to any square inch of the park and be captivated by awe-inspiring views. This means that no matter where you pick to explore for your elopement day, you’re def going to end up with an epic adventure.
Still, there’s one distinction I want to make before I lay out a list of places to elope—there’s an approved list of spots where you can have your elopement ceremony in the park.
Confused? Don’t worry. I’ll dive into this a little more in the section where I talk about permitting. Plus, I’m more than happy to jump on a call with you and explain the details so we’re all on the same page. For now, check out these amazing Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations:
Sprague Lake is perfect for smaller weddings. You can hold your ceremony on the deck with the lake and gorgeous mountains in the back.
By far one of the most popular views in the park, 3M curve is a large outcrop of rocks that overlooks mountains, meadows, moraines, and more. The views? Stunning. The access? Seamless. You can simply drive up to 3M curve for your ceremony, no hike-in required. You may have up to 15 people at your ceremony at 3M.
Mountain views, aspen trees, and of course, a stunning lake—Bear Lake is a famous spot in RMNP for good reason. This area allows for 20 guests at your ceremony, has restroom access, and tends to be a little busy) but worth it, in my opinion!
With room for up to 30 people for your ceremony, Hidden Valley offers stunning views of summer wildflowers, a wooden footbridge, and plenty of aspen trees and pines alongside mountain views. This is one of the most accessible areas available for your ceremony as it features wheelchair access, restrooms, and paved areas.
If panoramic mountain views are what you’re after, Lily Lake Dock is the perfect spot for your ceremony. You can have up to 10 people at your ceremony in this location and you’ll have views of the lake, mountain, and a great around-the-lake walking trail to enjoy.
Alluvial Fan Bridge
A few miles away from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, Alluvial Fan Bridge offers a stunning view of a river dotted with unique boulders, a waterfall, and a wooden footbridge. The entire area is blanketed with aspen trees, making it an intimate choice for your ceremony. At this location, you can have a ceremony with up to 20 people included. Restrooms are on-site at this location.
Upper Beaver Meadows
If you’re looking for epic meadow views, grazing elk, and mountains, then Upper Beaver Meadows is your place! You can get married in a huge meadow surrounded by pines, and a trickling stream.
Moraine Park Amphitheater
The amphitheater is built into the rocky hillside and has wooden benches for seating for your guests. There is foliage surrounding the amphitheater to keep things cooler in the shade and more private.
Copeland Lake is a gem in Rocky Mountain National Park. There’s not much privacy here, with the road going right by, but it’s less busy than some other sites. This is also the only ceremony site in the park that allows dogs!
Located on the west side of the park, this location has a large wide-open meadow with a mountain view. The trail is flat and easily accessible, but there isn’t much privacy from the parking area and nearby road. It’s a perfect ceremony location for those with guests staying in the Grand Lake area.
Timber Creek Amphitheater
This amphitheater is also located on the west side of the park at the Timber Creek Campground. You can even camp here! While it’s the most accessible out of all the locations, the large structure does block some of the views. and isn’t the most scenic location.
Other Great Places!
I’ve been helping couples elope and find their perfect-fit locations for a while—I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve! But don’t sweat it when it comes to regulations and rules, I’d never take you somewhere the park doesn’t allow for a ceremony, we’ll keep it all aligned with the rules of the park!
It’s also important to note that just because there are only certain places where you can have your ceremony doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t go to other spots for elopement photos. You totally can, we’ll just need to make note of this on the permit during your initial application. Check out these amazing locations for couples’ photos!
It’s a short, but challenging hike to get to Dream Lake. There is a steady incline and can be a workout for some. The views are absolutely worth the hike!
Trail Ridge Road
Trail Ridge Road has some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen. It’s important to stay on designated trails. The alpine tundra is fragile, and can take over a hundred years to regrow. It’s important to note that this road is usually open from around Memorial Day weekend until mid-October, but it is completely weather-dependent.
The 30-foot waterfall is dramatic and a wonderful sight to behold. It’s best visited in late spring, during the weekday mornings to avoid most foot traffic and see it at its peak. It splashes down into Glacier Creek, which empties in Bear Lake, also in the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations Map
Check out these amazing RMNP Elopement Locations and Venues on the map. These are just a few. I have lots more amazing hidden gems to share!
Let’s Talk Seasons: The Best Time of the Year Enjoy Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Fall in RMNP (September-November)
Next level colors are a given in RMNP. With tons of aspen groves, changing leaves, and gorgeous Fall landscape, you’ll be lost in an Autumnal world of beauty during your elopement. The key thing to remember is that Fall happens much sooner at these elevations. So, while Denver might still be waiting on Fall colors until late October, tons of Fall colors start happening in mid-September in RMNP. As a note, Fall in RMNP is bound to be chilly, so be prepared to layer up!
Winter in RMNP (December- April)
Famous for winter, RMNP is a total winter wonderland by the time December rolls around. Remember, RMNP is up there when it comes to altitude, so you will always experience deep snow, snowstorms, and incredible, winter conditions. Still, it’s CO, so you could be in for a sunny, exceptional day. It all depends on what Mother Nature has in store. My advice? If you want tons of snow, snowy adventures, and snowy activities, winter here is a great choice. If you’d prefer a little snow-capped mountain on the peaks in the background of your photos, another season will work just perfectly—the Rockies tend to be capped with snow almost year round.
Spring in RMNP (May-June)
Unpredictable, wild, and sometimes jaw-droppingly beautiful, Spring in CO is a little bit of a toss-up. Spring is for couples who love a little adventure and don’t mind pivoting because you could either have an almost-summer day or a snowstorm, all with very little warning. While spring is definitely paving the way for an epic summer of wildflowers, it can be a little bit rugged out there, so I always suggest opting for a more stable season if you’re not interested in being flexible or would prefer more predictable weather.
Summer in RMNP (July-August)
Stunning wildflower blooms, every seasonal trail is open, and the weather is absolutely lovely. Summer in the foothills and front range can be sweltering, but mountain air at such high elevations is honestly so dang delightful. You’ll have access to just about every spot in the park, will get to see the most stunning wildflower meadows ever, and can enjoy the sunshine without needing to layer up too much.
The How-Tos & Paperwork: Rocky Mountain National Park, Color Wedding Permit Details
If we’re going to team up, I want you to know that I’m going to have your back when it comes to planning your day and capturing your love—but also, I’ve got you covered on the paperwork, too. Sometimes, specific permits are required to elope in national parks, and RMNP is one of those places. That’s why we take care of the paperwork ASAP and together so we can make sure everything about your elopement is legal, aligned with RMNPs rules, and totally clear to go on your big day!
RMNP Wedding Permits & Paperwork
My best advice? Check out the RMNP page here that designates the specific rules and regulations you need to know! Here are some of the highlights:
- You’ll need to pay a $300 fee to elope in RMNP
- You need to reserve one of the 12 designated ceremony sites for your actual wedding or elopement ceremony, but then you are allowed to hike elsewhere in the park for portraits
- For 2022, there are 60 permits available for each month from May-October and 40 permits for November- April.
- You can apply for a permit up to one year in advance of your desired wedding month. That means if you want to elope in April of 2023, you can apply as early as April 2022 (and I highly recommend you do, these permits get taken up fast!)
- No ceremony group size can exceed 30 people—some sites will mandate fewer people than that.
- Marriage licenses must be used within 35 days of the issue date in Colorado
- You don’t have to get your marriage license in RMNP—CO is cool with you getting your license in any county so long as it’s in Colorado
- No witnesses are necessary—no officiants, either (we’ll get to that in a second)
- There’s no waiting period—AKA, if you want to get your license, get married, and turn it back in all in the same 24 hours, that possibility is all yours.
- You must file the license (in person or by mail) in the county it was issued
Everything You Need to Know About Self-Solemnizing
This isn’t specific to RMNP, but it is a special little feature Colorado offers.
If you’ve never heard the term self-solemnizing, you’re going to want to pay really close attention—because it’s truly amazing.
Self-solemnizing means you don’t need witnesses, officiants, or any type of official to make your marriage ceremony an official act. AKA, you can marry yourselves—just you and your partner, however you want—without any type of official present to make it the “real deal.” You literally make it the real deal without anyone else’s authority. Is that not the most amazing damn thing you’ve ever heard?
As a bonus this means that your pup can literally use their pawprint on their marriage license to sign as your witness—how freakin’ cute is that? While your pup might not be able to join you for your ceremony in RMNP (though there are some areas that will allow your leashed pup to join, we just need to verify!), they can be a part of your elopement anyway!
The Top Elopement and Wedding Venues Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Della Terra Moutain Chataeu
Della Terra is a luxury, boutique inn and wedding venue located above Estes Park at the Fall River entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. They have two exquisite ceremony location options, on-site getting-ready areas, luxury honeymoon accommodations, and the wedding experience of a lifetime.
Taharaa Mountain Lodge
Taharaa Mountain Lodge has some of the most spectacular views in the Estes Valley. They have two of the most stunning ceremony sites in the whole of the Valley.
Black Cayon Inn
Black Canyon Inn offers the ability to have your complete wedding celebration conveniently hosted at one central location. The views here are stunning! They have lodging and a new reception hall worth checking out too.
YMCA of the Rockies
YMCA of the Rockies has several ceremony locations – the Overlook and Sara Smith Chapel being my favorite. Both are surrounded by epic scenery. They also have multiple cabins on-site, so your guests can stay on-site in a variety of accommodations. Plus, there are multiple sites both indoors and outdoors for a ceremony or a reception!
Best Places to Stay Near Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is surrounded by amazing places to stay, some of which even allow you to hold your ceremony. Check them out below!
Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Packages
Looking to create your ideal Rocky Mountain National Park elopement and have it captured by your perfect-fit elopement photographer? Friends, I’m your gal!
Don’t be fooled by the title, I’m so much more than your photographer. I’m there with you EVERY step of the way of your beautiful day, from brainstorming and planning to capturing and documenting your love story on the day you say “I do.”
Want to know more about how I can help you plan your dream Rocky Mountain National Park elopement? I’ve got you. Here are a few ways that I can be there for you throughout your entire elopement:
- Exclusive 100-page Elopement Planning Guide for Captured by Marcela Couples
- 3 Questionnaires that help you get down to the root of what you want to better help you plan your perfect elopement
- Personalized and detailed elopement recommendations from yours truly
- Local vendor recommendations
- Timeline creation that details all the possibilities for your day
- Packing lists galore
And that’s just the start of it all! From helping you with permits to scouting out the best locations to being on your team through thick and thin, I’m here to help you and your partner craft a day that’s unique, memorable, and perfect for the two of you.
Ready to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park? Let’s Do This Thing
So, tell me—does all of this sound right up your alley? Good, because same here.
There’s really no place like Rocky Mountain National Park. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard to make the wrong choice for your elopement in Colorado, but if you’re looking for a picturesque, adventurous, totally perfect-for-you elopement with a backdrop that’s unmatched—then Rocky Mountain National Park is probably the ultimate elopement location pick for you and the love of your life.
The most important thing to remember? Your elopement should happen your way, every step of the journey. Let’s plan the perfect day for you, together. Ready to do just that? Good—I’m ready, too.
Reach out to me to chat about what your dreamy elopement day looks like and to learn so much more (yeah, there’s more) about Rocky Mountain National Park and why it might be the perfect pick for your epic day.
And don’t worry, if you’re on the hunt for some extra insight (yep, even more insight), I’ve linked to my elopement guide (right here) for some serious guidance on how you can begin crafting your perfect day