Table of Contents:
- Top 8 Best Places to Elope in Colorado
- Best Time of Year to Elope in Colorado
- Legalities of Getting Married in Colorado
- Where to Stay for Your Colorado Elopement
- 10 Epic Colorado Elopement Activities & Ideas
- Colorado Adventure Elopement Photographer + Videographer
Last week, we published a Telluride elopement guide – so we figured we’d keep the ball rollin’ with another Colorado-related guide. This time, we’ve put together a MASSIVE Colorado elopement guide with literally everything you need to know to plan your dream elopement in Colorado! From the best elopement locations to permit info to how to get your marriage license & more, we hope allll the good info we included in here can help you plan the best day ever in this incredible state. Let’s get into it, yeah?
Top 8 Best Places to Elope in Colorado
First up on this list is Telluride, a picturesque mountain town in the southwest corner of Colorado just near the Utah border. If you’re looking for views that look like they were pulled straight off a postcard, incredible outdoor activities year-round, endless hiking & biking trails, and an adorable downtown area to explore, you will LOVE Telluride just as much as we do.
Don’t miss our complete guide to How to Elope in Telluride if you’re thinking of eloping in Telluride and want more info!
Located in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Ouray is a little mountain town in southwest Colorado that people come from all over to visit. It’s the most magical place for a mountain escape, as it’s literally been nicknamed the “Switzerland of America” for its dazzling scenery, relaxing hot springs, and the tall mountains surrounding the majority of the town. It’s a great place to visit if you’re eloping in Telluride and want to drive a little to explore somewhere new – Cascade Falls & Box Canyon Falls are a couple of our personal favorite spots in Ouray.
Want to see some Ouray elopement inspiration? Check out Ali + Phil’s Elegant Telluride Elopement, where we explored Telluride & then made our way to Ouray to chase some waterfalls!
Rocky Mountain National Park obviously has to be on this list, being that it’s one of the most iconic places in Colorado (and in the U.S., honestly!). We personally think it’s one of the BEST parks in the country, spanning the Continental Divide with over 200,000 stunning acres of alpine tundra, subalpine forests, and dramatic mountain peaks. The park is a freaking phenomenal elopement location because of the endless trails and gorgeous views everywhere you look, but keep in mind that permits are actually given out on a limited basis now! Due to the amount of couples wanting to elope in RMNP, the NPS has new restrictions on how many permits they can give out each season, so try and get on top of your application as far in advance as you can – or have a couple of backup options in place.
For more info about eloping in RMNP, take a look at our Ultimate Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Guide.
If you’re looking for an area outside of Rocky Mountain National Park because you don’t want to go through the RMNP permitting process, or you’re unable to get a permit, don’t worry – Estes Park is right nearby and is just as beautiful! Estes Park sits at the eastern entrance of RMNP and boasts breathtaking scenery, tons of trails, and amazing mountain resorts. We highly recommend eloping in Estes Park if you’re looking for a mountain getaway with plenty of things to do + easy access to RMNP if you do end up wanting to visit the national park for some portraits!
Next up is Winter Park, one of the most popular vacation destinations in Colorado thanks to its epic skiing in the winter and wildflower-covered trails in the summer. With spectacular views of the Rocky Mountains, tons of opportunities for camping, biking, hiking, and boating, and an epic ski resort, Winter Park is an awesome place to bring your friends & fam for a mountain getaway and to celebrate your elopement.
The Indian Peaks Wilderness is a wilderness area located about 30 minutes from RMNP that encompasses over 70,000 acres of land, filled with stunning alpine lakes, 130 miles of trails, and some of the most popular backpacking routes in the area. If you’re looking for somewhere to explore besides RMNP, the Indian Peaks Wilderness is an awesome option that also helps you avoid the RMNP permitting process – but that gives you just as many incredible opportunities for adventure!
If you want to spend some time in a little bit of a larger area, Boulder is a fantastic place to explore thanks to its many local breweries, restaurants, art galleries, and a vibrant downtown area. Plus, there are of COURSE endless outdoor activities in the Boulder area, and it’s only about an hour from RMNP. Boulder is a great place to stay for your elopement and spend some time lounging around/walking downtown with your guests who traveled in to be with you!
Last but definitely not least is Breckenridge, a gorgeous mountain town at the base of the Rockies. Best known for its world-class skiing, year-round alpine activities, and the historic Main Street, Breckenridge is a popular vacation destination for anyone seeking an alpine paradise. Whether you stay in a cozy little cabin or at the luxe ski resort, you’ll get to enjoy breathtaking mountain scenery and will never run out of things to do in the area!
Best Time of Year to Elope in Colorado
The best time of year to elope in Colorado totally depends on what you want your elopement to look like, and what your priorities are! Peak tourist seasons across most parts of Colorado are summer & winter, as people usually come from other parts of the country to either experience the beautiful summer weather and hiking/biking opportunities, or to experience the epic winter activities that the mountains have to offer.
If you want to elope in Colorado during the warmest part of the year, you should elope between June and October, as that’s when the weather is warmest and best for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, & white water rafting.
If you want to elope in Colorado when you’ll have the best opportunities to ski/snowboard, you should elope between February and March, as that’s typically when prime ski season comes around. However, it obviously depends on the specific area you’re visiting as well as the snowfall that year.
If you want to avoid crowds & tourists as much as possible, you should elope in Colorado between November and April. These are the months that typically see the least crowds as the weather isn’t ideal for outdoor activities, but you can absolutely still have an epic elopement if you find the right places to go! Keep in mind that if you want to elope in RMNP, they only issue 40 wedding permits per day during these months, so you’ll need to be on top of your application + flexible with what location you want.
Here’s a quick list of the pros & cons of eloping during each season in Colorado:
Summer (mid-June to early September)
- Best weather for hiking, biking, & water activities
- Long days/lots of daylight
- Great for all-day elopements from sunrise to sunset
- All roads are open (minus random closures/exceptions)
- Lots of crowds + tourists
- Higher travel costs
Fall (mid-September to mid-November)
- Gorgeous fall colors
- Temperatures can still be warm enough for hiking at certain points
- Lower travel costs than peak season (summer/winter)
- Cooler temperatures
- Shorter days
- Crowds + tourists
- Can quickly get too cold for hiking, biking, or swimming
- Higher elevations start to close for the season
- More rain
Winter (mid-November to early April)
- Magical winter wonderland!
- Epic skiing + winter activities
- Days are often still sunny
- Lots of crowds + tourists
- Higher travel costs
- Many roads + trails are closed
- Too cold for hiking, biking, or swimming
- Cold nights
Spring (mid-April to early June)
- Days start to become longer
- Flowers start to bloom
- Landscapes turn green again
- Lower travel costs than peak season (summer/winter)
- More rain
- Cold nights
- Possibility of snow
Legalities of Getting Married in Colorado
Colorado Marriage Laws
Did you know that Colorado is probably the EASIEST state to get married in?! That’s one of the biggest reasons that couples love to elope here – the process for getting a marriage license is pretty dang easy compared to a lot of other states.
There are 3 main reasons that Colorado is an easy state to get married in:
- You can self-solemnize your marriage license, meaning you don’t need an officiant – you can do it all on your own!)
- You don’t need any witnesses present at your ceremony
- There’s no required waiting period once you get your license – so you can technically tie the knot as soon as you have your license!
Colorado is actually one of only 9 states where self-solemnization is legal, making it a very popular state for couples who want to elope totally in private, without needing an officiant or even any witnesses (besides their photographer/videographer).
Here are some of the other basic Colorado marriage laws you should know:
- You do not need to be a resident to get married in Colorado
- The fee to apply for a Colorado marriage license is $30
- Colorado marriage licenses are valid for 35 days upon receipt
- Your solemnized certificate must be mailed back to your county clerk within 60 days of your ceremony
- Colorado does recognize common law marriage, which means if you and your partner are both over 18 and live “mutually as a married couple,” you may be able to have a common-law marriage before you even get a marriage license
- You must be over the age of 18 to get married in Colorado
- Blood tests are not required to get a Colorado marriage license
How to Get Your Colorado Marriage License
To get your marriage license in Colorado, you first need to find a local county clerk’s office to apply through. If you’re a Colorado resident, you can use the office close to you – otherwise, find the office that’s closest to where you’ll be visiting for your elopement. Here is a list of the county clerk offices around the state!
Once you know which office you’ll be going through, you should find out what their specific process is for getting your marriage license. The process is typically pretty similar across all offices, but some counties may require you to fill out an application online before visiting, while others may just need you to fill out an application in-person once you show up.
When you apply for your Colorado marriage license, you’ll pay your $30 application fee, typically via cash or debit/credit card. Then, if your application is approved, you’ll receive your license and must use it within 35 days! Remember, there is NO waiting period – so no need to wait a few days before having your ceremony if you don’t want to. You can make it official as soon as ya want!
Finally, be sure to mail your solemnized certificate back to the county clerk’s office within 60 days of your ceremony to finalize everything.
Colorado Elopement Permits
Now that you know how to get your Colorado marriage license, let’s talk about Special Use Permits that you may need depending on where you’re eloping!
Colorado National Park Elopement Permits
If you’re getting married in one of Colorado’s national parks, you’ll need a Special Use Permit. The application process for this permit varies by park, as do the rules + restrictions for wedding and elopement ceremonies in each park. Make sure to start your application process as early in advance as possible, especially if you want to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, as the park’s rules have gotten a lot stricter in recent years! They give out a limited amount of permits now, so you’re not guaranteed to get one.
Here are links to Special Use Permit info for each of Colorado’s national parks:
- Rocky Mountain National Park Special Use Permits
- Mesa Verde National Park Special Use Permits
- Great Sand Dunes National Park Special Use Permits
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park Special Use Permits
Colorado State Park Elopement Permits
If you want to elope in a Colorado state park, you may need a Special Activity Permit, but it depends on the details of your ceremony + the specific park you’re eloping in. We recommend finding the state park you’re considering here, and look at that specific park’s requirements!
For further info about the legalities of getting married in Colorado, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Colorado Marriage Laws + Licenses!
Where to Stay for Your Colorado Elopement
Because there’s SO much tourism in Colorado, there are endless amazing places to stay during your trip, no matter what area you’re visiting. Whether you’d like to find a cozy cabin in the mountains for just you and your partner, or you want to stay in a luxury ski resort with all your friends & fam, you’ll be able to easily find a place that fits what you’re lookin’ for. Here are some of the best places to stay for your elopement in each of the areas we mentioned above!
- Mountain Vista House
- Mountain Lodge Telluride
- Sunset Circle Chalét
- Telluride Ski & Golf
- The Peaks Resort & Spa
- Element 52, Auberge Resorts Collection
- Box Canyon Lodge & Hot Springs
- Imogene Hotel & Rooftop Bar
- The Alpine Escape
- Fox Farm Retreat
- Wiesbaden Hot Springs Spa & Lodgings
- Ouray Riverside Resort
Rocky Mountain National Park/Estes Park
- 100-Year-Old Cabin in Estes Park
- Cabin on the River
- Secluded Off Grid Backcountry Lodge
- Estes Park Resort
- Della Terra Mountain Chateau
- The Landing at Estes Park
Boulder/Indian Peaks Wilderness
- St. Julien Hotel & Spa
- Hotel Boulderado
- Magnolia Mountain Getaway
- Cabin in Boulder
- Luxe Boulder House
10 Epic Colorado Elopement Activities & Ideas
Colorado is one of the best places in the country for outdoor adventure, so you have to take advantage of the freaking epic opportunities available when you visit for your elopement! Here are 10 epic Colorado adventure elopement activities + ideas to consider adding to your elopement itinerary.
1. Book a helicopter tour
What better way to experience the epic Colorado landscapes than from up in the sky?! If you’re looking for a bit of a thrill, it would be so cool to book a helicopter tour for the two of you, and even any guests you’re inviting. Tie the knot one day, and head up into the clouds the next for a totally different perspective of this breathtaking state🤩Here are 7 Colorado helicopter tours you can look into for your elopement!
If you’re staying in Telluride for your elopement, you have to ride the Mountain Village gondola! It’s a great way to get an aerial perspective of the mountains but not from quite as high as a helicopter would take you😆This gondola links Telluride & Mountain Village and is totally free, only 13 minutes long, and gives you absolutely gorgeous views from up in the air. It provides access to hiking and biking trails in the summer, and ski slopes in the winter if you get off at the St. Sophia Station, or you can just use it to get to Mountain Village from Telluride. Highly recommend exploring both of these mountain towns if you have the time, since they’re so easily accessible from one another!
Eloping in Colorado in the summertime means amazing weather and lots of sunshine – and one of the most fun ways to take advantage of that sunshine is out on the water! If you want a little more of a thrill/adventure than going kayaking or canoeing, check out all the white water rafting opportunities on the San Miguel River. The river has a variety of routes for everyone, and the scenery you’ll get to pass by is absolutely beautiful!
Yup, you heard us right – Rocky Mountain National Park has over 300 MILES of trails ready & waiting for you to explore. If you’re eloping in RMNP or even if you’re eloping nearby and just want to spend some time in the park, you have to experience the park from the epic trails available to you. Whether you’re looking for a quick, easy trail to walk along, a challenging 5+ mile trek, or a fun trail to bike on, RMNP has options for hikers/bikers of all levels. And every dang trail is beautiful!
If you want to experience the breathtaking landscapes that Colorado has to offer but you don’t really want to go hiking, biking, or flying in a helicopter, you can simply drive along the San Juan Skyway! This is a 235-mile loop that takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the state, as well as a bunch of old mining towns in the mountains that you can stop & check out. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad is a popular stop for tourists along this byway who want to take a scenic train ride, so that’s also a fun option if you want to take a break from driving yourself.
If you’re eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park or any of the surrounding areas, you should definitely take a day trip to Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs! It’s a national landmark boasting absolutely incredible views of massive sandstone rock formations as well as plenty of amazing opportunities for hiking. Highly recommend making the trip and even staying a night in the area so that you have time to explore the dramatic landscapes that are pretty different from the mountains further north! Garden of the Gods is about 2.5 hours from RMNP, and 1.5 hours from Boulder.
7. Start the day off by hitting the slopes
Colorado is obviously crazy famous for its epic winter activities, so if you elope in the winter you absolutely HAVE to take advantage of the slopes that people come from across the country to experience. Whether you want to try skiing for the first time or you’re an experienced snowboarder, hitting the slopes would be such a rad way to start off your elopement day with an adventure🤩
8. Have a first dance under the stars
Who says you can’t incorporate a tradition or two into your elopement? If you love the idea of having a first dance together as newlyweds, freaking do it! It doesn’t matter if you have any guests to watch or if it’s just the two of you, or if you do it inside of your Airbnb or out in the middle of nowhere under the stars. Play a song on your phone (just be respectful of other visitors around you, if you’re out in public) and take in all the emotions of the day together while you enjoy the beautiful scenery around you, or the stars in the night sky above. There are NO rules, so dance the night away if you feel like it!
Rocky Mountain National Park has a ton of amazing rock climbing, mountaineering, & ice climbing opportunities year-round that you should definitely take advantage of if that’s the type of adventure you’re cravin’. Make sure to check out RMNP climbing ethics + safety info here before you go!
10. Explore the cozy little mountain towns
Finally, be sure to explore any of the mountain towns you pass through or stay in for your elopement. People travel from all over to experience the cozy towns that Colorado has to offer, and the spectacular views that surround them. Have a rest day or two during your trip if you have the time, where you can just chill and walk around town to check out the local shops, restaurants, and activities!
We hope this guide got you excited about the idea of eloping in Colorado, and helped you feel confident in your ability to effortlessly plan your dream day.
If you couldn’t already tell by the fact that we put this massive guide together for you & wouldn’t stop gushing about Colorado. . . we freaking love Colorado – and would be so stoked to tag along to document your Colorado adventure elopement 🤩We’re obsessed with all things outdoor adventure, and it’s truly the coolest job in the world getting to capture it all for our incredible couples through photo + video.
Take a look at our Colorado Adventure Elopement Packages + Pricing to get a feel for what we offer, and if you’re feeling all the right vibes, we would LOVE to chat more with ya. Reach out to us & let’s start planning your epic Colorado adventure elopement together – we can’t wait to be your Colorado elopement photographer + videographer!
Lookin’ for more resources to help you plan your epic adventure elopement? Don’t miss some of our most popular guides below!