Table of Contents
- Where is Rocky Mountain National Park?
- Why Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park?
- Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits
- How to Get Your Colorado Marriage License
- Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations
- BONUS: 3 Elopement Locations Outside of Rocky Mountain National Park
- Best Time of Year to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Best Places to Stay for Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
- 5 Fun Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Ideas
- Meet Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Photographer & Videographer
- Colorado Elopement Inspiration
Let’s take a lil’ trip into the mountains today – pack your hiking backpacks and your favorite mountain attire, because we’re heading to Rocky Mountain National Park! RMNP is one of the most spectacular parks in the country and has become an incredibly popular elopement location (for good reason!). It’s also one of our personal fave places to explore, so we wanted to put together this in-depth Rocky Mountain National Park elopement guide for any couples who are thinking of eloping in the park! Because it’s a national park, there are quite a few rules & restrictions you need to follow, which we’ve included in this guide, along with all the RMNP wedding locations, the best places to stay nearby, the best hikes, and sooo much more. Let’s get to it!
Where is Rocky Mountain National Park?
If you’re not from Colorado or haven’t visited, you might not know where Rocky Mountain National Park is – so we’ll start off with some basic info about the park before diving into all the elopement stuff!
Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most incredible national parks in the country, spanning the Continental Divide and over 200,000 acres of craggy mountains, alpine tundra, and lush subalpine forests. Located in northern Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park is located about 1.5 hours northwest of Denver, 3.5 hours northeast of Aspen, and 2.5 hours northeast of Breckenridge.
Rocky Mountain National Park has 4 different entrances:
- Beaver Meadows Entrance Station – closest entrance to Estes Park
- Fall River Entrance Station – one of two major entrances on the east side of the park
- Wild Basin Entrance Station – southernmost entrance on the east side of the park
- Grand Lake Entrance Station – on the west side of the park
If you’re flying in from out of state to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, you can fly into the Denver International Airport (DEN), which is about 1.5 hours from the Beaver Meadows Entrance.
Why Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park?
If you’re not super familiar with Rocky Mountain National Park and are still considering other locations for your elopement, let’s talk about all the reasons you should elope at this amazing destination!
Here are 3 of the top reasons why you should consider eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park:
- It’s heaven for adventure-lovers: no matter what level of adventure or thrill you enjoy, RMNP has something for EVERYONE. From quick trails to 8+ mile treks through the mountains, to bouldering and rock climbing, there are sooo many phenomenal opportunities for adventure for anybody who loves spending time in nature.
- It’s close to multiple fun mountain towns: not only is RMNP just 1.5 hours from Denver, it’s close to a few mountain towns that are really fun to explore during your down time! Boulder is an awesome place to check out or stay in during your time in the area.
- The views are unreal: literally everywhere you look, your jaw will be on the floor. From wildflower meadows to alpine tundra to jagged mountain peaks to shimmering lakes, the scenery is absolutely incredible, and is very accessible – there are plenty of spots that you can get to via car or a short walk, if you don’t want to go on a full hike!
There are sooo many more reasons to elope in RMNP, but don’t worry – we’ll cover them all in the rest of this guide.
Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits
We wanted to include permit info right away, before we dive into more of the fun stuff. This is a super important section if you’re looking to get married in Rocky Mountain National Park, because the park is one of the stricter ones in the country as far as wedding permits go. Please do your research & plan as far in advance as you can, so that you have plenty of time to follow the park’s permitting process as detailed below – and so that you’re not surprised by the strict rules and restrictions the park has in place.
RMNP Wedding Permit Basics
To get married in Rocky Mountain National Park, you’ll need a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding permit, and you will also need to work with the park to reserve your desired location for your date.
How far in advance can I apply for a RMNP Wedding Permit?
You can apply starting 1 year ahead of your desired wedding month – e.g. if you want to get married in June 2024, you can apply starting in June 2023.
Can anyone get a RMNP Wedding Permit?
Due to the sheer number of couples who want to get married in RMNP, the park has put restrictions on how many permits they give out. From May-October, 60 permits are issued per month, and from November-April, 40 permits are issued per month, all on a first-come, first-serve basis.
In addition to the monthly permit limits, no more than 2 weddings will be allowed per day at any location, and no more than 6 total weddings will be scheduled per day in the entire park, no matter the time of year. This is why it’s superrrr important to apply for your RMNP Wedding Permit as early as you can (1 year in advance), and to be flexible when it comes to the locations you prefer!
How many people can you have at your RMNP wedding?
Each permitted location has a different maximum group size, but the maximum you’ll find at any of the locations is 30 people, including both of you, all of your guests, and all of your vendors. Some sites only allow 10-20!
What’s allowed/not allowed for RMNP weddings?
While each location has its own unique site restrictions, here are some rules and restrictions that apply to all wedding locations in RMNP:
- Ceremonies are limited to two hours maximum
- You won’t have exclusive use of your site – other visitors may still be in the area
- Carpooling is recommended, as parking at the wedding locations is limited
- Your photographer & officiant are covered under your wedding permit, so you won’t need to get separate ones for them
- Dogs are only allowed at the Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater & Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater
- Amplified music is not allowed
- Throwing/scattering birdseed, flower petals, etc. is not allowed
- Bouquets & boutonnieres are allowed
How to Apply for a RMNP Wedding Permit
Now that you know the basics about RMNP Wedding Permits, here’s how to apply for yours!
- Download & complete this Special Use Application
- Email the completed application to email@example.com
- If your permit request is approved, you’ll receive the permit via email along with instructions to pay the $300 non-refundable processing fee
- Pay the fee and review, sign, & return the permit via email for final approval
- Once the permit is finalized, you’ll receive an authorized copy via email
- Bring your permit with you to your ceremony!
RMNP Entry Fee Info
In addition to your wedding permit & reservation, you and your guests will need to pay the regular park entry fee! To enter Rocky Mountain National Park, you can purchase a 1-day vehicle entrance pass for $30, a 7-day vehicle entrance pass for $35, a Rocky Mountain National Park Annual Pass for $70, or opt for an America the Beautiful Annual Pass for $80.
No matter which pass you choose, we recommend purchasing it online ahead of time via recreation.gov to save you time – you’ll receive a digital pass that you can download on your phone, or print out to display in your car when you arrive!
How to Get Your Colorado Marriage License
In addition to getting your RMNP Wedding Permit and reserving your desired wedding location, don’t forget that you’ll need to obtain a Colorado marriage license to get married in Rocky Mountain National Park! Colorado is actually one of the easier states to get married in, which is great and means you don’t have to do quite as much planning.
Below, we’ve gathered the basic info you need to know about Colorado’s marriage laws as well as the licensing process!
Colorado Marriage Laws
- Colorado residency required? No
- U.S. citizenship required? No
- Minimum age requirement: 18
- Length of license validity: 35 days
- Witnesses required: None
- Waiting period: None
- Blood test required? No
- Cost: $30 application fee
P.S. One of the reasons that Colorado is an easy state to get married in, besides the fact that no witnesses are required AND there’s no waiting period, is that you can self-solemnize your own marriage. This means you can marry yourselves without a judge or officiant present. So you can have a truly private elopement in Colorado, without ANY witnesses or an officiant – and it’ll still be legal!
Colorado Marriage License Process
Rocky Mountain National Park covers three counties: Larimer, Grand, & Boulder. Each county has its own, slightly different processes for getting a marriage license, but it doesn’t matter which county you get your license in – you can have your ceremony anywhere in Colorado no matter where you get your license.
The links below will take you to each individual county’s marriage licensing info!
Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations
Where can you get married in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Due to the increase in popularity in elopements in the park, there’s a specific list of locations where wedding ceremonies are permitted. Each location has a different maximum group size & maximum number of vehicles allowed, and may have unique site restrictions you need to follow. Below, we’ve listed out all of the permitted Rocky Mountain National Park elopement locations, and you can find descriptions of each location as well as site-specific restrictions on the NPS website.
- 3M Curve | 15 people | 3 vehicles
- Alluvial Fan Bridge | 20 people | 5 vehicles
- Bear Lake Nature Trail | 20 people | 5 vehicles
- Copeland Lake (Wild Basin Area) | 30 people | 10 vehicles
- Harbison Meadow Picnic Area (West Side near Grand Lake) | 30 people | 10 vehicles
- Hidden Valley | 30 people | 10 vehicles
- Lily Lake Dock | 10 people | 10 vehicles
- Lily Lake Trail | 20 people | 10 vehicles
- Lily Lake Southside Picnic Area | 30 people | 10 vehicles
- Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater* | 30 people | 10 vehicles
- Sprague Lake | 15 people (summer), 30 people (winter) | 3 vehicles (summer), 10 vehicles (winter)
- Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater | 20 people | 5 vehicles
- Upper Beaver Meadows | 30 people | 10 vehicles
*Note: the Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater isn’t available as a wedding location for the rest of 2023.
BONUS: 3 Elopement Locations Outside of Rocky Mountain National Park
If you read all that info about how strict the permitting process is & how few permits are issued, and are second-guessing your decision to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, we wanted to throw in a few extra locations for you to consider! These are 3 amazing elopement locations surrounding RMNP in case you decide you maybe want to visit RMNP and find a trail or two, but you don’t want to hold your actual ceremony inside of the park.
1. Estes Park
Estes Park has to be included on this list, of course, as it’s one of the coolest mountain towns in northern Colorado for adventurous, outdoor-lovin’ couples. Located at the eastern entrance of RMNP, Estes Park is most known for its stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, miles of beautiful trails, and its wide array of activities available for visitors. There are tons of cute places to stay, delicious restaurants, and you have super easy access to RMNP!
Located in north central Colorado, the Indian Peaks Wilderness is just over 30 minutes from RMNP and is yet another phenomenal location for couples looking to explore the magic that is the Colorado wilderness. With over 50 lakes, more than 100 miles of hiking trails, and gorgeous views, this is an awesome spot for you to hold your ceremony if you’d like to avoid the RMNP permitting process!
Last but not least, if you’d like to spend the majority of your elopement in a slightly larger, more populated area, Boulder is a must! Home to plenty of amazing outdoor activities, breweries, art galleries, and a vibrant downtown area, Boulder is a super fun place to explore, whether you want to stay in town or just spend an afternoon wandering the streets. Plus, it’s nestled right in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, and is just under an hour’s drive from the national park!
Best Time of Year to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park
It’s hard to pick just one time of year as the “best” time to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, since it really depends on what you’re envisioning for your elopement.
If you want to avoid crowds as much as possible for your RMNP elopement, then November-April will be your best bet. Keep in mind, though, that only 40 wedding permits are issued per day in these months, so you’ll need to be super on top of your permit application + flexible with what location you want. This time of year is also risky if you’re looking to hike because snow will be covering a lot of the park; however, there are still plenty of spots you can visit to get amazing views!
If you want the best weather for outdoor adventures such as hiking & rock climbing, then you should elope in RMNP between May-October. This is when the temperatures will be the warmest and the most trails will be open + free of snow at high elevations, and you’ll have the longest days with the most daylight!
If you’re dreaming of a fall elopement with gorgeous autumn colors, then you should elope in RMNP between late September & early October. These months are typically suuuper busy, though, so you’ll want to do your best to find spots that are a little more off-the-beaten-path to avoid crowds as much as possible!
No matter what time of year you choose to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park, be sure to keep your eye on current park conditions in case there are any last-minute, extreme forecast changes or road/trail closures.
Best Places to Stay for Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
While there aren’t any lodges or resorts inside of Rocky Mountain National Park, there are PLENTY in the surrounding areas! Estes Park & Boulder both have plenty of cozy Airbnbs, cabins, and luxurious mountain resorts, or you can opt to go camping in the Rocky Mountains if you elope during the summer. The options are endless, but we narrowed down a few of the best Airbnbs, hotels, resorts, & campgrounds below for ya to start with!
Airbnbs Near RMNP
- 100-Year-Old Cabin in Estes Park
- Cabin on the River
- Secluded Off Grid Backcountry Lodge
- Charming Log Cabin
- Mountain Village Lake Estes
Hotels + Resorts Near RMNP
- Glacier Basin Campground
- Aspenglen Campground
- Moraine Park Campground
- Longs Peak Campground
- Timber Creek Campground
5 Fun Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Ideas
If you have a couple of extra days to enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park, we highly recommend planning some fun activities to help you experience the magic of the park in unique ways! Here are 5 Rocky Mountain National Park elopement ideas that would be super cool to include either in your actual elopement timeline, or somewhere else in your itinerary.
1. Explore the trails
Rocky Mountain National Park has over 300 miles of incredible trails that you have to check out – we really recommend spending as much time exploring the park as you’re able to during your time in Colorado.
Here are some of the best Rocky Mountain National Park hikes that would be awesome to incorporate into your elopement itinerary, ranging from quick & easy hikes to longer treks!!
Length: 1.0 mi
Elevation Gain: 236 ft
Length: 1.6 mi
Elevation Gain: 226 ft
Length: 1.9 mi
Elevation Gain: 456 ft
Length: 3.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 987 ft
Length: 5.4 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,062 ft
Length: 8.6 mi
Elevation Gain: 1,771 ft
2. Experience the park via horseback
Want to experience Rocky Mountain National Park in a super unique way? There are two stables in the park & many more outside the park that you can book a horseback ride through, such as the National Park Gateway Stables! How fun would it be to start off your elopement day with a ride through the spectacular park scenery, or to book it as an adventure for the day after your ceremony with some friends & fam?
3. Traverse the alpine tundra to Chasm Lake
Chasm Lake is a must-see part of Rocky Mountain National Park, and takes you on an 8-mile round trip hike along the Long’s Peak Trail, and through the most stunning subalpine forest. You’ll get spectacular views of the lake and the hike will work up a great sweat – it’s an awesome choice for couples looking for a more strenuous/adventurous way to experience the park!
4. Enjoy the views from Many Parks Curve
If you’d rather experience the stunning landscapes around you without all the effort of a multiple-mile-long hike, drive along the scenic Trail Ridge Road* and pull off at the Many Parks Curve! This is a popular scenic vista overlooking Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Horseshoe Park and makes for a great stop on your drive around the park, or an amazing way to see the sunset after you wrap your elopement.
*Trail Ridge Road is closed from mid-October through late-May every year.
5. Go rock climbing or mountaineering
Rocky Mountain National Park offers a ton of incredible opportunities for rock climbing, mountaineering, bouldering, and even snow & ice climbing – so if that’s your thing, you can’t miss the chance to do it in this amazing park! You’ll need to get timed entry permits and follow the park’s climbing rules + ethics, which you can learn more about here.
Looking for some more ideas and activities to include in your big day? Scroll through these 60 Unique Elopement Ideas that we compiled a while back!
Well whaddya know – that’s us! We are T & Corey, a husband + wife Rocky Mountain National Park elopement photo/video duo who specializes in adventure elopements with rad couples. If you’re looking for a couple of nerds to help you plan your dream RMN elopement, guide you through having a stress-free day, and document every special moment of your epic Colorado adventure, look no further.
We offer a nationwide elopement package that would be perfect for your Rocky Mountain elopement, which includes:
- Photo and/or video coverage by T & Corey
- Full resolution photo and/or video files
- Location recommendations
- TImeline assistance
- Vendor recommendations
- Customized location scouting & research
- Permit assistance
And MORE! We’d love to hang with ya and explore the incredible Rocky Mountains by your side as we capture your special day, both the big moments and all the little ones in-between.
If you’re ready to plan your adventure with us, we’d freaking love to hear from you!
Colorado Elopement Inspiration
If you want to see an example of an epic Colorado elopement to get some inspo for your RMNP celebration, check out Ali + Phil’s Elegant Telluride Elopement – it was one of our faves of all time!
Adventure Elopement Resources
And for further help planning your big day, take a look at our blog, or at a few of our recent favorite guides + resources below. We hope you love them!