Eloping In Colorado: How To Get Started

Eloping in Colorado is absolutely as adventurous as it sounds. Here’s everything you need to get started planning your elopement in the Rocky Mountains!

What Is An Elopement?

The idea of eloping often brings to mind a shocking or taboo act, but in reality, eloping is simply a way for modern couples to have a day of marriage and celebration. It can offer solutions to many challenges that come with traditional weddings, including:

  • An alternative to the production of a traditional wedding
  • A cost saving option both mentally and financially
  • An authentic way to celebrate your day of marriage
  • A creative opportunity to have fun!
  • The chance to be more present with your partner 

Reasons To Elope In Colorado!

Picture Perfect Backdrops 

  • Mountain Peaks
  • Alpine Lakes
  • Deserts
  • Canyons
  • Rivers
  • Dunes
  • Glaciers
  • Tundras

You Can Self-Solemnize

Self-solemnization means that you and your partner are the only ones who need to be a part of your day of marriage. There’s no need to hire an officiant or celebrant to make things official!  All it takes is a quick trip to the county clerk, a few signatures and voilà!

Tons Of Outdoor Activities

  • Simple Hike
  • Paddle-Boarding
  • 2-Day Backpacking Trek
  • Snowshoeing
  • Star Gazing
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Helicopter Tour

Your Pup Can Sign Your Marriage License

Although you don’t need a human witness for your day, your dog can be your witness! it’s totally as adorable as it sounds.

6 Steps To Eloping In Colorado

  • Select A Season
  • Pick A Region In The Rockies
  • Plan Details & Accommodations
  • Create A Timeline
  • Prepare For The Trip
  • Have An Incredible Day

Best Time Of Year To Elope In Colorado

Hidden gems that may require a hike to reach are locked away by snow until the later parts of June with a few exceptions. I like to think in terms of elevation and region-dependent mountain ranges across the state. Areas like Steamboat and Vail typically receive a lot of snow because of their locations and so it can be ideal for a winter elopement, but can be locked away by snow until late summer.

Despite what your calendar might say, Colorado will always be the wild card in regards to weather. The best time to elope in Colorado will depend on the couple and what they want to include as a potential activity on their wedding day. In general most couples elope in Colorado between the months of June and September. The later part of the summer is typically the most ideal in providing the largest variety of adventure activities. Think of something lush like a wildflower festival or an epic 4×4 Jeep tour over a mountain pass!

Colorado Elopements By The Season

Spring Elopements

The snow melt has begun, the waterfalls are flowing, the clocks have sprung forward one hour and the momentum is building. Eloping during the spring time can be somewhat strategic as a lot of the state is experiencing a large melt and rather muddy period of time. If you plan to elope between March and May I would recommend lower elevation areas such as the front range (cities as far north as Fort Collins and as far south as Pueblo) or even the western part of the state during this season. If you’re trying to experience those harder to reach gems in the high alpine, I would consider waiting until the summer season.

Summer Elopements

The busiest time of year in the Rockies and with good reason. The high alpine mountains have risen from their slumber. Everything from warm summer nights and camping-out to hot air balloons and wild flower festivals is happening between June and August. Overall it’s a magical time of year to experience the most of what Colorado has to offer. This is the period where you can truly experience something epic!

Autumn Elopements

There’s one early morning that stands out to me during this time of year. You know it’s arrived when you wake up and can feel the crispness in the air, the changing of the colors, and the shortening of the days. The best months to experience the fall foliage in Colorado are between September and early October in the high country. The rest of the front range can experience this during the later weeks of October. Autumn is a special time of year to elope in Colorado as the cooler nights have arrived and endless groves of golden aspens are sought after during this unpredictable time. Sometimes fall lasts an entire season and other times it’s gone in the blink of an eye.

Winter Elopements

If winter activities like snowmobiling, snowshoeing and hot springs sound like a blast, then you’ll definitely want to experience a winter elopement in Colorado. In general, the best months to experience this winter wonderland are between late December and early March. Because of the terrain during this time of year, there’s not as much foot traffic in the mountains presenting you more privacy and different backdrops from their summertime counterparts. This is the time of year for snow adventures, cozy fireplaces, and drinking hot cocoa while watching the snow fall.

Reasons To Elope During The Week In Colorado

One common thing you can expect when visiting Colorado – the weekend warriors. It doesn’t matter the season, if it’s 3pm on a Friday you will be sure to see some traffic heading west on I-70 into the mountains. If you’re considering eloping in Colorado, I would recommend doing it during the week. Beyond traffic, other reasons to consider an elopement during the week include flexibility with:

  • Rentals
  • Vendors
  • Reservations
  • Accommodations
  • Accessibility
  • Peace & Quiet
  • Less Distractions
  • Less Photo-Bombers
  • Less Random Paparazzi

Best Time Of Day To Elope: Sunrise vs. Sunset

Eloping at sunrise presents the opportunity for privacy in more popular locations and the potential for better weather as things can only get brighter and warmer. Normally for the best lighting possible, I recommend sunrise to couples if they want to elope in a more heavily trafficked area or if they select an eastern facing location! The magic you can witness from alpenglow is unbeatable and absolutely worth sacrificing a little sleep. There’s something about chasing sunrise that can charge the soul.

Eloping at sunset presents similarities to sunrise, but on the opposite side of the spectrum – and with a little more rest. Normally I recommend western facing locations if couples opt for sunset as their general time frame. This, in conjunction with more remote regions, provides you the most privacy. It also gives you the chance to slow down a little and embrace the magic of experiencing the glowing transition to sunset.

Where Can I Elope In Colorado? Colorado’s Public Lands: By The Numbers

With 8.3 million acres of public land according to the Bureau of Land Management, there’s plenty of room for adventure. A large some of the public land in Colorado can be broken down into:

  • 58 peaks that exceed 14,000ft
  • 42 State Parks
  • 41 Wilderness Areas
  • 11 National Forests
  • 8 National Monuments
  • 4 National Parks

Places To Elope In Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Ouray

Breckenridge

Mount Falcon Park

St. Mary’s Glacier

Lost Gulch Overlook

Sapphire Point

Clinton Gulch

Loch Lomond

Chief Mountain

Blue Lakes Waterfall

Blue Lakes

Long Lake

Colorado Marriage License & Paperwork

In Colorado, acquiring a marriage license is simple. Couples flying into Denver International Airport can apply in Denver or the county where they are getting married.  Before starting the process, keep in mind a few things.

  • You Can Apply Online Or In Person
  • Expect To Pay Around $30 On Average
  • Schedule An Appointment To Pick Up Your License
  • Sign Your License Within 35 Days Of Issuance On Average
  • File The Signed Certificate Within 63 Days Of Signing On Average

Consider checking if the county clerk’s office offers an online application and appointment options, which can make the process even more convenient. An appointment may not be required, but I recommend it for a smooth process!

Do You Need A Permit To Elope In Colorado?

You do not need a permit to elope in Colorado, but you may need a permit for your elopement location in Colorado.

Permits are dependent upon what Federal or State Agency’s jurisdiction that your location falls under. The process and price varies depending on what kind of land (National Park, National Forest, Wilderness Area, etc.) the ceremony will take place at, as well as the type of documentation (photography, videography etc.). The impact your ceremony could have on the land itself (size of party, props such as arches or ceremony seats for guests, etc.) also plays a role in whether or not a permit is required. To put things simply, permits can be needed or not needed based on a couple’s specific situation.

It’s always a good idea to do your own research on permitting in the areas you’ve been considering.  You can take steps such as calling the Ranger District offices to inquire about if permits are needed. You’ll need to explain your specific plans to get accurate input of the process and costs associated with permits. Don’t always believe what you find on social media.

Including Guests At Your Elopement?

Colorado is known for harboring the “Mile High City” as its capital.  Keeping that in mind, to get those epic views most couples are dreaming of involves going higher into the elevation.  If you plan to have family and friends joining, keep the elevation in mind with anyone visiting from out of town. Sometimes the elevation can creep up on us and it’s best to allow acclamation time. We want to save most of the gasps for the ceremony! 

Elopement Day Details

Another thing to consider is splitting up your time. Unlike traditional weddings that typically have a set agenda, elopements provide the freedom and flexibility of being able to custom create your wedding day. For instance, you can break things up and choose to have a private, adventure-filled ceremony (or snowball fight) at a higher elevation in the morning and celebrate with your closest loved-ones at a different time & place. 

Costs To Consider

Everyone’s budget & circumstances are different. You can technically pay nothing for your day of marriage if you decide to have a commitment ceremony rather than involving the legal paperwork. Generally speaking marriage licenses are $30 in Colorado where as fees and permits for locations can range anywhere from $0 – $300+.

Not only does Colorado welcome all types of love, but your options are truly endless when deciding how to celebrate your elopement day in the rocky mountains! Not far from the city are winding roads and beautiful landscapes to explore, experience and venture through!

Ethan James Rivera | Colorado Elopement Photographer

As an Elopement Photographer my goal is to have you look back on your day and feel what it was like to be there; to create a lasting emotion that resurfaces every-time you want to relive this chapter of your lives.

I would love to learn about your story and help co-create your wedding experience in the rockies. Check out my packages page & elopement guide to help you get started!

22 Comments

  1. Colorado look absolutely stunning! The perfect place for an elopement! And such good guide you have written, this will help many couples wanting to elope in Colorado!

  2. You’ve included so many informative tips! Colorado really seems to have it all, and I love that you can self-solemnize your elopement, too!

  3. After all these amazing photos and tips, who wouldn’t want to elope or get married in Colorado? Like it is such a perfect place, so many options to choose from. Everyone literally can have their best day!!|

  4. My playground….such a stunning piece of Earth to adventure anywhere in Colorado!!! Love my home and this is absolutely amazing info for all interested to elope here!

  5. This is a very helpful and thorough article. I love that Colorado has everything from mountains to canyons, deserts to glaciers. A little something for any couple!

  6. This is such an incredible resource for couples looking to elope in Colorado!! You’ve covered it all! And your photos are a dream! Beautiful work, Ethan!

  7. Fantastic article full with useful informations stuffed with great photos. Beautiful locaitons – I did not know there is a Loch Lomond in Colorado too. I was sure there is only one here in Scotland. 🙂

  8. I can’t believe I forgot some of these places. There’s so much in Colorado it’s pretty crazy. You knocked it out of the park. This is full of so much good information. I have never been to Loch Lomond in Colorado only the one in Scotland. I want to go check it out now.

  9. Holy wow, this is a great resource on eloping in Colorado. I love all the details and information you provided here, and the photos are stunning!

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