How to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Information

I have captured elopements in five different National Parks, but Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my absolute favorites. Placed right in my backyard of Colorado, the park is complete with alpine visas, gushing waterfalls, stunning rock ledges, open meadows, and breath-taking alpine lakes, which means… there are plenty of options when selecting your perfect ceremony backdrop! 

As Rocky Mountain National Park has became a popular destination for wedding ceremonies, they have put in place a handful of rules that must be followed by those wishing to get married in this beautiful National Park .

While some couples might be perfectly fine with having their ceremonies in those designated locations, some might have their set their sights on locations that are NOT on the approved list, and eloping offers a fun loophole! If you decide to elope to Rocky Mountain National Park, you can have your ceremony at one of the assigned locations AND take photos in a different spot later in the day. This is great for couples wanting to incorporate friends and family that need an accessible location but still seeking a bigger hike or different backdrop for their wedding day photos. The photography permit covers you for a full 24 hours for as many locations as you’d like, so don’t be discouraged if you have your heart set on somewhere else in the park for your adventure elopement, we would have PLENTY of time to capture it all!

Below you will find 10 things you should know before eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park along with the designated ceremony spots, and some of my favorite hidden gems!


Chasm Lake Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations
Chasm Lake

10 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT ELOPING IN RMNP

  1. In order to have your ceremony at Rocky Mountain National Park, you must obtain a Wedding Permit ($250) This permit allows you to get married in one of the assigned spots, as well as including a photography permit. You can find find the permit information here.
  2. Rocky Mountain National Park is a very popular location not only for elopements but weddings as well, so book your date ASAP! (Pro Tip: Look into a weekday elopement so you can get as much privacy as possible)
  3. There are thirteen designated wedding ceremony locations within Rocky Mountain National Park. There can be no more than two elopements/ceremonies per location- per day. There can be no more than six ceremonies within the park per day.
  4. Be prepared for traffic, and plan accordingly! Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular parks in the entire US with over 4 million visitors per year. Make sure you are packed and well prepared so you can hit the parking lots and trails early to avoid the crowds and lines.  
  5. Estes Park is the closest town to Rocky Mountain National Park, which has plenty of lodging options including: Air BnB’s, log cabins, and even the Stanley Hotel from the Shining! 
  6. Timeliness is KEY for your big day so make sure to have your it perfectly mapped out! Elopements usually last about 4-8 hours depending on what your day entails.
  7. If good photography is important, you’ll want to avoid the mid day hours, from 10-3, when the light is harsh and blown out. Sunrise and sunset are the best time for lighting and for avoiding the midday crowds!
  8. The weather in Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park is somewhat crazy and unpredictable. It can be snowing one minute and then bright and sunny the next, so be prepared and make sure to bring layers, rain coats, gloves, wind breakers, etc. to insure that you’ll be comfortable and able to be in the moment!
  9. Do you enjoy wildlife? This is a great park to spot deer, elk, mountain goats, moose, and even beavers if you’re lucky!
  10. There are no pets allowed on the trails in Rocky Mountain National Park. Consider other locations in Colorado that are pet friendly if you want to include your furry friends!

Sky Pond Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Location
Sky Pond

BEAR LAKE NATURE TRAIL

The Bear Lake Nature Trail is 11 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitors Lodge and has mountain views, and aspen trees. This location is extremely busy all year round and has date requirements for all ceremonies! (see below)

  • Ceremony size (max.): 20
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 5 

Special Restrictions: No ceremonies are permitted at Bear Lake Nature Trail from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend, and ceremonies on weekends are notpermitted year-round.

Bear Lake Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Location
Bear Lake
Bear Lake Nature Trail Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations

3M CURVE

3M Curve is 3.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Lodge and features a large rock outcrop overlooking mountains, meadows, and moraines. This is great for couples looking to incorporate a small ground of friends and family on their day.

  • Ceremony size (max.): 15
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 3 

Harbison Meadow PICNIC AREA (West Side, Grand Lake)

Harbison Meadow Picnic Area features a large meadow with lake views with wildlife frequently in the area! This is a great place to catch deer or even moose! This location is on the west side of the park and is adjacent to Trail Ridge Road which has big views of the rocky mountains. A great spot for sunset photos.

  • Ceremony size (max.): 60
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10

Special Restrictions:A vehicle limit of 10 applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day.

Trail Ridge Road Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations
Trail Ridge Road

LILY LAKE DOCK

Are you looking for views of the tallest 14er in the front range of Colorado? Then Lily Lake Dock is the perfect backdrop for your elopement! Located just 6.5 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Lodge on Highway 7, Lily Lake Dock features a lake, 360-degree mountain views, a walking trail, and is wheelchair accessible!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 10
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10 

Special Restrictions: A vehicle limit of 10 applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day.

Lily Lake Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Location
Lily Lake

LILY LAKE TRAIL & LAKE PICNIC AREA

Located off Highway 7, just 6.5 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Lodge, both the Lily Lake Trail and Lily Lake Southside Picnic Area are accessible by a ¼ mile hike up the trail. Once you get to the location, you will be greeted by a knoll overlooking the lake,aspen trees and Longs Peak!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 20 (Lily Lake Trail) & 30 (Lily Lake Southside Picnic Area)
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10 

Special Restrictions: A vehicle limit of 10 applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day; Gated access allows two vehicles to drive up to the site for an additional $50


HIDDEN VALLEY

Hidden Valley is one of the most beautiful locations, especially come the warmer months! Located 6 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Lodge, this ceremony location features aspen and pine trees, summer wildflowers, a wooden foot bridge and is wheelchair accessible!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 100 (specific times)
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 20 (anytime)

Special Restrictions: Ceremonies may not occupy picnic sites; Call for availability


SPRAGUE LAKE

I absolutely love a great water backdrop and Sprague Lake certainly does not disappoint. Located 7 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Bear Lake Road, this wedding location gives a dramatic view of the mountains and lake, and features a dock, knoll, wooden foot bridge, and is wheelchair accessible. Keep in mind, this area can get very busy, so consider a sunrise ceremony if a prive and intimaty ceremony is important to you!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 15 (summer) & 30 (winter)
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 3 (summer) & 10 (winter)

Special Restrictions:A vehicle limit of 10 and ceremony size applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day and all ceremonies must not occupy the picnic sites.


UPPER BEAVER MEADOWS

Upper Beaver Meadows is one of the closest wedding locations to the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center (1.5 miles). This location features views of the Continental Divide and open meadows. An absolutely breathtaking spot for couples looking to catch the sunset colors off the mountains for their photos.

  • Ceremony size (max.): 60
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10

Special Restrictions: No vehicle access in winter

Continental Divide Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Locations
Continental Divide

MORAINE PARK AND VISITOR CENTER

The rustic Moraine Park Visitor Center Amphitheater is a beautiful ceremony backdrop in itself, but the wedding location also features stunning pine trees, a view of Morain Park and Longs Peak, and the cutest wooden benches. Approximately 2.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Bear Lake Road.

  • Ceremony size (max.): 60 (summer) & 100 (winter)
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10 

Special Restrictions: A vehicle limit of 10 applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day.


ALLUVIAL FAN BRIDGE

The Alluvial Fan Bridge is 7 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Lodge on Old Fall River and features a river with large boulders, a waterfall, a small wood foot bridge, and aspen trees. Keep in mind this location is very busy during the late summer and fall months when the colors are changing!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 20
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 5 

TIMBER CREEK AMPHITHEATER

For those looking for a more intimate amphitheater setting for their ceremony, the Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater is located on the west side of the park and has partial views of the Colorado River. This location is wheelchair accessible and there is a large campground located nearby if you want to incorporate Smor’es and star gazing into your trip!

  • Ceremony size (max.): 20
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 5

Special Restrictions: Limited parking


COPELAND LAKE (Wild Basin Area)

Copeland Lake is 13 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitors Lodge off Highway 7 in Wild Basin and features a lake with mountain views and a forested area with some aspen trees. 

  • Ceremony size (max.): 30
  • Number of vehicles (max.): 10

Special Restrictions:A vehicle limit of 10 applies from the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day.



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COMMENTS

So many amazing tips! I really want to visit Colorado now!

Such a beautiful place, def a bucket list item!

Love all these tips for couples looking to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park!!

Such great tips for couples eloping!

This information on eloping in RMNP is GOLD! You did such a good job laying out the information!

great tips and really helpful information on how to elope in rocky mountain national park!

This is such a helpful article for couples and photographers alike! I had no idea how much planning went into an RMNP wedding.

This is such a helpful list! I wish I had known about this when I got married!

These are such great tips! Rocky Mountain NP is an amazing place to elope so I hope that this encourages more couples to do so!

I love how thorough this is! Perfect blog for someone looking to elope in the Rocky Mountains

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