HOW TO ELOPE IN THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS
There are plenty of places worth visiting in Colorado, but the San Juan mountains are one part of the state that's hard to beat! It's a place that makes your adventure sensations jump off the chart! This state has some of the most scenic areas to explore in the world, but in this Telluride elopement guide, you'll find one area that's more special than the rest.
Elopements in Telluride and the San Juan mountains are my jam. I love everything about them, and I love photographing them! People who choose to get married out here have a special kind of energy and a zest for life that cannot be contained. It doesn’t matter if you have a small guest list (or no guest list at all), eloping in Telluride is an excellent choice because it's flat-out amazingly beautiful and full of epic options! From the area's history in the discovery of gold to the way it attracts outdoor junkies, Telluride elopements are hard to beat!
Check out this guide with some of my favorite spots and information on my Telluride elopement packages!
"My husband & I had multiple ideas of what we wanted for our San Juan Mountain elopement - wildflowers, water, greenery, and the area, but had no idea what exact spot would have all of those things. Within our first phone call, Sean was in. He shortly emailed ideas of specific places & the time of year when the landscape would be the most epic in what we were looking for. He made sure that each of his suggestions checked every box of our requests. He also was open to all our crazy adventure ideas, but knew enough about the area to give solid advice about what was feasible!"
- Maddy & Walker
5 TIPS FOR YOUR SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ELOPEMENT
- The San Juan Mountains are known for their high-altitude peaks. These peaks were created by two continental plates slamming into one another, giving them their unique volcanic and jagged look. You can take advantage of the biggest and most remote peaks the area has to offer via hiking, rock climbing, off-roading, or even backpacking.
- Telluride is home to one of the cutest courthouses in the area. You can even get married on the same day as your appointment! Make sure to register for your in-person appointment.
- The Telluride Gondola is the only free gondola in the united states and shows off some of the best views in the area. It also makes for some great wedding photos!
- The San Juan mountains are notorious for monsoons from late June through July. Be sure to add some extra days to your trip to account for the weather. The area can see mudslides or flooding that might derail your itinerary!
- Telluride's elevation and erratic weather make for some challenging but fun times. Be sure to arrive a few days early to acclimate and pack accordingly for any weather. Plus, why wouldn't you want to spend extra days in one of the most beautiful parts of the state?
"Once our Telluride elopement came & we met Sean, it felt like we were all old friends. He made us feel relaxed, joked with us, and we all cracked a beer at the end of the day. He captured the pure JOY we felt all day and the beauty of our surroundings so perfectly! We could not be more obsessed with every single one of our photos! We would recommend Sean a million times over! This dude is chill, professional, fun, relaxed, and the best stranger-become-friend to spend your special day with. Thank you for everything, Sean!"
- Jessica & Miles
WHAT’S INCLUDED IN MY TELLURIDE ELOPEMENT PACKAGES?
- Starting at $4,600 with payment plans available - Check out my pricing guide!
- FULL-DAY COVERAGE: Eloping in Telluride is so much more than a first look and a ceremony. We are going to explore those epic basins at sunrise while you share your vows near an iconic turquoise alpine lake. You can share the first dance near some wildflowers and cap it off with a fresh beer at a local brewery. My only requirement is? That you bask in every moment of your Telluride elopement!
- GUIDES AND RESOURCES: When I say each Telluride elopement is totally customized to you, I mean it. Through unlimited consultations and planning assistance, I will share scouted locations, create a custom timeline, and share packing lists and preferred vendor recommendations. I have captured over 60 elopements in Telluride and explored this area in my free time as much as possible. You'll be working with an expert!
- ONLINE GALLERY: You receive fully edited, full-resolution photos with a sharable link and unlimited downloads.
- MAP AND PERMIT INFORMATION: I'll handle the research so you’re well-prepared with all the necessary information.
- NEXT-DAY TEASERS: Who wants to show off the beautiful photos ASAP? You do! So you'll receive next-day teasers to throw up on the gram for all your friends to see how cool you are.
"We very highly recommend Sean for your Telluride elopement! Not only were the resulting photos amazing, but the experiences preparing for the big day, hiking up and down the San Juan mountains, and getting married were all smooth and enjoyable thanks to Sean. We knew generally what we wanted out of our experience and Sean was incredibly helpful when discussing logistics and considering all of the relevant details (where to go, when we would need to get to the trailhead, what to bring, etc."
- Arielle & Greg
WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN TELLURIDE?
Look, I'm not going to beat around the bush. San Juan mountain elopements are every adventure junkie's dream. This mining area turned adventure hotspot attracts every type of outdoor enthusiast. The peaks are massive, the lakes are turquoise, and you won't find better off-roading or backpacking than these parts. This area has it all!
So, how do you settle on one idea without feeling you're missing out on something better? I'm here to match you with the perfect Telluride elopement location because it's all about putting awesome couples in epic spots for their big day! Every couple is unique, so I customize each elopement and craft your entire experience based on YOUR relationship!
This area has infinite options and is great for every type of couple! Keep reading below to check out my favorite Telluride elopement locations!
"The day of our Telluride elopement, it truly felt like we were with an old friend. Sean is so personable, kind, and easygoing. He did a FANTASTIC job of taking a ton of organic photos of us truly being in the moment and giving us suggestions of where to stand and different poses which are some of my favorite memories. On top of having literally the best wedding day we could have imagined, our photo album completely blew us away. His photos are a time capsule of our entire day from start to finish. There isn’t a single picture that doesn’t bring me so much joy."
- Kenny & Mallory
• JEEPING ELOPEMENT
You can’t find better 4x4 roads in the country than in this mountain range. Bold claim? I don’t think so. Many of the roads were created back in the gold mining days, and the ride-in is an adventure in itself. This is an amazingly fun option for your wedding day.
The San Juan Mountains are especially interesting because of their varied topography. This range was formed when a volcano collapsed and then was pushed back up and carved out by glaciers in the ice age. You can encounter sheer black granite walls that go straight up, red iron hills, and green rolling mountain peaks from one range to another. It’s crazy! And if we do multiple locations, it can look like we were in totally different areas.
You have to be cool with a bumpy ride up and be super flexible about the weather, but man, the photos you can get on this adventure are killer! And who doesn't want epic views for their big day?
- ELEVATION: 13,000' +
- PRO TIP: Hire a professional driver that is familiar with the area routes.
- MUST DO: Be sure to explore Black Bear Pass. Just don't look down!
"Our memories from this day are so precious, and the pictures truly capture the beauty of our Telluride elopement. Our experience working with Sean was equally as incredible as the pictures he took. If you want a stress-free, laid-back, intimate, and incredibly fun elopement in Telluride, with amazing pictures to boot, you can’t go wrong with Vows and Peaks!"
• OURAY ELOPEMENTS
This little mountain town is known as America's Switzerland. Ouray elopements are an excellent choice if you want picturesque views, hot springs, great food, and nearby lodging for your guests. There are many epic places to hike to find the right place to get married. If you’re into ghost towns, there’s one nearby accessible by 4WD! Ouray elopements are super easy and practical for any couple and proves tons of opportunities for outdoor fun!
It’s also a great place to find because it’s central to the San Juan Skyway, which will take you across the four passes to Silverton, Durango, Cortez, and Telluride. This drive is one of the most amazing in the US, not that I am biased! Ouray elopements are also great for couples looking to hit the roads as the area is surrounded by a number of famous and beautiful alpine loops. Cap off your Ouray elopement at a local brewery or hot spring. You can thank me later!
- ELEVATION: 7,792′
- PRO TIP: The best nude hot springs in the area are Orvis. Do with that as you will!
- MUST DO: Don't forget to explore the nearby Million Dollar Highway for sunset!
"When we first decided to elope in Telluride, we only had a brief idea of what we wanted. I found sean and reached out over a year in advance, organized everything so quickly and we’re in constant communication with each other. On the day of, despite the rain, we all had so many laughs. It made our day so so easy and special. Sean, we will never be able to thank you enough, and we recommend you to anyone looking for an adventurous, easygoing ceremony. You gave us the best day ever!
- Jess & Mike
• SILVERTON ELOPEMENTS
They say, “there’s gold in them their hills,” but what we can tell you for sure is that this little mining town has some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding area. The unique geography in Silverton means that you can get both vast wildflower fields and 9,300 feet soaring peaks in your photos. However, the elevation in this area is no joke and ain't for the faint of heart. Keep in mind that Silverton is full of Type 3 fun!
Getting to Silverton is an adventure in itself; it’s a 24-mile scenic drive north of Durango. It’s a little more remote and rugged, and other than some gold mine tours, most of what there is to do in Silverton is to take advantage of the 8 different hiking trails and gorgeous lake basins. Tons of photo ops! This also might get my vote for the truest old-school mountain town.
- ELEVATION: 9,318′
- PRO TIP: Some of the best free dispersed camping in the area is right outside Silverton.
- MUST DO: Catch a scenic train ride on the Durango and Silverton scenic railroad.
• BRIDAL VEIL FALLS ELOPEMENT
A popular but really awesome spot to elope in Telluride is Bridal Veil Falls. It’s about a 2-mile hike, but not a rough one. With 365 continuous feet of waterfalls, you can imagine this place is a spectacular spot to get married.
If you want to go to the top, it can be accessed by road, and a good 4WD or Jeep will do the job up the switchbacked roads. Once on top, the views are incredible, especially in the fall. Doing photos at the top for sunrise and then coming down to the falls is a great way to get the best of all worlds, photographically speaking! Need some inspiration?
- ELEVATION: 10,279'
- PRO TIP: Be sure to arrive early. Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most popular attractions in the Telluride area.
- MUST DO: Hike to the top of Bridal Veil and get an awesome expansive view of Telluride from above.
• ALTA LAKE OBSERVATORY ELOPEMENT
Why not combine your elopement with one of the coolest lodging experiences in the Telluride area? This private cabin is tucked away from the crowds and is nestled below some of Telluride's popular ski runs. The observatory sits right above 11,000' feet and has its own private lake for you to explore via canoe!
Alta Lake Observatory does an amazing job of combining the uniqueness of the San Juan Mountains with a luxury and old twist at a private cabin for you to share with your loved ones or by yourselves. You can't go wrong booking this spot for your wedding day!
- ELEVATION: 11,300'
- PRO TIP: You have to Book the Alta Lake Observatory online for your lodging and to take photos here.
- MUST DO: Use the canoe provided at the observatory for a nice sunset cap!
• SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ALPINE LAKES
If you love the idea of getting married near a crazy bluer-than-you-can-imagine-lake, the San Juan mountains are where it's at! We can even plan to do it at sunrise or sunset to take advantage of the soft, pink light called alpenglow.
I love the alpine lakes in the San Juan mountains because who doesn’t want both water and majestic mountains in your photos? These lakes are more than just pretty and placid; they are working lakes! While you are here, take advantage of the opportunities to fish, boat, or swim and tube on the lakes.
PRO TIP: Cap off your elopement with a paddleboard session on an alpine lake!
• TELLURIDE SECRET SPOTS
The best part about hiring a local Telluride elopement photographer? I'll show you some of my favorite, local, hidden spots that others can't! Do you want an epic backdrop away from the crowds? I have some amazing secret spots that will surely blow your mind!
WHAT ARE THE BEST MONTHS TO ELOPE IN TELLURIDE?
From sun to snow, you'll have four seasons to choose from. But there are still some things to consider when choosing the best season for your big day. Unless you are a big skier and like to drive long distances in the winter, then come in the summer and fall. It's the miles of trails and meadows of wildflowers that draw couples here every summer. September and October bring you the fall foliage on our native aspen trees. It's like driving through your personal pumpkin spice latte if that's your thing. You’re not going to forget the volcanic peaks and turquoise lakes in the summer for your elopement day, that's for sure!
Keep reading below for more tips on the best months to elope in the San Juan Mountains:
Spring can be tricky. This is generally the rest period for the locals as they recover from their busy winter season. You can have a hard time finding vendors and places to eat because these people take their vacations seriously! Your best bet is to start looking at the summer months.
You really can't beat summer! The towns of Silverton, Ouray and Telluride are bustling every day, the wildflowers are going crazy, and the Jeep trails are clear of snow. The summer months of June through August are by far my favorite time to capture elopements out here. The crisp alpine air and early sunrise colors recapture my heart every summer!
Fall in Telluride is something else. You'll get your own personal slice of fall colors starting in September and ending in October. This is a super popular time of year to elope in the Telluride area, as the aspen trees surrounding Bridal Veil Falls line the valley walls. The fall colors are something else and make for a great time to capture elopements.
Telluride and Ouray in the winter are like a real-life snow globe. It's full of adventure and the peaks are out of this world. There are plenty of things to do in December-April. You won't be disappointed planning an elopement in places like Telluride all the way to Silverton!
HOW DO YOU GET MARRIED IN TELLURIDE?
Did you know that Telluride has the cutest county clerk's office? Trust me, you won't find a better place to officially get married than the historic San Miguel County courthouse right off the main street in downtown Telluride!
These are some of the things you'll need to know to get married in Telluride:
- The San Miguel County Courthouse is located at 205 W. Colorado Avenue
- The County Courthouse is open Monday-Friday - from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- You must provide some sort of identification that shows your proof of age and identity
- You must return your paperwork within 30 days. I suggest just dropping it on the way out of town!
- The cost of getting your marriage license is $30 and must be turned in within 35 days of signing.
Other towns that you can officially tie into the area include Ouray, Silverton, Ridgeway, and Montrose.
WHERE TO STAY IN THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS
The quality of your Telluride elopement starts with some comfy accommodations. Fortunately, this area has a wide variety of accommodations for you! Ranging from camping under the stars to upscale lodging, you have it all!
I would recommend choosing your lodging based on your experience. Are you planning a solo elopement in Telluride? Or are you planning on making this a family elopement? There are plenty of accommodation choices in Telluride, Ouray, Silverton, and even Ridgeway. Pitch a tent under Mount Sneffels, find a cozy room in a historic hotel, or rent a yurt on the Uncompahgre River. No matter where you crash, you'll be surrounded by the swiss alps of America!
Check out some of my favorite lodgings:
- Beaumont Hotel - The Beaumont Hotel in Ouray has that old-school mountain town vibe mixed with modern luxury. You can cap off your Ouray elopement with a day at the on-site spa. This is the ultimate luxury stay in Ouray.
- The Wyman hotel - The Wyman Hotel, right inside the town of Silverton, has the feel and amenities of a modern stay combined with that old Wild West feel. This is a charm and a great place to stay for your Silverton elopement!
- The Peaks Resort - If you are feeling extra boujee for your Telluride elopement, then there is no better place to call "home" than the Peaks resort. This place has it all and can really elevate your elopement.
- The Imogene - This hotel is right inside downtown Ouray and brings luxury and views with its upscale rooftop bar. This is probably the nicest lodging in the Ouray area!
- Mountain Village - There are tons of Airbnb choices up in mountain village and it has a direct line to Telluride via the Gondola, which makes this spot not only beautiful but convenient as heck!
- Ridgeway - Looking to save some money and still be conveniently located to multiple areas? Check out, Ridgeway! This cute little town is 45 minutes from Telluride, 20 minutes from Ouray, and 45 minutes from Silverton.
- Bonnie Belle Cabin - Ready to get off-grid and soak in the views of the San Juans on your big day? Bonnie Bell Cabin is the perfect choice for couples looking for an adventure combined with lodging in the San Juans.
GETTING AROUND THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS FOR YOUR ELOPEMENT
If you're traveling from outside of the state, then the best place to fly into would be Montrose or Telluride. Montrose will be less expensive and have more connecting flights, while Telluride will give you more views and a thrilling experience.
If you are traveling from Denver, you can drive the 6.5 hours to get to the Telluride area. You will know you are close to the San Juan mountains when you see Mount Sneffels in the distance.
Once you're on concrete, you'll want to look into renting a car for transportation to get around. I would highly recommend looking at four-wheel drive and lifted options when renting your car. This will give you the luxury to enjoy some of the nearby routes and mountain passes in the area. Once in town, you can walk or take the free gondola rides, but don't miss out on the best way of enjoying the majestic San Juan mountains!
PICK YOUR SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE!
You can pick your own adventure out in the San Juan mountains as there's something for everyone. You can jeep up to a secluded basin or rock climb the Via Ferrata in town or hike into a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by wildflowers. It’s basically picking your own adventure out here and you can't go wrong with any of your choices!
The most important thing is that your elopement is tailored to your vision for your day. It doesn’t matter if you are a hardcore backcountry hiker or just a nature enthusiast, I can help you find just the right place in the heart of the San Juan Mountains. Get in touch, and let’s do this!
Other things to do out in the San Juan mountains:
- Via Ferrata
- Mine tours
- Chase fall colors
- Box Canyon falls
- Take a Gondola ride
- Explore the Million Dollar Highway
- Climb a 14er
CAN I HAVE A MICRO WEDDING IN TELLURIDE?
Absolutely yes! Micro weddings are a great way to bring your families along for the ride. I would suggest looking at doing your Telluride micro wedding at a place that lets you reserve a time slot such as a venue or a brewery. Personally, I love the more laid-back and chill venues out in the San Juan mountains
I would check out:
- Ouray Brewery - This three-story brewery in the heart of Ouray is the perfect place to hold your shindig. You will probably have to rent out the entire place but it will be so worth it after you cap off your big day with beers, burgers, and an awesome sunset on the rooftop.
- Telluride Sleighs and Wagons - One of my favorite spots in Telluride is a full-on experience that includes food, venue, and an epic view!
- The Observatory at Alta Lakes - Yes, I know Alta Lakes on this blog twice but this place is magical and a great place to host a micro wedding in Telluride! The venue can hold up to 45 guests for the micro wedding and up to 12 guests for overnight stays.
TELLURIDE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER
My name is Sean, your Telluride elopement photographer. I have helped over 60 couples plan and capture their big day in Telluride and I can’t wait to help create your elopement! I’m a Colorado-based free spirit who has dedicated my life to exploring this wild world and connecting to the people in it.
I know firsthand what an important and personal decision this is—my wife and I eloped to Northern Ireland. You’re trusting me to capture this amazing day, and I make it my responsibility to make sure you have an incredible experience from start to finish.
My passion has led me here, where I can follow my heart and share my love for the outdoors with others on their wedding day. It’s truly an awesome experience, and I’m stoked every time I get to document your day.
When I’m not photographing couples in Telluride, I love to go exploring with my wife and our corgi.
Get a breakdown of my elopement packages!
Last Updated on March 5, 2023 by vowsandpeaks