How to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

how to elope in rocky mountain national park

Eloping in Colorado is probably the easiest way to get hitched – you can go anywhere in the state with just you and your partner and self solemnize. There really aren’t many rules with getting married in Colorado – all you need is a marriage license in most cases, but if you’re wanting to get hitched in a National Park, there will be an extra step – a permit. We’ll get to that, but first let’s start with the basics!

1. Pick a Place

First you want to decide where exactly you want to elope. If National Parks are what peak your interest, there area few to choose from in Colorado! Rocky Mountain National Park, The Great Sand Dunes National Park, Mesa Verde National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Now I’ll assume since you’re here, you’re interested in eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado. Since you already know that, you next need to decide what area of the park you’d like to elope in – you’ll need this later!

There are plenty of beautiful places within the park, but you need to decide what view you’re going for! Are you interested in eloping next to a river, overlooking a lake, with mountains as the backdrop, or at the peak of a mountain? Once you decide on your vision, you can start exploring places within the park. An elopement photographer in Colorado would be most helpful with this (HI!) but if you want to look on your own, the national park website or the all trails app are good places to start. With all trails, you can see all of the trails and destinations in the park, and photos that other people have uploaded from there. It’s a great tool for getting visuals of areas.

Again, an elopement photographer in Colorado would be an expert on this, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, pick your photographer first, and use their expertise! (Again, hi! Happy to help!)

places to elope in colorado

To give you a couple of options – the photo on the left was taken at Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the photo on the right was taken in an open field during an elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park. To view the full session on the left, click here, to view the full session on the right, click here.

2. Pick a Date

Once you know where you want to elope, next decide when! If you do it the other way around thats okay too, this is your elopement you’re planning! Obviously summertime in Colorado is beautiful with wildflowers and warm weather, the spring has moderate temperatures, fall is incredibly beautiful with the colorful foliage, and winter can be treacherous and unpredictable, but if you get snow and are willing to brave the cold, a winter elopement in Colorado can be a beautiful thing!

Think about what weather makes you the happiest and plan around that! A date is necessary for retrieving a marriage license and proposal, so this is an important beginning step!

3. Pick a Photographer

Okay since you’re here, I’m obviously going to plug myself. I just wouldn’t feel right linking you to other Colorado elopement photographers haha! But if you’re new here and not ready to commit to me just yet…

CLICK HERE to read more about me and see if you think we’d get along!

CLICK HERE to see more of my work.

CLICK HERE to stalk me on insta.

4. Obtain a Permit

One of the not so commonly know steps for eloping in a National Park is that you need to obtain a permit for photography. Now, YOU don’t need to do this, it’s actually the responsibility of your photographer, but be prepared to be able to give them the information and fees to do so. They will need simple things like the names of you and your partner, the location you want to shoot at, and the date (why I mentioned those things first on the list!) They will also need to pay a fee. Depending on if you plan to just take photos here, exchange vows, or have a full on wedding with guests, the permit to be obtained could be different, again this is where an experienced photographer in National Parks will really help! There are a lot of restrictions within national parks, and you can’t just set up a wedding ceremony anywhere, so make sure you discuss alllll of your wants and needs with your elopement photographer!

5. Apply for a Marriage License

Once you have a date and place, a photographer secured, and a permit ready, you can now apply for a marriage license! You’ll need to apply for the license in the county that you will be getting married. Figure out what county the city is in where you will be eloping, and simply google “Marriage license *example* county Colorado” At the top of your google search will be a link to a county’s website and you can find everything you need there. Most sites will walk you through step by step of what you need to do and how to do it!


Now go to the dang thing! All you need is your partner, your photographer, and your marriage license, and you are good to go! Enjoy your private, secluded elopement in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

how to elope in colorado

If you want more tips on eloping in Colorado in general, click below to see my full guide on how to elope in Colorado!

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hayley gaertner

adventurous wedding and elopement photographer based out of colorado.