Garden of the Gods
Just outside of Colorado Springs is an all-inspiring red rock formation that has been attracting tourists, photographers, and adventure enthusiasts for centuries. This collection of rock formations burst forth and catch light in a way that is nothing short of heavenly. Therefore, it has been appropriately named, The Garden Of The Gods. It just so happens that this natural wonder is one of our all-time favorite elopement venues and today we’re going to share our reasons why.
Fair warning: If you’re still in search of the perfect venue or location for your elopement, we’re about to make you fall in love with this sacred place that is unlike any other you’ve ever seen!
Garden of the Gods Elopement Reservation Cost
Are you ready for your jaw to hit the floor? The average cost of wedding venues and elopement locations in Colorado is higher than the national average (we have mountains and a post card backdrop, so it’s to be expected…) but Garden of the Gods is a FREE elopement location in Colorado with no photography permit or reservation required.
Garden of the Gods (GotG) is actually a public park – back in the 19th century it was donated to the city of Colorado Springs, CO under the condition that it remains free and open to the public forever. That includes wedding ceremonies!
On the flip side – this also means it is a first-come-first served elopement venue. No reservations means there’s always the slim chance you’ll have to wait for your ceremony spot to be available if someone else had the same idea and got there first, or switch to a new location all together.
This is why we highly recommend choosing to elope on a Monday-Thursday during sunrise or sunset if you choose to get married at this stunning free Colorado elopement location and always encourage having a backup plan.
Designated Ceremony Locations at Garden of the Gods
One of the coolest things about the Garden of the Gods as an elopement venue is they have several different locations throughout the park to choose from for your ceremony. If you’re bringing a group of guests along, Jaycee Plaza or High Point Overlook are wonderful options. We’re a bit biased towards High Point Overlook though, which gives you a unique perspective of both the red rocks and Pikes Peak in the distance. And it’s usually less crowded!
Prefer something more intimate where you can climb the rocks and won’t have more than a couple other people with you? Three Graces Plaza is a fabulous choice! No matter what look and feel you’re going for, there is a pre-designated ceremony location sure to wow you!
Ceremony Location Names and Group Sizes
- High Point (50 people) *wheelchair accessible*
- Jaycee Plaza (50 people) *wheelchair accessible*
- Sentinel Plaza (25 people)
- Three Graces Plaza (25 people)
- The Sleeping Giant (10 people)
- Scottsman Picnic Area (25 people)
Here’s a map of the park. If you’re interested in GotG for your elopement we will provide you with a detailed breakdown of our top recommended ceremony spots based on your vision for your elopement experience so you can pick the best one for you. This includes dropped Google or Apple maps pins and parking information.
Please note that this post has our must up to date information as of May 2023, but it’s best to check out their website for the most up to date rules and regulations for ceremony locations and group sizes.
Unforgettable Elopement Photography
When you elope in The Garden Of The Gods, your elopement photos will be unlike the wedding photos you’re used to seeing from friends and family. This venue really brings the drama and lends itself perfectly to transforming otherwise normal photos into works of art. During sunrise and sunset, the rock formations are especially vivid and you will be amazed at how unique and inspiring your photos will be as a result.
A Rich Indigenous History
This breathtaking piece of land was originally traveled by many Native American tribes, including the Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Lakota, Pawnee, Shoshone, and Ute people. It was the neutral ground for tribes crossing through the land. The Ute tribe especially has a strong connection to this area – in their tradition humans were created in what we now call Garden of the Gods. You’ll see why this location inspired a creation legend when you get married here!
Leave No Trace In Garden Of The Gods
As Garden Of The Gods is made up of weathered and delicate rock, there are certain guidelines for recreating here to help protect and maintain the natural environment and ecosystem. These guidelines might seem like common sense, but you might be surprised at the impact even small actions can have on a natural place, especially when multiplied by thousands of visitors.
At some GotG ceremony locations, you won’t be able to bring in props such as an arch, which you won’t even need with the scenery, or chairs. Though, with prior permission from Garden of the Gods, you can bring folding chairs for folks who may need them – just put them on a hard, durable surface rather than vegetation.
Check out the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace here.
The Park Can Get Crowded – Plan Accordingly
Because of its splendor and jaw-dropping views (and being literally in the city), Garden Of The Gods is one of the most popular parks in all of Colorado. Therefore, it can get rather crowded, especially on the weekends. And by crowded, I mean elbow-to-elbow with hikers, baby strollers, tourists and even other couples getting married. When Garden of the Gods is crowded, it takes away from the ‘intimacy’ of eloping because you’ll be surrounded by an audience. It can also make parking a huge hassle!
Here are a few of our best tips to avoid the crowds for your Garden of the Gods elopement…
- Weekdays (Monday-Thursday) are the best times for eloping at Garden of the Gods.
- If your elopement is during the Winter months you’ll have even fewer crowds and more potential for beautiful fresh snow contrasting against the red rocks.
- The shoulder seasons are great for more reasonable sunrise/sunset times and fewer crowds in the park. (A shoulder season is the time period between the peak season, summer, and the off-season, winter.)
- You can not hold a reception at Garden of the Gods. (We’ve got you covered with recommendations on places nearby, if this is part of your elopement vision!)
At Colorado Photographer Squad, we make this process easy and help you navigate all the details of planning the best time for your elopement at GotG as your Colorado elopement photography experts!
What’s the Catch?
Ok so this place can’t be perfect can it? And no, it can’t. As much as we love a Garden of the Gods elopement we want to make sure our couples have realistic expectations when envisioning their elopement experience. We have found that the best way to have a laid back elopement experience is to consider all of the scenarios (even the potentially stressful ones) and make sure that you have a full understanding of them before choosing this free Colorado elopement location. Here are some of the stressors to consider…
- Garden of the Gods can get really crowded (especially on weekends)
- Parking can be hard to find. If a parking space isn’t available, it can take more than 20 minutes to complete the one way loop and return back to certain parking areas.
- Alcohol and smoking (including electronic smoking devices) is not allowed.
- No-frills and leave no trace. If your vision includes an arch, an aisle runner, a send off with confetti, etc. then this isn’t the right place for you.
- If your lodging accommodations are not in Colorado Springs the traffic from the Denver area can back up for hours.
But if you want a free Colorado elopement location with a stunning backdrop, accessible location, and you’re open to getting married on a weekday, Garden of the Gods might be the perfect spot for you!
Would You Elope To The Garden Of The Gods?
If you think you might want to elope in this beautiful place, let’s chat! We will help you choose a ceremony location that will be perfect for you and show you the best photography package to meet your needs and vision. There is one thing we can promise you right now though and that is you won’t regret your decision to elope in The Garden Of The Gods as it is one of the most spectacular places on the planet. If we start chatting and realize that this elopement location isn’t the best fit for you, we have several other locations in Colorado we can recommend too! That’s the beauty of working with a Colorado elopement photographer team that is locally based!