Elopement Location Spotlight: Rocky Mountain National Park

If you and your partner have decided to get married and are in search of a ceremony location that will allow you to embrace your adventurous side, save you money, and provide photos that will knock the socks off of everyone that sees them, you need to consider Rocky Mountain National Park for your intimate wedding or elopement. 

You might call us biased (and admittedly, it’s true) as it is one of our favorite places for elopements and weddings in the United States, not just in Colorado. From the moment you first set foot in Rocky Mountain National Park, you will have a very hard time arguing with the park’s natural splendor.

Of course, there are unlimited options when it comes to elopement locations in Colorado, so if you’re still on the fence if this is the right site for you, this post has all you need to know to help you decide if it’s meant to be. 

Melanie and Bryon’s first look at Sprague Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park at Sunrise

Key Questions To Ask Before Eloping In Rocky Mountain National Park

How do I get my permit?

It should come as no surprise that wedding ceremonies are very popular in Rocky Mountain National Park. In fact, the park became such a hot spot for ceremonies that they had to slap a restriction on the number of weddings and permits each year as of 2020. This means you should get your application for your permit submitted ASAP once you’ve decided to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park. 

What are the best elopement ceremony spots in Rocky Mountain National Park?

3M Curve, Sprague Lake, Bear Lake, and Upper Beaver Meadows are among some of the most popular locations of the 12 elopement locations permitted for ceremony sites. If you already have your heart set on a ceremony site that’s wonderful! However, we can help you find one that best fits your vision of the perfect wedding if you’re still undecided. 

When is the best time of year to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park?

The Summer and the Fall are by far two of the most popular times for visitors to the park due to the wildflowers, the changing leaves, and the wildlife. However, if you want to embrace the Winter or Spring with a snowy winter-wonderland style elopement, you’ll find fewer crowds and a landscape that is almost otherworldly when it’s blanketed in snow. 

Jess and Zach’s first dance during sunset in Moraine Valley across from the Moraine Park Amphitheater

The Rules Of Eloping In Rocky Mountain National Park

Due to the wildfires and other circumstances that have deeply impacted Rocky Mountain National Park, there are some restrictions and rules in place that have been placed to protect both the park and the public. You can view the full list of regulations for wedding ceremonies in the park, but here are the highlights: 

  • RMNP will issue a maximum of 250 private wedding permits for 2023, on a first-come-first-serve basis, beginning October 1, 2022, at 8 am Mountain Time for weddings occurring between January 1 to December 31, 2022. Once this limit has been reached, no more applications will be taken. 
  • Effective October 1, 2020 and presently in 2022, the non-refundable fee for a wedding application will be $300. 
  • No more than two weddings per day will be booked at any designated wedding location, regardless of availability.
  • No more than six total ceremonies will be scheduled per day, year-round.
  • Weddings can ONLY take place in designated site locations, regardless of the size of the wedding group. Any indication of a ceremony taking place outside of these designated sites is considered a violation and is subject to the citation of the wedding party, photographer, and/or officiant. 
  • Drones are prohibited in the park for all uses, including weddings, even if the user/photographer is FFA licensed. No exceptions will be made.
  • To check availability, or for other questions, contact their office at romo_fees_permits@nps.gov

*As of February 2022 there are no available elopement permits in Rocky Mountain National Park from May-October as they have all been reserved and filled by other couples. No permit? No worries. We know some incredible elopement locations and intimate wedding venues outside of Rocky Mountain National Park where you can legally have your ceremony, but we still can use our commercial photography permit to take non-ceremony portraits of you and your partner in the park before or after your Estes Park elopement or wedding!*

Colorado Photographer Squad – February 2022

What To Expect From A Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement

In a word: euphoria.

From the dramatic landscape to the sensational wildlife and the promise of adventure, there’s so much to love and appreciate about beginning your lifelong journey and partnership in this utopia. Many of our couples choose to incorporate some bonding and adventure time by hiking through the park together for photos to a special spot with meaning to them or a particular spot with a view worthy of a Bob Ross painting. 

The weather conditions can be tough and can change on a whim, even in the summer. However, if you’re prepared for the conditions, the payoff can be MASSIVE. This is a truly special, breathtaking place with a lot of wonder and magic to share with you if you’re up for the adventure!

And don’t worry, as your Colorado local elopement photographers we’re also here to provide valuable knowledge and research to help you make your elopement perfect for you! Our fanny packs are locked and loaded with hand warmers, our trunks have clear umbrellas to keep you and your guests dry, we even carry mini cans of oxygen (Boost) if you or your guests get hit a little too hard by the altitude. 

RMNP Wedding Ceremony Locations

There are 12 pre-designated ceremony locations spread throughout Rocky Mountain National Park. If you are hoping to bring along some guests for your Rocky Mountain elopement, I suggest the Moraine Amphitheater which gives you the space you need. The 3M curve is another very popular location with unbeatable views of Longs Peak; the only fourteener in all of Rocky Mountain National Park. Rest assured though, no matter what look, feel, and experience you’re looking for for your elopement, we can help you choose the perfect ceremony location and even take you to additional spots for dramatic elopement photos before or after your ceremony too. 

Favorite Ceremony Locations at Rocky Mountain National Park: 

  • Bear Lake
  • 3M Curve
  • Lily Lake
  • Sprague Lake
  • Moraine Park Amphitheater
  • Upper Beaver Meadows

Full list of ceremony locations in the park at the link

RMNP Photo Locations

You may ask, what if I want photos somewhere else in the park? Well, we can do that! Though you have to say your vows at their designated locations (or outside of Rocky Mountain National Park if there are no longer permits available), you can embark on an adventure with your photographer from our team anywhere on trail in the park because we all carry the commercial photography permit for taking photos in RMNP! One of our favorite things is to hike with our couples to an epic location like Dream Lake or drive up Trail Ridge Road for an epic photographic adventure.

Amymarie and Sebastian hiked to Dream Lake before their intimate wedding at Taharaa Mountain Lodge and St Malos Church in Estes Park

Favorite Photography Locations in Rocky Mountain National Park: 

  • Dream & Emerald Lakes 
  • Trail Ridge Road
  • For a more challenging hike: Mills Lake
  • Any of the ceremony locations!

Once we start planning your elopement experience, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of all our top recommendations for you! After all, we can’t give up all of our secrets on the internet otherwise the locations would become over-populated with foot traffic or people that don’t follow leave no trace principles and may end up being closed either permanently or for a long restoration period. 

Epic Elopement Photographs

When you elope at Rocky Mountain National Park, your elopement photos will be unlike the wedding photos you’re used to seeing from friends and family. Imagine a Colorado themed postcard, but with you and the people you loved parked in the middle of the epic view!

These Rocky Mountain elopement photos will have snow-capped mountaintops, spirited winds, epic landscapes, and you looking bright & utterly alive. This location brings big feelings and peaceful nature together. You can get some incredible shows during sunset and sunrise here with mountaintops turned pinkish orange by the pre-sunrise alpenglow. Like we said before – euphoria!

Katriona and Austin drove up Trail Ridge Road after they self solemnized for their elopement at Sprague Lake

Leave No Trace at Rocky Mountain National Park

We’ve said it already, but we’ll say it again because as Colorado local photographers we love the heck out of our beautiful state and want it to stay beautiful. As one of the most popular national parks and home to delegate mountain terrain, RMNP asks all visitors to follow the principles of LNT while in the park. This is how they plan to preserve the landscape from erosion and damage by human activity, so we can continue enjoying the park for years to come! 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. 

One of the most LNT important principles for RMNP is to “Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces.” Most people don’t realize that the vegetation of the high-alpine tundra, which looks kind of like moss, is actually quite delicate and easily trampled. And when damaged it can take decades to grow back! Poor things. And that’s just one example, so to protect the land all visitors are asked to walk on established trails, not right next to them or somewhere else altogether! 

Check out the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace here

If your dream wedding or elopement experience involves incorporating an arch, wedding decor or even seating for your guests then Moraine Park Amphitheater is a great ceremony location in the NP to consider. Otherwise, you may want to look into elopement or intimate wedding venues outside of the park for your ceremony and choosing to adventure in the park for portraits instead.

Plan Around the Crowds

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best national parks in the United States. It’s also one of the most popular. Because of its splendor and jaw-dropping views, it can get rather crowded, especially on the weekends. But no worries – we’ve got all the best tips to help you avoid the crowds for an intimate elopement at RMNP.

Weekdays at sunset and sunrise any day are the best times for eloping at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

These times during the winter have even fewer crowds and feel like a winter wonderland. The shoulder seasons are great for more reasonable sunrise/sunset times and fewer crowds in the park, but watch out for September and October – changing colors and elk migrations bring a lot of crowds to the park. 

We can make this process easy and help you navigate all the details of planning the best time for your elopement at Rocky Mountain National Park as your Colorado elopement photographers. 

Rocky Mountain National Park timed-entry reservation system has been reinstated after being put in place during the popular tourist season in 2020 and 2021. This has helped so much with overcrowding, parking issues and locations feeling less intimate when the park is too crowded. We’ll always do our best to send email reminders for your guests to secure timed entry reservations if they want to visit the park during days or hours outside of your elopement ceremony permit. Our commercial photography permits also bypass our need for a timed entry reservation if you’re having your wedding or elopement outside of the park but still want to adventure in for portraits! 

Thinking Of Eloping In Rocky Mountain National Park?

Who could blame you?! It really is the type of place that is too spectacular to be completely captured by words or photos. However, if you want an elopement photographer that is dedicated to bringing out your unique personalities and matching them against the landscape of the park for a result that is both dramatic and impactful, we need to talk! We would love to share our expertise with you on the best ceremony location and photography package to meet your needs. 

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