Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Guide - Leah Goetzel Photography
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Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Guide
How to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

Colorado Venues, Resources

The complete guide to having a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding or elopement

So you’re looking at having a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding? First off, congratulations! Rocky Mountain National Park is one of my favorite places in Colorado– it is known for its incredible mountain views, forested meadows, and flowing rivers. The park is about 1.5 hours outside downtown Denver. Rocky Mountain National Park has 265,461 acres to explore, which ensures that there is something for everyone! Whether you’re eloping with just you and your partner or having a intimate wedding gathering, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know in order to have an incredible Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding.

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Recent Rocky Mountain Park updates

Weddings for 2021

As of January of 2021, Rocky Mountain has issued all of its 250 available 2021 wedding permits. If you are looking to elope at Rocky Mountain this year (2021) that unfortunately doesn’t look like a possibility. However, there is the option of getting legally married outside the park (at an equally gorgeous location) and then entering the park for portraits.

Weddings for 2022

May-October 60 permits per month will be issued.

November – April 40 permits per month will be issued.

As of June 1, 2021, Rocky Mountain National Park will resume issuing permits a year in advance on that wedding month. (Ex: October 2021 you can be issued your October 2022 permit).

If you are wanting to elope at RMNP I highly recommend getting your permit as soon as possible. The number of permits is extremely limited and they will go quickly.

Frequently asked questions about getting married in Rocky Mountain National Park

Where can I have a wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park?

Weddings are allowed at 12 different ceremony sites across the park. Vow renewals, elopements, or intimate weddings are not permitted anywhere except these specific sites. To learn more about each site, read more below!

My favorite ceremony locations are 3M Curve and Hidden Valley.

How do I get married at Rocky Mountain National Park?

  1. Email romo_fees_permits@nps.gov to inquire about your date and availability.
  2. Fill out an application, application found here and pay your $300 non-refundable booking fee.
  3. Send completed application to the above email.
  4. Sign and print your completed permit. You must have your permit with you at all times.

What does my permit include?

Your permit does not include entrance to the park, every car will need to pay the $25 entrance fee. You can find up to date entrance prices here. The permit does cover photographer and videographers permits.

What is the timed entrance? Do I need to reserve that too?

No, your permit bipasses the timed entrance. Just make sure that all your guests and wedding vendors come in with you the rangers know to let you in.

Can I bring my dog?

Dogs are permitted if your ceremony site is within 100 feet of a road. This is to protect you and your pets. Ceremony sites that do not allow dogs are:

  • Sprague Lake
  • Lily Lake
  • Alluvial Fan
  • Bear Lake
  • Hidden Valley

To read more about Rocky Mountain National Park’s pet policy, go here.

Can I have an arch or bring in additional seating?

The only ceremony location that allows any sort of wedding arch or structure is Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater. Additional seating (chairs, benches, etc.) is not allowed, but several ceremony sites do have seating.

When is the best time for a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding?

I highly recommend a weekday, either at sunrise or sunset. The park can be incredibly busy on weekends which means that parking can be difficult and privacy limited. If you want to have the most relaxing and stress free wedding or elopement, aim for a weekday.

Some dates to avoid eloping at Rocky Mountain National Park are:

January 18*Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 17*First day of National Park Week / National Junior Ranger Day
May 31Memorial Day
July 4Fourth of July
August 4*Great American Outdoors Act anniversary
August 25*National Park Service Birthday
September 25*National Public Lands Day
November 11*Veterans Day
November 24-26Thanksgiving
*Free park entrance days at Rocky Mountain National Park

How many people are allowed at my Rocky Mountain elopement?

All ceremony sites will have a specified maximum number of guests. However, due to Covid RMNP has specified that no site shall have more than 30 people total (includes vendors and the couple).

What if it rains on our elopement day?

The choice to elope outdoors does come with the risk of inclement weather. But Colorado weather passes quite quickly, there have been times when I’ve had a wedding with torrential rain and hail and in 30 minutes it has completely cleared and been sunny and beautiful. To reduce the risk of afternoon showers (which are incredibly prevalent in RMNP) have a morning ceremony! In the event of rain I have 15+ clear umbrellas for you and your guests. But remember, rain or shine, you’re getting married!!

What is the timed entrance? Do I need to reserve that too?

No, your permit bipasses the timed entrance. Just make sure that all your guests and wedding vendors come in with you the rangers know to let you in.

Can we go elsewhere in the park? Or just our ceremony location?

Absolutely you can go elsewhere in the park! And I so encourage it! There are so many gorgeous spots at RMNP, exploring is one of my favorite things to do on wedding day.

What city is closest to RMNP?

The town of Estes Park is right outside of RMNP. Estes is a super cute mountain town with lots of breweries, restaurants and activities. RMNP is about an hour from Boulder and 1.5 hours from Denver, but sometimes there can be traffic on the one lane highway taking you to the park and there is usually some traffic at the ticket booth.

Can I get married outside the park and then take photos inside?

Yes! If you want gorgeous wedding photos at Rocky Mountain National Park but weren’t able to get a permit you can absolutely get married outside the park and then go inside for photos. This requires a $50 photography permit fee.

I’m sold! I want a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding! What next?

Yaaaaas!! I’m so excited for you! For next steps, send me a message! I’ll help you every step along the way, from helping you secure your permit to finding the perfect photo locations. I am your photographer and your guide!

Ceremony locations at Rocky Mountain National Park

3M Curve

3M Curve

3M Curve is probably my favorite of all the ceremony locations. This spot is found off Trail Ridge Road (which can be closed during the Winter and due to inclement weather. It usually opens around June and closes in October). This site features gorgeous mountain views.

3M might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want epic views of the mountains
  • You’re having a smaller, intimate wedding or elopement
  • You’re getting married in the Summer or early Fall

Maximum number of guests: 15

Maximum number of vehicles: 3

How accessible: There is no clear pathway and can be a slightly rocky hike. Not recommend for people with mobility issues or wheelchairs.

How private: This location is more private due to the small hike, but it is close to the road so you will hear some traffic noise.

Restrooms: No

Sprague Lake

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Sprague Lake is a gorgeous ceremony site that features a lake and mountain view and dock. The mountain views at this location are some of my favorite and the sunrise and sunsets here are gorgeous. It is a super popular location, but there’s a nice big parking lot and plenty of space to explore.

Sprague Lake might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want epic views of the mountains
  • You want a dock or a structure to get married on
  • You want an accessible location with lots of parking.

Maximum number of guests: 15 in Summer, 30 in Winter

Maximum number of vehicles: 3 in Summer, 10 in Winter

How accessible: This location is about a 10 minute walk from the parking lot but is very flat.

How private: This is an incredibly popular location along Bear Lake Road, which means there will likely be a good number of hikers and tourists walking by, but it can get super quiet and calm during a sunrise or sunset on a weekday.

Restrooms: Yes

Hidden Valley

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Hidden Valley is definitely one of the overlooked ceremony sites because there aren’t epic mountain views. But this location makes up for it with its privacy and gorgeous, magical forest vibe. The area has lush green meadows that have wildflowers growing during the Summer.

Hidden Valley might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You prioritize privacy over epic mountains.
  • You want to get married during the day. (The trees provide wonderful shade).
  • You want to be surrounded by pine trees and aspens.

Maximum number of guests: 30

Maximum number of vehicles: No cap

How accessible: This location is very close to the parking lot and pretty flat. There is some rougher terrain that might make navigating a wheelchair more difficult, but still very accessible.

How private: This spot has lots of private areas that can make for a very secluded and quiet elopement.

Restrooms: Yes

Lily Lake

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Lily Lake has 3 different ceremony site options, but the most photogenic is the dock. The dock is very similar to Sprague Lake, it is a lakeside that offers beautiful views of the hills. However, the dock at Lily Lake is right off the parking lot and can be very highly trafficked. Lily Lake also has one of the most versatile photo opportunities. There is the lakeside dock, meadows, and a small hike will take you up to a gorgeous lookout. Another awesome benefit of Lily Lake is you don’t have to pass a fee station which can cut down on a lot of your travel note. (Note: you still absolutely need your permit since rangers do patrol the area and will ask for it.)

Lily Lake might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want to get married right on a lake.
  • You want a location that is very accessible.
  • You want a variety of photo locations after your ceremony.

Maximum number of guests: 10

Maximum number of vehicles: 10

How accessible: One of the most accessible. The parking lot is just steps away from the dock.

How private: Not private at all. Highly recommend a weekday at sunrise or sunset.

Restrooms: Yes

Bear Lake

Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a beautiful alpine lake. It clocks in at 10,000ft elevation but is incredibly accessible. The lake is one of the most popular spots in Rocky Mountain National Park which is why weddings here are not allowed from Memorial Day through Columbus Day.

Bear Lake might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want lake and mountain views.
  • You want an accessible location.
  • You want to hike to Dream Lake.

Maximum number of guests: 20

Maximum number of vehicles: 5

How accessible: This spot is about 200 feet from the parking lot and super flat and easy terrain.

How private: Bear Lake is super crowded, especially one the weekends. Aim for a weekday for sure.

Restrooms: Yes

Upper Beaver Meadows

Upper Beaver Meadows

Upper Beaver Meadows is one of the most private and secluded ceremony spots. I love the grassy meadows and views of the mountains here. The road to this location does close in the Winter but is usually accessible May through October.

Upper Beaver Meadows might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want views of the mountains
  • Privacy and quiet is your biggest priority.
  • You want trees and a meadow.

Maximum number of guests: 30

Maximum number of vehicles: 10

How accessible: Upper Beaver Meadows is as accessible as you want it to be. There are lots of options for your ceremony, some just steps away from the parking lot, while others require a little more of a trek.

How private: One of the most private and quiet sites in the park.

Restrooms: Yes

Copeland Lake

Copeland Lake

Copeland Lake is a little more off the beaten path. This Rocky Mountain National Park wedding site can be accessed by the Wild Basin entrance by Allenspark. The lake levels can get quite low, so this spot is definitely prettier early in the Summer or in Winter when covered with snow. It is also one of the only sites that allows dogs.

Copeland Lake might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want a larger guest count.
  • You want to include your dog.
  • You want a lake

Maximum number of guests: 30

Maximum number of vehicles: 10

How accessible: This spot is very close to the parking lot and quite accessible.

How private: Copeland Lake is not inside RMNP which makes it quite a bit less trafficked. There is a road nearby which produces some noise.

Restrooms: Yes

Harbison Meadow

Harbison Meadow

Harbison Meadow is one of two ceremony sites on the west site of Rocky Mountain National Park. If you are staying in Grand Lake, this location makes a lot of sense so you don’t have to travel all the way through Estes Park. The mountain views are not as epic here but if you want to see wildlife, this is the spot for you! (Moose and elk are frequent visitors of this spot!)

Harbison Meadow might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You are staying in Grand Lake
  • You want to see wildlife
  • You love open, sprawling meadows

Maximum number of guests: 30

Maximum number of vehicles: 10 in Summer, no limit in Winter

How accessible: Very accessible and flat.

How private: Near the parking lot so there is limited privacy and can be traffic noise. But it’s on the West side of the park which means it’s much less trafficked.

Restrooms: No

Moraine Park Amphitheater

Moraine Park Amphitheater

This is the most traditional looking wedding venue. It has plenty of seating for you and your guests and is the only site that allows a arch or wedding structure. The site is covered with beautiful pine trees, that while blocks most of your epic view, does create some lovely shade during the hot Summer months. Dogs are permitted at this location!

Moraine Park Amphitheater might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want a more traditional looking wedding site
  • You’re having a midday wedding in the Summer
  • You want seats for your guests

Maximum number of guests: 30

Maximum number of vehicles: 10

How accessible: Very accessible and wheelchair friendly.

How private: Most people recognize this is a ceremony site and don’t walk by, but there is some noise from the nearby road.

Restrooms: Yes

Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater

Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater

This ceremony site is the other location on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. The site is the least natural looking of all the sites but is incredibly accessible. There is also a campground on site which means you and your guests could camp right there!

Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want to be in the less popular, west side of the park.
  • You need an incredibly accessible location.
  • You want to camp with your guests nearby

Maximum number of guests: 10

Maximum number of vehicles: 5

How accessible: The most accessible of all spots. There is a paved ramp right up to the ceremony deck.

How private: There is a large campground nearby, but most recognize this as a ceremony site and are respectful.

Restrooms: Yes

This site is location on Old Fall River and has quite rocky terrain. This is personally my least favorite of all sites.

Alluvial Fan Bridge

Alluvial Fan Bridge

Alluvial Fan Bridge might be the perfect wedding site if:

  • You want a waterfall
  • You want a rocky, bouldered landscape

Maximum number of guests: 20

Maximum number of vehicles: 5

How accessible: This spot can be super rocky, wheelchairs would have difficulty accessing this spot.

How private: Very, very crowded especially in the summer.

Restrooms: Yes

Ready to start planning your Colorado wedding at Rocky Mountain National Park?

I’m so stoked that you are ready to start planning your Rocky Mountain National Park wedding or elopement!! Rocky is truly one of the most magical places and it is the perfect backdrop for your wedding or elopement! As a wedding and elopement photographer my goal is to make sure my couples not only get gorgeous wedding photos but also have an incredible experience and wedding day. Your wedding or elopement is not just a photoshoot, I want you to have fun and enjoy spending time with your family and friends. Photos with me are candid, authentic, creative and easy going.

So what’s next??

  1. Take a peek at my investment page. Elopements and intimate weddings begin at $1950 and include timeline creation, location scouting and a beautiful private online photo gallery.
  2. Send me a message! I want to learn all about you and your wedding day!
  3. Let’s schedule a call to chat about your day and start planning.
  4. Pay your $500 retainer and sign a virtual contract.
  5. Pop some champagne because you just booked your wedding photographer! Now I’ll get to work on scouting, planning and aiding you in creating the most perfect, magical wedding day ever!

Want more helpful resources and planning tips? Check out these other helpful posts!

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Rocky mountain national park elopement

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