Estes Park Elopement Guide: How to Plan the Perfect Day

Posted On | January 27, 2023

Couple kissing on hike to dream lake during estes park elopement

We believe that an Estes Park elopement is one of the best ways to get married in Colorado! Here is an ultimate guide for everything you need to know to plan your own Estes Park elopement.

Table of Contents:

Why Have an Estes Park Elopement? 

couple with hiking backpacks during their Rocky Mountain National Park elopement

Rocky Mountain National Park 

The biggest thing that draws couples to Estes Park time and time again is its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. With over 300 miles of hiking trails, jaw-dropping views, ample wildlife viewing, and the opportunity to drive up to 12,183 feet elevation, there’s a reason it is such a popular spot to explore!

Rocky Mountain National Park is also a prime elopement destination. The park boasts 12 different ceremony locations that can accommodate 10-30 people. If eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park sounds like a dream, be sure to read our guide on How To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park

Small-Town Feel 

Estes Park is a quintessential small mountain town. Downtown has a stretch of small, family-owned shops and restaurants next to a riverwalk. Looking like something straight out of a Hallmark movie, it’s a wonderful place to spend the day window shopping and enjoying some taffy or ice cream!  

Ample Activity Options 

In addition to hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park has numerous other activities to enjoy! Some of our favorites include: 

Accessibility 

Estes Park is just a 90-minute drive from Denver International Airport, and is one of the more accessible mountain towns! You can rent a car (which we highly recommend doing to give you more flexibility as you explore!) or even take a shuttle directly from DIA to town if you’d rather not drive. There is also a shuttle that will take you from downtown Estes Park into Rocky Mountain National Park!   

It’s Easy to Get Married! 

The whole state of Colorado makes it very easy to get married. In Colorado, you are not required to have a witness or an officiant. Instead, you are allowed to “self-solemnize” if you choose, which means all that is needed to make your marriage legal is the two of you signing your marriage license! For more information on how to get your marriage license in Colorado, visit this helpful blog post.

Lodging + Vendor Availability 

Estes Park offers a wide selection of both vendors and lodging. Whether it’s a florist, private chef, hair and make-up artist, officiant, or even a baker, Estes Park is serviced by a wonderful vendor community. There are also lots of lodging options in Estes Park, allowing you and your guests the opportunity to find exactly what you’re envisioning. Be sure to check out some of our favorite options below

Affordability 

While it’s no secret that mountain towns can get pricey, Estes Park is definitely one of the more affordable options in Colorado. There are numerous locations that are perfect for ceremonies that are low cost in the area, and prices for food, vendors, lodging, and gas tend to be more comparable to Denver than other mountain towns in Colorado. 

When is the best time to elope in Estes Park?

bride and groom watching the sunset in rocky mountain national park during their estes park elopement

Estes Park Summer Elopement 

Beginning mid-June and lasting through the beginning of September, summertime in Estes Park is every hiking lover’s dream. The days are long and warm and the nights are comfortably cool with wonderful opportunities for stargazing. You can expect to see lush, green meadows and forests and full lakes and rivers. View Alexa + Peter’s summer Estes Park elopement to get a feeling for what your summer wedding could look like!

couple kissing during their estes park elopement

Estes Park Fall Elopement 

Fall is one of the most popular times to elope in Estes Park due to the mild weather and changing leaves! While it’s hard to predict exactly when the leaves will change, you can usually find aspens turning from green to various hues of yellow and orange from late September through early October, providing a scenic backdrop for your elopement photos! The temperature tends to be comfortable (low 60s to upper 70s) during the day at the start of fall, with it beginning to slowly dip as we get later into the year. It’s not unheard of to start seeing snow in October, but the real snowfall usually begins sometime in November.  View Ali and Tom’s fall elopement in Estes Park to get a feeling for what your fall wedding could look like.

dream lake elopement in rocky mountain national park

Estes Park Winter Elopement  

Winter tends to be in full swing in Estes Park beginning in mid-November and lasting until the beginning of April. Estes Park tends to be a bit quieter in the winter months, which is perfect for couples looking to avoid crowds. Temperatures can range anywhere from below freezing to the mid-40s during the daytime, and while the days tend to be shorter, there’s still plenty of light for exploring!  View Amanda + Joe’s winter elopement in Estes Park to get a feeling for what your winter wedding could look like.

Estes Park Spring Elopement 

Springtime in Estes Park tends to be shoulder season. From mid-April to the beginning of June, the snow starts to melt and trails can get muddy. But don’t let this scare you off!  While many of the trailheads at higher altitudes won’t open until late June/early July, there are still a plethora of locations to explore at lower elevations! Springtime is a wonderful time to elope in Estes Park if you’re looking to avoid crowds and take advantage of lower prices. 

Should you have a weekend or weekday elopement in Estes Park? 

Because Estes Park is one of the most popular towns to get married in Colorado, we highly recommend eloping on a weekday in Estes Park.  Trailheads tend to fill up quickly on weekends, even with the recently implemented timed entry system for Rocky Mountain National Park, and lodging and vendor availability is much more limited. If privacy is a top concern on your wedding day, a weekday is going to be your best bet! 

If you are set on having a weekend elopement, it is still possible to find some privacy by visiting lesser-known trails, or eloping at sunrise.   

Estes Park Small Wedding and Elopement Locations 

Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement 

3M Curve Elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular places to elope in Estes Park, if not all of Colorado! Couples can choose from 12 ceremony locations that can accommodate 10-30 people depending on the location and season. Dogs are only allowed at a few specific wedding ceremony locations throughout the park and are not allowed on trails, so the park is not recommended for couples who want to include their dog on their wedding day. Permits are required to get married in the park and can be applied for one year in advance. For more information, read our guide on How To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park

Example Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement: Small Winter Wedding in RMNP or Fall RMNP Dream Lake Elopement

YMCA of the Rockies Elopement  

YMCA of the Rockies is one of our favorite recommendations for couples looking to have a ceremony with their closest friends, family, or pups outside of the park if their guest count is too large or permits are not available for RMNP. It is located minutes from the Beaver Meadows entrance, so it’s a great spot for couples looking to explore inside the park before or after their ceremony! 

Example YMCA of the Rockies Elopement: YMCA of the Rockies Elopement

Hermit Park Pavillion Elopement 

Hermit Park Pavillion is a great spot for couples with a larger guest count who still want to get married in nature. The dog-friendly Pavillion can accommodate up to 150 people and can be reserved up to one year in advance. If you’re looking to sneak in a hike before or after your ceremony, there are some great trails nearby! 

Example Hermit Park Elopement: Estes Park Hiking Elopement

O’Connor Pavillion Elopement

O’Connor Pavilion is located just outside of the Fall River entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s another great option for couples with larger guest counts wanting to forego booking a traditional venue, as it can accommodate up to 140 people and is dog friendly. 

Black Canyon Inn Elopement 

While Black Canyon Inn is a more traditional wedding venue, they do offer specific packages for small weddings and elopements! 

Taharaa Mountain Lodge Elopement 

Taharaa Mountain Lodge is the perfect spot for groups of up to 50 people, with an outdoor ceremony spot and room for a small indoor reception! 

Ranchstead Inn Elopement 

Located just outside of Estes Park, Ranchstead Inn offers a private space with gorgeous views for up to 10 guests. High-end accommodations or an overnight stay or space to get ready can also be arranged!

Estes Park Summer and Fall Elopement Activities 

When the weather gets warm, it’s not difficult to find an activity to do outdoors! Here are a few of our favorite activities to consider including as you adventure on your wedding day. 

Hiking 

Rocky Mountain National Park and Hermit Park Open Space have hundreds of miles of trails to explore. 

Boating 

If you’re wanting to get out on the water, consider renting a pontoon, row boat, canoe, kayak, or paddleboard at the Lake Estes Marina

Horseback Riding 

Looking for a new way to explore the park? Consider doing it on horseback

Picnicking  

We’re big fans of food around here and will never say no to incorporating a picnic into a wedding day. What better way to relax than with some delicious food and a scenic view?! Bird’s Nest and Scratch Deli & Bakery both have wonderful picnic options! 

Roasting S’Mores 

So long as no fire ban is in place, ending the day around a campfire, roasting s’mores, and listening to your favorite music is a wonderful option to wind down and relax! Some of our favorite campgrounds are Hermit Park and Moraine Park.

Camping 

There are lots of places to camp near Estes Park! Campsites can be reserved in advance in Rocky Mountain National Park, Hermit Park Open Space, the Estes Portal Campground, and Mary’s Lake Campground

Grabbing a Pint 

Craft beer lovers rejoice! Estes Park has a vibrant craft beer community. Here’s a list of our favorite breweries in Estes Park! 

Hammocking 

Want to take a few moments to relax and swing in your hammock? It’s always an option! 

Estes Park Aerial Tramway 

The Estes Park Aerial Tramway offers a birdseye view of the town, as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. 

Drive Trail Ridge Road 

Trail Ridge Road is a high alpine road that connects Estes Park to Grand Lake. Typically open late May through mid-October, it reaches 12,183 feet in elevation at its highest point and provides sweeping views of the Rockies, as well as the potential to see lots of wildlife including moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, and pika! 

Stargazing 

Perhaps one of our absolute favorite summer activities, stargazing is a great way to take an intentional moment to relax and be still on your wedding day while admiring the night sky. Plus, you’ll get some really incredible photos!

Estes Park Winter and Spring Elopement Activities 

Snowshoeing

Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean hiking trails are off-limits! Strop on a pair of snowshoes and explore Estes’ winter wonderland.  Winter gear, including snowshoes, can be rented from Estes Park Mountain Shop, Rocky Mountain Adventures, or Estes Park Outfitters

Warm Up at a Coffee Shop or Brewery 

Whether you’d rather warm up with a cup of something hot or a cup of something cold, there’s never a bad time to take a break and grab a drink. If cuddling up with a cup of something warm sounds up your alley, here are a few of our favorite local coffee shops!

Enjoy a Wine Tasting 

Expand your palette and enjoy a wine tasting and charcuterie board at the Snowy Peaks Winery

Sledding 

Located 7 miles from the Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, Hidden Valley is the perfect place to go sledding

Cross-Country Skiing 

While Estes Park doesn’t have any ski resorts, you can still go cross-country skiing in the park! 

How to Get a Marriage License in Estes Park 

While you can get your marriage license from ANY county in Colorado, Estes Park is located in Larimer County. 

Colorado allows couples to self-solemnize their marriage certificate, which means no officiant or witness is needed to make your marriage legally binding. Because of this, Larimer County allows your pup to sign as a witness with their paw print! 

In order to get your marriage license in Larimer County, you will need to visit one of the three Larimer County Clerk & Recorder’s offices, located in Estes Park, Loveland, and Fort Collins. 

For up-to-date information on getting your marriage license in Larimer County, click here

The Best Estes Park Elopement Vendors For Your Wedding Day

Favorite Estes Park Restaurants For Your Elopement 

Whether you’re envisioning a nice dinner with friends and family after your ceremony or somewhere for just the two of you, here are some local restaurants to consider. 

Favorite Estes Park Lodging For Your Elopement 

With plenty of short-term rentals and hotels, there are many options when it comes to lodging near Estes Park! Here are a few of our favorites!

Favorite Estes Park Officiants For Your Elopement 

While an officiant isn’t required to legally get married in Colorado, here are a few of our favorites in the area. 

Favorite Estes Park Caterers/Private Chefs for Your Elopement 

Estes Park is home to several fabulous private chefs and catering services. If you’re looking to hire someone to cook for you, you can’t go wrong with any of the options below! 

Favorite Estes Park Elopement Hair + Makeup Artists 

Need someone to work their magic with hair and makeup on your wedding day? Here are some options that serve the Estes Park area! 

Favorite Estes Park Elopement Florists

If you’re in need of a bouquet or boutonniere for your elopement, check out these local florists! 

Ready to Elope in Estes Park? 

Meet Larissa + Bailey! As two born and raised Coloradoans who have photographed 200+ couples in 100+ locations across Colorado, we specialize in creating a different kind of wedding day that is just as adventurous as you are. We use our experience and knowledge to craft a different kind of wedding day that feels completely authentic to you. Want to hike to a high alpine lake? We can give you trail options for that! Want to canoe along the banks of a mountain lake? We can tell you the best lakes to do it on! Want to watch the sunset from the top of the world? We’ll lead you to our favorite spots for sunset! Book your Estes Park elopement photographer today!

In the meantime, be sure to check out our list of Best Places to Elope in Colorado, and our guide for How to Plan a Colorado Elopement!

Overwhelmed with How To Plan A Colorado Elopement?

Download Our Free Colorado Elopement Planning Guide & Checklist

40+ pages of ideas, tips, and a step-by-step checklist to make your dream elopement come to life.

wedding couple in the mountains on cover of We, The Light Photography's Colorado Elopement Planning Guide and Checklist

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

Are You Freakin’ REady?

We’re 100% here for whatever day you’re dreaming up. Fill out our contact form to start chatting.

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