How To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park | Revised for 2024

Posted On | January 3, 2023

Want to know how to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park? Here are all the details on cost, ceremony locations, and time of the year to consider in 2024!

NOTE: As of April 4, 2024, permits for April through October 2024 are already sold out. For additional ceremony location options near Rocky Mountain National Park, take a look at our Estes Park Elopement Guide! If RMNP is your top choice for your elopement but wedding permits are sold out, you can still take portraits inside of the park so long as your ceremony is held elsewhere!

couple posing at Dream lake during their Rocky Mountain National Park elopement

What Do You Need To Know To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park?

It’s Busy – Plan On A Weekday Elopement

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the U.S. This means it’s very busy with over 4.5 million visitors every single year! What’s the peak season for visiting? June through September (July is the busiest month). But, don’t be fooled, even winter weekends are full of locals and tourists filling up the parking lots and hiking trails.

What does that mean for you? If you are planning a destination wedding ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park, you should plan to hold your elopement on a weekday. While you are likely not to be completely alone during your elopement, this will guarantee the most privacy.

It is important to note that the Fee-Free Days for 2024 are:

Monday, January 15 — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Saturday, April 20 — First Day of National Park Week
Wednesday, June 19 — Juneteenth
Sunday, August 4 — The Great American Outdoors Act
Saturday, September 28 — National Public Lands Day
Monday, November 11 — Veterans Day

Since Fee-Free days tend to be incredibly busy in the park, we recommend avoiding them if possible if you are hoping to avoid crowds.

Want to read more reasons why weekday elopements are the best? This article will help!

Not All Areas Are Open All Year Long

One of RMNP’s most popular spectacles is the drive over Trail Ridge Road. With an altitude of over 12,000 feet, Trail Ridge Road is one of our favorite areas to photograph couples in Colorado. But, Trail Ridge Road is closed in the winter due to snow and safety.

Every year, the open and close dates vary slightly depending on the snowfall. Historically, Trail Ridge Road opens on Memorial Day weekend. But, if there is a late spring snowstorm, there could be a possibility of it staying closed a few weeks later. The closing of Trail Ridge Road also depends on the weather and snowfall. According to RMNP, the average close date for Trail Ridge Road is October 23rd.

If taking sunset or sunrise pictures on the top of Trail Ridge Road is a must (we HIGHLY recommend it!) for your Colorado elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park, then we suggest planning your elopement June through the first two weeks of October.

couple laughing during ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park

Pets Are Viewed As Prey

Dogs and other pets are seen as prey by large predators in the park. You are allowed to have your dog on a leash on paved roads and in campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park, but they are not allowed anywhere on trails. If it’s a must to have your dog be a part of your Colorado elopement ceremony, it’s best to choose a different location. View Rocky Mountain National Park’s pet policy here.

Changing Weather + Temperatures

Colorado weather is constantly changing. We have a running joke here that the weatherman throws a dart at a weather map to predict what’s going to happen. Basically, it can go from cloudy to sunny, to raining, to snowing, and back to sunny all within the span of a few hours.

Elevation also plays a big role in the temperature. While it may be a beautiful 60-degree day at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, because of the drastic elevation change, it can be 30 degrees at the top of Trail Ridge Road.

Wind is inevitable in the mountains. I’ve learned to embrace every aspect of wind because it creates some pretty epic photos! But, you need to be aware and prepared for it to be windy.

This means wear layers underneath your clothes and bring a warm winter jacket any time of year!

Leave No Trace

As users of a national park, it is our duty to keep this area just as untouched as we left it! We encourage all of our couples who are planning a Rocky Mountain National Park elopement to follow the “leave no trace” principle. With the leave no trace principle you respect the land you explore by leaving just as it was before you arrived.

As a part of the leave no trace principle and wedding guidelines for Rocky Mountain National Park, you are not allowed to throw confetti, release anything, plant anything or bring in your own chairs, generator or sound equipment. If you end up taking pictures on Trail Ridge Road, you are not allowed to walk on the tundra and must stay on designated trails and pull-offs.

dream lake elopement in rocky mountain national park

How To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park

As a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding and elopement photographer, it is our job to educate couples so they can make the best decision for their Colorado elopement.

Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement Ceremony Locations

Rocky Mountain National Park only allows couples to hold their elopement ceremony at twelve designated sites within the park. A full list of the locations you can elope at in Rocky Mountain National Park is listed below.

If you’ve been dreaming of hiking up to Dream Lake to say your vows or taking pictures with your partner at the top of Trail Ridge Road, don’t worry! Before or after your ceremony at a designated location, we can adventure around the entire park together for some epic pictures.

How Much Does It Cost To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park?

To elope in Rocky Mountain National Park you are required to apply for a $300 permit for your specific date, time and location. You can apply for this permit as far as a year out. Many locations and prime time slots fill up months in advance, so do not wait to do this.

How Do I Get A Wedding Permit to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park?

First, you will want to check for the availability of your date, location and time by calling the RMNP Concession Management Office at 970 586-1209. Once you confirm your date is available, download the printable RMNP wedding permit here.

On the permit application, under “Proposed Activity”, simply put “Elopement ceremony and photos”. When entering in the preferred start and end time, please talk to your photographer first! Your photographer will be able to help you decide on the time of day that is the least busy and has the best lighting for that location.

Applications are accepted 12 months in advance, beginning on the first of the month. For instance, applications for any day in October 2024 will be accepted beginning on October 1, 2023.

Entrance Fees to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

Your wedding permit does not cover the entrance fee into the park for you or your guests. Let your guests know that they will be expected to pay the $30 entrance fee for a one-day pass. If you and your guests are staying nearby and want to explore more of RMNP on other days you can also purchase a 7-day entrance pass for $35. For the most recent entrance fee prices click here.

New Regulations for 2024 Elopements and Weddings in Rocky Mountain National Park

In 2024, RMNP will issue up to 6 wedding permits per day with no more than two weddings per day at each location. May through October has a limit of 60 permits issued per month, and November through April has a limit of 40 permits issued per month, all on a first-served basis. 

The other regulation that will continue through 2024 is that Rocky Mountain National Park will only allow wedding parties up to 30 people total, with some locations having a lower limit. The key to this new rule is that 30 people is the total amount allowed to be present including both your guests and all vendors such as your officiant, videographer, and photographer.

With Rocky Mountain National Park being a destination for weddings and elopements, it’s crucial that you secure your wedding permit early! If you don’t know how to do that, as Colorado elopement photographers and guides, we walk all of our couples through the permit process, give you all the links you need and even help suggest the ideal timeline to reserve your permit to take advantage of the best scenery and lighting. Send us a message today and we’ll help you get started!

bride and groom holding hands looking opposite directions during small wedding in rocky mountain national park

Where To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park

There are twelve designated sites within Rocky Mountain National Park that you can hold a ceremony for your elopement. These are the only locations you can get married at within the park, but you can adventure around the rest of RMNP before or after your ceremony for epic photos.

Our Favorite Elopement Ceremony Locations Include:

Our Favorite Elopement Photo Locations Include:

Real Rocky Mountain National Park Elopements

The Proof is in the pudding – Check out a few of the 50+ Rocky Mountain National Park elopements We’ve Photographed

Wedding Vendors for Your RMNP Elopement

Once you decide on a location and finalize your wedding permit, you may need a few more vendors to create the day you envisioned. Here are some of our favorite wedding vendors that serve RMNP.

RMNP Wedding Florist

RMNP Wedding Officiants

Estes Park Wedding Hair & Makeup Artists

Trail Ridge Road elopement location in Rocky Mountain National Park

 grand Lake Wedding Hair & Makeup Artists

Estes Park Restaurants and Catering For Your Wedding Reception

Grand Lake Restaurants For Your Wedding Reception

we’re more than just your photographer

We’re not kidding. We’re here to make this process easier than “accidentally” binge-watching the newest season of your favorite show. Every single elopement package includes:

  • Adventure Elopement Planning Guide with step-by-step plans, insider tips and resources from the 250+ elopements we’ve planned.
  • A custom location guide with hidden gems for you to explore and info on accessibility, privacy, permits and photos.
  • Unlimited communication – You can email us anytime, anywhere, about anything – no question is too silly.
  • Recommendations for vetted, LGBTQ+ affirming elopement vendors.
  • A custom timeline that allows you to have the epic and stress-free elopement day of your dreams.
  • Local knowledge about Colorado’s quirky features, like weather patterns, seasonal closures, last-minute back-up locations, and dealing with high altitude and wildlife .
  • We’re CPR, AED & Wilderness First Aid Certified and always travel with backups of anything we might need.
  • A built-in back up photographer you know you can trust (because we’re a team).
  • Day of coordinator (you don’t need to look at your watch one time), best friend, and hype girl.
  • A polaroid memory to take home as a tangible keepsake on your wedding day.

If it’s on your elopement to-do list, we’re here to help check it off.

Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement + Small Wedding Packages

Meet Larissa and Bailey! We are two born and raised Coloradoans who specialize in planning and capturing epic elopements for our couples that feel authentic to who they are. Loveland Pass is THE spot to elope if you want adventure and stunning scenery. We specialize only in Colorado and can help you plan the perfect just-us day or a celebration with up to 30 of your friends/family.

What’s Included

3+ Hours of Photography Coverage

We intentionally document your day with both digital and film. Includes high-resolution digital images, printing rights, a shareable online gallery, and free album design.

Full Elopement Planning Assistance

When we say we help with it all, we mean it. Location scouting and ideas. Vetted and LGBTQ+ allied vendors who know elopements. Recs for activities to do on your elopement day. Stress-free timeline planning. Planning resources and ideas. Unlimited communication because we never leave you high and dry.

Ready to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement?

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 Rocky Mountain National 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.

Comment Love

11 responses to “How To Elope In Rocky Mountain National Park | Revised for 2024”

  1. Sunshine Lump

    Wow! Great information! Thanks for sharing.

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