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Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding and Elopement Guide

Published on March 5th, 2023

How to get married in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding and Elopement Guide

If you’re looking to get breathtaking views when you get married, consider looking into having a Rocky Mountain National Park wedding or elopement. In this guide, I’ll touch on everything you need to know to have an incredible wedding day in this beautiful park.

Congratulations! You’ve found the best wedding venue in Estes Park

I this isn’t what most people think of when they hear the term “wedding venue”, however it truly is the best option for a wedding ceremony in Estes Park. Especially for intimate weddings and elopements. Having a wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park is a sure way to have an incredible day with some of the most spectacular views in Colorado. But just like any national park, there are rules and regulations, and it can be overwhelming to sort it all out. Well friend, I’ve got you covered. Let’s dive into the Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding or Elopement Guide!

Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Checklist

  1. Decide on your wedding ceremony guest count
  2. Find out which RMNP wedding sites can accommodate your number of guests
  3. Hire a Photographer who knows RMNP well and can help you think through logistics
  4. Research the best time of year for your dream wedding day
  5. Reserve your ceremony site (ASAP!) and get your permit
  6. Start dreaming up your National Park Wedding
  7. Have an incredible wedding day in RMNP

Let me explain these a bit further. Rocky Mountain National Park has 12 designated areas for any wedding ceremony. Yes, even for a 2 person elopement. The wedding locations each have a max number of people allowed which varies site to site. This is why I suggest figuring out your guest count as step one on the checklist. RMNP also only allows 6 wedding ceremonies per day and only 2 per day at any given location and they have now put a limit to the total number of weddings per year. Reserving your wedding permit is something you will want to move on as soon as possible.

Hiring a photographer who knows RMNP is a top priority because we can advise you on the best time of day to reserve, time of year, day of week and so much more all based around getting to know you and what you envision for your day. After you’ve done all this, all the fun begins! You can plan out your dream adventurous wedding day. Rocky has so many great options for all breathtaking views and every level of adventure. Whether you want to hike to Dream Lake, drive up Trail Ridge Road, or something in between. Rocky Mountain National Park makes for an incredible wedding venue. 

Which Rocky Mountain National Park wedding site is right for you?

I’m going to break down each of the locations as well as highlight some of my favorites with the best views, because why get married in Rocky Mountain National Park and not have a killer view??

Let me save you some time and tell you the ones you do not need to check out, unless they hold sentimental value to you. Since RMNP only allows 6 weddings a day, it’s not possible for every other better location to not be an option if you are able to secure one of the 6 permits. 

Alluvial Fan Bridge allows for 20 people and is probably only cool certain times of year. It’s a flat waterfall with a ton of rocks and surprisingly crowded. 

Harbison Meadow Picnic Area and Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater are on the West side of the park near Grand Lake. This side of Rocky has a lot of pine beetle kill trees and with it being so close to Grand Lake, I don’t see why you would pay for the permit to get married here when you could get a cool Airbnb with awesome views in Grand Lake or near Lake Granby. If you are wanting to stay near this entrance to the RMNP, I suggest holding your ceremony outside of the park and getting a photography permit to take photos up Trail Ridge Road for some of the most awe-inspiring wedding day views you can imagine. If you want to avoid the busyness of Estes Park, Grand Lake and Grand County in general is really beautiful and way less crowded.

Moving on to the better locations!

Sprague Lake Wedding Site

Absolutely gorgeous! This ceremony location features a dock on a lake with views of the iconic mountain range that RMNP is famous for. It’s also a busier location in the park, but planning your wedding on a weekday can help with the crowds. Even with other people around, having the lake as your backdrop makes it easy for park goers to simply pass by without interrupting your ceremony, especially if you hold the ceremony at the dock. This site allows for 15 people in the Summer and 30 in the Winter.

Max number of people: 15 in the Summer, 30 in the Winter

Max number of cars: 3 in the Summer, 10 in the Winter

Upper Beaver Meadows Wedding Site

If you like wide open grasslands with epic views of mountains, this ceremony site is for you! There are so many pros to this location. It allows up to 60 people, it’s more private, and there are several places you can have your ceremony. It’s important to remember that getting a permit for your wedding does not mean that you have exclusive access to the land. It’s still open to park visitors. With that in mind, this is a huge benefit to couples who want to keep onlookers to a minimum. 

Max number of people: 30

Max number of cars: 10

3M Curve Wedding Site

This site is gorgeous! It is higher than Upper Beaver meadows and allows you to see more of the mountain range. Plus there are a lot of rock formations. It allows for 15 people and an ideal spot for a scenic intimate gathering. 3M Curve is not a major attraction at RMNP and doesn’t have any hiking trails around, but there are always people who stop here for a bit. It still feels private when you hold your ceremony down the hill a bit, but this would not be the place for you if you don’t want people watching from a distance. I should mention this is not wheelchair accessible, and not the easiest place to get to if you have trouble walking on gravel at a slope.

Max number of people: 15

Max number of cars: 3

Bear Lake Wedding Site

Ah! This location is magical in the Winter! Imagine saying your vows on a frozen mountain lake! Bear Lake is actually only available as a wedding site from Indigenous Peoples’ Day to the Friday before Memorial Day and only on weekdays. This is one of the most popular attractions in RMNP which is why it’s not an option in the Summer. This site allows for 20 people and is ideal for you winter wedding dreamers who can overlook a few strangers around. It’s also great for couples who want to hike on their wedding day as it is the same trailhead as Dream Lake and Emerald Lake.

Max number of people: 20

Max number of cars: 5

Only from Indigenous Peoples’ Day to the Friday before Memorial Day, No Weekends

Lily Lake Dock Wedding Site

Lily Lake Dock (10 people) Lily Lake Trail (20 people) and Lily Lake Picnic Area (30 people. This area has a really pretty lake surrounded by lower elevation mountains. I like this area because you can easily hike above the lake for some gorgeous views overlooking the area. 

Max number of people: 10 for the dock, 20 for the trail, 30 for the picnic area

Max number of cars: 10

Moraine Park Amphitheater Wedding Site

NOT OFFERED FOR 2023. If you want your ceremony to have an actual aisle and places for your guests to sit, this is your best option. It’s surrounded by ponderosa pine trees and is very private. It honestly feels like an actual venue. This site allows for 60 people in the Summer, 100 in the Winter (just imagine the frosted trees!) and is right across the street from Moraine Park which has a meandering river in a meadow with epic mountains all around. What more could you want?? One of my favorite places in Rocky Mountain National Park. Unfortunately, this site is not offered for 2023, not sure if they will open it back up. Also not sure if they will allow more than 30 guests.

Max number of people: 60 in the Summer, 100 in the Winter

Max number of cars: 10

Copeland Lake Wedding Site

Copeland Lake isn’t quite as scenic as Sprague Lake, but offers way more privacy and still really beautiful. If you don’t want to go all the way into Estes Park, this is a great option. Copeland Lake is also the only dog friendly location! A huge plus but they must be on a leash. 

Max number of people: 30

Max number of cars: 10

Hidden Valley Wedding Site

Hidden Valley is a great option for weddings with more than 60 guests. It allows up to 100 people at specific times or 20 anytime. It’s mountainous and has lots of evergreen trees.

Max number of people: 30

Max number of cars: undetermined

How to make your wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park an Adventure

Although your ceremony itself has to be in one of the designated wedding locations, you are still allowed to do photos almost anywhere in the park. What I love about wedding days in Rocky is that it’s so accommodating to all sorts of adventurers. We can drive places and do minimal hiking if you want to experience an incredible view together without exercising in your wedding attire.You can get up before the sun, hike to an alpine lake and watch the alpenglow on the mountains if that suits you. So many options and they are all incredible.

Hiking to Dream Lake and Emerald Lake

If you want to go the hiking route, this trail is a must-see! I highly recommend going at sunrise, as I often do, because Dream Lake and Emerald Lake are notorious for their sunrise alpenglow. This is also the busiest trail in the park and there is something so special about having a place like this all to yourselves which can only really happen at sunrise. The early morning wake up call is worth it, trust me! This trail is great because it’s gorgeous all along the way, not too difficult, and only 1 mile to Dream Lake. The perfect recipe for couples who want to have a little adventure, but also include their families in the Ceremony.

Drive Trail Ridge Road

I always want to communicate with couples that they do not have to hike to have an adventure on their wedding or elopement day. Driving up Trail Ridge Road is all the thrill with no sweat involved. The views here are absolutely breathtaking and it’s one of my favorite places in the state. I recommend seeing it at sunrise or sunset to really see these mountains come alive.

Getting a Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Permit

If you are dreaming about your National Park wedding, you do have to plan ahead. Thankfully, RMNP has extended the amount of permits per month vs per year. May through October they will accept 60 wedding permits a month on a first come first served basis. November through April is 40 permits a month. That may seem like a lot, but note that RMNP is one of the most popular places to get married in Colorado. They start accepting applications one year ahead. The permit is $300. If you know your date or general timeframe, I’d start by emailing romo_fees_permits@nps.gov to check to see if your desired location is available. From there, the process is pretty straightforward.

Meet your Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding and Elopement Photographer

Colorado Springs Elopement Photographer

Hey there! I’m probably a lot like you. An outdoorsy nerd that prefers the grandeur of the wild to almost anything indoors. Being out in nature, especially the mountains, is where I feel most alive and free to be myself. It’s no wonder why photographing adventure elopements comes so naturally to me. Getting to take adventure-seekers like yourselves to these awe-inspiring places and helping you have an incredible wedding day experience is the best job I could ask for. Between my love for hiking and being a mom of 3 young boys, I was made for this. Prepared for anything, remaining calm, and overloaded with snacks! Let’s grab beer and start dreaming up your Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding or Elopement!