Your Ultimate Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding & Elopement Guide

Welcome to Your Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding & Elopement Guide

Welcome to Rocky Mountain National Park, a place where location and nature intertwine to create the perfect backdrop for your wedding or elopement. With its breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and serene ambiance, this national treasure offers a unique and unforgettable setting for your special day. Here, you’ll find a sense of belonging and a connection to the natural world that will make your celebration truly meaningful. Embrace it!

Why Choose Rocky Mountain National Park?

Choosing Rocky Mountain National Park for your wedding or elopement is a decision that speaks to so many. The park’s stunning vistas, towering peaks, and tranquil lakes provide a canvas like no other for your wedding. It’s a place where memories are made, and the grandeur of nature can elevate the experience of your commitment to each other.

It’s a fantastic spot to get married, but there are quite a few things you need to know to ensure it’s the right location for you and your partner. Read on for ALL of the details!

FALL HAS OUR HEARTS AS THE FAVORITE SEASO

Understanding the Basics of a Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding or Elopement

Planning a wedding or elopement in a national park requires careful consideration. It’s important to understand the balance between celebrating your wedding and preserving the park’s natural beauty. Contact local vendors and professionals who specialize in RMNP weddings for their expertise and insights.

The First Step in Planning Your RMNP Wedding is to secure a special use permit for your date and ceremony site.
STEP 1

Wedding Permit Info

If you are interested in getting married in Rocky Mountain National Park, please remember to plan well in advance of your desired wedding date. Obtaining a wedding permit is the first step in planning your ceremony in the park.

RMNP accepts applications one year in advance of the desired wedding month. Review begins on the first of the month and is conducted on a rolling basis.

For example, Beginning on June 1, 2024, Rocky Mountain National Park will start accepting applications for all days in June 2025, etc.

Info on Submitting Your Application

You can find the application for your RMNP wedding permit or “special use permit” here. you’ll need to provide details about your planned ceremony, including the date, location, and number of guests. Submit your application well in advance to secure your preferred spot.

  • Next, you must email your special use application to the following address: romo_fees_permits@nps.gov.
  • After a favorable review of your application, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and sent to you via email for signature. Upon receipt, review, sign, and return the permit for final approval. If your ceremony plans change, notify our office immediately. After the permit is finalized, we’ll email you an authorized copy. The approved permit must be in your possession during the ceremony.

Cost of Wedding Permit

The $300 cost of a wedding permit in Rocky Mountain National Park is a small investment for such a once-in-a-lifetime venue. The fee covers administrative costs and contributes to the preservation of the park.

Timed Entry Info – Entrance Fees

Rocky Mountain National Park requires a timed entry reservation during peak seasons. These reservations help manage visitor traffic and protect the park’s resources. Your group will not need timed entry tickets because you have a wedding permit. All guests should carpool or caravan in and have a copy of the wedding permit with them in case they are separated from the group.

National Parks Pass Info and Fees

In addition to a wedding permit, you and your guests will need a National Park pass to enter Rocky Mountain National Park. Passes can be purchased online or at park entrances. Depending on your needs, consider the different pass options, such as a day pass or an annual pass. You can purchase your pass here. Each car entering the park will need its own pass.

How Many Permits are Issued Every Year to Get Married in the Park?

Not many, but the number of wedding permits issued varies by season.

  • May to October: 60 permits per month
  • November to April: 40 permits per month
  • Permits are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important to apply early to secure your desired date.

Best Times to Elope in Rocky Mountain National Park

The best time to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park depends on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Each season offers its own unique charm, from the wildflowers of early summer to the golden aspens of fall.

A Seasonal Guide – What to “EXPECT” in Every Season

SPRING
April-May

• Snow, melting and muddy conditions are possible
• Afternoon storms can be frequent but usually pass quickly
• Minimal crowds
• Green trees and meadows

SUMMER
June-August

• Wildflowers and epic sunrises and sunsets
• Large crowds on the weekends and around holidays
• afternoon storms still possible but drier
• Great temperatures in the mountains

FALL
September-October

• Unbelievable color and changing aspens
• Larger crowds with colors and fall rut
• Shorter days and temps are starting to cool off

WINTER
December-March

• Cold temps and frozen lakes
• Limited accessibility
• Gorgeous snow covered everything
• Little or No crowds and the best time for a serene and private park experience


Weather Considerations for Your Big Day

Mountain weather can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to prepare for various conditions. Check the forecast leading up to your wedding day and have a backup plan in case of inclement weather. Dress in layers and advise your guests to do the same for comfort and flexibility.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Choosing Your Perfect Location

13 Iconic Spots for Your Ceremony

Rocky Mountain National Park offers 13 stunning locations for your ceremony. Consider factors such as accessibility, scenery, and privacy when selecting your spot. If possible, visit the park beforehand to explore different areas and best location for your day.

NOTE: Some sites are not always accessible in Winter. Check out this link for full details.

1. 3M Curve

This breathtaking overlook offers panoramic views of the mountains and is only 3.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. It is one of the more private sites but still close to the road.

2. Alluvial Fan Bridge

7 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Old Fall River River. A picturesque bridge surrounded by cascading waters and lush vegetation, a wooden footbridge, aspen trees, and restrooms. This is a very busy area during the summer season.

3. Bear Lake Nature Trail

11 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, on Bear Lake, with mountain views, aspen trees, restrooms, and a serene lakeside setting with towering peaks. This is a bustling area year-round. No weddings are permitted from the Friday before Memorial Day weekend through the 2nd Tuesday of October. No weekends year-round

4. Copeland Lake (Wild Basin Area)

13 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Hwy 7 in Wild Basin. Aspens and a tranquil lake nestled in a forested basin.

5. Harbison Meadow Picnic Area (West Side near Grand Lake)

A peaceful meadow with stunning vistas and abundant wildlife. No restrooms.

6. HIDDEN VALLEY

A secluded valley with open meadows and mountain views. 6 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Aspens and pines, summer wildflowers, wooden footbridge. More private and good for mid-day weddings because of the shade.

7. Lily Lake Dock

6.4 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Hwy 7. 1/4 mile walk on lake trail, mountain views. A charming dock on a peaceful lake, perfect for intimate ceremonies.

8. Lily Lake Trail

6.4 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Hwy 7. 1/4 mile walk on lake trail, mountain views.  A lakeside trail with picturesque spots for a small gathering.

9. Lily Lake Southside Picnic Area

6.4 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Hwy 7. 1/4 mile walk on lake trail, with scenic areas with lake views and picnic facilities.

10. Moraine Park Discovery Center Amphitheater

2.7 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Bear Lake Road. An outdoor amphitheater surrounded by nature. Dogs are permitted on leash.

11. Sprague Lake

7 miles from Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Bear Lake Road. This breathtaking overlook offers panoramic views of the mountains. It is one of the more private sites but still close to the road. This is a busy trail but it has a large parking lot.

12. Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater

West Side of the Park. Partial views of the Colorado River. Large campground nearby. A rustic amphitheater in a wooded setting.

13. Upper Beaver Meadows

1.5 miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, with views of the Continental Divide and open panoramic views of the mountains. It is one of the more private sites but still close to the road. Vehicle access is not possible in Winter.

Why Plan for a Weekday Sunrise or Sunset Elopement in the Park?

A weekday sunrise or sunset elopement offers several advantages:

  • Less Crowds and Traffic: Enjoy a more peaceful and intimate experience without the bustle of weekend visitors.
  • Mid-day light can be harsh. We suggest you avoid ceremony and portrait times between 11 am and 3 pm in the summer. The best times for photography in Rocky Mountain National Park are early morning and golden hour through sunset when the light is soft and golden. Some of the most accessible locations for photos include Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Moraine Park, but these are also highly trafficked, so we suggest other, more intimate locations for our clients.

Accommodations and Logistics

Where to Stay: From Cozy Cabins to Luxury Lodges

Rocky Mountain National Park and its surrounding areas offer a range of accommodations to suit your preferences and budget. For a touch of elegance, consider staying in a cozy cabin, the Stanley Hotel, or a luxury lodge. There are also camping options in the park and nearby. These fill up super quickly. Estes Park and Grand Lake are popular towns with various lodging options. If you are planning on holding a reception at a rental property, VRBO has an “events allowed” tab to help in your search. I have suggestions on AirBnBs in my complete wedding guide.

ESTES PARK SIDE

CLOSE RENTAL PROPERTIES

• VRBO
• AirBnB

GRAND LAKE SIDE

CLOSE RENTAL PROPERTIES

• VRBO
• AirBnB

ESTES PARK SIDE

CAMPSITE OPTIONS

• Recreation.gov

GRAND LAKE SIDE

CAMPSITE OPTIONS

• Recreation.gov

Getting Around the Park: Transportation Tips

Getting around Rocky Mountain National Park can be an adventure in itself. Consider the following tips for a smooth experience:

  • Plan your route in advance and familiarize yourself with the park’s roads and trails.
  • Check for any road closures or restrictions before your trip.
  • Use the park’s shuttle service during peak seasons to reduce traffic and parking hassles.

The Legal Stuff: How to get your Marriage License in Colorado

01

GETTING STARTED

To obtain your marriage certificate, simply schedule an appointment with at any Colorado county clerk’s office that is convenient for you. You don’t necessarily have to visit the office in the county where your wedding venue is located, but consider that some offices may be busier than others. Making an appointment in advance can save you time and hassle. Once your appointment is scheduled, fill out the online application if it’s available in that county. Also, remember to consider any holidays near your wedding date and plan accordingly for a smooth process.

02

WHEN YOU GET HERE

Plan a stop at the County Clerk. Couples must appear in person at the County Clerk’s office with Proper ID to complete the application. Colorado has no waiting period, so you can get married the same day your license is issued. After presenting your IDs, you’ll swear your identity and pay the $30 fee by cash, check, or credit card. Your Colorado marriage license is then issued.

03

SIGN YOUR LICENSE ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

Make sure to fill it out and sign in the correct spots. The only signatures required will be yours, your partner’s, and your officiant’s if you choose to have one. You’re not required to have a witness in Colorado, and you can also self-solemnize. Self-solemnizing is the ability for a couple to marry themselves without needing an officiant or witness. In Colorado, you can also choose to have your closest humans or even your dog serve as witnesses.

04

RETURN YOUR SIGNED LICENSE TO THE COUNTY CLERK

After the ceremony, return your marriage license to the same Colorado county clerk’s office where you filed. You have 35 days to sign it in the state and 65 days from your wedding date to return it. Just make sure it’s returned within this timeframe to avoid late fees. You can do this in person or by certified mail. You can also request certified copies for $1.25 each.


That’s it. You’re good to go! Just schedule your appointment and gather all required documents early to ensure a smooth process.



Timeline for a Smooth Day

Plann Enough Time to Explore Nature and Have the Full Experience

Choose local professionals to create a detailed timeline for your wedding day, accounting for travel time, photography sessions, and any other activities you have planned. Schedule ample time for you and your guests to explore the surrounding trails and capture photos in the stunning landscape.

Scheduling Time to Spend with Family

Incorporate moments into your timeline for meaningful interactions with your loved ones. Whether it’s a family brunch, intimate dinner or a quiet moment before the ceremony, these memories will be cherished.

Creating the Best Guest Experience

Consider the needs and comfort of your guests throughout the event. Provide clear information about the venue, transportation, and any recommended attire for the mountain setting. Advise your bridal party and guests to dress in layers, as temperatures can vary throughout the day. Consider providing blankets or pashminas to add a cozy touch and keep everyone warm during the ceremony and reception.

Weather Contingency Plans: Preparing for Mother Nature’s Surprises

Have a backup plan in case of inclement weather. Whether it’s securing an indoor venue or providing guests with umbrellas and blankets, being prepared will ensure that your day is beautiful, rain or shine.


What to Pack

Essential Gear for a Mountain Wedding

When packing for your mountain wedding, consider the following essentials:

  • Comfortable and sturdy footwear for navigating rocky terrain.
  • Layered clothing to adapt to changing weather conditions.
  • Sun protection such as sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses.
  • A first-aid kit for any minor injuries or emergencies.
  • Snacks and water to stay hydrated and energized throughout the day.

Leave No Trace

Respecting Nature: Leave No Trace Principles

Adhering to Leave No Trace principles is crucial for preserving the natural beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park. This includes packing out all trash, staying on designated trails, and respecting wildlife. By following these guidelines, you can ensure that the park remains pristine for future generations.


FAQ on Getting Married at Rocky Mountain National Park

With careful planning and attention to detail, you can create a wedding that not only reflects your love but also leaves a lasting impression on you and your guests. Embrace the beauty and the majesty of Maroon Bells to make your wedding a day to remember forever. Embarking on a Lifetime of Adventure Starting with Your Unforgettable Maroon Bells Amphitheater Wedding

Music is permitted, but it must be under 60 decibels. Just above a talking voice if you need the translation😁

I don’t recommend RMNP if you want to get married with your dog. There is one area in the park for ceremonies that allows dogs, but it is still super restrictive.

No. In Colorado, you can self-solemnize. Here’s more info on that!

Yes, but petals, seeds, and flowers can not be thrown.

No, drones are not permitted in the park.

Yes! With a ceremony permit we can do portraits all over the park.

The number of guests allowed depends on the location you choose.

No. Temporary structures are usually not allowed.

LAB was so easy going and fun to work with.

Our elopement video exceeded my expectations and it is my favorite thing from our wedding. Our personalities and interactions we’re all captured so perfect and candidly. The overlay of our vows is the ultimate tear jerker. I could honestly go on and on about how great this turned out…If you are looking for someone reliable, timely, with good communication skills I highly recommend LAB Photography + Films!!  Leah was so easy going and fun to work with. When I reached out initially she was able to work with my budget and create the perfect package for our elopement. Leah and Hank came prepared for the  chilly weather and even had umbrellas to supply to us when it started raining!!
Our wedding video exceeded my expectations and it is my favorite thing from our wedding.  Our personalities, interactions, we’re all captured so perfect and candidly. The overlay of our vows is the ultimate tear jerker. I could honestly go on and on about how great this turned out…If you are looking for someone reliable, timely, with good communication skills I highly recommend Lab Photography  + Films!!

~ Lauren + Travis

WANT TO GET STARTED ON PLANNING YOUR DREAM WEDDING WITH LAB!?

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