Everything you need to know for planning your Garden of the Gods Elopement
Having a Garden of the Gods elopement or wedding would make for a super unique story. Saying your vows next to 300’ sandstone formations is something not a lot of people can say they did for their wedding day! If you’re wanting to elope at the Garden of the Gods there are a few things to keep in mind, to plan around, and make decisions on. Lucky for you, we did most of the heavy lifting already. This guide we’ve put together will get you prepared to have the Garden of the Gods Elopement you’ve been dreaming about. When you’re ready for the next step to book your photographers, reach out HERE.
Getting to Garden of the Gods
Traveling to the Garden of the Gods park for your Garden of the Gods elopement couldn’t be any easier. The park itself is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It’s an estimated drive of an hour and a half from the Denver International Airport, and an hour and fifteen minutes from the city of Denver. It’s a straight shot down one road, I-25. Like I said, it really couldn’t be any easier of a drive.
Ceremony Locations for your Garden of the Gods Elopement
There are 6 locations within the park where you can choose to have your Garden of the Gods elopement. Each location varies with the amount of people allowed in attendance, none going above 50 people. There are three locations allowing 50 people, and three locations allowing 25 people. Elopement ceremonies are allowed at the Garden of the Gods as long as you follow all the park rules, have the ceremony at one of these locations, and the ceremony is a brief ceremony. Something to keep in mind when planning your Garden of the Gods elopement is that you are not allowed to bring in any tables, tents, arches, trellises, etc., and only chairs for the elderly or disabled are allowed to be brought in. Basically no props or decorations, you can’t release birds or butterflies, and you certainly can’t throw confetti or rice. Let the natural beauty of the park be your decorations. Less is more, especially in a spot as beautiful as this.
Garden of the Gods Elopement Ceremony Locations Allowing for 25 People
The Sentinel Plaza ceremony location is a great spot for your Garden of the Gods elopement if you’re looking to get married right next to one of the red sandstone rock formations. Sentinel Plaza allows for 25 guests during your Garden of the Gods elopement ceremony. You’ll want to park at parking area P2 as seen on this map, and then take the short walk to Sentinel Plaza which is on a paved walking path. There is wheelchair accessibility to this paved trail. You will also find restrooms near the parking area. During your walk to the Sentinel Plaza, you’ll pass the rock formations: Tower of Babel, the Kissing Camels, Signature Rock, White Rock, and the Twin Spires are situated right between the North Gateway Rock, and South Gateway Rock.
Three Graces Plaza
The Three Graces Plaza is a plaza, but also the rock formation is called Three Graces. The towering sandstone formations are one of the most popular spots in the park to get married. It allows for 25 people, and is set up nicely for a group of people to gather around. If chosen at the right time of day, the plaza will be shaded due to the shadows casted from the impressive sandstone formation. The closest parking is either P6 or P7 as seen on this map, but be prepared to walk on unpaved trails if parking in either of these two spots. These parking areas are pull offs and don’t allow for many cars. If you find yourself not finding parking in P6 or P7, choose to park at the Main Parking lot and take the short walk to the plaza on a paved walking trail. If you’re needing wheelchair accessibility, we would suggest parking at the main parking lot, and taking the paved walking trails to the plaza.
Scotsman Picnic Area
Scotsman Picnic Area is one of the Garden of the Gods Elopement ceremony locations where there is parking, and restrooms nearby, making it a super convenient location. Scotsman Picnic Area allows for 25 people. This location is also one of the two locations where you can hold a small picnic reception. Click here to view what others are saying about this peaceful location, and to see more photos. To get to the Scotsman Picnic area, you’ll want to enter the park on Gateway Rd, then take Juniper Way Loop (keep in mind that Juniper Way Loop is a one way road!) all the way around and bare right the whole way until you come to the Scotsman Picnic Area. The drive through the park is absolutely beautiful and you’ll enjoy every second of your drive getting to the picnic area. Refer to this map to help navigate your way around the park. Make sure to take a few photos of the impressive Scotsman Rock formation while at the picnic area! The Siamese Twins rock formation is only a short hike from the Scotsman Picnic Area. If you’re feeling adventurous and up for the hike, we absolutely recommend checking out the Siamese Twins rock formation.
Garden of the Gods Elopement Ceremony Locations Allowing for 50 People
The Jaycee Plaza ceremony location is a beautiful spot for your Garden of the Gods elopement providing a stunning backdrop. Jaycee Plaza allows for 50 guests during your Garden of the Gods elopement. You’ll want to park at parking area P2 as seen on this map, and then take the short walk to the plaza which is on a paved walking path. There is wheelchair accessibility to this paved trail. You will also find restrooms near the parking area. During your walk to the Jaycee Plaza, you’ll pass the rock formations: Tower of Babel, the Kissing Camels, Signature Rock, and White Rock.
High Point is one of the Garden of the Gods Elopement ceremony locations that allows for 50 people. This Garden of the Gods elopement ceremony location offers mountain views, and parking right at the location making it super easy for your guests. We suggest entering the park through Ridge Rd, and the parking area will be P9 as seen on this map. We suggest doing a ceremony here either during sunrise, or sunset. The harsh midday sun can make it difficult to photograph here due to the shadows casted by the structure. After your ceremony, be sure to venture off on one of the nearby hiking trails, and adventure on the red rocks for some beautiful photos. Be prepared that there are no facilities at the High Point Garden of the Gods Elopement ceremony location. The closest bathrooms would be either going up north on Juniper Way Loop (keep in mind that Juniper Way Loop is a one way road!) to the Main Parking Lot where there are restrooms, or going south on Ridge Rd, entering the park through Beckers Ln, and using the restrooms at the Trading Post.
South Spring Canyon Area
South Spring Canyon Area is located near the Trading Post on the south end of the park. South Spring Canyon Area allows for 50 people. This location is also one of the two locations where you can hold a small picnic reception. To get to the South Spring Canyon Area, you can enter the park through Garden Drive, passing Toad and Toadstool Rocks, turning right at Balanced Rock. There is parking in this area and a short walk to the picnic area.
Picnic Reception Locations for your Garden of the Gods Elopement
Receptions are not allowed at any locations of the park, unless you’re having a picnic at one of the two designated areas. One allows for 50 people, and the other allows for 25. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to bring in any tents, tables, arches, trellises, or chairs (you can bring in chairs for the disabled and elderly). You are also not allowed to decorate the picnic areas. You must only use what the park provides. Read more on the rules of having a picnic reception in the park here.
Garden of the Gods Elopement Picnic Reception Locations Allowing for 50 People
South Spring Canyon Area
South Spring Canyon Area is one of two of the designated picnic reception locations you can choose from for your Garden of the Gods elopement. Scroll up a few paragraphs to read more on this location!
Garden of the Gods Elopement Picnic Reception Locations Allowing for 25 People
Scotsman Picnic Area
Scotsman Picnic Area is one of the two of the designated picnic reception locations you can choose from for your Garden of the Gods elopement. Scroll up a few paragraphs to read more on this location!
Must-Do Hikes for your Garden of the Gods Elopement
After your Garden of the Gods Elopement ceremony, consider taking a few hikes around the park to explore the red sandstone rocks and formations. In total there are 21 miles of hiking paths to choose from. Here is a great map showing the hiking trails, and showing where each Garden Rock Formation is located. If you’d like a free full-colored trail map stop by the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center information desk! If you’re someone who doesn’t like exploring on their own, the park offers free Guided Nature Walks! Below are a few of the Must-Do Hikes for your Garden of the Gods Elopement.
Siamese Twins Trail
The Siamese Twins Trail is a trail that offers a ton of spots for great photos for your Garden of the Gods elopement. The hike is a short loop hike that’s less than one mile. The trail is located towards the Southwest side of the park. Since it’s a trail that is far away from the Central Gardens Trail (which attracts most visitors) you’ll see less crowds, and have more seclusion. The trail is an unpaved hiking trail, so be prepared to get a little dirty on this one! The hike offers unbeatable views of the famous Pikes Peak, as well as the famous rock formation Siamese Twins. If you make your way to this location at the right time of day, your photographer can get some stunning sun flares off the Siamese Twins rock formation, making amazing photographs. The trail is also abundant with lush evergreens, and you can expect to see some wildlife while on your hike!
Ridge Trail is an excellent choice for those wanting to get away from the crowds during their Garden of the Gods elopement. This trail really makes you feel like you’re among the rocks, and you can feel just how grand the formations really are. Come to this trail during sunrise to witness the amazing natural phenomenon called alpenglow. The rock formations that surround this trail are all east facing, so when the sun rises and shines on these rocks, they look like they’re glowing! It’s amazing to witness and makes for some really spectacular photos. This trail also offers unbeatable views of the snow covered peaks in the background. Some of the rock formations you’ll get to view on this hike are: The Sleeping Giant, Keyhole Window, and Grey Rock (Cathedral Rock). The whole loop is less than 1 mile.
Central Garden Trail
The Central Garden Trail is only a short walk from the Main Parking Area, and is a must for anyone visiting the park! At the Main Parking Area you’ll find restrooms, paved walking paths, parking, and accessibility for wheelchairs. This trail offers views to the most well known rock formations in the park. From the parking lot you can see the Tower of Babel. As you continue your walk down the paved walkway you’ll witness White Rock towards the east (you can’t miss it, it’s a big white rock!), and if you look up to your right, you’ll see the Kissing Camels. The first time I saw the Kissing Camels I was really pleased, they really do look like two camels kissing! Continue on to see the impressive Signature Rock, then you’ll come upon the Three Spires at the Sentinel Plaza, which is situated right between the North Gateway Rock, and South Gateway Rock. Continue around the loop to see views of the Cathedral Spires, and Three Graces. There are a few loops you can take, but the longest is only a little over one mile of a walk.
Permits for a Garden of the Gods Elopement
Having a Garden of the Gods elopement and obtaining the required paperwork is super easy, because there is no permit to get! The park does not have a permit system in place for holding a ceremony. Each Garden of the Gods elopement ceremony location is on a first come, first serve basis. Due to there being no permit system, there is a chance that another couple has the same idea as you, but the park does have a rule in place to help. They only allow for brief ceremonies. So this means, if there is a couple there when you arrive, you can wait respectfully and peacefully knowing your turn is coming up within minutes.
When to have a Garden of the Gods Elopement
The Best Time of Day To Have a Garden of the Gods Elopement
A Sunrise Garden of the Gods Elopement
If you’re wanting a peaceful, quiet morning, with no crowds and possibly not even crossing paths with another visitor on your elopement day, then definitely have a sunrise Garden of the Gods elopement. If we had to choose either sunrise or sunset, we would choose sunrise. The park is just so quiet and peaceful when no one else is there. It’s really amazing to witness walking next to these tall red sandstone formations and having them all to yourselves. You’ll also be able to witness the amazing natural phenomenon that’s called Alpenglow. The rocks look like they’re glowing! It’s a sight that can’t be missed!
A Sunset Garden of the Gods Elopement
There is a reason why photographers talk about “Golden Hour” and “Blue Hour” so often. It’s the time of day that makes for the best photographs, and the backdrop of the red rock formations mixed with the warm golden glowy light is unlike any other park. There are a few areas in the park that have west facing rocks, and you won’t want to miss these views during sunset! The sunlight casting on the red rocks creates a glow like no other, making it look like the rocks are on fire! You should expect some people during a sunset Garden of the Gods elopement, but not as secluded as sunrise would be. Sunset is usually when the visitors start the leave the park and head out for dinner plans. So either way, you’re going to have less crowds, making for a really special Garden of the Gods elopement ceremony.
The Best Time of Year To Have a Garden of the Gods Elopement
There really isn’t a bad season to have a Garden of the Gods Elopement. We always say, there’s no such thing as bad weather if you have the proper clothing. So it really depends on the weather you’re wanting. If you’re wanting snow covered red rocks on your elopement day, then pick a date in the winter months. If you’re wanting fall foliage, shoot for late September to mid October. If you’re wanting cooler weather, shoot for the springtime. In the summer time you can expect hot days, and harsh sun. Some couples know the exact month or season they want to get married, other’s don’t have a preference. Just know that a Garden of the Gods elopement will be spectacular at any time of the year!
Vendors for your Garden of the Gods Elopement
Hair and Makeup Artist
Where to Stay Overnight for your Garden of the Gods Elopement
AirBnb’s for 2
If you’re planning on eloping just the two, then check out these AirBnB’s:
AirBnb’s for 4
Planning on your best friends coming, who’s also a couple? Need a place that suits 4 perfectly, then check out these options:
AirBnb’s for 10+
Planning on having guests come along to your Garden of the Gods elopement? Check out these AirBnb’s:
Other Colorado Elopement Location Options
If you’re loving the idea of eloping in Colorado, but a Garden of the Gods elopement just isn’t for you, then check out our blog post Best Places to Elope in Colorado, and you’ll be sure to find something that’s right for the two of you!