The ultimate guide for couples looking to have their very own Rocky Mountain National Park elopement. As Colorado elopement photographers, we’ve gathered the essential information you need to know about having your very own Rocky Mountain National Park elopement. We go over the permitting laws & processes, the designated locations for wedding ceremonies, what to expect for your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement, and best time of year to elope in RMNP.
What is eloping?
The meaning of eloping has been evolving over the years while more and more couples are looking to escape the traditions of a “regular” wedding day. The definition of eloping is more about the feeling of a wedding day. We always tell our couples that eloping means escaping the traditions of a traditional wedding. If things like hiring a DJ and planning out the table decor don’t interest you, chances are an elopement might be for you. It’s all about escaping what society is expecting of your wedding day.
Why elope at Rocky Mountain National Park?
Thinking of having your very own Rocky Mountain National Park elopement? Colorado is becoming one of the most popular states for elopements in the United States. With something to offer to every adventure-lover, whether you’re looking to scale a mountain or just want to have a stunning natural backdrop for your wedding photos. There’s really nowhere better to elope than Rocky Mountain National Park if you want to experience the spectacular views of the Colorado mountains.
Planning Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park does take some strategic planning. There are only a few authorized ceremony sites, and permits for these sites are first-come, first-serve. The number of permits the park hands out has been decreasing every year, making it harder and harder to elope here. Since it is a public park, you’ll also have to keep in mind that you may not have total privacy during your ceremony. Also plan to Leave no Trace, especially in the national parks!
Where to Get Married in Rocky Mountain National Park
There are 12 designated wedding ceremony sites in Rocky Mountain National Park, and all require reservation through the U.S. National Park Service. While you must exchange vows only in those designated areas, you are free to take photos anywhere within the park, as long as it’s a spot open to the public. Most of our RMNP eloping couples decide to have their legal ceremony in a designated ceremony spot, and then adventure off to some of the less popular hiking trails for the rest of their elopement experience.
Each wedding ceremony site has a different maximum number of guests, and all ceremonies are limited to no more than 30 people in total, including children and vendors. Refer to the specific site for accessibility, restrooms, and whether pets are allowed.
When Can I Get Married in Rocky Mountain National Park?
You can get married at the park year-round, but not all sites have vehicle access during winter. The peak season for hikers and elopements is between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which offers the best weather and elopement locations. Which season best suits you? Is it springtime, when we could be either covered in snow or starting to feel the first warm days of spring? Is it during the peak of the summer wildflowers, or maybe in the golden foliage in mid-September? Winter weddings can be rough in Colorado, but don’t let the cold keep you from a winter elopement!
If you have a date in mind already, contact the Rocky Mountain National Park office via email and inquire about the locations still available for that day. But if you’re flexible with the date or time of day, many elopement vendors recommend eloping on a weekday, as you’ll have more privacy and vendor availability. We’re in contact with the RMNP Park Office quite a bit, so just get in touch with us, and we can do all the permit process leg work for you! We have the direct email to the person in charge of permits! 😊
The Best Time of Year for a Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
The best time of year for a Rocky Mountain National Park elopement is going to solely depend on the experience you’re dreaming of. If you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland, while they can be unpredictable and wild, they’re totally doable! As long as you’re prepared to bundle up, you’ll be fine! The coldest elopement we’ve shot to date was in the single digits with 35 mph winds. Once we get on the phone and start talking about your day, we will suggest a date or season we think works best for your plan for your big day.
Getting Your Marriage License for your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Marriage License Info
Wedding licenses vary by state, but Colorado is one of the easiest states to obtain a marriage license. There is zero waiting period, meaning you can walk into a clerks office, and walk out 20 minutes later, get married that same day, and then turn it in that same day as well. Some states require there be a waiting period from the time you obtain your marriage license, to the time you can sign it and legally be married. There are a few requirements though when obtaining your marriage license. One being that both parties must be present. Get in touch with the clerks office you plan on obtaining your marriage license to check up on the latest rules and COVID regulations.
Where should I get my marriage license when eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Whatever county you get your marriage license in, you do not have to get married in that county. But you do have to return the marriage license back to that county. So depending on your plans, you have options for where to get your marriage license for your Rocky Mountain National Park elopement.
Locations to obtain your marriage license for your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
The City and County of Denver Clerk and Recorders Office
The City and County of Denver Clerk and Recorders office is located at 201 W Colfax Ave, Denver 80202. Currently, due to COVID, you have to schedule an appointment to go in and get a marriage license.
Adams County Clerk and Recorders Office
Boulder County Clerk and Recorders Office
Boulder County Clerk and Recorders offices have implemented a virtual process to obtain marriage licenses.
*Always check with the clerk and recorder’s office first, due to COVID, there have been many changes to the marriage license process. When we wrote this blog, we used the most current info, but it’s always subject to change.
Real Rocky Mountain National Park Elopements
What to Expect During Your Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
It’s really important to us to set expectations from the start with our couples. There’s nothing worse than expecting one thing, and getting something completely different. The old debate goes, what’s worse, getting orange juice when you think you’re getting milk, or getting milk when you think you’re getting orange juice?
Ever hear the saying, “the mountains make their own weather”? We can attest, it’s completely true here in the Rockies. While the summer and winter are the most predictable, there is still always a chance of wildfires pushing you out of the park, afternoon thunderstorms (making conditions unsafe), and blizzards.
Unfortunately when you buy a special use permit for your Rocky Mountain National Park elopement, they don’t close off the area for you. The public is still able to access these locations during your ceremony. There is a reason why this area is a national park. It’s absolutely breath taking. The park offers some of the best views of the rockies, and people know it and come from all over to visit. The good thing about the park and the permit process is that you won’t be overlapping with other couples eloping. Once you secure your ceremony location for your time slot, no other couple can secure it, making it all yours (sort of).
Be expected to still pay an entrance fee when getting into the park for your elopement. Your guests also. The entrance fee for the day is $25.
I don’t think i’ve ever been to RMNP and haven’t seen wildlife. It’s amazing! Stay far away, and leave them be though! Especially moose. Did you know that moose are more deadly than a bear? It’s true!
Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Permit Info
To get married in RMNP, you’ll need to purchase a nonrefundable wedding ceremony permit for $300. This permit covers everyone involved, but you can’t exceed the maximum number of guests for your specific site. (Note: this is NOT your marriage license! You’ll still need to get that from the clerk’s office separately.) The permit grants you a 2-hour window to exchange vows in Colorado’s absolutely stunning mountains. Chairs, tents, ceremony arches, and other furniture are prohibited in ceremony sites, but the breathtaking natural backdrop more than makes up for it.
Rocky Mountain National Park wedding permits are first-come-first-serve and are available beginning a year in advance. If you have a date in mind, send your application email ASAP to email@example.com! Click here to download your Special Use Permit. Only 60 permits per month will be issued for May-October, and 40 permits per month will be issued for November-April, and they fill up FAST.
If you plan to have any guests at your ceremony, each vehicle must pay the $25 vehicle entrance fee, and each site has vehicle limits. If you print your ceremony permit (which you should absolutely do and keep the permit on hand during your ceremony), that waives your vehicle entry fee, but all other vehicles in your party will have to pay. Consider carpooling or shuttle services!
How to get a permit for a Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Step 1: Check the availability
Check the availability of the location you’re wanting by contacting the park. You can either email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Concession Management Office at 970-586-1209 to check permit availability for weddings and elopements. We have the direct contact information for the person in charge of permits, so if you’d like, we could reach out for you! Just reach out to us by filling out our inquiry form on our contact page to get the process started! We usually hear back from our contact at RMNP within 1-2 business days.
Step 2: Submit an application
Step 3: Pay for your permit and return the permit with your signature back to the park
After you submit your application, wait patiently to hear back from RMNP. If the date and time submitted on your application are available, they’ll email you back with the next steps to securing that date and time which include paying for your special use permit and returning the permit with your signature back to the park. If your date and time are not available, they’ll work with you to pick out a new date and time.
Step 4: Watch out for the email containing your official signed permit, and print it out
The park will email you the official permit, signed and dated by a National Park Service official. Print a few copies of this permit out and keep it with you at all times during your elopement. You may be required to present the permit at the entrance.
How far in advance can I submit an application for my Rocky Mountain National Park elopement?
You can submit an application for your Rocky Mountain National Park elopement up to one year in advance for the month of your ceremony. For example, on March 1, 2022, RMNP will start accepting applications for all dates in March 2023, and on April 1, 2022, they will start accepting applications for all dates in April 2023.
How much does a special use permit cost?
Are any of the sites for a Rocky Mountain National Park more expensive than others?
No. All 12 designated wedding ceremony sites are the same price of $300.
Does my photographer or officiant need a separate permit?
No. The special use permit covers your photographer and the officiant.
Vendors for Your Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding
Preparing Your Guests for a Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement
Chances are your guests have never been to an adventure wedding like the one you’re planning. It’s a good idea to get your guest prepared for the day. They might need to be told exactly what to expect. Things like reminding them to wear shoes with tread, bringing bug spray, expecting to pay the entrance fee, and to be prepared for all the elements because none of the ceremony locations provide any kind of shelter or protection from the elements. Depending on the location you pick, your guest might have to walk on uneven dirt trails containing tripping hazards. We have an email exclusive for all of our booked couples that they can send to their family members to get them prepared for the elopement you’re planning.
Alternatives to Rocky Mountain National Park For Your Elopement
Getting a permit to elope in Rocky Mountain National Park is challenging and requires a lot of advance notice. We’ve created a guide on the Best Places to Elope in Colorado that can give you a similar experience to RMNP, if not a better one! Colorado locals like us are the best resource for hidden gems that will fit your wedding vibe, so make sure you check it out or get in touch with us!
We want you to have the elopement of your dreams, customized exactly to reflect your relationship and the commitment you are making to each other. We are more than just elopement photographers — we will help you plan every step of your Colorado elopement so everything is perfect for you on your big day. Get in touch with In Love and Adventure to book your elopement today!