Self-solemnized elopement ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park.

3M Curve Wedding and Elopement Guide

Everything you need to know about planning a 3M Curve wedding or elopement ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado.

Elopement ceremony at 3M Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park

Larsen Photo Co. is authorized by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, to conduct services in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Why elope at 3M Curve?

RMNP is very strict on making sure that all ceremonies within the park take place at one of their designated locations. You can see the full list of ceremony locations here. This means that you cannot get married along your favorite hiking trail or in the backcountry, even if it’s just the two of you without any guests. 

3M Curve is one of my very favorites of the designated wedding locations in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s easy to get to year-round, and the views of Longs Peak give you the feeling of being in the middle of the mountains, even if the road passes close by. The overlook is shielded from the parking area by a large outcrop, so you have more privacy at 3M Curve weddings than at other locations in the park. 

Bride kissing her dog at mountain elopement in Rocky Mountain National Park
Dogs are not allowed at the ceremony site at 3M Curve (or any trails in RMNP), but you can take some pretty incredible photos from the parking lot—as long as your dog stays on leash and under control at all times.

Where exactly is 3M Curve?

3M Curve is located three miles from the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, along highway 36. This wedding ceremony location is not marked on the map or with a sign, and doesn’t have a proper street address, so you need to know where you are going.

I’ve marked the exact location on this Google Map, or you can input coordinates 40°22’50.3″N 105°36’13.3″W into your GPS. Just make sure that you download the directions before leaving Estes Park, as most people won’t have cell phone service inside the park. 

When driving along 36 from Estes Park toward Grand Lake on 36, you’ll get to a large pullout along the side of the road, in the middle of a big curve in the road. That’s 3M Curve!

The parking area has room for around ten cars total, but there’s a hard max of 3 vehicles for any weddings and elopements that take place here. You don’t want to be those people who block the parking for everyone else, so please plan on carpooling if you need more than one car for your elopement, and remember that your photographer and vendors also count toward the same max.

Bride walking towards groom for first look at 3M Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park

Practical Information for 3M Curve

Ceremony size: 15 people max, which includes the couple, photographer, officiant, and any guests.
Number of vehicles: 3 max
Permit: $300

The wedding permit for 3M Curve costs $300. I take care of the permit cost for couples who book me as their photographer!

Rocky Mountain National Park has issued all permits for May through October 2022 at this time, and reservations are currently open through May of 2023. If you want to elope at 3M Curve in summer or fall, you should plan to make a reservation as early as possible, and ideally a whole year in advance.

The permit does not give exclusive use of the area. All sites remain open to the public. National Park entrance fees still apply for every car—$30 per car for a day pass as of the end of May 2022.

The following guidelines are included as conditions of the permit:

  • Follow “Leave No Trace” Principles
  • No disruption of the atmosphere of peace and tranquility in the park; no amplified music
  • Minimize interference with park programs, activities, and visitors
  • Minimize interference with the operations of public facilities or the services of NPS concessionaires or contractors
  • Maintain a safe and healthy environment for other park visitors

Source: National Parks Service

Elopement ceremony at 3M Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado elopement photographer

Insider tips for your 3M Curve wedding

For wedding ceremonies at 3M Curve, please do not ever throw flower petals, bird seed, or other forms of confetti. This is incredibly hard to clean up, and leaves the site in poor condition for the next couple to get married here. Always do a final sweep of the area to make sure you haven’t left anything behind.

You cannot bring tables, chairs, ceremony arches, signs, or other furniture to elopements at 3M Curve.

The trail from the parking lot to the ceremony area is short, but rocky. I do not recommend wearing high heels to weddings here, and that includes wedges.

3M Curve is accessible year-round, including the winter months. Driving in the Colorado mountains in winter can be challenging, and roads can be closed on short notice when there are adverse driving conditions. Please drive safe in winter, and dress for snow: there is no plowed or shoveled path to the ceremony site, and you may be hiking through deep snow.

Self-solemnized elopement ceremony in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Want to learn more about weddings and elopements in Rocky Mountain National Park? After photographing dozens of elopements in the park, I wrote a complete guide to each of the designated ceremony locations. Read the whole guide here.

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