If you live in Colorado, you already know that our weather is very unpredictable. But couples who ask me about the best months to elope in Colorado are always surprised that the weather and seasons are so erratic here.
I once had a couple from Louisiana ask if they could do wedding photos on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park in December. That road is closed from October through May, and is under 10+ feet of snow all winter. I’ve had couples ask if I can help them find a location with “spring wildflowers” in April – the second snowiest month of the year here. (If you do want wildflowers, July is your best bet!)
So if you’ve ever wondered what’s the best month to elope in Colorado, here’s a full breakdown for you!
January is the coldest month of the year in Colorado, but it’s also very dry, so it’s a great time to elope if you want winter without heavy snow coming down on you. Daylight hours are short (7:30am-5pm ish), so if you want a sunrise elopement without getting up too early, January is perfect. Most hiking trails, including everything in Rocky Mountain National Park, are much more quiet this time of year. And January usually hits the sweet spot where alpine lakes are frozen over, but not yet covered in deep snow, so if you’d like to elope on a frozen lake, January is ideal.
Avoid the weekends around New Years Day and MLK Day if possible, as traffic to the mountain towns is extra heavy at these times, and you can easily get stuck for hours on I-70. It’s also hard to find lodging over the holiday weekends anywhere close to the ski resorts.
Examples of January Elopements
Fun fact: I eloped in February! This month is similar to January in temperatures, but with more snow coming down, and more days with cloudy weather than full sunshine. Great if you want to elope in the middle of the day without worrying about harsh sun! February is also pretty slow for tourism, except for weekends in the ski resort towns.
For the same reasons I listed under January, try to avoid Presidents Day weekend unless you’re up for a longer hike/snowshoe/adventure to get away from people.
Examples of February Elopements
March feels different than the other winter months because it’s the snowiest month in Colorado. We get a lot of blizzards this time of year, and this unfortunately can make elopements hard to plan. In 2019 we had over 500 avalanches in March! Many roads through the mountains were shut down, and more than one avalanche went across roads and caught cars. The photographer groups on Facebook were full of posts from people who couldn’t get to shoots and weddings because of closed roads. If you want to elope in Colorado in March, I highly recommend picking a location like Rocky Mountain National Park or Boulder / the foothills rather than the ski towns along I-70.
Try to avoid the Colorado schools’ spring break if you want quiet trails — it’s usually the third week of March, but can vary.
Examples of March Elopements
April is spring across most of the United States, but Colorado is different. There are absolutely no guarantees for what kind of weather you will get with an April elopement; it could dump a foot of fresh snow in 24 hours, it could be raining all day, or you could get a warm and sunny day. Anything at high altitude will still have snow, while the lower areas can be muddy and gray. On the bright side, it’s generally warmer than the other snowy months, so if you want to rock a wedding dress in the snow without freezing, April might be right for you.
Avoid the Easter holidays if you can, and remember that April 20th (420) is a big thing in Colorado — it’s a very popular date to elope, and even if you’re not cannabis enthusiasts, you’ll see people smoking weed pretty much everywhere!
Examples of April Elopements
May means it’s finally spring in Colorado! The grass is slowly getting green again after months of rocking the brown/dead look, the trees are coming to life … and surprise snow storms are almost a weekly occurrence. Yep, we’re not done with the snow yet. At high altitudes, the snow is starting to melt, but there are still a couple of ski resorts open, and most mountain passes and high trailheads are closed. It’s a great month for Rocky Mountain National Park elopements, since the park is less busy than during school holidays, but still warmer than in the winter months.
Avoid Memorial Day weekend. Seriously. Traffic is insane, and there are people everywhere, even on more challenging trails.
Examples of May Elopements
June marks the beginning of “busy season” for Colorado elopements. Everything is green, the weather is pleasant without being too hot … and there’s still snow at high altitudes. Many of the mountain pass roads open throughout June, so you have more locations to choose from than earlier in the year, but many trailheads are still inaccessible due to snow, and you might have to hike through patches of snow. The end of June is when wildflowers start peeking out, and rivers and waterfalls are at their fullest from all the snowmelt. June is the perfect month if you want snowcapped mountains without winter temperatures!
Examples of June Elopements
July is finally SUMMER in Colorado. Warm weather, green grass, wildflowers everywhere at higher altitudes, and mountain passes and dirt roads to trailheads are open again and starting to dry up. Alpine lakes are full and looking their best from all the snowmelt, and waterfalls are usually still flowing. July is also a peak month for summer tourism (and locals hiking), so most short trails and easily accessible overlooks are very busy. July is perfect for couples that want a longer hike, or to drive a 4×4 road up into the mountains.
The biggest thing to keep in mind when eloping in Colorado in July is afternoon thunderstorms. If you want to hike above treeline, you’ll want to elope early in the morning so that you’re back down below treeline again before noon, as that’s when storms can start rolling in. While the storms are unpredictable and hard to plan around, they do pass quickly: it’s usually not more than half an hour of intense rain, thunder, and lightning before it clears up again — and afterwards you have the best chance of catching rainbows!
Avoid the Fourth of July long weekend. It’s even worse than Memorial Day weekend when it comes to traffic and crowds. I personally don’t book elopements over this weekend, because what’s normally a 2-hour drive from Boulder to Breckenridge often turns into a 4+ hour drive each way.
Examples of July Elopements
August is my favorite summer month for Colorado elopements! I think many couples avoid August because they’re worried about being too hot, but at 10,000ft and higher it’s the perfect temperature. If it’s 95 in Denver, it’s usually around 65-70 at high altitudes in the mountains. All the mountain passes are open and dry, so it’s the perfect month for off-roading and longer hikes, and there are fewer afternoon storms. Like July, it’s a busy month for tourism in most mountain towns, but without the extra holiday traffic.
Examples of August Elopements
September is one of the best months to elope in Colorado, as it seems like everyone wants fall colors for their photos. The weather in September is pleasantly warm all over Colorado. There’s not as much chance for afternoon rain storms as in the earlier summer months. The green grass has started turning yellow, so if you like those colors better, this is your time. And of course the aspen leaves are changing colors, so the fall foliage is incredible when you catch it at the right time.
It’s impossible to predict exactly when the fall colors will be peaking, but it’s usually around the third week of September. Some times it starts earlier, some times later, and some times (like in 2020) we get a snow storm in early September that kills off the leaves before they have a chance to show off.
Avoid Labor Day weekend for the same reasons as Memorial Day and Fourth of July. You do not want to be stuck in that traffic.
Examples of September Elopements
October is another interesting month here. There’s a high chance of snow, although it never sticks around for long at lower altitudes. By mid-October, you should think of it as a winter month, and be pleasantly surprised if you don’t get snow. You can still get warm weather, but it cools off very quickly if you’re not in the sun. Most of the smaller mountain pass roads close as soon as there’s snow, so you’re a bit more limited in choice of locations. But on the bright side, the mountains look amazing with a dusting of snow, and there are hardly any tourists around. October is a great month for shorter hikes without the summer crowds.
Avoid Indigenous Peoples’ Day (former Columbus Day) if possible, since any long weekend equals more hikers and tourists in all the mountain towns.
Examples of October Elopements
November marks the beginning of winter in Colorado, but any snow that falls at lower elevations usually doesn’t stick around for long, and the vegetation is looking pretty brown and dead. We still have many warm days and dry trails, with the occasional snow fall. It’s a great time to elope if you want snow on the mountains without having to hike through heavy snow. Even high altitude trails are bare enough that we won’t need snowshoes. And as long as you avoid the week of Thanksgiving break, it’s a very quiet month with hardly any tourism, since the ski season hasn’t fully kicked off yet.
Examples of November Elopements
December finally feels like real winter in Colorado. The snow is sticking around at higher elevation, even if it’s still melting quickly in Boulder and at lower elevations. Ski resort towns are getting busy, especially once the holiday break starts for local schools.
Examples of December Elopements
If you’re still on the fence about when to elope after reading this post, start by reaching out to your favorite photographer, then choose a date they’re available. If you have something specific in mind, like peak fall colors or fields of wildflowers, we’ll help you narrow down the best timing. But more than anything, know that Colorado weather is hard to predict, and that no one (myself included) can guarantee what the weather and conditions will be like on your elopement day. As long as you’re down to have a good time no matter what Colorado throws your way, you’ll have the best time — and get the best photos, too.
About Nina Larsen Reed
Nina Larsen Reed is an elopement photographer based in Boulder. She plans and captures adventure elopements and micro-weddings across Colorado, and has photographed over 220 elopements since 2017.
My fiance and I want to elope in Colorado on 8-22-20. I would love more info.
Hi Robin! I’m already booked for a wedding on August 22, so I’m unfortunately not available. If you want to email me at email@example.com I’m happy to send you some recommendations for other photographers who may be free that day. Thanks!
Nina you are crushing it with your blog posts, I’m loving them!
Thank you Rob!