Boulder Elopement Locations

March 7, 2019

Couples are always asking me for the best places to elope in the Boulder area. After living, working, and playing in Boulder for almost a decade, I have built up a pretty legit spreadsheet of all my favorite Boulder elopement locations. Every time I go hiking, I make notes and take photos of pretty spots along the trails that would be great to use for shoots in the future.

And while there are some common spots on this list, like Chautauqua and Lost Gulch, there are also plenty options that are more off the beaten path where you won’t have to worry about having an audience for your elopement! Not all of these elopement locations are in Boulder County, but I couldn’t write this list without including my favorite spots in Rocky Mountain National Park and Indian Peaks Wilderness. Here are 15 of my favorite spots – I guarantee there’s something for everyone on here!

(Photographers who are looking for Boulder elopement location inspiration – you’re welcome! Now get out there and explore some trails on your own 😉 The official Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks website is a great resource for trail information, and I also use AllTrails.com to find beautiful new hikes. And don’t forget that you need the Boulder OSMP commercial photography permit for most of the locations on this list.)

 

L1: Easy access

These are the quick and accessible locations, perfect for elopements where you have guests who can’t hike. You’ll get great views with very little hiking involved, which of course also means that these locations are very popular. I don’t recommend these spots for weekend elopements, since you’re guaranteed to have a lot of other people around. (Wondering if you should elope on a weekday or weekend? Read my top six reasons why you should elope on a weekday!)

Chautauqua Trail

Boulder elopement locations, Bride and groom portraits at Chautauqua with views of the Flatirons, Boulder wedding photographer, Colorado wedding photographer, St Julien wedding with mountain wedding photos

It wouldn’t be a complete list of the best Boulder elopement locations without including Chautauqua Park. The view of the Flatirons from the trailhead is by far the most iconic in Boulder, and also the one I get asked about most often. As the most popular trail in Boulder, there are a few downsides to eloping here. There will often be other people in the background of your photos, and you’ll almost never have any privacy. Parking can be a serious pain, especially on weekends and in summer. I prefer shooting elopements at Chautauqua at sunrise on weekdays. The alpenglow makes the Flatirons look extra good, and there are fewer people around so posing for photos is way less awkward than on a busy Saturday afternoon.

3M Curve

3M Curve Elopement Ceremony, Rocky Mountain National Park wedding photographer, Colorado mountain elopement, bride and groom first kiss

3M Curve is by far my favorite elopement location in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a short walk from the parking lot, but with views of Longs Peak and the mountains behind the ceremony site it’ll look like you worked hard for those views 😉 This site is limited to 15 people max, including your photographer and officiant, so it’s best for small elopements. Check out more RMNP locations in my Rocky Mountain National Park elopement guide.

NCAR Trail

Boulder Engagement Photography hiking with dogs, Colorado adventure wedding photographer

This is another busy Boulder elopement location, but for good reason. You can get great views of Eldorado Canyon in one direction, and the Flatirons in the other, so it’s good both for sunrise and sunset. There are shaded areas in the trees, and open areas with sweeping views. You can get more privacy by hiking a bit further, but there are lots of pretty spots within a quick and easy walk from the parking lot. I only recommend this for weekdays because of how busy the trail gets on weekends!

Lost Gulch

Lost Gulch wedding portraits of bride and groom, St Julien wedding with mountain portraits at sunset, Boulder wedding photographer, Colorado wedding photographer

Lost Gulch is another crazy busy Boulder elopement location where you’ll never be completely alone. But it’s worth working around the crowds for the best sunset in Boulder! Located on the “back side” of Flagstaff, you get sweeping views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, and the light here at sunset is the stuff photographers dream of.

 

L2: Short hike / walk

These Boulder elopement locations are all still easily accessible, and don’t require a full hike, but there’s more walking involved for getting away from the parking/trailheads and to the pretty stuff. And that’s a good thing!

Boulder Falls

Boulder Falls winter engagement session, Boulder elopement locations, adventure engagement, frozen waterfall

Easily one of the coolest winter elopement locations in the Boulder area. The falls freeze over in winter, so you can walk out onto the ice (at your own risk!). I only recommend Boulder Falls for quick elopements without guests, as there are often other people here, and you don’t want to be the people blocking everyone else’s shot of the falls for half an hour 😉

Flatirons Vista

Perfect for when you want those epic views of the Flatirons without the Boulder crowds! Located right on 93 near Eldorado Canyon, this is an easy hike along a wide and well maintained trail with great views. For more photo variety, we can even park one car at Doudy Draw before starting, and do the full loop. I don’t recommend this trail in spring, as it’s often closed for muddy conditions.

Marshall Mesa

Marshall Mesa Boulder Engagement Session Photography with dog

One of my favorite Boulder trails where you can bring your dog(s) off-leash. This trail does have a lot of mountain bike traffic, but there are so many great spots to get photos away from the main trail so I’ve never had it be a problem. And the views and light are super pretty at sunset!

Betasso Preserve

Boulder engagement photographer, Colorado adventure wedding photographer, hiking couples session, Boulder wedding photographer

One of the very best Boulder elopement locations for sunrise photos! The sun perfectly peaks through the mountains and lights up the whole valley, and there’s almost never anyone up there this early. It’s also really pretty at sunset – you really can’t go wrong with Betasso. This is also a great place to do couples portraits or photos with your wedding party if you’re getting married at Wedgewood Boulder Creek!

Boulder Canyon

Boulder mountain engagement photography, Colorado adventure wedding photographer

This spot isn’t listed on the maps, so I’m keeping the exact name and location to myself unless you happen to book me and want to shoot there. But this area is perfect for rocky cliffs, canyon overlooks, and is probably best avoided if you’re scared of heights!

Bald Mountain

Boulder Hiking Engagement Photographer at Bald Mountain Scenic Area

Bald Mountain Scenic Area is a short but beautiful hike with views looking both east towards Boulder (perfect for sunrise elopements) and west towards IPW (best at sunset). It’s also one of the least busy trails on this list, so it’s a great one for privacy!

Brainard Lake

Brainard Lake winter elopement, Boulder engagement session location

I’ve photographed more sessions at Brainard Lake than anywhere else on this list, and for good reason. It’s easily accessible in summer when you can drive right up to it, but even in winter it’s a flat and easy 45 minute hike each way along the snow-covered road. And if you want winter wonderland photos without the hike, Red Rock Lake is only 10 minutes from the winter parking lot, with similar views to Brainard.

Loveland Pass

Loveland Pass Elopement Photographer, Colorado adventure wedding photographer, intimate mountain wedding

Loveland Pass is about an hour and a half drive from Boulder, but it’s well worth it for the epic mountain views! While there are always people up here, a 15 minute walk from the summit parking lot is enough to get privacy for your mountain elopement. Because it’s at the top of the continental divide, the light here is amazing both at sunrise and sunset! Just be prepared for windy conditions, and a 10-20 degree temperature drop compared to the front range, no matter what time of year you choose to elope here. 

L3: Full adventure

If you want to go “full Boulder” for your elopement, consider one of these beautiful hikes! They’re all within a two hour drive from Boulder, and some start right here in town. And what better way to start your married life together than by hiking together in a place you love?

Mount Sanitas

Mount Sanitas Engagement Session | Boulder Engagement Photographer | Colorado Hiking Engagement Session, couple hiking with dog at sunrise

Want to go for a full hike for your elopement? It doesn’t get much more Boulder than hiking Sanitas! I love doing the Mt Sanitas trail for sunrise sessions (or Dakota Ridge, if you want less of a workout), and coming down Lions Lair when I shoot at sunset.

Bear Peak

I haven’t shot an elopement at Bear Peak yet, but it’s been on my bucket list ever since the first time I huffed and puffed my way up Fern Canyon and took in the incredible views from the rocky summit! Heck, you might even be the first people to ever get married at the summit!

Indian Peaks Wilderness

Rollins Pass

There are SO many insanely beautiful hikes in IPW that make the perfect elopement locations! Long Lake, Lake Isabelle, Heart Lake, King Lake, Blue Lake – the only limit is your imagination, and how far you’re willing to hike!

That’s it – 15 of my favorite Boulder elopement locations! Are you feeling inspired to elope in one of these places? I would love for you to leave a comment and tell me which is your favorite!

And if you’re looking for a Boulder elopement photographer, I would love to chat with you. Get in touch and let’s create photos that show how much you love each other – and this beautiful town we live in! (Not feeling any of these locations? I have a guide with 50+ locations across Colorado that I send all my couples to help find the perfect place!)