Everything you need to know about eloping in the mountains of Breckenridge, in Summit County, Colorado.
After ten years in Colorado and photographing multiple Breckenridge weddings and elopements, I’ve built this guide to help answer the most commonly asked questions I get about the Breckenridge, Frisco, and Silverthorne areas.
We’ll cover the best locations for your elopement ceremony, and my favorite venues for bigger weddings. Please note that I don’t give out exact coordinates for backcountry locations, because finding these spots is a big part of what I help my couples with.
(If you’re a photographer who’s doing research before capturing your first Breckenridge elopement, or you’re doing research on the local venues, I promise there’s some good info in this guide for you too!)
Are you ready to learn everything you need to know about planning a Breckenridge wedding or elopement?
Great! Let’s get started.
Why Elope in Breckenridge?
Breckenridge feels remote, but it’s only an hour and half drive from Denver. If you’re traveling to Colorado from out of state, or have a lot of guests flying in, it’s the perfect place to show off the mountains without spending all day driving to get there.
There’s no off-season
Unlike many other ski resort towns in Colorado, Breckenridge has enough of a local community to stay “alive” all year round. Yes, you’ll run into some restaurant closures in May and October, but there are lots of great options for restaurants and places to stay year round.
Breckenridge has the best airbnbs
Whether you’re looking for a simple A-frame cabin for just the two of you, or a high end designer home for your whole family to share, Breckenridge has what you want. More and more couples are renting homes rather than hotel rooms for their weddings and elopements. It gives you a cozy home base for the day, and you can even have a private chef cook you dinner while you’re adventuring around in the mountains. See my recommendations for the best AirBnBs in Breck further down this post!
A vibrant vendor community
While it can be hard to find a hair and makeup artist or florist in some mountain towns like Telluride and Ouray, Breckenridge has a big community of wedding vendors to choose from. You can get everything you need from vendors based in Breck, but most vendors in the Denver metro area are also happy to travel up to the mountains for the day, which gives you more options to choose from.
The options are endless
Want to drive up to an alpine lake so your families can witness your vow exchange? You can do that in Breck. Want to hike a fourteener and elope at the summit before splitting your first beer as married folks? You can do that in Breck. Want to invite a hundred of your closest friends and family to celebrate your wedding in a ski lodge? You can do that in Breck.
With hundreds of hikes to choose from, dozens of 4×4 roads to explore by Jeep, and the kind of gourmet food scene you’d expect in a high end ski town, Breckenridge has something for everyone, no matter what kind of elopement you’re dreaming of.
Oh yeah, and it’s beautiful!
Alpine lakes and waterfalls, wild flowers and snow covered peaks. It doesn’t get much more Colorado than Breckenridge.
Best time of year to elope in Breckenridge
First things first; you need to choose a date for your wedding. I have a big guide over the best months to elope in Colorado, and highly recommend that you check it out before picking a date.
Breckenridge’s high altitude of 9,600ft means that winter sticks around for a long time compared to the Denver area. The ski resort often stays open through the end of May, and it’s not uncommon to still see snow on the ground at the end of June.
But long winters aside, there’s nothing better than summer in the high country. While Denver often sees temperatures close to triple digits in July and August, Breckenridge has a high of ~75 degrees. By the end of July, the ground is covered in wildflowers. And the last two weeks of September give you the best fall colors when the aspens are changing, before snow starts coming down again in October.
When you’re choosing a date, I also recommend that you pick a weekday if at all possible. Monday through Thursday will always be less busy than Friday through Sunday, and you’ll have fewer people around in this whole area. (Need more convincing? I have a whole post on why weekday elopements are the best.)
Traffic on I-70 from Denver to Breckenridge can also be a huge pain on weekends; especially Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings during winter when ski traffic is at the highest. If you want to avoid getting stuck in traffic for your Breckenridge elopement, get a place to stay close by so that you can skip driving for a few days.
If you want to keep your elopement private, you might want to consider getting up early and heading outside for sunrise. The light is magical this time of day, and if we’re lucky, we’ll catch alpenglow on the mountains. And best of all, there are fewer people outside at sunrise (and sunset) than in the middle of the day, when most hikers and tourists are outside.
Best places to elope in Breckenridge
Now I need to start with a small disclaimer: I won’t be sharing my favorite spots to elope in this post. Why? Because I put a ton of time into scouting unique, hidden gems for my couples, and would hate to see them end up as Instagram hashtags and run into multiple other couples there at the same time. (Think I’m exaggerating? It’s already the unfortunate truth about many popular locations like Rocky Mountain National Park.)
So the places I’m sharing here are not necessarily the best places to elope in Breckenridge, but they are some of the more popular, well-known options. If you’re looking for a location that you can have completely to yourselves, nothing beats hiring a local photographer with experience in the area who can help you with personalized recommendations.
That being said, these elopement locations aren’t bad at all!
Sapphire Point is arguably the most popular place to elope in Breckenridge. With an easy application to buy a permit for the ceremony site, it’s also the only location on this list that you can reserve for a specific date and time. The mountain views here are beautiful, and the ceremony site itself is easy to access, making it the perfect place if you have guests with mobility problems. The main downside is that it’s also a very popular place for tourists to stop for photos, and unless you’re eloping here on a weekday at an off-peak time, you will have other people around.
Rivertree Lodge is an intimate wedding venue and VRBO for up to 40 guests, close to Dillon Reservoir and Frisco. With an ceremony site tucked into the woods near the log home, and nearby Sapphire Point as a second location for portraits, this is the perfect option for couples who are inviting guests to their elopement, and want a place for everyone to celebrate without worrying about hikers or tourists. 2021 update: Rivertree Lodge is no longer available for rental.
Dillon Ice Castles
You unfortunately can’t have an elopement ceremony at the Dillon Ice Castles. But you can take photos there during normal opening hours. The Ice Castles are open from late December through April, and make for an epic place to take wedding photos. It’s best visited on a weekday, and you won’t have any privacy as they generally sell out of tickets every day, but it can be worth it for the unique photos. 2021 update: the Dillon Ice Castles will not be open during winter 2021/2022. Fingers crossed they’ll be back next year!
Hoosier Pass is the high point of Highway 9 between Breckenridge and Fairplay. You can hike in on the trails in summer, or snowshoe or cross country ski in winter, to get away from the main trailhead. This is not a busy location, so you’re more likely to find a private place than at nearby Boreas Pass. Hoosier Pass is part of the White River National Forest, and you may need a permit to elope here depending on the circumstances.
Lake Dillon is kinda hard to miss, as it dominates the landscape between Frisco and Silverthorne. There are lots of beautiful spots along the shores, and you could even rent a boat to go onto the lake in summer! In winter, the lake freezes over solid enough that you’ll often see people ice fishing out in the middle of the lake. There are multiple campgrounds surrounding the lake as well, making it a great place to elope for couples who want to go camping while being close to conveniences.
This waterfall is not exactly a secret, but it’s still unused enough that I’d rather not name the location in a public post. There’s a short hike to reach this spot, and it can be busy in the middle of the day on weekends, but on weekdays there’s a chance of having it to yourselves. This spot can also easily be combined with the alpine lake below.
You can drive most of the way to this alpine lake, but the final hike is a bit rocky. Once you’re here, there are lots of good spots to choose from along the shore, and on weekdays it’s not unlikely that you can have it to yourselves. It’s only accessible in the summer season, as the road to the trailhead closes when there’s snow.
Boreas Pass is a dirt road that leads from Breckenridge and over to Como on Highway 285. You can drive this road when the conditions are good, but I highly recommend having a 4WD with some clearance as it would be an uncomfortable drive in a sedan. From the pass summit, there are multiple hiking trails you can take to get away from other people. The road itself is one of the most popular places in Summit County to see the aspens changing color in September, so be prepared for lots of traffic around that time.
If you’re up for a hike on your wedding day, you open up a whole new world of locations to choose from. Finding the perfect spot is a big part of what I help my couples with, and I use a detailed questionnaire to learn what you’re looking for – even if you might not know it yourselves, yet!
How to get a marriage license in Summit County
If you’re eloping in Breckenridge, you can normally get a marriage license from the Office of the Clerk & Recorder for Summit County in downtown Breckenridge. But during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are only taking appointments and issuing licenses to Summit County residents. If you’re traveling to Breckenridge from elsewhere in Colorado or from out of state to elope, you’ll need to visit one of the neighboring counties to get your marriage license.
The closest options are Park County in Fairplay, Lake County in Leadville, and Gilpin County in Central City. All three are open to non-resident couples. You will need to make an appointment two weeks before the date you want to get your license, as they are not accepting walk-ins at this time. Some of the counties also allow you to complete the application online in advance, while others will have you fill out everything in the office at your appointment.
Best Lodging in Breckenridge
If you’re traveling in to Breckenridge for your elopement, I highly recommend renting an AirBnB instead of staying in a hotel. It makes it so much easier to get ready without seeing each other before the first look, is usually much more photogenic for getting ready photos than a generic hotel room, and let’s you enjoy your elopement vacation without having other people around.
Breckenridge has the best selection of vacation rentals out of any of the ski towns in Colorado, and it’s not hard to find a charming A-Frame cabin in the woods, complete with an outdoor hot tub and fire pit. I’ve browsed hundreds of listings to narrow down the options to the cutest, most photogenic airbnbs that are perfect for elopements, whether it’s just the two of you or you want to stay in a big house with all your family and friends.
Where to celebrate after your Breckenridge elopement
Many couples who elope in Breckenridge want to spend the whole day outside in the mountains. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
But consider renting an airbnb where you can celebrate in private after hiking around and exploring the mountains. Summit County has lots of private chef and catering services to choose from, who can come to your lodging to prepare a three-course dinner while you’re out hiking, and have it ready to serve when you get back at the end of a long day of adventures.
You could also book a table at one of the many restaurants in town,
Twist is my personal favorite restaurant in Breckenridge. They serve high end comfort food with .. you guessed it – a twist.
Hearthstone is a classic high end restaurant with incredible locally sourced food.
A little more casual than the first two options, but great food and chill vibes!
The Lodge at Breckenridge
The Lodge at Breckenridge is a popular venue for weddings and elopements of all sizes. They have a beautiful ceremony deck overlooking the mountains, a traditional reception venue, and a restaurant that’s perfect for smaller elopement dinners.
Ready to start planning your Breckenridge elopement?
If you’re ready to plan your own wedding or elopement in Breckenridge, I would love to photograph the big day. Check out my elopement collections, then get in touch to schedule a no-obligation video chat to make sure we’re a good fit!
About Nina Larsen Reed
Nina Larsen Reed is an elopement photographer based in Boulder, Colorado. She plans and captures adventure elopements and intimate weddings, and has photographed over 200 couples across the Rocky Mountains since 2017.