Many Colorado State Parks offer wedding venue rentals, from scenic ceremony overlooks to pavilions and picnic shelters, that are perfect for micro-weddings and elopements. As more couples are choosing simple weddings in nature over traditional weddings at big (and expensive) venues, the demand for affordable wedding venues has gone up—and State Parks are the perfect answer.
As a photographer who’s planned and captured over 200 elopements and micro-weddings across Colorado, I can tell you how much I appreciate State Parks for offering ceremony and reception sites that can be reserved, with clear and easy-to-follow rules about what you can and can’t do at your wedding. And who doesn’t love supporting public lands instead of private, for-profit wedding venues?!
Best State Parks to Elope at in Colorado
Colorado has 42 State Parks. Only 10 of them have wedding facility rentals, but many of the others offer special use permits for small ceremonies on the trails and in picnic areas. You can explore all of the parks, including searching with filters, on the CO State Parks website. Here are my favorite State Parks to elope at in Colorado!
Steamboat Lake State Park
Steamboat Lake State Park is one of my favorite parks in Colorado, and a great place to go camping in summer and early fall. It’s also popular for boating, paddleboarding, and even swimming for those who love cold water. Located a 45-minute drive north of Steamboat in the small village of Clark, is a great place to elope for couples who want to stay in Steamboat without renting a big venue.
Steamboat Lake State Park shares management with neighboring Pearl Lake State Park, and the same wedding rules apply to both. While neither park has designated venue rentals, there are multiple locations suited for simple ceremonies, including the Visitor Center deck, Amphitheater, and various hiking trails and picnic areas around the lake. Weddings here are best kept simple and rustic, letting the views shine without decorations and furniture best used at traditional venues.
Wedding information is not available on the park’s website, so contact the park office directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about your wedding and get the most up-to-date pricing and availability.
Rental fees: $55 + $10 per vehicle unless they already have an annual state park’s pass.
Ridgway State Park
Ridgway State Park is an underrated park in southwestern Colorado, an hour north of Telluride, and a quick twenty minute drive north from Ouray or south from Montrose. I hate to admit that I drove right past the exit signs over a dozen times before finally taking the time to visit this park, because I realized immediately that I’d been missing out. I think Ridgway has some of the best mountain views of any State Park in Colorado!
While Ridgway has a couple of different venue rentals, including two large picnic shelters, the Visitor Center Overlook is what makes it one of my favorite places in this guide. The Overlook is a short walk on a paved path down from the Visitor Center, and ends at a sweeping view over Ridgway Reservoir and towards the Sneffels Range. (Which was completely socked in, the day I took these photos. But I promise there’s a big mountain range hiding in there!)
You can seat up to 100 guests on amphitheater-style benches, but I think it would be ideal for micro-weddings with 15-30 guests. The main season here is mid-May through the end of September, but they are open to booking small elopements in winter as well—as long as you’re prepared for snow and cold, and potentially unplowed paths.
Reservations: You can make shelter reservations up to a year in advance, and you must apply for a reservation at least 14 days in advance as they require park manager approval. Read the instructions on Ridgway State Park’s website for the most up-to-date info. All reservations are limited to four hours, but they only book one event per shelter per day, so you’ll never have to worry about running into another wedding in “your” spot.
Closest towns to stay in: Ridgway, Ouray, Telluride, Montrose
Rental fees: ranging from $135-400 + $10 per vehicle unless they already have an annual state park’s pass.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park, located half an hour drive outside of Boulder and Golden, is best known for fall colors—but it’s a beautiful place to visit, hike, and get married in throughout summer and fall. While wedding ceremonies used to be allowed at Panorama Point, that is no longer legal, and the Red Barn Group Picnic Area is now the only place where you can host ceremonies and receptions in the park. Red Barn is open for events from May through October, and reservations can be made six months in advance.
Rental fees: $160 for Mon-Fri, $210 for Sat-Sun, + $10 per vehicle unless they already have an annual state park’s pass.
Eldorado Canyon State Park
While Eldorado Canyon State Park does not have a wedding venue that you can reserve, they do allow elopements with timed entry reservations, paid park entrance fees, and a photography permit. Because Eldo is right outside of Boulder, this is one of the busiest state parks in Colorado, and I do not recommend eloping here on weekends.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Colorado Springs might be best known for Garden of the Gods, but Cheyenne Mountain State Park is another beautiful piece of public lands in the Springs. This area is by far the most beautiful from mid May through late September, with my personal preference being early summer when everything is still lush and green.
Cheyenne Mountain SP has two venues: the Prairie Falcon Amphitheater, which is perfect for ceremonies with up to 160 people, and the Prairie Skipper Pavilion, a picnic shelter that can fit up to 200 people for simple receptions.
This location is available for rent from May through October. Reservations will be accepted up to 9 months in advance of your event. Please contact Cheyenne Mountain State Park for current availability and reservation forms.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Castlewood Canyon State Park is located about a 45-minute drive south-east from Denver, and it has really unique geography with red rock formations that follow Cherry Creek through a ravine. Castlewood Canyon offers two wedding ceremony venues: the Bridge Canyon Overlook and the Pikes Peak Amphitheater. Bridge Canyon can fit up to 60 people, and the Amphitheater can fit up to 120 people.
Rental fees: $150-300 depending on the day of the week
Lory State Park
Lory State Park is located right by Horsetooth Reservoir outside of Fort Collins in Northern Colorado. Lory has three separate venues that can be rented for weddings: Soldier Canyon, Timber, and South Eltuck. Soldier Canyon is a picnic area that can fit 100+ people, and can be rented for $160-310 depending on the day of the week. Timber group picnic area is a bit more private than the others, surrounded by cottonwood and rolling hills, and can be rented for $110-160. The smallest of the three venues is South Eltuck, which can fit up to 50 people, and can be rented for $85-135.
Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park is located in Littleton, south-west of Denver, and a great place for simple outdoor wedding ceremonies. Roxborough has two different overlooks available for reservation: Fountain Valley Overlook and Lyons Overlook. Fountain Valley is a short walk from the Visitor Center, while the Lyons Overlook is a half mile hike down the valley. Both venues have a 25 person capacity, and are only available for ceremonies—not receptions.
Rental fees: $75-15o + $10 reservation fee and $55 special activity agreement fee.
Vega State Park
Vega State Park is located in Western Colorado, about halfway between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction, and it’s centered around Vega Reservoir—a high mountain lake in an open meadow. The Meadows Group Picnic Shelter can be rented for weddings for only $80 for a full day (9am-9pm), fits up to 100 people, and it can be reserved up to a year in advance. This is one of the least visited State Parks in Colorado, and a great place for couples who want to get completely away from it all.
Rifle Falls State Park
Rifle Falls State Park is located a short 20-minute drive north from I-70 between Glenwood Springs and Rifle. The Rifle Falls Amphitheater used to be available for wedding ceremonies, but as of fall 2022 it can no longer be reserved as they had issues with limited parking. (The park gets very busy in the early summer months, when the waterfalls are at their best.) You can still elope in Rifle Falls State Park, but it’s now best for elopements without guests, and your photographer will need a permit.
Sylvan Lake State Park
Sylvan Lake State Park is about an hour outside of Vail, and has a nice campground and day use area. Because it’s pretty remote, it’s a great option for couples who want a camping wedding rather than having to drive in from a nearby town. There is no wedding venue reservation system, each vehicle just needs a valid parks pass, but that also means everything is first-come, first-serve.
Other Colorado state parks with wedding venues
We’re spoiled with so many incredible locations here in Colorado, but not all state parks have “the views” that most couples are looking for when getting married in Colorado. While these parks all offer wedding facility rentals, I have so many other favorites that I wouldn’t personally book one of these. One of them could still be your favorite though, so check them out!
Other Colorado micro-wedding venues
State Parks are of course not the only affordable micro-wedding and elopement venues in Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park, Maroon Bells Amphitheater, Sapphire Point Overlook, and many other venues on public lands are available for couples looking for a beautiful ceremony view without paying for a traditional wedding venue. (You can also read my post on the best small venues in Colorado.)
If you’re feeling lost on how to find the right location for you, start by contacting a local photographer whose style you like, who can help you with personalized location suggestions based on the time of year, type of views, group size, and other variables you’re planning. (Oh hey, I’m one of those photographers!)