Crested Butte Wedding & Elopement Guide

Everything you need to know about planning your wedding or elopement in Crested Butte; my favorite Colorado mountain town!

I’m Nina Larsen Reed, and I’m a Crested Butte wedding photographer who’s obsessed with driving up mountain passes in my Subie, eating Secret Stash pizza, and getting Camp 4 Coffee early in the morning when I’m still freezing from camping.

I moved to Colorado from Norway in 2010, started my photography business in 2012 while I was going to CU Boulder (go Buffs!), and I’ve been full-time since 2015. While I love photographing couples all over Colorado (and the occasional elopement back in my home country), Crested Butte is my far my favorite mountain town in the mile high state. 

Over the years I’ve explored every mountain pass in the CB area, hiked to secret waterfalls, and spent weekends camping to find the best spots for your Crested Butte wedding or elopement. 

Best places to elope in Crested Butte

Secret Waterfall

I know the word “secret” gets thrown around a lot, but this waterfall is truly deserving of the word. Unmarked on all maps, I only found out about this place from chatting with an older man who has lived in the area his whole life! 

While getting here involves some bushwacking along an unmarked trail and a short walk through a freezing river, it’s easily one of the most epic locations to elope anywhere in Colorado!

Mountain Passes

If you’re up for some semi-sketchy 4WD driving, there’s a world of options in the mountains above Crested Butte. There’s some epic dispersed camping in this area, so you could even camp under the stars on your wedding night!

Wildflowers + Aspen grove

This is another of my favorite elopement locations in Crested Butte! It’s closer to town than most of the others, it’s covered in wildflowers from mid-June through the beginning of August, and there’s a beautiful aspen grove that turns completely orange in September when the leaves are changing.

Gothic Road

Gothic Road leads out of Crested Butte, through the ski resort, and up to the old townsite of Gothic. There are countless beautiful spots along the road that are perfect for a small elopement ceremony. I’d only recommend these places for weekdays in the off-season, as it can be very busy on summer weekends. 

Woods Walk

Woods Walk is one of the ceremony sites owned by Crested Butte Land Trust, that you can reserve for both elopements and larger weddings. It’s walking distance to downtown, which makes it very easy to combine an outdoor ceremony here with a reception at one of the many restaurants on Elk Ave. 

Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake is found at the top of Gothic Road, and can only be accessed from the end of June through the end of September. This year (2019) the road was closed until August because of avalanche damage, so there’s always a chance that it’ll be inaccessible longer when we’ve had a heavy snow year. 

5 Reasons Why You Should Have Your Wedding in Crested Butte

Colorado is known for cute mountain towns, but many are completely over-priced … and overly touristy. Crested Butte is the complete opposite. I’ll personally take any excuse for a road trip to my favorite mountain town, and here are five reasons why you might want to get married here.

1. It’s remote. Yep, I realize this isn’t a pro for everyone, but hear me out. It’s a 4.5 hour drive from Denver International Airport to Crested Butte, and in winter that drive can often turn much longer due to bad weather. But the long drive is also what keeps the crowds away! If having a relaxed and outdoorsy wedding is important to you, Crested Butte is the place to be.

2. It’s affordable. Compare Crested Butte to Telluride, Aspen, and Vail, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much cheaper it can be. But that doesn’t mean CB is lacking in luxury, either! With private ranches, ski resort, and some of the best wedding venues in Colorado, you can absolutely have a high end wedding here, too. 

3. Crested Butte has the prettiest mountains in Colorado. Okay, I know that’s only my personal opinion, but I love the mountains here more than anywhere else in the mile high state. There are high peaks in every direction, which is a photographer’s dream! 

4. Secret Stash Pizza and Camp 4 Coffee. The best pizza place and best coffee roaster in Colorado. Tell me I’m wrong, I dare you 😉

5. A well established wedding market. While Crested Butte is smaller than some of the other mountain towns, you can find everything from wedding planners to florists right here in town. And most vendors across Colorado are happy to travel here!

Crested Butte wedding venues

Scarp Ridge Lodge

Venue website

Scarp Ridge Lodge is a luxury property in the center of Crested Butte, and one of my favorite wedding venues anywhere in Colorado. A full buyout includes accommodations for up to 18 guests, and the venue can fit up to 50 guests for sit down dinner. (Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel once rented this place out with their families. Yeah, it’s that nice!)

Ten Peaks

Venue website

Ten Peaks is one of the venues that belong to Crested Butte Ski Resort, and is in the middle of a meadow of wildflower with mountain views in every direction. The venue has a ceremony amphitheater with views of Gothic Valley, and a large reception tent for the perfect outdoor wedding with cover from the weather. 

Taylor River Lodge

Venue website

Taylor River Lodge is owned by Eleven Experience, the same company that owns Scarp Ridge Lodge, and these people sure know how to run an exceptional wedding venue! Located in Almont, half an hour south-east of Crested Butte, this property is tucked away in a secluded canyon with incredible views. Weddings here require a two-night buyout of the property, which means you can plan an unforgettable wedding weekend for all your guests. 

Bonez wedding venue in Crested Butte

Bonez

Venue website

Bonez is a tequila bar and grill on Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte. The colorful interior is decorated with Mexican folk art, inspired by Dia De Los Muertos. It’s a perfect combo with ceremonies at Woods Walk, that’s a ten minute walk away.

Rocky Mountain Biological Lab

Venue website

RMBL hosts larger weddings in September and October, when the venues are not in use by their scientists and students. Located in the old townsite of Gothic, this area is beautiful all summer long, but especially nice in fall when the aspens are changing color. 

Mountain Wedding Garden

Venue website

The Crested Butte Mountain Wedding Garden is by far the most affordable of the venues on this list. It’s close to the ski resort in Mt. Crested Butte, and has a beautiful mountain backdrop looking up toward Gothic. This venue can be rented for just your ceremony, or combined with a reception at their Pavilion. At under $1500 for the combo, it can’t be beat on price!

Real Crested Butte weddings and elopements

Check out the galleries from some of my favorite Crested Butte weddings and elopements!

Crested Butte Permits & Regulations

Most outdoor locations in Crested Butte require some sort of permit, whether it’s a ceremony site rental from the Crested Butte Land Trust, or a photography permit from the National Forest Service.

I don’t want to give legal advice online, so please do your own research on any permits that are required to elope or take photos in different locations.

If you’re interested in doing your own research on permits, a good place to start is googling “special use permit” or “wedding permit” for the location names you’re interested in. Often these can be hard to find, so an easier approach is to call the local ranger district.

Remember that if we want these mountains to stay beautiful and open to weddings, we all need to do our part to take good care of the land. Always follow Leave No Trace practices, and when in doubt about what’s allowed, ask an expert for help.

Looking for a Crested Butte wedding photographer?

If you’re ready to chat about how I can help capture your Crestesd Butte wedding or elopement, fill out my contact form and let’s schedule a time to talk!