Eloping at Hidden Valley was not plan A for Jaylee and Riley. They had originally planned a wedding for all their closest friends and family at a wedding venue in Estes Park. But when COVID-19 struck and group sizes were restricted, they didn’t let that hold them back from having the elopement of their dreams.

I helped them put together a new list of location ideas, and while many of the more popular wedding ceremony sites in Rocky Mountain National Park, like 3M Curve and Sprague Lake, were already booked, we were able to get a reservation for a Hidden Valley elopement ceremony instead.

Hidden Valley really is a hidden gem of locations. The area sees very few visitors compared to the other ceremony sites, and is quietly tucked away in the woods at the bottom of Trail Ridge Road. What it lacks in big sweeping mountain views, it makes up for in privacy, moody forest vibes, wildflowers, and a high chance of seeing moose! (We unfortunately did not see any this time, though.)

After starting our day together at a cute AirBnB in Estes Park, along with super talented videographer team Acts of Adventure, we headed into Rocky Mountain National Park for the afternoon. Jaylee and Riley self-solemnized their marriage by exchanging vows at Hidden Valley and signing their own marriage license, then celebrated with wedding cake and whiskey afterwards!

And because we couldn’t end the day without some of the epic mountain views that RMNP is known for, we drove up Trail Ridge Road towards sunset for a short hike. One of the crazy parts of eloping in Colorado is how quickly the weather can change with the altitude. We’d had nice, warm summer temperatures down at the Hidden Valley elopement, but at 12,000ft the wind was whipping around us, and we even got caught in a hail and rain storm toward the end. It couldn’t have made for more epic photos though!

“Nina is a dream to work with. We originally had a bigger wedding planned for Estes Park, but because of COVID we decided to cancel and elope instead. Nina helped us seamlessly transition from wedding to elopement and create a new plan. She has put together amazing resources to help you plan your day (especially helpful since we were traveling from Oklahoma). She created a timeline for us and made sure to communicate with our other vendors, so everyone was on the same page. She arrived early and even helped make sure we had everything we needed loaded up in the car, so we could head to our ceremony location. Our photos turned out amazing..Nina is truly so talented at what she does! We felt so comfortable. I love that she captures natural moments. I feel like I am reliving our day when I look at the photos. Nina is very organized, professional, so helpful, but most importantly she is an awesome human being! We can’t recommend Nina enough.”

Jaylee & Riley

22 Comments

  1. These are breathtaking! I love the mix of mountains and forest. Any suggestions on areas within Hidden Valley to take photos or say vows? Hoping to marry there next year!

    1. Hi Madison! Hidden Valley is not a huge area, so you’ll have no problems finding beautiful places for your own elopement! Just avoid walking onto wildflowers and minimize impact on nature if you go off trail anywhere by sticking with durable surfaces.

  2. Since you have seen the area, would it be easy for those in a wheelchair or elderly to participate in the elopement?

    1. While the trail at Hidden Valley is wide and well maintained, it’s a bit uphill, so it might not be the easiest for someone in a wheelchair. Sprague Lake and Lily Lake are the two easiest accessible ceremony sites in Rocky Mountain National Park, since both are flat, wide trails. Lily Lake is the shortest walk from the parking lot, while Sprague Lake is a bit longer. You can read more about accessible trails in the park here.

  3. I keep drooling over these pictures! Is the picnic table in Hidden Valley or was that somewhere nearby? My fiancé and I are eloping here next month! Do you have any suggestions for short nearby hikes?

  4. Thanks for posting this information. It is really helpful for us because we are planning on having our ceremony there in June 2022. I took a visit to the park this past weekend and loved the location. The only downside is that the trail is uphill and could be hard for some. BUT there are decent spots near the visitor center where you can have a lovely ceremony, as well. The smell in the air and the sound of the water flowing nearby is the perfect aesthetic for us nature-loving couple. Plus, Hidden Valley is a stop on trail ridge road and you take that to see the big mountains shown above. It’s perfect for pictures! 🙂

  5. These pictures and the area are beautiful! Where did they say their cows in Hidden Valley? My fiancé and I are getting married there in August; but we’re from Arizona so we are not the most familiar with this area. We’re just searching for beautiful great locations to have the ceremony in Hidden Valley! 🙂

  6. That dress!! Any info on it?
    Also do you have to get a permit to elope at hidden valley.. any additional info would be great.

    1. The dress is called Rowen by All Who Wander! And yes, you do need a permit to elope at Hidden Valley (or anywhere else in RMNP)—the RMNP wedding guide I have linked at the top of this post will give you all the info you need.

  7. These photos are stunning! They inspired us to elope here this year. ☺️ What time of day did they have the ceremony? Trying to figure out the best lighting for that area! ☀️

    1. Hey! This was in the early afternoon, around 2pm if I remember correctly—but it was overcast when they exchanged their vows, so the light would look quite different on a sunny day. Ask your photographer for help with your timeline so you can plan it based on what else you’re doing, too! 😊

  8. We want to get eloped in hidden valley….is it a hike to get to where you eloped or is it close to a road?
    If a hike, how long until you get to where you guys where?

  9. Nina, these are absolutely gorgeous!

    I am looking at eloping in RMNP next year, where are the 2nd and 3rd locations you have pictures of? They are so so beautiful and the mountains behind them are just magnificent!

  10. These photos are beautiful!! After you were accepted for a permit for hidden valley did you need to get an additional permit to take photos on trail ridge road? Thank you!

    1. I have an annual Commercial Use Authorization with Rocky Mountain National Park, so I apply for the permits on behalf of my couples. But if you’re applying for your own wedding permit, and your photographer does not have a permit, you just need to put down any portrait locations on the permit application (something like “we want to take photos at this trail name after our ceremony” and that covers you.

    1. Hidden Valley is open in winter, although it’s actually much busier in the snow! It’s a popular place to take kids sledding, and there are also a lot of backcountry skiing courses etc that use Hidden Valley as their starting point. That being said, you can still have it feel more private—but early morning or late afternoon on weekdays will be best for privacy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *