Everything you need to know about planning a Loveland Pass elopement, from permits and group size restrictions to the best time of year and trails to hike.
After photographing over a dozen Loveland Pass elopements over the years, I’ve built this guide to help answer the most commonly asked questions I get about planning an elopement here.
I’ll cover the best locations for your elopement ceremony, how to get the best light for your photos, and what to expect from the unpredictable Colorado weather and seasons. I’ll even give you some ideas for where to go for celebrations after your elopement at the top of Loveland Pass!
(If you’re a photographer who’s doing research before shooting at Loveland Pass, I promise there’s some good info in this guide for you too!)
Why elope at Loveland Pass?
Pro: It’s easily accessible
This seems to be the number one reason why so many couples choose to elope at Loveland Pass. With one of the highest mountain pass roads in the country, and the only one that consistently stays open throughout winter, it’s an easy location to access for most couples. (The trails are all dirt and a little uneven, so I would not recommend it for anyone with mobility issues.)
Pro: epic hiking trails
While you get epic views immediately from the trailhead parking lot at the top of the pass, the best elopement views come when you’re willing and able to hike away from the main road. There are hiking trails on both sides of the pass, and you can even bag a couple of thirteener summits with Mount Sniktau, Grizzly Peak, and Cupid Peak—if you are already experienced hikers who are well used to high elevation. Do not underestimate these trails, especially if you’re flying into Colorado a few days before your elopement. These trails are steep, rocky, and exposed to weather, so please do your research.
Pro: There are mountain views in every direction
It’s easy for local Coloradans to get jaded about our mountain views. You’ll often hear people say things like “sure, Loveland Pass is pretty, but you really need to hike a fourteener to get the best views.” And while I agree that fourteeners are pretty darn epic, I also totally understand that many of you want to bring your families and friends along for your elopement, and might not want a full hike to enjoy the mountains. This place is perfect for those elopements where you want the full effect of the mountains with minimum effort.
Con: It’s incredibly busy
I couldn’t write this list without also including some reasons why you might not want to elope at Loveland Pass. Because this is one of the only mountains in Colorado that’s accessible all year round with minimal hiking required, it’s also one of the most popular places to elope in the Rocky Mountains.
The trailhead at Loveland Pass is one of the busiest in the whole state of Colorado, and you will never have it to yourselves. The parking lot at the summit is small, and only has room for 20 or so cars. When the weather is nice, and especially on weekends, it can be very hard to get a parking spot, and there are no backup locations to park close-by if the summit is full. You should expect to run into hikers, backcountry skiers, tourists stopping for photos, and lots of people.
If you’re hoping for a unique and private elopement location where you can enjoy nature in complete solitude, Loveland Pass might not be the best fit for you. For the biggest chance at privacy, elope at sunrise or sunset on a weekday.
Con: You may need to apply for a special use permit
Loveland Pass is managed by the U.S. Forest Service at the Dillon Ranger District. Permit rules are often changing, and what was legal a year ago might not be legal next year. While you might find information about a location like this post, it is your responsibility to research permits, and make sure that you can legally have the wedding you’re planning in the location you want.
In general, small elopements that do not bring any form of decorations or furniture, that do not block trails or parking areas from other recreational users, that follow all local rules and minimize their impact on the environment, and that do not have hired vendors other than a photographer, are allowed to take place here without a Special Use permit.
If you have an officiant, wedding planner, or any other vendor like catering or a florist who is bringing decorations to your location, those vendors all need to have a Commercial Use Authorization with the USFS to legally work there.
As elopements are becoming more popular, it’s really important that we respect the fragile nature environments that we’re in, and follow the rules for each location.
Best time to elope at Loveland Pass
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.
Loveland Pass will generally be covered in snow from the middle of October until the middle of June. If you want to guarantee a snow-free wedding, pick a date between early July and the middle of September. Some years the snow melts earlier, but some years (like 2019) there will be snow all the way through the end of June!
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.
Traffic on I-70 from Denver to Loveland Pass can also be a huge pain on weekends; especially Friday afternoons and Saturday mornings during winter thanks to ski traffic. If you want to avoid being stuck in ski traffic on your elopement day, consider getting a place to stay in the Keystone area so that you can take highway 6 up there and avoid getting on I-70 altogether.
The time of day is also really important for your Loveland Pass elopement. I personally love sunrise up here, and will always suggest it to couples who are up for an early morning elopement. There are way fewer people around, and the light here at sunrise is unreal. There’s really nothing more beautiful than seeing the sun paint the mountain tops in pink and orange alpenglow!
Sunset at Loveland Pass can be epic if you’re in the right place, but many locations here lose the sun long before the actual sunset time as the sun drops behind the mountain ridges. Prepare for the temperature to drop by at least 10 degrees immediately when the sun disappears!
Loveland Pass elopement permits
One of the reasons why Loveland Pass has become such a popular place to elope is that it’s easy to access. But what many couples—and photographers—don’t know is that you may need a Special Use permit from the National Forest Service to elope here depending on your group size and the vendors involved.
While some locations like Rocky Mountain National Park make it easy to find information online about how to apply for a permit, the National Forest Service doesn’t have the same capacity to handle a large amount of permit applications, and the process is less straight-forward.
There are no ceremony locations that can be reserved at Loveland Pass. If you’re looking for an easy access ceremony site that you can reserve for your elopement in the same area, check out nearby Sapphire Point instead.
Whether you are a couple who wants to get married at Loveland Pass, or a photographer who wants to shoot there, I recommend that you call the Dillon Ranger District at 970-468-5400 to find out more about the permit application process.
It’s always better to get a direct answer from the local authority than to take someone else’s word for it. There’s a lot of conflicting information to be found on social media, so go right to the source instead.
Where to celebrate after your Loveland Pass elopement
You might just want to spend the day outside in the mountains when you’re eloping, but many of my couples want to celebrate with a nice meal afterwards. The mountain towns close to Loveland Pass have a lot to offer for cute restaurants, vacation rentals, and micro-wedding venues where you can have a small reception—or even just a private dinner for the two of you.
Bread Bar is my absolute favorite reception/celebration venue for elopements at Loveland Pass. This restaurant and bar is housed in a building from the 1800s in the small mining town of Silver Plume. They can host celebrations of up to 70 people, but also welcome reservations for couples and smaller groups.
Plume Coffee Bar
Planning a sunrise elopement? How about heading down to Silver Plume for some legit good coffee after? Plume Coffee Bar is right down the street from Bread Bar, and serves up coffee drinks in a historic old house with tons of charm.
Cabin Creek Brewing
Cabin Creek Brewing in Georgetown is a great option for an informal reception after your elopement, if you’re excited about good beer and solid brewpub food. They have a deck with nice views of Georgetown Lake, and plenty indoor dining space as well.
Coopers on the Creek
Coopers on the Creek is a restaurant in Georgetown, a quick half-hour drive from the top of Loveland Pass, with the best cocktails in town. They have an enclosed patio that can be rented out for private events.
Alpine Restaurant in Georgetown is mountain casual dining, but has a couple of different options for private dining reservations.
Loveland Pass Rules & Regulations
As always with outdoor elopements, following Leave No Trace practices is very important! If elopements start to break rules and make a mess, this will quickly turn into another off-limits location, so let’s all take responsibility for keeping Loveland Pass pristine!
- No ceremony arches, chairs, furniture and props that don’t belong in nature.
- No confetti, birdseed, flower petals, rice, lavender, or other items that are impossible to clean up after.
- No amplified music or microphones.
- Stay on established trails. For every person who hikes off trail, more people think it’s okay to follow. The ground at Loveland Pass is fragile alpine tundra, which can take over a hundred years to regrow, so let’s take good care of it!
- No fireworks, which includes smoke bombs! Always be aware of local fire restrictions.
- Pets must be on leash.
- Be considerate of other visitors. You will not be the only people here, and do not have more right to the landscapes than others just because you are getting married. (You might even run into other couples who are eloping here.)
Read the full rules & regulations directly on the Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forest website.
Start planning your Loveland Pass elopement today
If you’re ready to plan your own elopement at Loveland Pass, I would love to photograph the big day. Check out my elopement packages, then get in touch to schedule a no-obligation call to make sure we’re a good fit!