About Moraine Park Amphitheater
Moraine Park Amphitheater is one of the thirteen designated wedding ceremony locations in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s located by the Moraine Park Discovery Center, right off Bear Lake Road.
It’s a short and easy drive into the park, and there is always plenty parking available here. This is also one of the few ceremony sites that has restrooms nearby.
Because there are no trails or sights at this location, this is one of the most private ceremony sites in RMNP. When you have the amphitheater reserved, you will be the only people there, even if you’ll likely see other cars in the parking lot and by the discovery center.
Moraine Park Amphitheater is the only ceremony site in Rocky Mountain National Park that allows dogs (on leash!), and the only site where you can have a wedding arch or other ceremony decor. With built-in amphitheater style benches for seating, it’s also the only place in the park where your guests can be seated for your ceremony. There’s also lots of shade from the tall trees surrounding the amphitheater, which can be a relief on hot summer days.
On the flip side of that, the amphitheater is in the trees, and so you don’t have the best views for ceremonies here. I personally think it’s worth the trade-off though, since you can always go to one of the more scenic locations nearby for couples portraits before or after your ceremony.
Moraine Park Amphitheater is perfect for larger wedding ceremonies, as it allows up to 30 people total (including the couple, guests, officiant, photographer, and any other vendors). While there are other locations that also allow groups of 30, like Upper Beaver Meadows and Hidden Valley, and even Sprague Lake in winter, it can be difficult to have 30 people standing for a ceremony and make sure everyone can see what’s going on, without blocking the trails for others who are hiking past, or blocking the view of the couple for the photographer.
Moraine Park Amphitheater Wedding Permit
The cost of getting a wedding permit for Moraine Park Amphitheater is $300. You can make a reservation up to a year in advance, starting on the first day of the month. For example, if you want to book 7/23/23, you can make that reservation on 7/1/22.
I cover the $300 wedding permit for couples who book me for photography, since I do over a dozen elopements in Rocky Mountain National Park every year and work directly with their permit office.
You’ll also need a $30 day pass/national park entrance fee for each car that’s driving into the park for your wedding. If your guests will be in the area for more than a day, it’s worth getting a week-pass for $35 instead.
Learn more about getting a wedding permit for Moraine Park Amphitheater from the National Park Service.
What’s the best time to elope at Moraine Park?
When you’re choosing a two-hour time block for your ceremony at Moraine Park, talk to your photographer first so that you can pick a time that fits with the other activities you have planned for the day. Most of my couples choose to either hike and do couples portraits at sunrise, then meet family later in the day for the ceremony, or to start with the ceremony midday then end with couples portraits at sunset.
Late afternoon light, from between 2pm-6pm, will usually be the best at Moraine Park, as the sun is coming from behind the “stage” and giving beautiful filtered backlighting. Morning light is harsher here, since the sun will be casting shadows through the trees.
Rocky Mountain National Park allows no more than six ceremonies in the park on any given day, and no more than two a day at any given location. Weekends between Memorial Day and late-September always fill up quickly, while weekdays are more readily available.
The best months are generally June through September, when the snow has melted, vegetation has come to life, and the temperatures are pleasantly warm. September is an especially popular time to elope at Moraine Park, since it’s the best time to see elk in the meadows nearby.
Practical info for Moraine Park Amphitheater
Ceremony size: 30 people max
Number of cars: 10 cars total
Permit cost: $300
Address: 985-1579 Bear Lake Rd, Estes Park, CO 80517
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/a9QXXKrABAebvJBR6
Want to learn more about weddings and elopements in Rocky Mountain National Park? I wrote this guide to help you choose your ceremony location, learn how to apply for a permit, and find the best places for photos.
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.