Rocky Mountain National Park elopements are hella popular, but I get it.
The park is beautiful. If you’re eloping at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), you’ll need a permit. Even if you only want to take photos there, you ALWAYS need one. It’s $300 for a wedding permit, which has to take place at one of these spots – you can’t just get married anywhere you please. Sorry to burst your bubble, boo. There are also limits on how many people you can bring with you. A permit reserves the spot for two hours and also allows you to do photos anywhere else in the park afterward. RMNP elopement permits are competitive AF. You can apply for one a whole year in advance, so you have to be on top of your shit if you want to elope here.
For my couples, I recommend eloping at Rocky Mountain National Park if:
They’re planning on bringing family who may have mobility restrictions
Getting married in a national park is important to them
They want to give guests a great mountain experience without worrying about conditions or commute
An elopement-day hike is their vibe
Here is more need-to-know information about RMNP!
How to Get There
Getting to RMNP is pretty straightforward. I recommend flying into Denver International Airport, renting a car, and then driving the two hours out to Estes Park (the town where RMNP is located).
Don’t forget about getting acclimated to the altitude. If you can, PLEASE get to Colorado at least 48 hours before your elopement date. Some people have a reaction, like feeling lightheaded, and some people don’t. Either way, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
For more of a quiet, mountain vibe, I tell my couples to stay anywhere along Fall River Road. Staying in RMNP instead of in town is an option, just know that most of your lodging options are going to be log cabins.
Sites to See
Obviously I’m going to tell you to hike Rocky Mountain National Park! Depending on when you’re here, you may need to register for timed entry. But once you’re in, my favorite hikes are Lake Haiyaha and Emerald Lake.
Enjoy a cocktail on the historic porch at The Stanley hotel. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy the bars and restaurants, but you won’t be allowed up the stairs into the actual hotel.
Take in the views from Trail Ridge Road. It stretches for 48 miles and has killer views of the peaks, wildflowers, and wildlife. It’s usually open late May until October, but make sure you double check before you leave.
Explore the Estes Park Riverwalk. It’s all paved, which makes it really accessible for any older friends and family. It starts at the visitor’s center and has a lot of fun shops and restaurants you can check out.
What to Do by Season
Estes Park and RMNP are great all year round, but most things are open during summer months. However, since it’s a tourist town they’re totally able to handle the snow too.
If you’re bringing any kiddos, you def need to check out Fun City. They have go-karts, bumper boats, mini golf, and so much more.
Fall (September – October)
You HAVE to do a Historic Spooky Tour at The Stanley. I love it and have done it more than once. I love spooky season. For my people who don’t know, The Stanley is what inspired “The Shining.”
Another great way to see RMNP is horseback riding. The YMCA of the Rockies is home to Jackson Stables, which is authorized to give guided tours on horseback. They also have pony rides for kiddos and horse-drawn hayrides in the fall.
At the end of September, you can check out Elk Fest. It’s pretty common to see elk out and about in town, and this festival celebrates that with vendors, live music, food trucks, and more. You can also enter a bugling contest if that’s your vibe.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the weather in Colorado is unpredictable, so pack for anything and everything! Speaking from experience (hail storms aren’t fun), it’s way better to be safe than sorry. Make sure these get in your suitcase: