Engagement Session at The Paint Mines, Colorado

This gorgeous state I get to call home has earned a lot of nicknames for all of the nature on display, one being Colorful Colorado. One of my fave places that brings that name to life is The Paint Mines Interactive Park, located in Calhan, Colorado, just an hour and a half drive from downtown Denver. The park covers 750 acres and was named for its colorful clays that Native Americans used way back when to make their paint. There’s something for everyone here – prairie, wetland, and rock formations called hoodoos lined with shades of pink, purple, gold, and white. Talk about DREAMY.

While most of my couples envision heading west for their mountain elopement, The Paint Mines in Eastern Colorado are a hidden treasure!

Taking Pictures or Eloping at The Paint Mines? Here are some tips:

  • The park is open to everyone and free to enter, but because the rock formations and other parts of nature there are so fragile, it’s illegal to climb the rock formations. All of the plants, wildlife, rocks, and historic artifacts are protected by the law too.
  • Dogs are also not allowed, so if you want your fur baby with you, this won’t be the location for you.
  • As far photography goes, commercial photographers and videographers need a permit to shoot! Prices can differ based on the project, so they need to reach out to the El Paso County Parks Office.
  • The Paint Mines are also closed at night, but if you want those dreamy night shots that can be worked into your permit.
  • Keeping an eye on the weather is a must for this location! The trails are mostly all made of clay, so things get slippery and muddy after it rains. Definitely pack an extra pair of shoes just in case. Because most of this location is rock and prairie, there aren’t any trees for shade, so if you’re heading out during the summer it’s going to be HOT!

Places to Check Out in Colorado Springs

Calhan is off the beaten path, but it’s just a quick 45-minute drive away from Colorado Springs where there’s so much to do! Here are some popular spots:

Ready to start planning for your Colorado Elopement?

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"Hiring McKenzie to photograph our wedding was single-handedly the best decision we made when planning our wedding. Wedding planning and vendor research was so stressful, and once we had Kenzie, she stepped in as support and helped us with narrowing down things that were important to us and to figure out what we really wanted.  wish we could get married over and over again just to recreate these and work with Kenzie again! "

Nadia + Daniel

"You will not find another wedding photographer who has the McKenzie signature style- she can capture the absolute beauty of the area and people all at once. She can shoot in a variety of settings and lightings and the photos are all gorgeous. One of the main reasons we booked McKenzie was the fact that she showcases a diverse clientele and finds beauty in all beings- something not all photographers can say.As a plus size bride who was extremely worried about looking back at my wedding pictures with dread that I wouldn't look like those gorgeous girlies on Instagram- this meant so much to me. "

Sydnie + Nathan

"When we got engaged, we searched near and far for an elopement photographer - & we met with several different photographers but none felt right until we met McKenzie. My husband, my dog and I are avid hikers - we wanted a beautiful hike and view, but it was also very important that we could be our authentic selves and intimately celebrate our 10 years together in the way we wanted. I'll be honest, I was shy about wanting to elope (ya know, family opinions and such), but McKenzie made us feel so comfortable in our decision. She wholeheartedly welcomed us being.. us! We couldn't have asked for more."

Maranda + Sam