Rocky Mountain National Park Wedding Guide 2024

This guide is the ultimate resource for planning an unforgettable Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) elopement or micro wedding. From permits and ceremony sites to the best seasons and epic photo spots, this Rocky Mountain wedding guide covers all the bases and lays out all the info you need to decide if RMNP is your wedding destination. Let’s get into it!

Why A Rocky Mountain Wedding?

Eloping in national parks is becoming more mainstream, and it’s easy to see why. Not only is it cost-effective compared to the price of traditional weddings, but it offers a unique setting that you won’t find anywhere else. With aspen trees, rugged mountain peaks, tons of wildlife, and dense forests, Rocky Mountain National Park provides an incredible backdrop for your wedding day in Colorado.

It’s important for me as a photographer to act as a resource and guide my couples through the process, especially when it comes to navigating a national park wedding. I’ve photographed around 100 elopements in Rocky Mountain National Park, so it’s safe to say I’ve spent a lot of time in the park and have a deep understanding of its rules and regulations.

Since I often get asked the same questions from couples, I decided why not create a guide covering the topics I get asked about most!

Things to Consider Before Deciding on RMNP for Your Wedding

When planning a wedding in Rocky Mountain National Park, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:

  • Group Size: All ceremonies within the park are limited to 30 people total (some sites even fewer). This includes you, your guests, and any hired vendors (photographer, videographer, officiant, etc).
  • Setup Restrictions: Chairs, tents, tables, or arches are not allowed to be set up at the ceremony site. However, some chairs may be permitted for elderly guests.
  • Public Accessibility: Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most-visited parks in the U.S., and ceremony sites are all in public areas. While most park visitors are respectful during ceremonies, there is no guarantee of privacy. This is why I highly recommend weekday and sunrise elopements to avoid crowds!
  • Leave No Trace: To preserve the park’s natural beauty, throwing rice, birdseed, or flower petals is not allowed anywhere.
  • Dogs: Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed at most ceremony sites within RMNP. They are allowed along roads, in parking areas, campgrounds, and picnic areas but must be kept on a leash at all times. This is a bummer, but it’s ultimately for their safety.
  • Accessibility: Only a handful of the ceremony sites are wheelchair accessible. Some ceremony sites and hiking trails may require a bit of a trek. Be sure your guests are comfortable with the level of activity. For detailed information on logistics and accessibility, check out my blog post on the ceremony sites here.

Rocky Mountain Wedding Permit Information and Availability for 2024

Getting married in Rocky Mountain National Park requires a wedding permit. The park starts accepting applications one year in advance of your wedding date. For example, if you plan on getting married in July 2025, you would apply for your wedding permit on July 1, 2024. The permit is $300 and does not include the entrance fee into the park. Since Rocky Mountain National Park is a very popular destination for elopements and smaller weddings, permits tend to go fast. They only approve 600 per year, so I highly encourage you to apply for your permit ASAP.

All permits have been booked for 2024 through October. 2025 availability is still rolling out, so if you want to get married in the park in the summer or fall of 2025, reach out ASAP!

For more detailed information on wedding permits and park regulations, check out the official Rocky Mountain National Park website.

When to Elope in the Park

The best part about Rocky Mountain National Park is that you can get married here year-round! Each season offers its own unique beauty. I’m partial to the summer months because of the wildflowers, perfect temperatures, and the accessibility of Trail Ridge Road. Summer provides the best weather and the most location options for your elopement.

Fall is also gorgeous, with the aspens changing to beautiful yellows and oranges, making for a perfect backdrop. In winter and early spring, you get frozen lakes and snow-covered mountains. However, the weather can change quickly, so it’s always best to have a plan B just in case.

I recommend eloping in Rocky Mountain National Park between June and October when you get the best weather and the most location options!

Ceremony Sites

Rocky Mountain National Park offers twelve designated wedding ceremony sites, each with their own unique appeal. For a detailed breakdown of each site, check out my dedicated blog post on RMNP ceremony sites here!

Additional Locations in the Park

After your ceremony, explore some of RMNP’s incredible hiking trails and scenic spots for additional photos. Here are a few must-see locations:

Emerald Lake: A relatively short, out-and-back trail with stunning lake and mountain views.

Dream Lake: A bit more challenging, but the picturesque lake is worth the trek.

Alberta Falls: A beautiful waterfall accessible via a moderate hike.

Trail Ridge Road: The highest continuous paved road in the U.S., offering panoramic views and countless photo opportunities.

These are just a few of the many locations we could explore for additional photos before or after your ceremony. I’ll be creating an interactive map of ceremony locations and adventure spots soon. Stay tuned for a link to this map!

Timed Entry Info

Rocky Mountain National Park begins its Timed Entry Permit System on May 24th, 2024. The system will run through October 20th, 2024, for the Bear Lake Corridor and October 15th, 2024, for the rest of the park.

If you can get a wedding permit, it will also act as your timed entry reservation, starting 2 hours before your ceremony timeslot through the end of the day! Just make sure you have your wedding permit on you to guarantee entry into the park. If you have guests joining you, make sure they also have their own copy of your wedding permit. You and your guests will need to pay for park entry on arrival.

Where to Get Your Marriage License in Estes Park

You can get your marriage license from the Larimer County Clerk and Recorder’s office in Estes Park, or you can pick it up at any other county clerk’s office! The only requirement is that you return it to the office you got it from. It’s a simple process, but be sure to bring the necessary documents. Double check the office will be open on the day you plan to pick up the license, and both partners must be present. For more detailed information on obtaining a marriage license in Colorado, check out my blog post here.

Lodging Near RMNP

Finding the perfect place to stay is key to a seamless wedding experience. While Estes Park is relatively small, it offers a range of accommodations, from cabins to hotels and charming Airbnbs. In a future post, I’ll link to some of the best lodging options, so stay tuned!

Closing Thoughts

Planning your Rocky Mountain National Park elopement or micro wedding is an adventure in itself. It doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming—especially if you hire a photographer who also takes on the role of planner to help guide you through every step. With endless opportunities for exploration, RMNP is the perfect place to start your first chapter of married life. If you’re ready to make your dream wedding a reality, reach out to inquire about which package is the best fit for you. I can’t wait to create beautiful memories in one of the most stunning places on earth with you!

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