From rocky peaks to deep canyons, and from high deserts to open prairies, there are boundless places in Colorado for couples to plan their adventure elopements. There’s a reason it’s such a popular place for adventurous couples to say “I do.” Honestly, it’s hard to make a bad elopement choice in this epic state.
But along with its diversity of geography, CO also experiences very distinct seasons as well; seasons that can make or break your elopement plans. While Colorado’s distinct seasons — from mountains covered in several feet of snow in the winter to open fields of wildflowers in the high country in the summer — can be one of the most appealing parts of visiting the state, it also introduces challenges for couples thinking about or planning an adventure elopement.
Choosing which season to have your adventure elopement is probably one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make. Surprisingly, it’s not as simple as thinking about temperature ranges and snowfall. Each season has its pros and cons, and picking the wrong season could potentially remove certain adventure elopement locations entirely from your elopement venue list. As an adventure wedding photographer, I make it my job to know which types of adventure weddings and elopements work best at what times.
There are pros and cons to each season, and different parts of the state have different benefits for different seasons. Knowing that, I decided to put together some advice about the best time of year to have your Colorado elopement, based on our experience living and photographing adventure elopements here. So keep on reading to get your answer to the nagging question: when is the best time of year for your Colorado elopement?
If you’re aiming to elope during the changing of the leaves, fall is the perfect time of year to have your elopement, given the high potential of running into beautiful colors. At places like Maroon Bells, fiery yellow and orange colors complement the existing landscape of mountain lakes and peaks rising into the sky.
Another benefit of choosing a fall elopement in the mountains is that during early fall you’ll run into milder weather than you otherwise would in other seasons, assuming you’re choosing early fall, before our first snowstorms of the season roll in (which tend to happen in October, but have also occurred earlier too).
One thing to note, however: peak fall colors will vary depending on the elevation of your elopement location. While the foothills will see color into early October, the same cannot be said for many of the mountain towns out here. If you’re looking to have fall colors during your Telluride or CB adventure elopement, you may want to consider a date somewhere in the second half of September. Just keep in mind that fall colors are very short lived out here.
There are a few downsides to fall elopements, though. Snow can strike in pretty much any month out of the year in Colorado, especially at higher elevations. So you’ll always want to bring layers with you and be prepared for a surprise winter wonderland. That’s the blessing and curse of Colorado: you truly never know what you’re going to get.
And as you can imagine, the changing of the leaves brings droves of tourists to the Rocky Mountains, making this one of the busiest times for them. In the high country, these colors only last for a couple weeks, and some people will plan a year in advance to make sure they secure their spot amongst the trees. So naturally with fall elopements, you’re running the risk of having crowds nearby.
That being said, you can opt for a more secluded adventure elopement spot for your fall ceremony, but if you want a national park elopement, crowds and limited parking are something you’ll likely have to deal with.
Another thing to note: if you’re planning a mountain elopement in the fall, please be aware that many mountain passes close during this season, so it’d be best to elope before the end of September.
If you want some of the outright most epic mountain views Colorado can offer and are down with braving the cold, consider having your Colorado elopement in the winter. It’s not a well-kept secret, but even a thin layer of snow turns a mountain landscape into a whole new world.
If you’re lucky enough to get a thicker blanket of snow, you’ve signed yourself up for an elopement in a winter wonderland. One better-kept secret is that winters here in Colorado aren’t constant cold misery. Sure, you may wind up with weather that’s uncomfortably chilly (In which case, I highly recommend bringing hand and foot warmers to keep in your pockets, wind resistant puff jackets, long johns to wear under your tux or dress, and some water-resistant winter boots with good traction), but you may also end up lucking into a day that’s mild in temperature and sunny — while still enjoying snow on the ground.
Another benefit of choosing winter for your mountain elopement is that locations like Rocky Mountain National Park are less crowded (for example, January is the least busy month for that national park). Consider this one of the most underrated seasons for an adventure elopement. If you don’t want to worry about bumping into the heavy crowds on your elopement day, winter is a really good option. Just make sure you bring your snow shoes and/or MICROspikes if you plan on hiking at all.
While we love winter elopements in the mountains of Colorado, we do have to offer a few caveats. Many mountain passes close for several months out of the year during the winter. So if you have your heart set on a particular location — especially if it’s in the higher elevations of the state — it’s worth it to check if it will be accessible before jumping headfirst into planning your winter elopement. Make sure you consult your adventure elopement photographer on this. As an adventure wedding photographers myself, I make it my business to stay up to date on what passes are open during these colder months.
Another obvious con with a winter elopement is how unpredictable the Colorado mountain weather can be during this season. You really never know what you’re going to get. Light snow can be gorgeous on your elopement day, but heavy snow can shut down roads in some places completely (and make for some pretty scary driving conditions). So if you’re choosing a winter Colorado elopement, we’d recommend being open to the idea that anything can happen, weather-wise. As long as you’re cool with that (and are fully prepared for winter travel), it’s a pretty season to elope!
Also, bear in mind that with non-mountain locations, there’s no guarantee of snow being nearby. In fact, you’re more likely to come across dead, dried grass on the foothills. For snow, you’re going to need to escape to higher elevation mountain towns. But with higher elevation comes the risk of snowstorms and avalanches make roads dangerous and sometimes impassible.
So you’ll have to balance that risk into your day. I personally recommend planning on being in Colorado for a week when eloping during winter, which gives you time to change your plans if dangerous weather shows up.
Spring in Colorado is a constant tug of war between winter and summer. There can be large temperature swings from day to day, and it’s hard to predict what any one day will be like. Though Colorado is never particularly rainy vis-a-vis other places like the Pacific Northwest, spring will serve up the highest probability of encountering an afternoon rain or hail storm (and lots of mud from the snowmelt in the later spring).
That being said, if you are set on avoiding winter for your elopement in the foothills or along the Front Range and don’t want to wait for the heat of summer, spring can be the way to go. You can get the warm golden tones the sunshine brings to the landscape. Another perk? Busy tourist season in the mountains hasn’t kicked in yet, so you have a better chance of having a more private elopement ceremony in busy spots like Rocky Mountain National Park.
If you are considering desert elopement locations like Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado, spring can be a good time to consider, given you’ll likely run into cooler weather, milder temperatures, and less overcrowding than in the summer months. However, for the most part I generally advise against elopements in months like March. April, and May given the bipolar, stormy nature of these months. While I like to say you never know what you’re going to get with the weather out here, you set yourself for a lot more uncertainty during the early springtime months.
Unlike regions of the US like the southeast where things begin to turn green in the very early springtime, late spring is typically when you begin to see the color coming back into the landscape out here in Colorado. Up until then, pretty much anything goes, weather-wise.
Random snow days in April, May, and even June are definitely not unheard of. They’re pretty much a guaranteed occurrence in a place like this. Take summer of 2019 for example, where high alpine lakes were still covered in ice all the way into July and avalanche debris left fallen trees and snowbanks 10+ feet tall alongside trails.
If your goal is to have a Colorado elopement in the high country when the mountains are truly in full bloom, you may want to consider something in late July or August. So read on below about summer elopements in Colorado…personally our favorite season to say “I do” in this state.
With summer comes great views of wildflowers blanketing the mountain slopes and some of the best summer weather you can imagine (especially compared to places like the east coast where humidity is at an all-time high).
The mountains come alive and are at their greenest during the month of July. And, if you’re having an elopement at a location in the alpine tundra or on a mountain pass, summer may be the only time of year roads are open and your elopement location is accessible.
Don’t even get us started on how gorgeous places like Silverton and Telluride look in the summertime. Those epic aqua colored alpine lakes you’ve been eyeballing? Yeah, those places only show off their full glory in the summer. The fact of the matter is summer is truly the only time of the year when the entire state of Colorado is on full display.
The highest parts of the high country are difficult, if not impossible, to access even during the winter, fall and spring. But summer melts the snow in places that typically hibernate under ice most of the year. You get to see the state of Colorado in a whole new light: during a tiny little window of a couple months before the cold sets in and everything freezes all over.
Unfortunately, with summer comes crowding, especially in the national parks. Kids are off from school, families are vacationing, and beautiful destinations fill up quickly. That being said, it is possible to get away from the crowds for your elopement if you choose a more remote trail or feel like taking a longer hike.
Not to worry, though: there are plenty of hidden gems that I know about where you can get away from the crowds and enjoy your epic elopement view without a million tourists swarming around while you say your vows. That’s why it’s important to work with local elopement vendors who know the state well. They can help you find locations that are more private, and still have those epic views.
Interested in working with a Colorado-based photographer who knows this state like the back of her hand and can help you navigate the process of putting together your dream elopement? Check out my pricing page to find out more about what I offer or click the button below to schedule your complimentary elopement chat with me.
Check out some of our favorite elopement and adventure wedding planning resources:
Empowering You To Have Your Adventure Elopement, Your Way
Colorado Elopement Photographers + Adventure Wedding Photographers