The Ultimate Guide To Eloping In The San Juan Mountains
Full of breathtaking beauty and outdoor adventure, the San Juan Mountains are one of Colorado’s most epic adventure elopement locations. Located in Southwestern Colorado’s expansive high country, the San Juan Mountains are home to charming mountain towns like Telluride and Ouray along the San Juan Skyway. From world-class ski resorts to cozy campgrounds, remote hiking trails, and more, the San Juan Mountains are packed full of epic activities, accommodations, and ceremony locations.
All About The San Juan Mountains
The San Juan Mountains are located in Southwestern Colorado and span high and wide along the Continental Divide. With over a dozen 14,000-foot peaks, the San Juan Mountains are arguably the most impressive range in the Colorado Rockies. From aquamarine alpine lakes to scenic hiking trails, remote off-roading routes, and wildflower fields, the San Juan Mountains are an alpine oasis for outdoorsy couples looking for a memorable elopement experience.
Why You Should Elope In the San Juan Mountain Range
There are SO many reasons why the San Juan Mountains are one of our favorite elopement locations in Colorado! Here are a few of our top reasons why you should elope in the San Juan Mountains:
- It’s less crowded than popular locations in Colorado like Rocky Mountain National Park.
- It’s home to some of the best mountain towns in Colorado.
- It is full of adventurous activities for all skill levels and interests.
- There are crystal-clear alpine lakes and amazing waterfalls around every corner.
- There are TONs of scenic and intimate elopement locations.
- There are over a dozen 14ers.
- Fall foliage is bright and beautiful in Autumn.
- Lush wildflower meadows bring life to the mountains in Summer.
When Is The Best Time To Elope In The San Juan Mountains?
Time Of Year
It’s no secret that the weather in Colorado is COLD and unpredictable in Winter and Early Spring, especially in the mountains. While the state’s dense snowfall in the Rockies is great for skiing, snowboarding, and other Winter activities, snowy weather conditions can make planning elopements unnecessarily stressful. For a stress-free elopement experience, we recommend eloping in the San Juan Mountains during Summer or Fall!
Summer | Late June – August
From late June – August, temperatures can range from 65°F to 80°F. Sunny days are abundant, with a chance for pop-up afternoon showers here and there. Summer is our favorite time for elopements in the San Juan Mountains because almost everywhere, from hiking routes to off-roading trails, is accessible. Wildflower meadows are one of the mountain’s main attractions in Summer, blooming in late June and lasting through mid-August!
Fall | September – October
During Fall, temperatures can range from 35°F to 65°F. This time of year also brings vibrant, colorful Fall foliage to the San Juan Mountains. Aspen leaves turn brilliant shades of red, yellow, and orange, with peak foliage occurring along the San Juan Skyway in October. Fall is less crowded in the mountains, making it the perfect time to explore popular tourist locations that are very popular in Summer!
Elope On A Weekday
We highly recommend choosing a weekday for your adventure elopement. Colorado is super busy, especially during the warm Summer months. Weekdays tend to see lower crowd levels, even during peak seasons! Here are a few reasons why you should consider a weekday elopement:
- More vendors are available during the week, especially during the busy season.
- Making reservations at popular locations such as accommodations and restaurants is easier.
- Less busy locations = a more intimate elopement experience!
- Areas like hiking trails, hot springs and 4×4 routes will be less crowded and quieter.
Elope At Sunrise or Sunset
The best time for your San Juan Mountains elopement is Sunrise or Sunset! Temperatures and lighting are more favorable during these times of day, and crowd levels tend to be lower. If you’re planning a full-day elopement that includes adventurous activities throughout the day, consider holding the actual vow ceremony at the start or end of your day!
Traveling to the San Juan Mountains
If you’re not from Colorado and planning on traveling to the San Juan Mountains from out-of-state, Denver International Airport (DIA) is an excellent option for your air travel needs. DIA has on-site rental car access, some of which rent out 4×4 vehicles! We recommend securing a vehicle that drives well on mountain roads. If you want to plan an off-roading adventure, consider renting a Jeep, or Bronco or booking a 4×4 tour!
Top San Juan Mountain Elopement Locations
The San Juans have some the best mountain views in Colorado. We spend so much of our summers exploring this part of the state and we love taking our couples there to explore as well on their elopement day!
Known as the “Gateway to the San Juans,” this tiny town with big views is one of the best-hidden gem mountain towns in Southwestern Colorado. Home to one of Colorado’s most beautiful 14ers, Mt. Sneffels, and a great starting point for those couples wishing to travel the entire 25-mile Million Dollar Highway, Ridgway is the perfect elopement location for a quiet, laid-back celebration. While there are many incredible ceremony locations in Ridgway, some of our favorites include Miller Mesa, Katie’s Meadow, and Blaine Basin. Apart from hiking, there are many unique activities to do in Ridgway! Some of our favorites include visiting Orvis Hot Springs, exploring Ridgway State Park, and wandering around Ridgway’s Creative District.
Ouray is a hub for incredible hikes and 4×4 trails! Surrounded by steep, rugged mountain sides, the small town sits at 7, 800 feet in a beautiful valley. Rich in history and full of friendly locals, Ouray is often called the “Switzerland of America.” Somehow, Ouray has managed to maintain an old Wild West charm while also becoming a modern, elevated getaway location in the mountains. Full of activities and ceremony locations, you and your partner won’t run out of things to do and see in Ouray! Our favorite ceremony locations include Red Mountain Pass, Yankee Boy Basin/Twin Falls, Box Cañon Falls, and Million Dollar Highway. Couples can enjoy activities like visiting wildflower meadows in Summer, climbing the Ouray Via Ferrata, shopping and dining on Mainstreet, going for a drive along Million Dollar Highway, soaking in the town’s hot springs, hiking, and exploring 4×4 trails in a Jeep!
A beautiful scenic 6.5-hour drive from Denver, Telluride is one of the top ski towns in Colorado. Home to some of the state’s most epic scenery and activities, Telluride is a top elopement location contender for us when it comes to tying the knot in the San Juan Mountains. While there are many breathtaking outdoor locations in Telluride, some of our favorites include Bridal Veil Falls, San Sophia Overlook, Hope Lake, Last Dollar Road, Imogene Pass, and Alta Lakes. Even outside of ski season, Telluride is full of fun activities in Summer and Fall. Couples can enjoy local shopping on Main Street, a free gondola ride up to Mountain Village, a day rafting trip along the San Miguel River, an afternoon spent exploring one of the area’s many waterfalls, 4×4 adventures on remote mountain trails in a Jeep, and more!
If you and your partner are looking for off-roading adventures, Silverton is the ceremony location for you! One of the highest towns in the U.S., Silverton sits at a little over 9,300 feet above sea level. This quaint mountain town is the perfect base camp to relax and unwind before embarking on an epic 4×4 adventure. While there are a wide variety of ceremony locations to choose from, some of our favorites include Animas Forks Ghost Town OHV Route, Red Mountain Mining Area OHV Trail, Corkscrew Gulch, Black Bear Pass OHV Trail, and Alpine Loop National Back Country Byway.
Home to some of the state’s most beautiful backpacking routes, hiking trails, and waterways in Southwestern Colorado, Durango is rich in culture and activities. From horseback riding to hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, rock climbing, off-roading, paddle boarding, and whitewater rafting, Durango is an adventure hub for all types of outdoor activities. While there are many ceremony locations to choose from, some of our top choices include Mesa Verde National Park, Falls Creek, and Blue Lake Ranch. Couples can enjoy various activities in and around Durango, like hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, hot springs, ATV tours, and more!
Some Of Our Favorite Adventures In The San Juans
Places To Stay In The San Juan Mountains
Where you relax and unwind during your adventure elopement is just as important as where you celebrate. Here’s a list of some of our favorite accommodations in the San Juan Mountains!
How To Legally Get Married in Colorado
Getting legally married in Colorado is super easy! Colorado is one of the few states in the U.S. where self-solemnization is legal. This means you and your partner don’t need an officiant to make the marriage official! Your dog or kids can even sign your marriage license.
To get your marriage license, visit any County Clerk’s office in Colorado or apply online. If you’re visiting a location in person, choose an office near your elopement location for convenience! Next, be sure you and your partner provide your birth certificates, social security numbers, a form of payment, and two valid forms of government-issued identification each. The license is valid upon issue and must be used in Colorado within 35 days. The fee is $30.00 across the state! After your official ceremony, be sure the license is signed before returning it to the County Clerk within 63 days of the ceremony for recording!
San Juan Mountain Permit Guidelines
Permit requirements in the San Juan Mountains are on a location-to-location basis, so a permit may be required for your ceremony, all depending on the area! Most outdoor areas in Colorado have a special use or commercial permit requirement – meaning you must apply and pay a small fee for land use. Permit fees can range from 0$-500. It can feel overwhelming sometimes, which is why securing permits is a part of our elopement service!
Eloping With Family In The San Juan Mountains
Eloping with a few family and friends can be an incredibly memorable experience! Here are a few things you should consider when inviting guests to your elopement in the San Juan Mountains:
- Most outdoor locations are only suitable for ten people or less. This includes vendors, guests, and the couple.
- The best option for elopements with larger guest counts is to reserve an outdoor location. Most State and National Parks have areas that are reserved for outdoor ceremonies!
- If you want an indoor elopement ceremony, consider micro wedding venues like A-Frame Cabins, Bed & Breakfasts, and Airbnbs!
- Make sure your guests don’t limit your adventure! If you’re dreaming of making a hard hike or adrenaline-filled adventure a part of your elopement day, you can always invite guests to an accessible reception or ceremony space before or after your adventure.
Activity Ideas for Your Elopement In The San Juan Mountains
If you and your partner want an unforgettable elopement experience in the San Juan Mountains, consider planning one of the following adventures:
- Go Off-Roading In A Jeep
- Hike Through Aspens And Evergreens
- Spend An Afternoon Paddle Boarding
- Camp Under The Stars
- Share A Craft Beer At A Brewery
- Explore Waterfalls
- Take A Ride On The Durango/Silverton Train
- Discover Mesa Verde National Park
- Experience The Thrill Of Whitewater Rafting
- Have A Picnic Along The Shores Of An Alpine Lake
San Juan Mountains Adventure Elopement Packing Checklist
Being prepared during your adventure elopement in the San Juan Mountains will make your trip a breeze! Here’s a list of things you should pack when eloping in the San Juan Mountains!
- Location Permit (If required)
- Marriage License
- Elopement Attire
- Light Rain Jacket
- Hand/Body Warmers
- Extra Socks
- Boots With Tread (preferably water resistant/proof)
- Warm Layers (Pullovers, Jackets, Leggings)
- Cute Umbrella
Sample San Juan Mountain Range Elopement Timeline
- 1:00 PM: Get ready at a cozy mountain a-frame cabin in Telluride while we grab detail shots!
- 2:00 PM: Drive to Bridal Veil Falls!
- 2:30 PM: Hike to the top of Bridal Veil Falls.
- 3:15 PM: First look at the top of the falls!
- 3:45 PM: Start vow ceremony.
- 4:00 PM: Celebratory drinks followed by couple portraits!
- 5:00 PM: Hike back to cars.
- 6:00 PM: Drive to the brewery in Telluride for food & drinks!
- 6:30 PM: Arrive at a brewery.
- 7:30 PM: Ride the Telluride Gondola to Mountain Village.
- 7:45 PM: Sunset photos with mountain views, followed by star gazing photos!
- 9:00 PM: End of photography coverage.
Tips For Eloping In The San Juan Mountains
Eloping is a totally different experience compared to traditional weddings, especially if you’re saying “I Do” in the mountains! Here are some of our top tips to help make sure your adventure elopement in the San Juan Mountains is the absolute best!
Elevation gain can vary depending on where you are staying and what activities you’ll be doing in the San Juan Mountains. While Durango is around 6,500 feet, Silverton is over 9,300 feet. If you’re not used to high-altitude environments, a difference in 3,000 feet can make a HUGE difference. Take it easy for the first day or two during your elopement trip, and give yourself plenty of time to acclimate before your ceremony.
Traffic & Parking
Mountain traffic can be unpredictable and parking is sometimes limited, even during shoulder seasons. Be sure to monitor traffic conditions ahead of your ceremony!
Weekends are often busy in Colorado, even during shoulder seasons. The weather is usually nice, and locals love to be outdoors! We highly suggest choosing a weekday for your elopement instead!
The San Juan Mountains are very dog-friendly! Many restaurants, hiking trails, and accommodations allow dogs, but check ahead of your arrival just to be sure!
Colorado is pretty dry year-round, and fire bans are often in place. If you decide to have a cozy fire during your celebration, check for fire bans at that location!
Sunscreen and Bug Spray
The Sun is more intense at higher elevations, which means you can still get a sunburn even when it’s cold outside! Be sure to pack and wear sunscreen to avoid getting burnt before elopement pictures. If you’re eloping in Summer, packing and applying bug spray often is a must, especially if you’ll be near lakes or rivers.
How to Leave No Trace In The San Juan Mountains
To keep the San Juan Mountains wild, clean, and pristine, be sure to follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace during your adventure elopement:
- Plan Ahead & Prepare
- Travel & Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Others
Let’s Start Planning Your Elopement In The San Juan Mountains!
We’re Laura & Hugo, an elopement photographer and videographer team at Together We Roam! We’re here to help you plan, photograph, and film your dream elopement in the San Juan Mountains! We’ve spent a lot of time in the San Juan Mountains and know all the best locations for your elopement! Check out our Colorado elopement packages pricing and contact us if you think we’d be a great fit. We can’t wait to roam through the San Juan Mountains while celebrating your love story!