Colorado is such a diverse beautiful state, we have 14,000 ft mountains, desert sand dunes, red rocks, alpine lakes, rivers, hot springs, cute little mountain towns and a bustling city. I think the only thing we don’t truly have is the ocean, but we do have a few alpine lakes and reservoirs that can help all you water lovers enjoy that aspect as well. Not only that, but we have, on average, 300 days of sunshine per yer! Okay, that may include days that have a random rain storm for two seconds, but it usually just means we see the sun that many days per year, which is amazing!
So, when people know they want to elope, get married or plan an adventurous photo shoot here in Colorado, it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to begin to narrow down locations. So, I present to you a handful of my favorite “Best of Colorado” locations. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but includes some of my personal favorites. Some places are only accessible during certain seasons, so keep that in mind when looking through this list!
The bonus element is that all of these locations are accessible even if you’re not a hardcore hiker, meaning they are less than a mile walk or hike from a parking area to the location itself. So, if you’re planning even an adventurous Colorado mountain wedding with someone who cannot hike for miles or who is subject to the very real hindrance of altitude sickness, these are great ideas!
And if you’re looking for a Colorado elopement photographer, a Colorado intimate wedding photographer, a Mountain wedding photographer or just someone to capture your love story, we are your gals!
I’ve categorized these by type of place into these categories.
- Mountain or best places to elope in Colorado
- Alpine Lake (aka water with mountain views)
- *Desert Feel*
- Winter Wonderland
This blog post will focus on Desert Feel Locaitons that feature sweeping views, mountain vistas, or beautiful immersion in evergreen or aspen trees! To view the other categories click on the categories above!
Best Colorado Desert Feel Locations for Elopements, Intimate Weddings or Colorado Anniversary Celebrations.
Distance from Denver: 30 minutes
Red rocks is a beautiful location just 30 minutes from the heart of Denver, Colorado. The literal red rocks are such a unique formation. Red rocks is a VERY popular place so to find a completely intimate space for an elopement can get tricky. There is a chapel near the area, but it is pretty outdated. But if you want to make sure you have space and time and don’t want to worry about weather, you can look into it!
Roxborough State Park
Distance from Denver: 45 minutes
Roxborough State park is a little hidden spot but can still get busy especially on the summer weekends. I love this area because of the oak tree groves that grow naturally. There is a lot of beautiful wild life in this area too. It can also get somewhat crowded but is a bit more off the beaten path than Red Rocks.
There is a fee for parking so keep that in mind if you have any guests coming in. It is a day parking only locations so you cannot camp there.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Distance from Denver: 1 hour
I’ve actually only been to this neat Colorado state park once but it is a great hidden spot of any eloping or outdoor couple wanting more of a desert feel. Bonus: this state park actually has a waterfall and some beautiful wild flowers growing around it. Its a pretty diverse terrain for Colorado. Its a little outside of Denver, Colorado and closer to Colorado Springs but is so beautiful.
It doesn’t allow camping so is more for a ceremony, photo time and hanging out in.
Distance from Denver: 30 minutes
Daniels park is a great picnic area. So if you want to bring in your own catering or just enjoy the wonderful views it has its a great location. Its usually not super busy because its one of those spots only the locals know about. Daniels park is about 30 minutes away from the heart of Denver which makes it a pretty accessible place.
Warning: there is a fair amount of roaming wild life including snakes at this park so do keep that in mind if a lot of small children will be a part of your celebration.
Other Colorado Desert Locations
I haven’t photographed at these places but they are on my bucket list!
- Painted Mines 1 hour from Denver
- Great Sand Dunes National Park 4 hours from Denver
Things to know about Desert Colorado wedding, elopement or anniversary photography locations:
- All outdoor weddings/events still require a permit with most areas. So once you do your research of where you want to go make sure you know the rules of the area. No one wants to get a fine on their wedding or celebration day.
- Altitude sickness is a true reality at some of these high altitude locations so research it and make sure to pack the right supplies or have alternative plans.
- Weather is variable here in the summer despite our mostly sunny days. The great part of Colorado is that it could down pour for an hour and one hour later be sunshine with not a cloud in sight.
- Afternoon thunder storms are a true reality. Consider an am celebration to capture the morning alpine glow or have a plan B for the afternoon. While you can wait out rain, thunderstorms especially at high altitudes shouldn’t be mess with.
- Wild life is pretty active at these parks and due to their desert like habitats you may run into some snakes, cacti or even an eagle! But keep in mind most wild animals won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Keep on the trails and small children close to you.