Updated: May 20, 2020
When it comes to epic adventures, nothing better comes to mind for us than thinking of monstrous snow-covered mountain peaks that tower over lush green valleys or crystal blue lakes. Places that make you feel like you’re standing among nature’s giants; and when it comes to Adventurous Elopements we feel the same way. As adventurers ourselves, we spend a lot of our time scouting out the best possible, intimate elopement locations for our couples. And without fail, the locations that consistently take our breath away are the mountains.
I may be a little biased, seeing as I did grow up hiking all the time out in the mountains, and we were married under the Redwoods. But the thing we love most when it comes to eloping in the mountains is the variety that comes with the location you select. For instance, the San Juan mountains in Colorado are immensely different from the barren mountains in California’s Death Valley National Park, or the green-covered mountains in the Pacific Northwest. Not all mountains look the same, and depending on which mountain range you have your eyes on for your elopement will definitely bring unique and different views into your photos.
A major item to keep in mind when you’re eloping to the mountains is how the seasons can impact your elopement day. For example, in Seattle, Washington they may not have had any snow, but up in the mountains not too far away they could have just been hit with a fresh 14 inches of powder. On the other hand, in Colorado, there could be some blistering hot days in Denver, yet if we were to trek out to the Rocky’s overnight mountain hikes they could require winter gear and attire.
When arranging mountain elopements we let our couples know that mountains tend to have their own unique weather pattern, and sometimes their very own seasons. Usually due to the elevation difference between the town at the base of the mountains and the hiking destination. So with that knowledge, let's break this down by the mountain seasons and see what the pros and cons are.
Summer Mountain Elopements
Summer is a good time for elopements in the mountains. They do bring their own unique challenges when it comes to their location. In places like Colorado, Washington State, and Montana, the mountains are perfect in the summer season. During most of the year, the higher elevation passes and routes are closed due to weather conditions and tend to reopen between June and August. With these places, you don’t have to worry so much about layers which definitely helps reduce what clothing and supplies you need to bring to be comfortable. However, with the heat, there are certain places you would like to avoid. Places like Death Valley National Park and Palm Springs. The heat will for sure put a damper on the elopement day if you want to be outside the entire time. Other places to consider avoiding are those locations closer to the equator. Places like Cañón del Sumidero or Basaseachic Falls National Park in Mexico.
Fall Mountain Elopements
Needless to say, mountain elopements in places like the Rockies from Canada to Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, The Pocono Mountains, or even the Alps in France during the fall time are extremely popular. The changing of the leaves is stunning and the weather has started to cool down significantly. Places like Aspen and Telluride are glowing with yellows and oranges that would make Bob Ross smile. Peak fall colors vary from state to state, as well, with each country. We highly recommend making a Google search for when fall colors appear for your specific mountain destination. For example, in the Rockies, the fall colors tend to pop towards the end of September. However, further into the fall season, you do run the chance of the pass or trail you wish to hike being closed due to poor weather conditions. Some trails are very strict with closures and others not so much. You also need to think about some of the additional layers you may want to bring to keep yourself a little more comfortable before the sun comes up in the dawn and when it sets at dusk.
Winter Mountain Elopements
If you're going for a gorgeous crystal, winter wonderland, then eloping in the snow-capped mountains is for you. Especially if you want to go to a ski village in Colorado, California, Utah or even in Washington. There are plenty of things to do in these small towns from warm coffee shops, to local seasonal breweries, or enjoy seasonal activities like mushing a dog sled, snowmobiling country trails, or celebrating your elopement by skiing down the mountain slopes. However, be prepared to have some back-up plans. With mountain destinations comes some extra planning for inclimate weather that could arise at any moment. Snowstorms, blizzards and winter ice storms can be very unpredictable. Roads can shut down from ice, and avalanches can close trailheads without any warning. We always recommend that during this time of year to have a day or two of leeway just in case something unfortunate does disrupt plans. You also need to consider the additional layers needed to keep yourself cozy warm. So, depending on if we are charting a helicopter, snowmobile to a location or pack it out in skis or snowshoes, you need to plan for the additional supplies.
Spring Mountain Elopements
Spring flowers and lush green valleys of spring can be gorgeous however, we caution couples that want a spring elopement in the mountains unless you are planning for a late spring ceremony. This is because the weather in the mountains isn't yet ideal. The snow is still melting away and the rain can arrive with little warning. This season still leaves a lot of trials and passes closed. Hail storms in Colorado are super common at this time of year, and in Washington the rainy season is heavy. The good news is the temperatures in the high desert range are more accommodating and dry making the location a lot nicer and an ideal choice for an elopement adventure.
Mountain elopement adventures provide vast differences in the type of scenery, and the four seasons offer a variety of changes to that same epic location. Each destination has its peak and the slow season for their locations and all of this variety can work to your advantage. It ultimately comes down to the look and feel you are wanting for your ceremony background and wedding photographs. Once you narrow down the venue for your grand adventure and the activities you want to partake in, all the rest of the planning seems to fall into place.
Finding Your Intimate Mountain Location
Once you have selected season for your elopement, we would recommend contacting an Adventurous Elopement Photographer and Guide; i.e. “US!” At this point, we are able to guide couples in the right direction with specific destination locations and location scouting of scenic spots. As Adventurous Elopement Photographers and Guides, we constantly are scouting the best and scenic places in the mountains. We are always searching, and we can recommend the best off-the-beaten-path mountain elopement settings for couples eloping ceremonies.
So, when choosing the best mountain elopement locations, it’s definitely a good idea to brainstorm what specific landscapes you and your partner really fall in love with. Do you like the look of rocky, desert mountains? Or would you prefer a forest, mossy environment? How about jagged mountain peaks or aqua colored alpine lakes? Whatever it is, bring these to your elopement photographer. We share more about this in our Complete Elopement Planning Guide, which covers the elopement process from start to finish.
Acquiring Mountain Wedding Permits
Ensuring that you have acquired all the necessary permits is a Necessity! Depending on where you’re eloping to in the mountains, there’s a great chance you’ll need to acquire a wedding permit, hiking permit, and possibly a photography/video release. Especially, If you’re eloping in a National Park. When it comes to eloping in National Forests, it’ll vary on a case-by-case basis. The best thing you can do is check in with the local ranger or National Park service provider. It’s imperative to get the information in writing when you speak with them. They should have all the documents available when you meet with them.
Don’t Know Where To Start?
We understand this could be a lot of information right now. So, we came up with a little list for you to check out.
Utah - Zion, Park City, Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, Salt Lake City
Montana - Glacier National Park, Banff, Jasper in Canada
California - Yosemite, Mammoth, Big Bear, Lassen Volcanic NP, John Muir Wilderness, Six Rivers National Forest
Washington - Mount Rainier, North Cascades
Colorado - Rocky Mountain NP, White River National Forest
Canada - Banff, Jasper,
Switzerland - Swiss National Park in Zernez,
New Zealand - Fiordland National Park
Wales, UK- Snowdonia National Park
Chile - Torres del Paine National Park
Norway - Jotunheimen, Folgefonna, Møysalen National Park, Stryn Municipality
Austria - Berchtesgaden Alps
France - Vanoise national park, Rhône-Alpes; Écrins national park, Rhône-Alpes and Provence Alpes Côte-d’azur
Iceland - Skaftafell, Vatnajökull National Park, Selfoss,
Things to Do When Eloping in the Mountains
What can your mountain elopement look like? And what types of activities can you do during your day? Honestly, it’s completely up to you. Are you two interested in hiking up your favorite mountain before the sun rises to see the alpenglow in the morning? Want to have a picnic beside the sparkling lake you said your vows? Go for it! Excited about popping champagne at 12,000 ft? Do it! Want to charter a helicopter to the mountaintop or mush some dogs to your ceremony spot? Maybe you want to get back and have a party at a local brewery. There are no rules on how you choose to enjoy your elope adventure.
Remember to Pack
With all that's going on, it can be very exciting and a little overwhelming. We know the excitement and anticipation can cause us to forget the simple things, so we came up with a quick little list of items that may have slipped your mind when it comes to packing.
Hats or beanies
Layers of clothes
Music or instrument
Poncho for rain
Just in case kit (medkit)
Knife or small axe
Toilet paper or wipes
Rope or small ties
As Adventurous Elopement Photographers and Guides, we have you covered. Our Complete Elopement Planning Guide covers everything you need to know when planning your adventurous elopement. Whether you’re eloping in the mountains or elsewhere, this guide will take you through the process from start to finish.
If you’ve been struggling to explain to your friends and family why you’ve chosen to have an adventurous elopement instead of a traditional wedding, look no further. We have a blog all about how you can avoid offending friends and family when you choose to elope.
We pride ourselves on not just documenting your Adventurous Elopement or small mountain wedding, but helping you plan out all the little details. From helping you figure out the perfect time of year for your Rocky Mountain elopement or finding you the best locations somewhere else in the world.
Sure, we pride ourselves in taking stellar photographs of awesome people in epic locations, but we’re firm believers that your adventure elopement photographer should be so much more than a picture taker. They should be a resource and guide to you during the whole planning process. So. if that sounds like your vibe, we’d love to talk with you more about your dream adventurous elopement!