The Ultimate Colorado Waterfall Wedding Guide
Wondering where to have your Colorado Waterfall Wedding or Elopement? Check out this guide with the BEST waterfalls in Colorado, plus tips on waterfall weddings!
Tips for Planning a Waterfall Wedding
Logistics to keep in mind
Waterfalls are beautiful, but don’t forget that you’re out in nature dealing with the elements. You want to keep in mind:
- Waterfalls can be loud sometimes, depending on how close you are and the size of the waterfall. This noise can make it hard for you to hear each other, or for guests to hear you.
- When you stand near a large waterfall, you’re going to get some spray. For some couples and their guests, this is all part of the adventure. For others, getting wet is a no-go, and you would want to consider a smaller fall or one where you don’t stand so close. You might also consider a fall elopement, when water levels tend to be lower, or a winter one, when the falls may be frozen.
- Sometimes getting to the waterfall itself requires adventuring through the elements. You might have to trek through a stream or some mud in some cases, so consider the approach when choosing your location.
- Keep in mind that water levels vary throughout the year for many waterfalls. Colorado is still in a drought in many parts of state and these conditions are likely to persist. This means that some waterfalls have much lower water levels than they have had in the past. On the other hand, there are some waterfalls that are higher during the summer months because they are fed by snowmelt.
Think through your guest count
When considering whether you want to have a waterfall wedding, or which waterfall is right for you, you want to keep your guest count in mind.
Many locations can only reasonably hold a small group–sometimes even just a couple of people.
You want to consider Leave No Trace ethics, and make sure that you’re not bringing such a large group that they would have to stand off trail to be able to gather for your wedding. Instead choose a location where the waterfall has a large enough durable surface for your group.
You also want to think about how much parking is available at your desired location. Some places can only hold a few cars (not to mention that others besides your group might be there), and so you’ll want to carpool as much as possible.
Finally, you want to consider permits and group size restrictions at your chosen location. Many locations in Colorado require a special use permit to have a wedding on public lands, and there are often group size limits.
Every location is different! I recommend chatting with your photographer as they may be able to help you navigate this planning aspect.
Accessible or Hike?
Many locations on this list require a hike to get to the waterfall, which can vary in distance and difficulty.
Make sure that if you choose one of these waterfalls, that you and your guests are truly physically and mentally prepared for the hike. You also want to make sure you and your guests are appropriately outfitted with the proper gear and attire for any hike you do, especially your footwear!
18 Best places to have your Colorado Waterfall Wedding or Elopement
Here are some of the best places to have a Colorado Waterfall Wedding or Elopement:
- Bridal Veil Falls
- Rifle Falls
- Fish Creek Falls
- South Fork Mineral Creek Falls
- Helen Hunt Falls
- Zapata Falls
- Tarryall Falls
- The Broadmoor Seven Falls
- Bear Creek Falls
- Blue Lakes Waterfall
- Alberta Falls
- Ouzel Falls
- Maxwell Falls
- Treasure Falls
- Fourmile Falls
- Continental Falls
- Horsetooth Falls
- Hayes Creek Falls
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls are the tallest falls in Colorado, at just over 360 feet. This location sits just outside of the town of Telluride. You can hike to the base of the falls but it is not considered to be a beginner hike due to the terrain and steepness. This hike is about 1.2 miles each way. You can also drive to the base of the falls, but a high-clearance 4WD vehicle is necessary.
You can hike to the top of the falls from the base, and this hike is about 1.8 miles each way and 1,650 feet of elevation gain.
Update: Rifle Falls State Park no longer allows weddings at the Mountain Mist Amphitheater.
Rifle Falls is a 70 foot waterfall located in Rifle Falls State Park. It is considered very accessible, with only a 0.1 mile walk on a paved walkway to access the falls.
Weddings are allowed at this waterfall, but there is a maximum occupancy of 50 people. The 50 person group size actually makes this site one of the best on this list for large groups.
The rental rate is $120 per day for the Mountain Mist Amphitheater. Carpooling is recommended since parking is limited and a park pass is needed for each vehicle entering the park.
This location is very popular in the summertime, with weekend and popular weekdays booking quickly.
Fish Creek Falls
Fish Creek Falls is located in Steamboat Springs. There are a few different options for accessing the waterfall. There is a 0.25 mile (each way) gravel trail to the base of the falls, or a paved option that is a little longer at about 0.5 mile each way.
If you want to hike to the upper falls, this is a longer hike that continues an additional 2.5 miles (one way), gaining about 1,600 feet of elevation.
You can also visit an overlook which is about 0.5 miles each way from the parking area.
South Fork Mineral Creek Falls
South Mineral Creek Falls is located in southwest Colorado near Silverton and is a unique waterfall for Colorado due to the red rock colors and vibrant blue water pool.
Although there is some information on this waterfall online, it does require a bit of navigation. The road to get here is a little rough as well, so keep that in mind.
Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Fall is located in North Cheyenne Canon Park near Colorado Springs. This waterfall is considered to be accessible with only a short walk to the base of the falls. Due to the small size of this location, it is best for elopements with no guests or just a great place to take photos afterwards!
Zapata Falls is located in south Colorado, near the Great Sand Dunes National Park. It is definitely a bit of an adventure to get to this waterfall, including a drive on a dirt road to the parking area and then a hike over some slippery rocks/stream crossings.
This waterfall freezes over in the wintertime, making it one of my winter favorites.
Tarryall Falls is a smaller and generally less well known waterfall.
Most of the visitors to Tarryall Reservoir are there for fishing, but there is a small waterfall and some hiking trails at this park as well.
The waterfall area is very accessible and close to the parking area.
The Broadmoor Seven Falls
Seven Falls is located on the private property of The Broadmoor Hotel. It is a gorgeous waterfall located in a box canyon.
There are a couple of different trail options to the falls, but the most popular is about 1 mile in length. Contact The Broadmoor Hotel for more information about the falls and weddings.
Bear Creek Falls
Bear Creek Falls is one of the most popular day hikes near Telluride in southwest Colorado. The trail to get to the falls is just over 5 miles round trip, and dogs are allowed (on leash).
Blue Lakes Waterfall
This is a small waterfall feature located near Blue Lakes just outside of Breckenridge, Colorado. A short hike is required to access this trail, at around 1 mile round trip. The road to get to this location is a rough dirt road and a high clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. The road also closes during the winter months.
Alberta Falls is one of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. Although you cannot have a wedding at this location, you can take photos after wedding. The hike to this waterfall is about 1.7 miles round trip and 200 feet of elevation gain.
Ouzel Falls is also located in Rocky Mountain National Park. Because it is not one of the park’s designated wedding locations, you cannot get married at the falls. However, you can take photos here afterwards, similar to Alberta Falls.
This spot is great for a post wedding “just us” adventure, since this hike is around 5.4 miles round trip and about 1,000 feet elevation gain.
Maxwell Falls, located in Evergreen, Colorado, is the closest hike to Denver on this list and there are a couple of different approach options.
There is a one mile hike, a three mile loop, and a four mile round trip hike option to the falls. I like this location in the winter as well since the waterfall freezes over.
Treasure Falls is a 105 foot waterfall located in south central Colorado near Pagosa Springs. It is easily accessible via a 0.6 mile loop, although the trail does go uphill. Dogs are allowed on leash at this location.
Fourmile Falls is also located near Pagosa Springs but requires a longer hike than Treasure Falls at around 8 miles round trip. Keep in mind that the road to get to this trailhead closes seasonally.
Continental Falls is the largest waterfall located near Breckenridge, Colorado. A 5 mile round trip hike is required to access this location, with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain. The waterfall is accessed via the Spruce Creek Trail.
Horsetooth Falls is located in northeast Colorado near the city of Fort Collins. This waterfall is accessed via a 3 mile loop with approximately 600 feet of elevation gain. There is a $9 parking fee for the lot to access this trail.
Hayes Creek Falls
Hayes Creek Falls is an accessible waterfall near Redstone, Colorado. It is located right off the highway but keep in mind that parking is extremely limited here. This waterfall flows seasonally, meaning it is gushing during the summer months, a slow trickle in the fall, and turns to ice in the winter.
Chat with your photographer about hidden gems for your Colorado Waterfall Wedding or Elopement
Finding a location is usually the first thing couples want to do when planning their elopement or microwedding, but I’ll let you in on a little wedding industry secret…
Choosing a photographer first is actually the best thing you can do, especially if you’re planning an elopement or small wedding.
Why? Because local photographers know all the best spots! Most elopement photographers, including myself, include location help with their photography packages.
For example, when you tell me what type of scenery you want, how many guests you’re planning to have, whether you want to hike or whether you need an accessible location, etc. etc., I can help you with determining what your best options are in a given area.
Colorado is a beautiful place, and there are literally hundreds of location options. If you hire your photographer first, you don’t have to take on the daunting task of finding a place to get married by yourself.
Colorado has so many hidden gems! Get in touch and we can start planning your dream elopement day!
Colorado Waterfall Wedding & Elopement Locations
Best time of year to have your Colorado Waterfall Wedding
One of the things you’ll want to think about when planning your waterfall wedding here in Colorado is what season will work best with your needs. I’ve outlined some considerations for each season in the following sections.
Summer is a great time for waterfall elopements! Early and mid summer are usually the times of year when the waterfalls are flowing at their highest levels, especially those sourced from snowmelt in Colorado. This is also when the most location are accessible, since some places are difficult to impossible to access during the winter months.
Fall is when the flow of water starts to decrease, so this may be a good time to visit the larger waterfalls. Certain locations start to become more difficult to access during the fall and as you get into the winter months.
If you want a frozen waterfall, then winter is obviously when you’ll want to have your waterfall wedding. There are lots of great options in the winter months such as Zapata Falls, Maxwell Falls, or Rifle Falls.
Springtime is when the waterfalls start to melt. Expect some muddy conditions at a lot of locations. Later in the spring as the snow melts, the water flow levels will begin to rise rapidly.
Weekend vs. Weekday
Because of the popularity of many Colorado locations, I always recommend a weekday elopement if at all possible. It will offer you significantly less crowds and more privacy than a weekend elopement.
Time of day
Equally as important as choosing a weekday elopement over a weekend elopement, is choosing a time of day that will offer you the best chance of privacy.
Early mornings are by far the best time to elope if seclusion is important to you. If you can’t make a morning elopement work for you two, evenings are generally the next best time.
Are you planning a waterfall elopement or microwedding?
I’m more than just a photographer. Helping couples create their dream day is what I do best!
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Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!