The Ultimate St. Mary’s Glacier Elopement Guide 

St. Mary’s Glacier is one of my favorite elopement locations in Colorado and this guide has everything you need to know!

St. Mary’s Glacier Elopements

The hike to get to St. Mary’s Glacier is between 2 to 3 miles round trip and has some of the most beautiful scenery around. Along this hike you’ll find forests of evergreen trees, a lake, mountain views, rock formations, and even a glacier! Or as close to a glacier as Colorado has–really it’s more like a big patch of snow that never fully melts even in the summertime. But still super awesome and a must see! 

I love this location for elopements because of all this scenic variety and the fact that the hike is not overly strenuous to get there. Read on to learn more!

How to get there and parking

To get to the parking lot, you can use this Google Maps link here. I highly recommend downloading the map on AllTrails as you do have to walk up the road from the parking lot and look for the trail entrance on your left hand side. It’s not too hard to find, but you do need to be on the lookout. There’s also one turn in the trail that can be a bit tricky if you’re not following along on the trail map and it can be easy to find yourself off trail and on private property.

The trail is very rocky and uneven, so that’s definitely something to be aware of. Depending on your fitness level, some people consider it to be steep, so just make sure you have some hiking basics under your belt and you are wearing appropriate footwear. It also helps if you have some time (a few days) to acclimate to the elevation if you’re coming from out of state.

Parking

There is a dedicated parking lot for St. Mary’s and you must park here. Do not attempt to park in the town of St. Mary’s as all of this is private and you will get ticketed and/or towed. 

The parking fee is quite steep, at $20/vehicle so carpooling is highly recommended. It used to be $5 but recently increased, so be aware of this. It’s also CASH ONLY and there are no ATMs anywhere in the vicinity so make sure you bring your parking money with you.

What you need to know about eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier

There are definitely pros and cons when it comes to eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier, as well as some important information about permits, which I’ve outlined here.

Pros

  1. Amazing views! One of the reasons why this location is so popular is because of the beautiful views and variety of scenery. From mountain views to a gorgeous lake, and even a glacier. It’s definitely a must see.
  1. A short hike. Considering the type of scenery you get here, the hike is very manageable. Just a few miles and about 1,000 feet elevation gain if you go all the way up to the top of the glacier. If you choose to stop at the lake or base of the glacier, this cuts off quite a bit of elevation gain and a little bit of the distance.
  1. Proximity to Denver and Boulder. One of the best things about this location is that it is not a far drive from either Denver or Boulder.

Cons

While there are some great reasons to have your elopement at Saint Mary’s Glacier, there are some drawbacks as well, such as:

  1. Crowds. During the day (from around 9/10 am through 4-5 pm), especially in the late spring, summer, and early months, this location can get very crowded. Weekends are particularly busy, so I only recommend weekdays for this location. It’s best if you can do around sunrise or sunset too. 
  1. Parking. Parking is limited and during peak times, it can be hard to find a spot. I recommend going during the less busy times as I mentioned above. Also parking is a bit expensive at $20/vehicle and it’s cash only.
  1. Limited Guests. This location is really only suitable for a limited number of guests (around 10-12 max) and only for those who are in good enough shape to do the hike.
  1. Wind/weather. This location can get very windy especially in the colder months, so it’s definitely something to prepare for. Chat with an experienced guide or local elopement photographer who is familiar with this hike to get more details based on when and what time you’re planning to go.

Permits

Anytime you’re planning an elopement, wedding, or any type of special event on public lands, it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re complying with the most up to date rules about obtaining a permit. 

The most common type of permit required for elopements is known as a special use permit. Not all places require them, some only require them under certain circumstances (such as if you have a certain number in your group), and some require them all the time.  

You can contact the land manager in charge of the public land area you want to have your elopement, or alternatively get help from your elopement photographer if they offer this as part of their services.

Different seasons at St. Mary’s Glacier

St. Mary’s Glacier is beautiful at any time of year, but it’s important to be prepared for what you’ll encounter weather wise and with the crowds depending on the season.

Summer is the busiest time of year, and late spring/early fall can also see a lot of crowds. 

The number of visitors slows down in the winter, but that’s because the conditions are harsher. It can be windy at this location any time of year, and especially so in the winter. It’s important to have the experience and gear if you’re going to attempt any winter hike in the mountains in Colorado, including this one. 

As you’ll see in the photos below, fall actually does have some yellow foliage if you get lucky and hit this area at the right time. It can be really beautiful! 

Weekdays vs. Weekends

Because of the popularity of this location, I always recommend a weekday elopement. It will offer you significantly less crowds and more privacy than a weekend elopement.

Time of Day

Choosing a time of day that will offer you the best chance of privacy is also important. 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. 

St. Mary’s Glacier elopement packages

I’m more than just a photographer…I’m here to help you have the best day ever!

Based on my experience, especially with elopements and microweddings, couples need more than just a photographer.

Unlike with a traditional wedding, you may not have a venue coordinator or wedding planner helping you think through logistics, locations, or all the little details that really add up!

But here are just a few of the ways I can help you, all included with my custom elopements:

  • Elopement & Micro wedding VIP Planning Guide exclusively for Wild and Found couples
  • Questionnaires to help you through the planning process
  • Personalized location assistance
  • Local vendor recommendations
  • Logistics help and a custom timeline
  • Gear and day-of checklists customized for your day
  • More one-on-one planning help

I don’t just show up and take photos on your day. I’ll be here for you every step of the way. 

I know you have a lot of choices when it comes to picking a photographer. What makes me different is that my number one goal is to be here for YOU–not just as your elopement photographer… but as your elopement partner to help you create the epic day your love story deserves!

The Ultimate 2-Day Custom St. Mary’s Glacier Elopement Package

Can’t decide between a “just us” celebration, or a day with friends and family? Have both!

Includes 12 hours of photo coverage, split over 2 days.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

$9,800

Half Day St. Mary’s Glacier Elopement Package

Our most popular package–for capturing memories of your entire elopement day

Includes 8 hours of photo coverage.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

$6,800

4 Hour St. Mary’s Glacier Elopement Package

A great choice for simple elopements at accessible locations.

Includes 4 hours of photo coverage.

Personalized assistance with locations, local vendor recommendations, custom planning tools, checklists, and more. I’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

You get an entire gallery of edited, high-resolution images great for printing, PLUS websize images ideal for posting to social media.

Includes the rights to print, share, and download all of your images.

$4,800

Tabitha & Corey’s Fall St. Mary’s Glacier Elopement

Tabitha and Corey originally reached out to me unsure of what location they wanted for their elopement. They were down for a short hike, but nothing too crazy. 

However, they had a vision in their mind of a location that was something of a dense forest that you’re walking through and it opens up to a clearing with stunning scenery.

Having hiked St. Mary’s Glacier and photographed couples there before, immediately this place came to mind for me. When I shared the idea with them, they also fell in love with it.

It was a warm fall day for their September elopement, but it did get chilly quickly as the sun set, which is typical for that time of year. The colors of the lake and the foliage made for amazing photos, not to mention the bride’s stunningly vibrant red hair against her black dress and bouquet to match. It was definitely an unforgettable day! 

Are you planning a St. Mary’s Glacier elopement?

I’m more than just a photographer. Helping couples create their dream day is what I do best!

Get in touch and let’s chat about your vision!

Or check out more elopement planning resources…

Elopement Photographer Kim from Wild and Found Photography

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!

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