A Must Read Guide on Telluride Elopements

From a Telluride Elopement Photographer, this guide has everything you need to know about planning your Telluride Elopement!  

Bride and groom kiss after their elopement in a field with fall foliage and Mt Sneffels in the background

4 Tips for Your Telluride Elopement

Even planning a small elopement can feel overwhelming sometimes (especially if you’re trying to plan from another state)!

Here are a few of my top tips for planning a Telluride elopement:

  1. If you’re coming from out of state, try to fly into the Telluride airport. Even if you need to take a connecting flight, it may still save you a lot of time and hassle compared to flying into and driving from an airport that is farther away. Many people see Colorado locations on the map and don’t realize how long of a driving distance it can be from place to place, especially in the more rural mountain areas. Then if you add in possible delays due to construction or weather-related road closures, it can take many hours to drive in from another town. 
Eloping bride and groom looking at each other with mountains in the background and fall foliage in Ouray Colorado

  1. If you want to save on costs but have similar scenery, consider other nearby mountain towns in southwest Colorado. Telluride is probably the most popular tourist town in southwest Colorado, and it’s also the most expensive. While any rural mountain town is going to be expensive when it comes to things like food costs (because it costs more to get food in there), some of the other options are a little more affordable. Some other towns you might consider are Ouray, Ridgway, Durango, and Silverton. 
  1. Don’t underestimate the remoteness of these locations. Again this is something that goes back to looking at the physical distance on a map and thinking places don’t look very far away. But in actuality, the time it takes to drive on winding mountain roads can be a lot longer than you think. Sometimes you have to go very far out of your way to get from Point A to Point B.  
  1. Consider an activity, such as off-roading, to make the most of your elopement. Southwest Colorado is a haven for outdoor activities, so I highly recommend taking advantage of this for your elopement. Most of the accessible locations are going to be very crowded, so this is another reason to adventure into some of the more remote backcountry locations. Keep in mind that depending on your own skill level, you may need to hire a guide for your activity. Especially for things like off-roading and climbing where the risks can get very serious very quickly if you don’t have the right knowledge and experience.

Learn more about the history of Telluride, Colorado

Like many of the remote mountain towns in Colorado, Telluride was established in the late 1800s as a mining town. 

In the 1970s, Telluride reinvented itself as a skiing town, and this did not initially go over well with the “old school” mining population. In fact, there was a serious attempt to prohibit cars in the town, requiring people to get around by horse drawn carriage. Many of these residents eventually moved to other locations as the town began to dramatically shift in culture and population.

Over time Telluride has become known as a vibrant resort town with great skiing and festivals, and other outdoor activities in the summertime. It’s population is still very small, at a little over 2,000 people, and much of its economy relies on the tourism industry.

Bride and Groom kissing in front of a wooden fence with mountains in the background at their Telluride elopement

Best places to elope in Telluride Colorado

Here are some of my favorite spots for elopements and microweddings in and around the Telluride area.

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 elevation gain. 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 also 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.

Alta Lake Observatory

Alta Lakes Observatory is a private cabin approximately 13 miles from Telluride. It is accessible by 2WD vehicle in the summer, and snowmobile, snowshoeing, or skiing in the winter. You can rent this cabin and have you and your elopement guests stay right there on location! 

If your event exceeds the number of guests that the cabin can hold (12 guests), additional event fees apply. The maximum guest capacity for events is 45 people. You can contact the cabin owners through their website or through their VRBO listing.

Alpine Lakes

The San Juan mountains surrounding Telluride have a number of alpine lakes that would be excellent elopement locations. 

Some of these lakes require a somewhat difficult hike to reach, while others are accessed by 4WD high clearance vehicle (with an experienced off-roading driver). 

There are some accessible lakes in the area with mountain views, but the very blue or blue-green lakes you see pictured here are all accessed by hike or off-roading.

Hiking Alpine Lake

Very blue lake with green and red mountains in the background near Telluride Colorado

Off-roading Alpine Lake

Green-blue lake with mountains in the background near Telluride Colorado

Accessible Lake

Reflective lake with trees and mountains in the distance that are reflecting in the water near Telluride Colorado

Mountain Passes

The San Juan area is also known for its mountain passes with amazing views. While many of these are dirt roads requiring off-roading experience, there are some that are accessible by paved mountain passes, like the one pictured here.

Elopement on a mountain pass on a sunny day near Telluride Colorado

San Sophia Overlook

The San Sophia Overlook is a traditional wedding venue, owned and managed by the Telluride Ski Resort. It is located just off of the Telluride San Sophia gondola near the top of lift 7.

The San Sophia Overlook has a deck overlooking stunning mountain views, and can fit around 200 guests. Contact the Telluride Ski Resort for additional information.

Airbnb/VRBO

Another fun idea to consider for your elopement would be to rent an Airbnb or VRBO with a great backyard or beautiful views for your elopement.

If both privacy and easy accessibility are important to you, renting a private property is one of the best options next to renting a wedding venue.

Of course, always make sure to check with the owners about your plans before booking your property. Check out this post for more info on Colorado Airbnb Elopement Venues.

Chat with your photographer about hidden gems for your Telluride 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.

This hidden gem in the Telluride area is absolutely stunning in the fall–or at any time of year!

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 like Telluride.

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.

Telluride and the surrounding area has many more hidden gems that are perfect for a Colorado elopement, especially during the summer months. Get in touch and we can start planning your dream elopement day!

Best time of year to elope in Telluride

Telluride is beautiful at any time of year. You can read a little more about each season in the next sections!

Summer in Telluride

Summer is one of my favorite seasons in the Telluride area, due to the warmer temperatures, abundant alpine wildflowers, and more locations being available. Summertime is relatively short in the mountains, and starts in mid to late June. I recommend July and August for summertime elopements.

Fall in Telluride

Fall is southwest Colorado is one of the best times to visit, as the fall foliage is second to none. Typically the peak in this part of Colorado is the first week of October, although this can vary from year to year. It’s impossible to guarantee when the peak will be. However, regardless of when the peak is, you can be certain of large crowds visiting to see the fall foliage. Expect to see lots of people wherever you go if you elope at this time of year.

Bride and groom dancing during their elopement among the aspen trees with yellow leaves on the trees and on the ground

Winter in Telluride

If you want a snowy winter elopement, Telluride is a great option! Keep in mind that you’ll be dealing with things like more road closures and significantly less location options than during the summer, in addition to much more unpredictable weather. For some couples all of this is worth it for those beautiful snowy photos!

Spring in Telluride

Springtime in Telluride typically runs from April through early June, and is my least favorite season in the mountains. The weather is more unpredictable, as are road closures and travel issues. In addition, all that melting snow means lots of mud! A major benefit to eloping in the Spring in Telluride, however, is that many things (such as lodging) will cost less because there are less tourists in town. 

Weekend vs. Weekday

Because of the popularity of many Telluride 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.

Couple hikes through a field during their elopement with fall foliage and mountains in the background near Telluride Colorado

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. 

Elopement activities in Telluride

I highly recommend considering an elopement activity for any couple that wants to elope in Telluride. There are many more options than what I’ve listed here, but these are a great place to start.

Hiking

Hiking is one of the biggest activities people partake in when visiting the San Juan Mountains. Keep in mind that many of the hikes in this area are on the moderate to difficult side.

However, the views are exceptional and completely different than anything else you’ll see anywhere in Colorado (or the entire United States for that matter)!

Man hiking on a trail in the red and green San Juan mountains overlooking two lakes of green and blue color

Jeeping/Off-roading

If you want the amazing scenery, but not the difficult hike, consider going off-roading in the San Juans. I recommend either renting a jeep or hiring a professional tour guide. Many of the 4WD roads in this area are difficult and dangerous. I only recommend driving yourself if you have the vehicle AND the experience to do so!

Via Ferrata

A Via Ferrata is a rock climbing route along a cliff face, which is aided by the use of affixed steel rungs and cables, which you clip into as you go. If rock climbing has always interested you, but you’re not ready to dive into that yet, Telluride’s Via Ferrata is a fun adventure to try. As you can imagine, this is not for those with a strong fear of heights!

Hidden Telluride hot springs

The Telluride area has several different hot springs, including a few that are hidden gems and only known by locals. This one below is near Telluride and is definitely worth a visit–if you know where to look!

Blonde woman swimming in a hidden and secret hot spring in Telluride, CO with mountains in the background

Ice Climbing in Ouray

Ready to try something really adventurous? Ouray has a human-made ice park where you can go ice climbing, including getting lessons (from third party guides) if this is your first time. Each year in January Ouray Ice Park has a multi day ice climbing festival.

Opening and closing dates for the park vary from year to year, depending on weather conditions. Typically the park opens in mid to late December and closes around mid March.

Telluride 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!

Bride and groom where hiking backpacks with Just Married signs for their elopement and kiss in front of fall foliage aspen trees

The Ultimate 2-Day Custom Telluride 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.

$9,500

Half Day Telluride 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.

$6,500

Mini Telluride 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.

$4,500

Are you planning a Telluride elopement or microwedding?

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!

2 Comments

  1. Awesome post! I didn’t realize Telluride has such diverse scenery. Looks like a great place to visit in Autumn months.

    1. Thanks Bryan! You definitely will want to visit Telluride in the fall–the foliage is unbeatable!

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