Ultimate Crested Butte Elopement Guide


If you are planning to elope in Colorado, then you are in the right place! In my Ultimate Crested Butte Elopement Guide, you will find details about why you should elope in CB, the best time of year, locations, and how to elope here legally.

Just in case you’re not familiar with it, Crested Butte is a mountain town about 4 hours west of Denver in a high valley of the Colorado Rockies. It’s home to colorful wildflowers, stunning mountain views, and beautiful alpine lakes. It’s any mountain lover’s dream! Crested Butte is one of my favorite places in Colorado, which is saying something as a Colorado elopement photographer!

Keep reading for all the information you need to know when planning your Crested Butte elopement!

Why Elope in Crested Butte?

Crested Butte is one of the best places to elope in Colorado. It’s the wildflower capital of Colorado and is surrounded by wilderness adventures! This beautiful year-round destination always offers stunning scenery and a wide range of activities.

The town itself is a really adorable mountain town with a welcoming community. Some of the other mountain towns, like Vail, Aspen, or Telluride, can have a more high-end luxury vibe to them. But not Crested Butte! It’s a quaint, homey vibe that feels exactly how you should feel in a beautiful mountain town. Not to mention, it is a lot more affordable than its bougie neighbors.

Due to its remote location (it’s over 4 hours away from Denver), you’re more likely to have fewer crowds and seclusion in the places. In fact, some of the locations are very off the grid and require a 4×4 vehicle to even get there!

Best Time of Year for a Crested Butte Elopement

The best time of year to elope in Crested Butte is in the summer, from July to August. That’s when most of the snow should be melted at higher elevations, and the wildflowers should be in full bloom!

But Crested Butte is beautiful year-round! If you are looking for those beautiful yellow and orange leaves, typically, the fall foliage peaks in mid-September to early October. Shortly after, the snow sets in, and winter begins! If you want to elope in the winter in Crested Butte, be prepared for a lot of snow, unpredictable weather, and most of the locations being inaccessible (at least by vehicle). The snow can make for a beautiful backdrop, though, if that’s the vibe you are going for!

Best Crested Butte Elopement Locations

When it comes to where to elope in Crested Butte, there are honestly an endless amount of options to choose from. Whether that’s longer hikes with endless views or walk-up locations to incredible alpine lakes. Below are some of my personal favorite places for a Crested Butte elopement!

Similar to National Parks needing permits to get married, the CB Land Trust requires a reservation for their ceremony locations. But something fun about the CB Land Trust locations is that the fee is a donation to the land trust. They cost $2,000 to reserve – $500 of that cost is a refundable security deposit and the other $1,500 is the donation.

  • Woods Walk
    • Best Time of Year: Summer (wildflowers) & Fall (Aspens/fall foliage)
    • Access: Close walk from downtown, Short walk up, 4WD not needed
    • Cost: $2000 reservation fee (owned by CB Land Trust)
    • This location has an incredible grand vista view but is still very accessible and close to town. While this location is private, it’s also a very popular CB wedding location because of those reasons!
    • If you are looking to get married in the winder, this is the only CB Land Trust option for winter elopements. You do have to snowshoe or cross country ski to the location (which makes for a fun adventure if that’s your style!). Most others locations are closed for winter due to accessibility.
  • Peanut Lake
    • Best Time of Year: Summer (wildflowers) & Fall (Aspens/fall foliage)
    • Access: Close to downtown (you can walk from downtown too!), easy walk up, 4WD not needed
    • Cost: $2000 reservation fee (owned by CB Land Trust)
    • This location has a serene waterfront view with tall grasses and 360° mountain views. While beautiful, it is probably the least private of the CB Land Trust location options.
  • Gunsight Bridge
    • Best Time of Year: Late Summer & Fall (Aspens/fall foliage)
    • Access: Walk up, 4WD not needed
    • Cost: $2000 reservation fee (owned by CB Land Trust)
    • This location is along the Slate River, tucked in the forest with views of the Palisade Divide and Mt Crested Butte.
  • Snodgrass Trail
    • Best Time of Year: Summer (wildflowers)
    • Access: short hike, 4WD not needed
    • This location a short hike through aspen groves and lush wildflower meadows. It’s absolutely beautiful at sunset. It is a popular hike so I would recommend a weekday elopement at sunrise or sunset to avoid the weekend hiking crowds!
    • Here’s a link to the Alltrails with more trail stats!
  • Washington Gulch
    • Best Time of Year: July – October
    • Access: 4WD road up to the trail & short hike
    • Since this is a 4×4 road is it much more secluded because it’s a little more challenging to access. But the effort is sooo worth it for the breathtaking views!

Mountain Passes

Mountain Passes have variety of options along the passes! Whether that’s scenic pull offs, hiking trails, or just on the road itself.

  • Kebler Pass/Gothic Road
    • Best Time of Year: Late Summer – Fall
    • Access: AWD for most of the road, 4WD needed in some areas
    • This location offers panoramic views, lush meadows, endless views and options to explore! It’s easily accessible yet still offers amazing views. The weekdays definitely are more private and secluded.
    • This mountain pass road is NOT open year round, but you can check the current status of the road here!
  • Gunsight Pass
    • Best Time of Year: Late Summer – Fall
    • Access: 4WD road
    • Similar to Washington Gulch, this is a secluded 4×4 road since it’s a little more challenging to access. It’s actually an old mining road that starts at Gunsight Bridge. But it’s a little lesser known and unbelievably beautiful!

Alpine Lakes

Alpine Lakes are probably some of the most popular Colorado elopement locations, and for a good reason! They are BEAUTIFUL!

  • Emerald Lake
    • Best Time of Year: Summer (opens May/June but there can be seasonal road closures)
    • Access: drive up, SUV or high clearance recommended, followed by short hike 
    • This lake is the most vibrant blue and green hues and is tucked in the mountains. It’s stunning at sunrise! This location is more remote but can still be popular on a summer weekend day.
  • Lake Irwin
    • Best Time of Year: Mid June – Early October
    • Access: drivable with any vehicle
    • This lake is about a 30 minute drive outside CB along Kebler Pass. It’s a beautiful lake with staggering mountain views. Keep in mind this is a very busy location during the summer, even on weekdays. So it might not have the most remote or private feeling to it.
    • If you choose this location, you could always add on a few spots along Kebler Pass to since you drive along it anyways!

Please remember to always Leave No Trace on your elopement day. It’s important to protect nature and preserve these locations for years to come! You can learn more about the LNT principles here.

If you hire me as your elopement photographer, I’ll share all the details about these locations and even a few more hidden gems I save just for my clients! You can inquire with me here to hire me to photograph your intimate day.

crested butte elopement with dog as witness

How to legally elope in Crested Butte

While my favorite thing to talk about is all the dreamy places to elope in Crested Butte, it’s important to discuss the legal parts too! You want to make sure the legal part of your marriage is taken care of in advance so you can enjoy your elopement day. Keep reading for more specific details about how to legally elope in Crested Butte!


Permits are based on the exact location, so it can vary a lot. Since Crested Butte doesn’t have any National Parks or State Parks, most of the land is run by the National Forest Service or CB Land Trust. A majority of the locations fall under the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests office or the Gunnison District office. The best way to find out if you need a permit get married in a location is to call the ranger district office for the area. But if you hire me, this is something I help all my couples with to make sure we’re good to go for the legal side of your elopement!


If you’re not already familiar, self-solemnization means that you can legally perform your wedding ceremony without needing an officiant or witness. Colorado is one of the only states that allow this (without additional rules or conditions)!

This allows so much more freedom when choosing an elopement location or planning your elopement day, because you have completely control! There’s no need to worry about an officiant being able to join you on a hike or go 4×4 roading to your ceremony spot. You can craft your own ceremony, saying your vows, and signing your marriage license. In fact, if you want your elopement can be fully private and just the two of you (execpt if you want a photographer or videographer) because you don’t even need a witness!

Marriage Licenses

Even if you’re getting married in Crested Butte, you don’t have to get your marriage license in CB. You can get it in any county as long as it’s in Colorado! Colorado does not require you to wait a while after receiving your marriage license, like some states. This means that you can technically elope the same day you get your marriage license. Although I would recommend getting it a few days in advance to alleviate any added stress to your elopement day!

  • STEP 1: Apply for the marriage license online (CO residents or out of state can do this). It costs $30.
  • STEP 2: Schedule your appointment to get the license (call the CB office at 970-641-2038 to schedule).
  • STEP 3: Get Married!! You must get married within 35 days of getting the license.
  • STEP 4: Send in the signed license to the county clerk’s office within 63 days of the ceremony, and then you’ll receive your marriage certificate.

However, since information can change, be sure to check out the Crested Butte county website for the most updated information!

Best Places to Stay in Crested Butte

Crested Butte does not have many mainstream chain hotels and accommodations, but it does have many unique Airbnbs and homes to rent! Below are some of my favorites that would be perfect for your Crested Butte elopement.

If you plan to spend a portion of your event at the rental property, be sure to reach out to the host before booking to make sure it’s okay. Sometimes, they have rules against any kind of special event or party. It’s better to be on the safe side!

Crested Butte Elopement Package

Starting at $3697

I would absolutely LOVE to photograph your Crested Butte elopement! If you’re new here – hey there, I’m Rachel! I’m an elopement and micro wedding photographer based in the beautiful state of Colorado. Having traveled and photographed love stories across the country and all over Colorado – I can tell you that the beauty and atmosphere of Crested Butte is like no other mountain town. You’ve likely decided to elope because you desire a more intimate, intentional and stress-free day. I want to help make your experience as meaningful and easy going as possible.

In all of my elopement packages I provide:

  • Location Guidance & Permit Research
  • Vendor Recommendations
  • Elopement Day Timeline Creation
  • 1:1 Planning Meetings
  • Lodging & Activity Suggestions

Hi, I’m Rachel!

Documenting stories of love and connection makes my heart beat hardest, and it would be an honor to photograph yours. To me, this is much more than taking your photo, I am here to put your experience at the forefront and allow you the space to let loose and feel genuinely you. Let’s create something magical together that will preserve your milestone in an authentic and celebratory way that will last years to come.

Reach out to me here!

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