You want to celebrate your love somewhere incredible – and what better place to say “I do” than in front of a sparkling blue lake in the mountains? Alpine lakes make a stunning backdrop for an elopement, and if you dream of celebrating in nature, this guide will help you plan your day. This alpine lake elopement guide will give you some tips, tell you about some of the best lakeside elopement locations, and more!
Before we talk about how to plan your alpine lake elopement, you’ll need to know what an alpine lake is! An alpine lake is, of course, a lake – one that sits at high altitude in the mountains, usually located near or above the tree line. These lakes are usually formed by glacier activity – so the water is cold!
A hike is usually required to reach an alpine lake. Not always, as there are definitely a few that you can drive right up to, but the most scenic, more private locations are typically the ones that require some more effort.
There are so many gorgeous lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park – but an important thing to keep in mind is that there are limited locations where ceremonies are allowed. You can have your ceremony at one of the pre-approved lakes, like Bear or Lily Lake, and afterwards, we can go take photos at one of the stunning alpine lakes! Chasm Lake, Emerald Lake, Sky Pond, and Loch Vale would all make incredible places to hike and take some photos after your ceremony.
Alta Lakes in Telluride is one of those alpine lake locations that you can drive right up to – though it’s recommended that you have a high clearance vehicle. This spot is perfect for couples eloping with a few guests, or those who don’t want to hike. It’s also an amazing place for a camping elopement, with campsites scattered around the three lakes.
A stunning, but long, trail through wildflower meadows and mountain views will take you to Mirror Lake and Crater Lake – two jaw dropping alpine lakes in Colorado’s Arapaho National Forest. Mirror Lake is a smaller lake just before Crater Lake, where you’ll be rewarded with a truly breathtaking view. This trail is a great place to see wildlife as well! It’s 14.9 miles long, so it’s an ideal alpine lake elopement location for couples who are experienced hikers.
In the San Juan Mountains, you’ll find a set of three lakes named for their gorgeous deep blue waters. The Blue Lakes are surrounded by rocky peaks, with wildflower meadows around the shoreline. This 8.8 mile trail is a doable day hike, and the perfect alpine lake elopement location for couples who love hiking!
I’ve already mentioned Crater Lake, but this is a different lake with the same name! If you want to hike, but don’t want to spend an entire day on the trail, this 3.8 mile hike is perfect. It’s close to Maroon Lake, but much less popular and crowded. You’ll see gorgeous meadows, along with views of the mountains, including Maroon Bells and Pyramid Peak.
You can tie the knot outdoors any time of year, but since alpine lakes are located in the mountains, they’ll likely be covered in snow for a lot of the year. The best time for an alpine lake elopement is usually going to be July through early October, as this is the time when there snow melts at higher elevations and you are, in most places, more likely to be able to count on a snow-free hike. Snow usually starts accumulating in the mountains around October, and doesn’t melt until summer time!
As for the best time of day for an alpine lake elopement, tying the knot at sunrise or sunset is always an incredible experience. The lighting is incredible, and there are much fewer people around. Sunrise is typically the best time if you want to avoid crowds, especially on those popular alpine lake hikes, and experiencing the sun coming over the mountains is so worth the early wake up call! Colorado also often experiences afternoon showers in the summer so hiking at sunrise helps you avoid the rain.
Here are a few tips for what to bring, and how to make sure you’re ready for your alpine lake elopement!
One of the most important factors in your elopement experience is the location. This is the place where you’ll tie the knot! So, make sure that you love the location. But also, make sure that it’s a good fit for your abilities and experience. If you’ve never hiked more than 3 miles at a time, your elopement day might not be the best time to do your first 10 mile trek. Make sure that you choose a location that’s within your abilities and experience – a challenge is totally okay, but you’ve gotta be safe!
Part of my job as an elopement photographer is helping you find the perfect spot, so I’ll get to know you and what you want for your day, and give you some suggestions. We’ll work together to make sure you have the perfect location for your alpine lake elopement!
Since you’ll likely be hiking to your alpine lake location, you’ll need to bring the standard hike supplies – sturdy boots, a good backpack, layers (it gets colder as you gain elevation), a small first aid kit, food, and water. You’ll also need your elopement necessities, like your attire, rings, and vows.
Some couples choose to hike in their attire, while others pack it in their backpacks and change when they get there. Don’t worry – I’ll help you with this! I know the best way to put a dress in a hiking backpack and the best way to store flowers so you don’t need to hold them while you hike.
You might also consider bringing a paddleboard, or a small packraft – inflatable, of course! The extra weight will be so worth it when you’re able to get out on the water and enjoy the lake.
If you want to tie the knot next to the deep blue water, breathe in the crisp mountain air, and have a wedding experience that’s truly unlike any other, you can elope at an alpine lake! As an elopement photographer, I’m all about helping couples get married their way – so contact me, and let’s start planning your dream day.