Your Guide to Eloping in the Vail Valley


For adventurous couples looking to elope, Colorado is the perfect place for beautiful landscapes and a unique experience on your special day.

Elopements are small, intimate weddings with few, if any, guests. This empowers the couple to center the day around what is most meaningful to them. Whether that involves hiking to a mountain peak, skiing down after the ceremony, or walking through a flower-studded field, eloping encourages couples to break traditions and create a memorable day. With stunning scenery throughout the state, Colorado is a popular place for couples looking to exchange backcountry vows year-round.

Colorado is one of the few states where couples can legally marry themselves. It is not required to hire an officiant or have witnesses at your wedding. The ease in which two people can get married is one of the reasons people flock to Colorado to tie the knot. To make it official, couples need to sign paperwork at the county clerk and can do so the same day they want to get married. 

When planning your elopement, there are several things that couples should consider. What do you want your day to look like? Who do you want to attend? What backdrop do you dream about? What other activities would you like to include? Understanding what your dream day looks like will help fill in the smaller details.

Why Elope in the Vail Valley?

The Vail Valley is a gorgeous and convenient place for couples looking to elope. Mountain peaks circle the area, and the Gore Range provides a dramatic background for photos. Surrounded by the White River National Forest, there are numerous peaceful lakes, expansive mountaintop vistas, and flower-filled fields to exchange vows in. In the winter, couples can elope on Vail or Beaver Creek Ski Resort and enjoy their first shred down as a married pair.

Conveniently located two hours from Denver International Airport, or with limited flights into the Eagle County Regional Airport, the Vail Valley is easy to travel to for out of town couples and guests. With plenty of lodging and dining options, couples can experience a remote wedding without sacrificing amenities or comfort.

When is the best time of year to elope?

Colorado is a sought-after state for elopements because couples can find beautiful backdrops year-round. Each season provides opportunity for unique activities and a different dramatic landscape. When considering where you want to elope and how you want to spend your day, it’s important to take the weather and access into consideration.

The summer months, from June through August, is one of the best times to elope in Colorado.  During this time, the weather is warm and the days are long, allowing couples to maximize their day of adventure and celebration. Trails are usually clear of snow by mid to late June, allowing access to more high elevation locations. Afternoon showers are common in the summer but usually short-lived. A clear umbrella is the perfect accessory for moody, rainy photos.

Summer is a beautiful time of year to elope because the mountains are lush and green, with rivers and lakes flowing from the winter run-off. Wildflowers peak in July, transforming mountain meadows into a sea of color, bursting with red, yellow, pink and purple flowers. Adventurous couples can seek out their ceremony spot by hiking to a remote lake, climbing a 14er, or taking four-wheel drive vehicles to a high mountain pass. With snow-free trails and long days, the options are endless for low-key or high-thrill affairs. 

Fall colors are on show through September and October for couples who want a vibrant backdrop. Typically, the third and fourth weekend of September have the brightest shades of yellow and orange. There’s not an exact date to catch peak fall colors because it changes yearly. Temperatures and weather fluctuate wildly as summer fades into fall. Mornings are brisk, but usually warm up to pleasant, sunny days. 

Access is still available to most trails and roads through October. The mountains usually receive their first snowfall of the season this time of year. Couples should be prepared for any type of weather or possible road closures.

The best time for a winter elopement in Colorado is December through April. December and January are the coldest months in Colorado, while March and April enjoy warmer winter days and more sunshine. Road and trail access is limited in the winter, so couples should check accessibility and plan accordingly.

Eloping in the winter provides unique opportunities for couples. To access big mountain views, consider renting snowmobiles from Nova Guides. Their Top of the Rockies Tour whisks you and your guests up to 12,500 feet with 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Couples who want a quieter experience can grab snowshoes and head out to one of the local trails to exchange vows in the national forest. Or grab your skis and elope on one of the ski resorts on-mountain decks, followed by a celebratory ski down. 

Tips for eloping:

  1. There are endless locations to choose from within Colorado when planning your elopement. Be sure to obtain the required permits and/or reservations once you decide on your dream location.  

  1. Couples should consider seasonal access to their ceremony location. Whether it’s high elevation snow or wildlife closures, it’s important to know that your route is open before you plan your entire day around it.

  1. If you want a few close friends or family in attendance, it might be wise to choose a location that they can get to. There are plenty of scenic viewpoints that can be reached by off-road vehicles or snowmobiles. 

  1. Pack appropriate footwear if you are heading outside. Many couples wear practical hiking shoes or boots and then slip into something special once they reach their location. 

  1. For a more intimate experience, consider eloping on a weekday. By avoiding the busy weekends, you are more likely to have the location to yourself and enjoy a private ceremony.  

  1. Hire a great photographer to capture your day. Photographers that specialize in small weddings are game to go along with whatever adventure you choose. Many of them can provide recommendations for locations and partners. With a small elopement, it’s important to choose vendors you vibe with.

  1. If you are traveling to the Vail Valley, it’s smart to arrive a few days before your elopement to acclimate to the altitude. Vail sits at 8,150 feet and rises in elevation from there. With thinner and drier air, having a few days to rest and relax will help you feel optimal on your big day. Take advantage of a longer vacation and receive discounts with The Inn at Riverwalk’s Stay & Save Program when staying more than two consecutive nights. 

Best Places for Lodging:

The Inn at Riverwalk is an independent hotel that is close to the adventure yet away from it all. Located in the heart of Edwards just minutes from Beaver Creek Resort, the Eagle River rambles out the back doors of the hotel. The location provides easy access to trailheads and local restaurants, providing guests an authentic mountain experience and warm hospitality. 

Enjoy a comfortable space with modern amenities before your special day at The Inn. Individual rooms or one and two bedroom condos are accommodating for couples or families who want a little extra space. Relax before your elopement in the riverside pool and hot tub, or grab bubbles from the on-site restaurant, Mountain Fish House, to enjoy by the outdoor fire pits. 

However you choose to celebrate your day, The Inn at Riverwalk is a place where you can be yourself and do the mountains Inn style. Book your getaway today.