I'm so glad you are here to check out some recent work. I'm a Colorado wedding photographer that shoots all around the country. The blog is filled with full wedding and portrait sessions, and includes weddings planning tips and inspiration.
I'm so glad you are here to check out some recent work! The blog is filled with full sessions, and includes weddings and portraits from all over!
Shelly is Colorado Mountain Wedding Photographer that shoots all around the country!
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January 9, 2021
It’s no secret that Colorado is one of the most scenic states in the whole county. This can make it hard to choose the best Colorado engagement photo locations! We have it all here; mountains, glaciers, lakes, desert, red rocks, ski towns, National Parks, and forests. With such a variety of geological options, it makes Colorado one of the best places to take engagement photos. But where should you take yours!?
If you’re like me, too many options can make such a tough decision even harder. I’ve narrowed down my top engagement session locations in Colorado, and they all have their unique perks.
Maroon Bells is noted as the ‘most photographed place in Colorado’. It should be pretty obvious why! The 14er peaks are just a few miles from Aspen, and are beautiful year round. A heads up that the road to Maroon Bells is closed during the winter, and can really only be accessed by renting a snowmobile. In the other months, a reservation is needed to get to the scenic spot due to the crowds! Luckily, no photography permit is needed, *but* the reserving a date and time to enter and park can still be a challenge. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even hike a 3.6 round trip hike to Crater Lake! Maroon Bells is especially beautiful during the fall when the aspens turn bright orange and yellow. It’s not wonder why this is one of the most googled Colorado engagement photo locations!
Dream Lake is my favorite lake in RMNP for engagement photos. While Maroon Bells is a bit further than metro Denver than RMNP, this is the next best thing! Dream Lake is a one mile hike from the Bear Lake Parking lot in Rocky Mountain National Park. The hike isn’t too strenuous, but can definitely by a challenge due to the 9,900′ elevation! In winter, ice spikes are HIGHLY recommended. Note that parking at Bear Lake can be very limited, so it is a good idea to give yourself extra time to figure that part out. Also, to take engagement photos in RMNP, there is a $50 photography permit fee. You can request a photo permit on their website.
Boulder is famous for their trademark Flatirons. The flatirons are covered in hiking trails and are well known for their great rock climbing. While this area and it’s trails are beautiful all year round, due to the high foot traffic it can get quite muddy in the spring. Because of the many people that come to the Boulder Flatirons for hiking and climbing (and photography), the OSMP (Open Space Mountain Parks) can be very strict with photography. A $50 photo permit is required to shoot at the Flat Irons, due to it being a popular Colorado engagement photo location, along with all other areas in OSMP. Most people shoot at Chautauqua Park, but there are other areas around the flatirons such as NCAR.
Probably my favorite go-to mountain location for engagement sessions is Guanella Pass! I find this to be the perfect spot for photos because of all the variations of scenery you can get on one road. I usually have my couples meet me at the road crossing of County Road 62 and 285. From there we head up! There are so many pull offs with rivers, fields, and mountain views. The BEST time to go is definitely in the fall, when the aspen trees are bursting with color. At the very top of the pass you can get a great view of Mt Bierstadt! I also love this area because no photo permit is needed! It is one of my top used Colorado engagement photo locations!
One of the most unique locations in Denver would be the Paint Mines! The first time I went, I said- how is this place even real? It seems totally out of place, which is why I love it. The paint mines were made by oxidized iron compounds, with beautiful color bands of red, purple, orange, and white. You are allowed to explore while staying on trails, and the sunset out this way is to die for! There is a hefty photography permit of $100 to shoot at the mines. You can contact the Parks Office for more information at (719) 520-7529.
The Paint Mines, as noted before, are so unique to the Denver landscapes. Colorado is known for the Rocky Mountains and the Continental Divide, but a lot of the state is actually considered to by high desert! Here are some other unique spots that have some desert like vibes, as well as geological wonders like the mountains of the Flat Irons that stick straight up!
Voted the best outdoor concert venue by Rolling Stone (and like, everyone else in the world), Red Rocks Amphitheater is quite the scene! While the actual amphitheater is beautiful, I love this location for its surrounding trails! There are still beautiful vibrant red rocks to walk around and explore that make a beautiful and unique backdrop. Bonus is that it is only 20 minutes from downtown Denver. There is a photography permit required to shoot here as well, but only if there will be more than 5 people in attendance. Here are the specifics on photography permits at Red Rocks.
If you’re looking for a simple and minimalistic photo backdrop, that also happens to be very easy to get to, then I’d highly suggest the Flatirons Vista Trailhead fields in Boulder, Colorado! With rolling hills and views of the Flatirons, this spot is classic. It’s perfect for sunset dreamy colors, and its also very accesible.
To have an engagement session here, a photo permit with the OSMP is required.
Garden of the Gods has a very similar look to Roxborough. There are pros and cons to this park though. Pro is that it is free to shoot there! And! Dogs are allowed! Con is that this park is insanely popular as a park, but also for Colorado engagement photo location. It is *always* busy with people. Located in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods has some epic view points like High Point Overlook.
While Dream Lake is my #1 photo location within the park, it does require a hike. There are many spots within the park that are much more accessible (and still have insane views!). Just like Dream Lake, ALL parts within Rocky Mountain National Park require a $50 photography permit.
A lake that is close in location to Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park is Sprague Lake. The best part about this lake is that is very accessible without any strenuous hiking. There is a parking lot nearby, and a flat ‘grandfathers walk’ that goes around the entire lake. A dock sticks out that faces the same rocky mountain tops that can be found at Dream Lake!
Another easy spot for photos in RMNP is the drive down to Moraine Park. This valley right in the middle of the park, and a 10 minute drive from the Beaver Meadows Entrance, has insane views of the Rockies. There is also a serpentine river that runs through it. Certain times of the year you will see full herds of elk grazing in the meadow!
Trail Ridge Road is one of the most wild spots to take couples for engagement photos. The top of this pass goes above 12k elevation! You will for sure be trying to catch your breath while walking around, but the views are 100% worth it. You may see a lot of marmots and the occasional big horn sheep! Note that this road is only open SEASONLY. Here is a site you can find if the road is open or not.
With the majority of Colorado’s population living in the Denver Metro area, a lot of couples want to have their engagement photos taken close to home! I have a few favorite spots that scream ‘Denver’ that I love.
RiNo, the term given to the area known as River North, sits just north of downtown. The area is known as the arts district and for its colorful graffiti, local breweries, and artist studios. It’s raw and industrial, but SO lively and filled with character. A heads up that while the same rules apply for photographing here as they do at Red Rocks, it is highly advised to give credit to any graffiti artist that you shoot as a background. I also love this area for some cool views of the Denver Skyline!
Union Station is seen as the quintessential “Denver” shot. Built in the late 1800s, Union Station is still used as the main railway station for Denver today! Shooting inside can be tricky due to crowds, but it has a very beautiful 1920s feel! There are also bars and restaurants inside. A few blocks away is the Dairy Block, which has also been an up and coming photography location downtown. With both so close, you can do two spots in one shoot! Both locations do require a photography permit for more than 5 people in attendance.
Almost all newly engaged couples want a lovely mountain view for their Colorado engagement. The best part is, there are SO many options that aren’t too far from Denver!
Just on the other side of the mountain in Morrison where the Red Rocks are, is a lush forest with a beautiful spot for sunset over some beautiful Colorado mountains and is called Mount Falcon. This park is located in Jefferson County, which does require a permit. You can actually get a yearly permit for $100! This park is great because it has a parking lot not too far from some of the best lookout view points. You can keep walking down the trails through some meadows and forested areas as well.
Located right on the edge of Golden, Colorado is Table Mountain. I love the North Table Mountain area. This mountain is unique in the fact that once you get to the top, it is fairly flat! It almost looks like a meadow! It’s a beautiful spot for a grassy field shoot with an epic sunset. Sometimes you will see antelope hoping around in the distance! Be aware that the hike up can be steep, but then it will be flat. This area is 20 mins from downtown Denver. This area is also in Jefferson County and requires the same photo permit as Mt. Falcon
Here are a few other ‘last but definitely not least in the slightest’ favorite engagement session location in Colorado.
About 15 mins south of Breckenridge is one of my favorite spots for engagement sessions. Blue Lakes road is only open seasonally (usually late June to late October), and is about a mile to two mile drive up a dirt road to a reservoir. This spot is great because it has it all; epic views, alpine lake, and a waterfall! It is also easily accessible by car. It is nestled between a few 14ers, and has great sunset AND sunrise light. I wish this spot was open all year round!
Here is a sunset Blue Lakes Breckenridge Engagement Session!
Loveland Pass sits right on the Continental Divide. On one side, water flows to the Pacific, and on the other, to the Atlantic. (I’m a nerd for that sort of stuff, so I think thats pretty cool!) This pass is HIGH. The pass alone sits at 11,990′ elevation! But…you’re going to want go higher. I love hiking up the trail towards Mt. Sniktau. Just above the ridge, there is an insane lookout over the Continental Divide. I personally think this is the BEST sunrise engagement session location in all of Colorado. Just a warning, it can get windy! And COLD! Don’t forget that you will be above 12k elevation, so hike slowly! Loveland Pass does not require a photography permit. I think this is a very underrated Colorado engagement photo location!
Lake Dillon, (which is technically a reservoir), is a great option for couples that want mountains, forests, and a lake. It has it all! It is just over an hour from Denver, but easily accessible. Most people head straight to Sapphire Point. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of this spot. It is always crowded and because it is so steep, can be tough to play around. I tend to bring my couples to other spots around the lake! There are so many trails that lead down to the water, or other great views points that show the mountains in the distance. It is a great spot all year round!
Shrine Pass is a service road about 15-20mins south of Vail, Colorado. This road is open seasonally (late June to November) and is also great for it’s dispersed camping spots! There are MANY hiking trails along this road. A few of them lead to some pretty epic views. I’ve found that this road has some of the best ‘bang for your buck’ views near Vail, and are easy to get to by car and short hikes. During the summer months, the fields around Shrine Pass are bursting with wildflowers!! Shrine Pass is at a very high elevation (around 11k feet!), so be prepared for that when planning your engagement photo outfits.
Here is an example of Vail Colorado Engagement photos on Shrine Pass!!
Brainard Lake recreational are is a showstopper. This area is bustling with Colorado locals in the summertime who come to swim in the lake and have a cookout. It is also home of some amazing backcountry backpacking in the Three Peaks Wilderness. With it’s popularity comes some cons to shooting here. Parking can be a disaster. Sometime they have reservation time slots that you are allowed to enter. You may be waiting over an hour to just park! While there is no photo permit to shoot here, there will be an entrance fee to park. With insane views and pretty lakes, there will be crowds. A lot of couples opt to hike the 3 miles out to Lake Isabelle for less crowds and better views with an icy blue alpine lake. Note that Brainard Lake recreational area closes their main gate in the winter. There is a winter parking lot 3 miles away. So hiking to Lake Isabelle in the winter would be about 13.5 miles round trip, (and snowshoes would be advised).
Check out this post on Engagement Photo Outfit Ideas and Inspiration!!
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