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.
My Personal Top 5 Colorado Engagement Session Locations;
1) Maroon Bells
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!
2) Dream Lake (Rocky Mountain National Park)
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.
3) Boulder Flatirons
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.
4) Guanella Pass
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!
5) Paint Mines
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.
Engagement Locations similar to the Paint Mines and the Flatirons;
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!
6) Red Rocks Amphitheatre
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.
7) Roxborough State Park
Another geological wonder in Colorado, Roxborough State Park is famous for its jagged red rock flatirons that jet into the sky. There is a $20 photography permit to shoot in the park, which you can apply for here! The park sits about 45mins south of Denver.
8) Garden of the Gods
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.
Engagement Locations Similar to Dream Lake;
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.
9) Sprague Lake
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!
10) Moraine Park
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!
11) Trail Ridge Road
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.
Engagement Photo Locations in Downtown Denver;
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.
12) Downtown Denver- RiNo
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!
13) Union Station
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.
Engagement Photo Locations with mountain views not too far from Denver;
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!
14) Mt Falcon (West)
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.
15) Table Mountain
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
16) Chief Mountain
A steep but rewarding hike will get you to the epic views and lookout spots on Chief Mountain. I LOVE this hike. It is a 1.5 mile hike to the top, which sits at 9k elevation. With 360degree views, you can see Arapahoe Forest, including Mt. Evans. The drive is about 50 mins from Denver, just outside of Idaho Springs. There is no ‘parking’, just roadside parking. You really need to know where to look for the trailhead, and cell service is not great out that way. Ice spikes are definitely recommend for the winter.
Locations a bit further from Denver with epic views;
Here are a few other ‘last but definitely not least in the slightest’ favorite engagement session location in Colorado.
17) Loveland Pass
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!
18) Lake Dillon/ Dillon Reservoir
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!
19) Piney River Ranch
One of the most iconic venues and scenic spots in all of Colorado is Piney River Ranch. It is highly popular for not only a Colorado engagement photo location, but for elopements and wedding as well. First off, know that this location is open seasonally (June- Sept), and is also fairly hard to get to. You will need a vehicle that is ok with driving down a bumpy dirt road for 45mins. It’s not a pleasant drive! But the destination is worth it. The Ranch is privately owned, so to shoot on the lake there is a hefty photography permit of $125. If you hike past the property grounds, you can shoot for free, but most people go for the view of the lake in their photos!
20) Brainard Lake and Isabelle Lake
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).
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