a bride's guide on

You may have heard of Telluride’s skiing, luxurious winter lodges, and famous film festival. But it’s also a fantastic spot to say “I do!” However, it can get pretty crowded because of how beautiful this spot is, making that intimate elopement day of your dreams a little difficult to pull off. But it’s not impossible! If you’re planning a Telluride elopement, it’s crucial to have a clear plan and a photographer who can guide you along. 

I have a ton of tips for planning a Telluride Elopement, so come along, and see how amazing a mountain elopement here in the San Juans could be! 



But first, why should you elope?

If you’re over the big “show” that weddings can bring, everyone inputting their own opinions in how you want YOUR day to look, the drama that comes with planning a big luxurious day, the insane amount of money you have to put down just to get married,


Best time of year for a Telluride Elopement

For a summer elopement, July through August is guaranteed to have dry trails and open roads to drive up to the best viewpoints. Snow melts toward the end of June and holds off until the end of September. Mid-September to Mid-October is the best time to catch fall color (like this elopement above). January, February, and early March are best if you're planning a winter skiing elopement!

Imogene Pass and Bridal Veil Falls, two of the most popular elopement destinations, are very high up and not open for most of the year. July through August is your best window to elope in these stunning mountaintop locations! I recommend planning around late summer to early fall. Crowds tend to come in July but slow down toward mid-August. So, aim between mid-August and early October for your Telluride elopement. 

And keep in mind that through the winter, some of the best areas are “ski-in” only! So, don’t expect to be able to get up to the epic mountain passes outside of the late summer and early fall months.

Best locations for telluride elopements

San Miguel County, where Telluride is located, has 96 named mountains. That means there are 96 well-known, jaw-dropping peaks here to explore! While many of these peaks require some pretty intense climbing to get up, these five off-roading trails are best for couples eloping who want epic mountain views without a strenuous, long hike:

Imogene Pass
Ophir Pass
Last Dollar Road
Black Bear Pass
Alta Lakes

It’s best to allot a solid two to three hours to get to the top of any of these passes (except Last Dollar Road and Alta Lakes, which take roughly an hour to reach the top) because they’re long rough roads. But don’t worry! I’ll help you plan your day so we can fit the long drive in easily.


Explore this 9.8-mile point-to-point trail near Ophir, Colorado. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes an average of 5 h 9 min to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and off-road driving, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of day. The best times to visit this trail are June through October.

Ophir Pass (11,789 ft) is well-suited to less experienced off-road travelers and those who seek the beauty of the high country in combination with a less rugged 4-WD experience. The pass road does include some classic "shelf road" sections with stunning views and the necessity of 4-WD maneuvering, but much less “exposed” terrain than Imogene or Black Bear.

Ophir Pass is a convenient and scenic way to get from Silverton to Telluride. Seasonal wildflowers grow thick at higher elevations. Unlicensed vehicles are allowed on Ophir Pass Road east of the town of Ophir; however, you cannot ride through town. Watch for signs. Best time to go Late June-Sept. Located in San Juan and Uncompahgre National Forests. For current conditions call Norwood Ranger District (970) 327-4261.

It’s definitely known to get crowded here in the summertime, especially in the afternoon time, so choosing a weekday in the early morning is usually my recommendation. 

- Easier trail to drive compared to others in the area
- Mountain peaks, aspen trees, and pines trees

- One section of narrow, rocky shelf road on the west side of Ophir Pass. Passing an oncoming vehicle along the narrow shelf road west of Ophir Pass can be a little scary for a novice driver.
- After the sun sets, the trail gets dark. It’s important to have plenty of lights on your vehicle

Last Dollar Road is an unpaved, scenic alternate route to get from Ridgway, CO to Telluride, CO in the summer or fall, the road travels about 18 miles total. Winding through gorgeous aspen forests with unobstructed views of Sneffels Mountain Range and Wilson Peak. Bumpy, colorful, vast and adventurous, this hidden dirt road in historic ranching country gives stunning rewards for those willing the take the time to get around the bend.

As Last Dollar Road winds through a low valley surrounded by jagged peaks and deep-blue skies, each bend delivers jaw-dropping scenery. At one turn you’ll find yourself in a cathedral of sun-bathed aspens; at another, a flat vista with views of a quilt-like terrain of furry pines and aspens; turn again, and you’re in a wide-open grassy field, where pristine nature is the only thing between you and the San Juan Mountains.

Don’t miss the clear view of Wilson Peak, recognizable not only to geo-savvy Coloradans, but also to anyone who’s ever examined the label on a Coors bottle. Another point of interest is the historic ranch from the original “True Grit” western starring John Wayne.

Last Dollar Road isn’t a once-in-a-lifetime trip — it’s more like a three-times-in-one-year necessity. Go during summer for lush greenery as far as the eye can see; again in the fall for unparalleled red, yellow and orange foliage; and in spring, when grassy fields are blanketed with alpine wildflowers. 

Last Dollar Road can be a bit of a challenge (even impassible after a heavy rain), but is completely worth the trek. Most off-road experts in the area would classify this road as a beginner to intermediate trail. High clearance vehicles are recommended. 

- Breathtaking mountain view spots to take portraits or get married
- Easier trail to drive compared to others in the area (EXCEPT when wet)
- Wide mountain views, meadows, aspen trees and pines trees

- Slippery when wet
- A very popular trail, you will not be alone
- After the sun sets, the trail gets dark. It’s important to have plenty of lights on your vehicle

Black Bear Pass Trail is a 8.5 mile moderately trafficked point-to-point trail located near Telluride, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail. Black Bear Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 12,840ft.

Very scenic trail for off-roading purposes. You occasionally run into a hiker or mountain-biker, but for the most part, it’s all 4x4’s. The views are spectacular throughout the trail.

Incredible views from high above Red Mountain Pass and Telluride. Close-up views of historic mines and dramatic waterfalls. Feel the mist from spectacular Bridal Veil Falls. Switchbacks are one-way downhill; no return to start once you begin descent. Unlicensed vehicles should turn around before going down one-way switchbacks or have pick-up vehicle waiting at the bottom. 

Most of the trail is easy to moderate. The difficult rating is based on a mile-long stretch of dangerous switchbacks above Bridal Veil Falls. Your vehicle should have low-range 4WD, good tires, good brakes, excellent articulation, and a fully functional emergency brake. 

For current conditions call Ouray Ranger District (970) 240-5300. 

My recommendation is to start on the Ouray side (as it's a one way trail) reach the top for portraits and or ceremony site, drive down the trail to Bridal Veil Falls and into Telluride.

- Amazing mountain top spots to take portraits or get married
- Beautiful wildflowers in the summer months(my favorite spot for them)
- Unique location

- A very popular trail, you will not be alone
- To run the whole trail - rated difficult and logistics of starting in Ouray and ending in Telluride
- After the sun sets, the trail gets dark. It’s important to have plenty of lights on your vehicle

Enjoy this 10.0-mile out-and-back trail near Telluride, Colorado, the Alta Lakes are a series of small, alpine lakes that sit at 11,300 feet in elevation near the ghost town of Alta. The three Alta Lakes are located in a dramatically scenic area of the Norwood Ranger District in the Uncompahgre National Forest. From the lakes, visitors can see views of Bald Mountain, Silver Mountain, and the Telluride Ski Resort.

Access to Alta Lakes is only possible via Alta Lakes Rd, which is closed to vehicles in the winter. To reach the camping area, a high-clearance vehicle is strongly recommended. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 5 h 13 min to complete. This trail is great for off-road driving.The best times to visit this trail are May through October. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas.

About 4 miles up, the road passes through the interesting ghost town site of Alta and the road ends at the lovely namesake group of lakes with a primitive camping area and good paddling and fishing.

Visitors can visit the first lake, but the trail past the first lake is on private property.

- Amazing mountain views with a beautiful lake
- Picturesque lake with pine trees
- Unique location

- A very popular trail, you will not be alone (popular camping spot)
- Takes at least 45 minutes (from Telluride) to get to the first lake
- After the sun sets, the trail gets dark. It’s important to have plenty of lights on your vehicle

The top of Imogene Pass is a great spot for perfect Mountain views. Typically mid-morning to mid-afternoon are the most popular times of this trail. Imogene Pass is a 17.5 mile heavily trafficked point-to-point trail located near Telluride, Colorado that features beautiful wildflowers.

When the roads are open, Imogene is rated as a moderate trail located in the Uncompaghre National Forest. Imogene Pass is the second highest drivable pass in Colorado. The pass is blocked by snow until it is plowed, usually in early July. Tomboy Road climbs to Imogene Pass from downtown Telluride to a summit of 13,114 feet. Tomboy Road is an intermediate 4-WD road, bumpy and airy, but not as tricky as Black Bear Pass or other truly advanced routes.  enjoy the thrill of high country adventure and the colorful history of Telluride's most famous gold mine: Tomboy.

Imogene Pass's high point is at an elevation of 13,114 ft., The best time to hit this trail is Mid July-Sept. For current conditions call Norwood or Ouray Ranger District (970) 327-4261. Do not take this trip lightly. The road is rocky, steep, and narrow in places and passing can be dangerous. Stock SUVs should have low-range gearing, 4-wheel drive, high clearance, and skid plates. Experienced drivers only.

It’s definitely known to get crowded here in the summertime, especially in the afternoon time, so choosing a weekday in the early morning is usually my recommendation.

- One of the best views spots for epic views. For those couples looking for a little more edge to their adventure.
- Not your typical elopement location (as it requires an experienced off-roader)

- Requires off-roading experience and capable vehicle
- Takes at least 3.5 hours to drive to the top of Imogene Pass
- After the sun sets, the trail gets dark. It’s important to have plenty of lights on your vehicle











02. ophir pass

03. Last dollar road

04. black bear  Pass

05. Alta Lakes

Best Local Vendors for your telluride elopement

When you’re eloping, you don’t need to worry about most costs of a traditional wedding. But a few extra special touches—a cascading bouquet or some custom cupcakes—can help make your elopement day feel more like a wedding even though it’s on a mountaintop. 

I’ve met many local vendors who can make your Telluride elopement breathtakingly beautiful! And trust me: it’s much easier to get local vendors rather than bring in your favs from home. You won’t have to pay shipping costs for things like flowers, and you can pick the items up right here in town!

A few of my top local vendors for the Telluride area:

Elevation Weddings and Events

Mountainesque Weddings and Elopements

Heirlooms Design

Gathered Events Co.

Kosi Events

Chelsea Cholas Wedding Planning

Lucky Penny Events 

K2 Event Co. 









Hair&make up:

And I’d love to share more options with you that fit your specific
vision after you book your elopement with me!

Best times of day for your Telluride elopement

When it comes to beating the crowds and getting the best lighting, planning the time of your elopement is absolutely essential! 

Here are my favorite times for a crowd-free Telluride elopement:

  • Weekdays: The best spots won’t be as crowded Monday through Thursday, so I always recommend my couples elope on a weekday. 

  • Early in the morning: Early morning elopements are really the best! You get the early morning glow with minimal crowds on top of it! Getting up early for the sunrise is worth it, I promise. And, it means you have the rest of your wedding day to enjoy together as newlyweds!

  • If getting up early isn’t your thing, go for the late afternoon: This is the second time of day to catch golden hour, but it might be a tad more crowded. That means it will take a little extra planning to avoid other visitors. But it can still be done! If you’d rather elope later in the day, I’d be happy to help you.

A Free Guide to Telluride:

Beyond your elopement: eating, sleeping, and enjoying Telluride

There’s more to Telluride than
high mountain
passes and early morning elopements. Here are my
best local tips for eloping in Telluride: