Eloping in the Garden of the Gods: All You Need to Know
If you’re in search of a gorgeous natural setting for your elopement, you won’t find a more magical spot than the Garden of the Gods. Thinking of spending your special day here? Read on for all you need to know about eloping in Garden of the Gods.
What is the Garden of the Gods?
Think tall sheets and spires of red rock, low brush, and soft light on Pike’s Peak in the distance…The Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark just outside Colorado Springs, and a truly otherworldly setting for your elopement.
Whether you’re hoping to capture the first look in photographs against a dramatic background, host an intimate ceremony, or hike at sunrise for a private exchange of vows, the Garden of the Gods has everything you could possibly dream of in an elopement location.
Reasons to Elope in the Garden of the Gods
Even if this park is a go-to location for anyone seeking an outing in the Colorado Springs area, it’s still an underrated elopement destination. If you’re wondering why you should elope in the Garden of the Gods, look no further:
It’s Free. If you’re hoping to save on a big wedding by going for a more intimate ceremony, the Garden of the Gods should fit perfectly into your budget. That’s because entrance to the park is 100% free of charge. Perfect whether it’s just the two of you or you’re bringing along a crew of guests!
Celebrate Nearby. While the picnic area of the park may not be ideal for a reception– especially because there is no alcohol allowed–there are plenty of nearby places to host a party! You’ll find several Airbnbs near the Garden of the Gods, or make the quick drive into town to celebrate at one of Colorado Spring’s restaurants.
Choose Your Views. Whether you’d rather elope to the dramatic outline of mountains, underneath Ponderosa pines, or against the ethereal Mars-like scenery of Garden of the Gods’ red rocks, this park offers it all.
It’s Wheelchair Accessible. Thanks to plenty of parking areas, flat paths, and wheelchair ramps, you can accommodate your needs or those of your guests with a Garden of the Gods elopement.
You May See Wildlife. Wildlife sightings are part of the adventure when you schedule an event in the Garden of the Gods. Keep your eye out for deer, elk, rabbits, coyotes, foxes, and maybe even a bighorn sheep or two!
It’s Breathtakingly Beautiful. Ok, the most compelling reason to elope in the Garden of the Gods? It provides absolutely captivating scenery year-round. Craggy red rocks, toppling boulders, green hillsides, and mountains on the horizon make this the ideal spot for your special occasion. Plus, your elopement photos will look like something out of a travel magazine…
Best Garden of the Gods Elopement Locations
If you’re wondering which part of the park to hold your ceremony in, keep these top locations in mind:
Jaycee Plaza. Gather with up to 50 people in this plaza that can accommodate seating, too. It’s easily accessible and surrounded by striking scenery. Just keep in mind that, since this is close to the main parking lot, you may not have the place all to yourselves.
Sentinel Plaza. This area is accessible yet further away from the entrance and main parking area, meaning you may be able to have a more private, intimate elopement ceremony with up to 25 people.
Three Graces Plaza. This plaza showcases one of the most iconic rock formations in the park, making for a unique elopement site. There are several options for parking nearby, which makes it convenient for your guests. Maximum of 25 people.
High Point. You’ll get some of the most stunning views in the park from here, plus there’s standing room for about 50 people. Exchange your vows with Pike’s Peak, Cheyenne Mountain, and Garden of the Gods rocks in the background!
Scotsman Picnic. While you won’t get the same rock formations here as some of the other places in the park, at this public day use area there is room for 25 at picnic tables and it’s handicap accessible. Plus, some greenery and hill views make this a charming spot.
South Spring Canyon Area. Accommodate up to 50 people with a view of Pike’s Peak as you gather for a picnic after the ceremony. Just note that there is little shade, so it’s probably a good idea to avoid scheduling a mid-day summer celebration here.
Siamese Trail. Since the views from this half-mile loop are some of the best in the Garden of the Gods, you may want to stop here for photos on your special day.
Mesa Overlook. If you’re thinking of incorporating sunrise or sunset into your elopement, this is the place to be! Golden hour illuminates the red rocks and provides optimal lighting for an ultra-special photoshoot.)
Ute Trail. A red dirt trail surrounded by greenery and framed by red rocks makes for a great spot for pictures!
Rules to Eloping at the Garden of the Gods
Part of spending your special day in the park means following a few rules designed to protect this natural wonder. Make sure to remind your guests of these guidelines:
Leave No Trace. If you’ve spent any time in national parks or monuments, you’re probably familiar with the idea of “leave no trace” or “pack in pack out.” This simply means that you should leave the park as you found it. If you bring any decorations for the ceremony, make sure they come with you when you leave. Encourage guests to dispose of any trash properly.
No Structures Allowed. While tables, tents, arches, or trellises aren’t permitted in the park, you can bring a few chairs for elderly or disabled guests.
Keep it Quick. Since this is a public park, enjoy every moment of your ceremony, but don’t linger all day.)
Stick to the Picnic Areas. (If you’re going to have a reception–without alcohol in accordance with park rules–stick to the picnic areas.
Don’t Reserve Parking. As tempting as it may be to block off parking spots for your guests, this is not permitted when eloping in Garden of the Gods. Choosing a non-peak time to celebrate at the park will help ensure there is enough parking for everyone in attendance.
Keep Dogs on a Leash. Go ahead and bring along your pups to share in your special day, but just make sure they are on a 6-foot leash at all times!
Be Considerate. This may go without saying, but try to be considerate to other visitors during your elopement, as this is still a public space.
Stick to Weekdays.This is by far one of the most popular sites around, so be aware that you probably won’t have the park to yourselves. That being said, avoiding weekends is your best shot at a more private atmosphere.
Sunrise Over Sunset. In search of the magical glow of golden hour? If you’re ok with getting up at 5:30 for a sunrise hike, it is absolutely worth it, more so even than getting here for sunset. Summer sunrises are the best because the weather is warm enough to be comfortable and the light on the red rocks is unbeatable. The crowds typically come in the evening so sunrise will prove more privacy. Bring a blanket and coffee and elope at sunrise!
Look Out For Wildlife. Garden of the Gods is a great place to spot wildlife, so pause every so often to look around. Glimpsing wildlife in this natural wonder only enhances the magic of the setting.
No Need for an Officiant. One of the upsides of getting married in Colorado is that you don’t need an officiant. Once you get your marriage license, you and your soon-to-be spouse can exchange your vows underneath a red rock formation and marry yourselves. Perfect if you’re looking for the ultimate intimate ceremony!
Be Aware of the Altitude. If you or any of your guests are coming from out of state, or at least from lower altitude, be aware that Garden of the Gods sits at over 6,000 feet. Encourage guests to arrive a few days early to acclimate, or ask your doctor about altitude sickness medications or treatments that may be available to ease the transition. The last thing you want is someone feeling ill on your special day!
Garden of the Gods Elopement Photography
Eloping in the Garden of the Gods provides unmatched opportunities for amazing photography. There’s more to beautiful elopement photography than just a breathtaking backdrop and good-looking couple, though! You also want an elopement photographer with the experience needed to capture your special day while also making sure it all goes off without a hitch.
This is where I come in. Hi, I’m an elopement photographer based in Colorado Springs, Colorado and have photographed and helped plan over 50 elopements since I started my business in 2018. I love making planning as stress-free as possible for my couples! That’s why all my couples get not only the photographs, but also an extensive elopement guide, 3-5 personalized location recommendations, timeline assistance, and personalized vendor recommendations to make planning a breeze!
Mikayla is a Colorado elopement and wedding photographer. In addition to delivering beautiful galleries to her couples, Mikayla provides epic location recommendations, connects couples with talented vendors, processes any permits, and provides tips for a stress-free day!