If you’re planning on eloping in the mountain paradise that is Telluride, Colorado, you’ll want to be familiar with all of the magical elopement photo spots. Check out this guide to the most picturesque places in the area where you can document your special day!
What to Keep in Mind About Elopement Photo Lighting
Now that you’ve settled on a Telluride elopement, it’s time to think about how you’ll capture the memories on your special day. How your elopement photos come out has a lot to do with the light in the setting you choose, so here are the times of day when you’re most likely to experience flattering outdoor lighting:
Sunrise. If you two are ok waking up while it’s still dark, this is a great time to capture stunning photos. Take advantage of the colors of sunrise and the gentle lighting during this time of day for an unforgettable elopement ceremony.
Sunset. Sunset also provides ample opportunity for gorgeous photos. You might get lucky and come across some intense colors, or it may just be easier for your photographer to capture great shots when the sun is not directly overhead.
Golden Hours. Golden hours happen twice a day–the 1-2 hours after sunrise and the 2-3 hours before sunset. During these times, the sun is low enough in the sky that you can avoid awkward shadows.
It’s also important to understand that overcast days are the most ideal for photographs. That’s because cloudy days provide softer light that ends up looking more natural and flattering on camera. So don’t be bummed out if you don’t have clear blue skies! Your photographer will be able to capture the details of the landscape around you and document some amazing portraits.
Best Spots in Telluride for Elopement Photos
Alright, so now is the fun part: choosing the setting for your Telluride elopement photos! There are so many picture-perfect spots in the area, so it might be hard to decide. Here are a few favorite options:
Main Street. Snapping a photo on Main Street is the classic Telluride elopement move. Stand in the middle of the street by a flower box, and capture the Western storefronts framed by the towering Ajax peak which makes for such a dramatic and charming backdrop!
San Sophia. Telluride has a free gondola that serves as public transportation from the town of Telluride up over San Sophia station to Mountain Village. Stop half way at the San Sophia overlook for a photo with the iconic box canyon in the background, or use that as your starting point to hike up the See Forever slope where you’ll get 360 degree mountain views. Or, ski to this overlook in the winter!
Alta Lakes. The road to Alta Lakes lies just 19 minutes beyond Telluride. While you’ll want an all-wheel drive vehicle and some nerve to get up this narrow mountain pass (and only attempt it in summer unless you have a snowmobile), you’ll be rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views. Here there are two accessible alpine lakes, dense forest, and gorgeous rust-colored mountain peaks hemming in the lakes.
Bridal Veil Falls. If you go all the way to the end of town, you’ll reach a mountain pass that takes you to the base of Bridal Veil Falls. Or, park in the nearby parking lot and take a quick 1-mile hike to the base. Here an old white house is perched on top of a cliff face where the water cascades. A stunning elopement photo backdrop!
Lizard Head Wilderness. A little over 30 minutes from Telluride you’ll find the Lizard Head Wilderness, which includes several hiking trails and Lizard Head Peak. Hike a little over three miles up moderately difficult terrain and reach the open wilderness, from which you can see Lizard Head Peak along with several others in the area, including Mt Wilson. This is a beautiful spot for photos year-round, as the colors come alive in fall and there are snowshoe trails in winter.
Last Dollar Road. Past the Telluride Airport lies the start of Last Dollar Road, a favorite scenic mountain pass in the summer and early autumn. Before you leave paved road for dirt, however, there is an overlook that provides an unbelievable elopement photo background. From here, gaze across the valley to the other side of the box canyon and Mt. Wilson in the distance. Or, take first look photos in a lovely aspen grove. This spot is ideal in mid September or early October, when the hillsides are covered in gold and fiery orange.
The Telluride Gondola. If you’ve made it to Telluride for your elopement, you’ll of course want to get a few photos in the gondola. As mentioned earlier, the gondola serves as public transportation from Telluride to Mountain Village, and offers a 15 minute scenic ride over the mountains. It’s the perfect place for an impromptu photo shoot!
Wilson Peak. Wilson Peak isn’t just the most imposing mountain surrounding Telluride, it’s also one you’ll recognize. That’s because Mt. Wilson is featured on the label of Coors Light Beer! If you’re down for an incredibly challenging hike up a 14er, climb up Mt. Wilson for photos on top of the world. Or, just get some portraits with the iconic mountain in the background without needing to trek over 10 miles.
Swing Set on the Hill. On the northern edge of town, you’ll find a small trail off of one of the last avenues that leads you to a little swing set on the hill overlooking town. This is a sweet spot for elopement photos!
Valley Floor. The San Miguel river winds through Telluride and continues along the valley floor. Here you’ll find a river path that stretches nearly 4 miles to the small community of Lawson Hill. This is a hidden gem elopement photograph spot, as you’ll likely have stretches of the river completely to yourselves. Diverge from the path a little to have a picnic on the banks of the river, and watch trout swim through clear blue water with mountains and forest in the background.
Via Ferrata. If you’re up for an adventure, hire a guide to take you on the Via Ferrata, a climbing route along the lower wall of Ajax Peak. From here you’ll get gorgeous views, and can take cute photos even with your helmets and harnesses on!
Your Elopement Photographer
When looking for an elopement photographer, you don’t just want someone who will beautifully capture photos of your special day in the mountains. You also want an elopement photographer who will work with you to help ensure that the whole day lives up to your expectations and goes off without a hitch.
I can help! With my experience photographing mountain elopements and intimate weddings all across Colorado, you can count on me to help plan a laid-back, stress-free day that you’ll cherish forever. Apart from taking your photos, I also provide an extensive elopement guide, 3-5 personalized location recommendations, timelines assistance, and 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!