Ultimate Guide to your garden of the gods elopement

LAST UPDATED August 2, 2022

Ultimate Guide to Your Garden of the Gods Elopement

Couple runs together at their Garden of the Gods elopement

Garden of the Gods is one of the best elopement locations in Colorado. Located in Colorado Springs, just over an hour from Denver, this park feels like you’ve been transported to another world. Designated a National Historic Landmark, Garden of the Gods features towering red rock formations and incredible views of the surrounding landscape, including the iconic Pike’s Peak.

It’s also one of my personal favorite places for elopements, so I put together this guide to share all the best tips to help you plan your own Garden of the Gods elopement. I’ll share all the details you need to know, including basic info and rules, how to get there, where and when to elope within the park, and the best places to stay nearby. Let’s dive in!

What Is An Elopement? 

Let’s start with a short definition of what it means to elope.

An elopement is a uniquely crafted day that is focused on just the wedding couple. The couple determines the structure and what to include. It can be as adventurous or low-key as the couple desires. 

Elopements Include:

  • A unique experience (think jeep rides, helicopter rides, star gazing etc…)
  • No rigid structure
  • Fewer than 16 guests
  • Whatever you want! 

This structure almost never changes, and the biggest difference between a traditional wedding and other forms is the guest counts. Traditional weddings have no upper limit to guest counts, meaning you can have 300, 400, 500, 600, or even 1,000 guests.

Why Elope?

If you want a day just focused on you and your partner, doing exactly what you want how you want, then an elopement is for you. When you elope you get to craft your own day, meaning you do your own activities and celebrate however you want. It’s total flexibility. Want to know more? Check out these top reasons to elope! 

Lesbian wedding couple at their elopement

Why Elope at Garden of the Gods?

One of the best things about Garden of the Gods (aside from the absolutely stunning scenery) is that eloping here is FREE. That’s right, there are zero costs for parking, small wedding ceremonies, or wedding photos at Garden of the Gods. Not having to secure a permit in advance makes it easy to realize your elopement dreams without a ton of advance planning. 

Convenience and accessibility are other reasons to elope at Garden of the Gods. Unlike some of the other top elopement locations in Colorado, getting to this site is fairly easy. Many of the best spots within the park are just a short walk from the parking lot. This is a huge draw if you’re short on time or if accessibility is a consideration for you or your guests. 

Garden of the Gods is also open year round, which makes it a great choice for any season. (More on that below!) 

How to Get to Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is easily accessible from I-25 at 1805 N 30th St, Colorado Springs, CO.

From I-25:

  • Take Exit #146 (Garden of the Gods Road)
  • Go West (towards the mountains) for 2.5 miles
  • Turn Left onto 30th Street
  • The Visitor & Nature Center will be on the left (a little over a mile)

The closest airport is right in Colorado Springs, which offers direct flights from locations throughout the US. For more flight options, you can also fly into Denver Airport, just over an hour away.

Where to Get Married at Garden of the Gods

There are many spots throughout the park that are ideal to have a very small elopement without guests. An experienced elopement photographer can help you find those hidden gems to truly customize your day! 

Wedding ceremonies with guests are limited to 6 locations within the park. All are on a first come first served basis, and no permits are required (provided you follow all regulations and capacity limits). These locations are generally pretty popular, so if you want to avoid crowds you may want to consider a sunrise and/or midweek elopement.  

  • Jaycee Plaza (Limit: 50 people)
  • Sentinal Plaza (Limit: 25 people)
  • Three Graces Plaza (Limit: 25 people)
  • High Point (Limit: 50 people)
  • Scotsman Picnic Area (Limit: 25 people)
  • South Spring Canyon Area (Limit: 50 people)

Where to Stay for Your Garden of the Gods Elopement

Due to its central location, there are multiple great lodging options close to Garden of the Gods. From luxury resorts to cozy Airbnbs, the Colorado Springs area has something for everyone. Here are some to check out:

Hotels

Garden of the Gods Resort

This full-service resort located just outside the park offers both traditional rooms and cottages in a breathtaking location. This can also serve as a perfect reception venue if guests will join you during or after your elopement.

The Cliff House

Historic 1870’s Inn located in Manitou Springs, just minutes from Garden of the Gods.

The Broodmoor

Iconic luxury resort in Colorado Springs.

AirBnbs

Renting a place through Airbnb is a fantastic option for elopements, especially if your accommodations will double as a location for your getting ready photos or an after-party. You can find a variety of options in every size and price range. Here are a few gems in the area to get you started:

Peak View Barndominium

Cozy Cottage

Stream Side Modern Retreat

Garden of the Gods Rules

Although you do not need a permit, there are rules that couples must follow to get married in the park. It’s important that we all do our part to ensure that this incredible spot is open and available to visit for years to come!

  • Weddings must be kept small (under the capacity limits noted above) and as brief as possible.
  • Receptions are not allowed in the park unless you are having a picnic at the Scotsman or South Spring Canyon Picnic areas.
  • Absolutely no alcoholic beverages are allowed.
  • Only bring in chairs for elderly or disabled guests.
  • Do not bring in any tables, tents, arches, trellises, etc.
  • Do not release birds, butterflies, balloons, throw rice or confetti. 
  • No decorations are allowed.
  • Blocking off areas, including parking, is not permitted.
  • Please stay on established trails and do not disturb the tundra.
  • Tourists and other groups may be at the same site.  Please be respectful of other park users.
  • Drone photography is not permitted in the park or at the Visitor Center, without proper permitting and insurance. For more information about commercial permits Click Here.

Note that these are rules specific to weddings – please also see these general rules for all visitors to the park..

Couple dances at their Garden of the Gods elopement

When to Elope at Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods is open every day of the year, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Garden of the Gods is a very popular and busy place, especially since it’s free. Your ideal season will depend on the activities you want to do, and what type of photos and experience you want.

The busy season runs from spring through fall. I recommend getting there early to ensure you get a parking space. You could also consider a midweek elopement to help avoid the crowds.

Winter is much quieter and is a great option if you want to avoid the crowds. Much of the park is still accessible in the winter months and you’ll have snow-capped mountain views as your backdrop!

How to Get Married in Colorado

Eloping in Colorado is fairly easy, with no special requirements for couples residing outside the state. Just follow these steps:

Get Your Marriage License

Colorado requires a marriage license to consider your wedding legal. You can apply for your license at any county clerk’s office (each county has one). Generally, no appointment is necessary, but check with the office to confirm. You can get your license right away once you fill out the paperwork.

Complete and Sign Your Marriage License

Self-Solemnize

One of the great things about eloping in Colorado is that you don’t need an officiant. If you prefer that your day is just the two of you (and your awesome photographer 😉 ) you can just sign the thing yourself. You do NOT need an officiant, judge, or any witnesses.

Your Furbaby Can Be A Witness

That’s right! In Colorado you can have your dog, cat, or other furry family member sign your marriage license. Just bring an ink pad along to help them stamp their paw on the dotted line.

File Your Marriage License and Celebrate!

Once you’ve signed your license you can return it to the office where you got it or mail it in.

Want to learn more about Colorado weddings? Check out our blog post on How to Get Married in Colorado .

Lesbian wedding couple laughs together at their elopement

Frequently Asked Questions About Garden of the Gods Elopements

Can I Have a Reception?

The park does not allow wedding receptions. You may have a small picnic at the Scotsman Picnic Area or the South Spring Canyon area, provided you follow all park rules.

The Garden of the Gods Resort, located just outside the park entrance, is a popular venue for weddings and elopement receptions after ceremonies at Garden of the Gods. They have multiple event spaces to accommodate small groups or larger groups up to 300 guests.

Another option is to plan a smaller celebration at a local restaurant or at your AirBnb. (Your elopement photographer can help plan all these details!)

When is Garden of the Gods Open?

Garden of the Gods Park is open year-round, every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

Park Hours

  5:00 am – 9:00 pm (Nov 1 – April 30)

  5:00 am – 10:00 pm (May 1 – Oct 31)

Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center Hours

  9:00 am – 5:00 pm, Winter Months

  8:00 am – 5:00 pm, Summer (Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day Weekend)

Can I Elope with My Family?

Absolutely! An elopement doesn’t have to mean that you two are going it alone. If you want to include your closest family and friends, they should absolutely be there. You can choose to have them there for all or just part of your day (again, total flexibility!). For more on including guests at your elopement, read How to Have a Friends and Family Elopement.

Can I Elope With My Dog?

Yes! Your fur babies are allowed in all areas of the park. They must stay leashed at all times.

Is There Parking?

There are 336 parking spaces located throughout the park. Spaces fill up early at peak times. You’ll want to work with your elopement photographer to find the best arrival time to ensure that you and your guests snag a spot near your ceremony site.

Couple embraces at their Garden of the Gods elopement

What Does Leave No Trace Mean?

It’s important to always follow Leave No Trace Principles. At heavily trafficked sites like Garden of the Gods, it’s especially crucial that we all do our part. Following these principles will help to ensure that this location will be available for future generations to enjoy.

These Are the 7 Leave No Trace Principles

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare: It’s always a good idea to research your location beforehand so you know how best to prepare.
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces: Always stay on marked trails. The ecosystem in Garden of the Gods is extremely fragile. Even one footstep outside of designated areas can cause damage that will last for decades. Note: You are not allowed to camp anywhere within the park.
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly: “Pack it in, Pack it out.” Dispose of all waste appropriately or carry it out of the park with you.
  4. Leave What You Find: Always leave plants, animals, rocks and other objects exactly as you find them. Never mark or carve any of the rocks.
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts: Fires are not permitted in the park. If you are camping elsewhere, always keep your campfire small, use an existing campfire ring wherever available, and burn only dead or downed wood.
  6. Respect Wildlife: Observe wildlife from afar and avoid disturbing them with loud noises or quick movements. Do not feed wildlife and be sure to store any food securely.
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors: Help everyone enjoy their experience by keeping noise to a minimum and respecting others’ privacy.

Learn more about Leave No Trace at LNT.org.

Meet Your Colorado Springs Elopement Photographer

Colorado Elopement Photographer stands next to a Jeep

Hey there! I’m Adam, and I help couples just like you plan their dream elopements! If you’re planning a Colorado elopement, I’d love to hear from you! I can help you find the best Colorado Springs elopement package for you and help you start planning the day of your dreams!

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