Indian Peaks Wilderness Elopement Shoot
Why Elope in Indian Peaks Wilderness
Indian Peaks Wilderness is a stunning location in Colorado, that’s close to Denver and features wonderful scenery. There are a ton of trail options featuring towering mountains, flowing lakes, and serene forests. Eloping in Indian Peaks Wilderness gives you the freedom to have an extraordinary elopement for an affordable price. So let’s dive in to what that looks like!
Maki and Tucker really brought the fun to this Indian Peaks Wilderness elopement styled shoot in July 2020. We laughed, we popped champagne, we bonded over a mutual love of the obscure movie I Heart Huckabees. The couple met when they both moved to Denver separately and, being the badass athletes that they are, joined a running club. Their shoot was tailor-made to them as a couple and incorporated their love of sports and exercise, plus their amazing sense of adventure. They even did their first sunrise hike for our shoot, and they totally killed it!
How to Elope at Indian Peaks Wilderness
Indian Peaks Wilderness is a massive area spanning over 76,000 acres in North Central Colorado. Its close proximity to Boulder (about an hour drive away) and stunning beauty make this a popular destination. With 133 miles of hiking trails and 7 peaks over 13,000 feet, there is plenty of terrain to explore.
Brainard Lake Recreation Area
My favorite place for elopements is the Brainard Lake Recreation Area, known as the “Gateway to the Indian Peaks.” The beautiful spot offers jaw-dropping views of the lakes and surrounding high peaks along the Continental divide. Early risers will be rewarded with alpenglow views of mountains illuminated in orange and red along the lake. You might also catch a view of an Elk, Moose, or Bighorn Sheep!
Brainard Lake is the most well-known and most accessible spot in the area. You can access the lake by car from late-June through early-October, and there are incredible views of the surrounding mountain peaks. This is a great option if accessibility is a concern for you or your guests, or if you just want an amazing mountain backdrop without going on a hike.
The views from Lake Isabelle (where many of these photos were taken) are well worth the trek. It’s about a 4 mile hike from the trailhead at Brainard Lake, and your efforts will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains with fewer crowds. There are multiple amazing spots all around the lake for your elopement ceremony and photos.
The day started at 2:30am on a Sunday morning—the first indicator that these two are up for anything. Our goal, other than having a rad adventure, was to reach our lakeside destination in time to see the alpenglow. This is when the rising sun would hit the snow-dusted mountains perfectly and they’d glow bright orange. So, I met Maki and Tucker at a pitch-black trailhead in Indian Peaks Wilderness, we put on our headlamps, and we hit the trail.
It was a four-mile hike in, so we had plenty of time to talk and laugh and get to know each other. We had the trail all to ourselves and it was so peaceful. Every now and then we’d catch glimpses of animal eyes glowing in the fields from the moonlight or our headlamps. Eventually, in the darkness, we started to hear a rushing waterfall and knew we were getting close. And then finally, as it was just becoming first light, we could see the outline of a lake and knew we’d made it.
Eventually, we decided to get a little steamier with the photos, and of course they were totally down to try something out of their comfort zone. And since they’re such avid runners and sports fans, they also incorporated this in the shoot by switching into clothing to rep their favorite sports teams. They even posed in their running clothes and gear, having fun with a shoot that completely represented them.
From the 2:30am start to feeling comfortable having their photos taken, it was all about doing something new and exciting and adventurous. Maki and Tucker were so down and so much fun to work with. As a photographer, you really can’t ask for much more than incredible views, great weather, and a hell of a good time with a super rad couple.
Indian Peaks Wilderness Packages
Are you looking to have an extraordinary elopement experience? Then check out my Colorado Elopement Packages here.
My packages begin at 3400 for 4 hours, and go up from there. All elopement packages include expert assistance, recommendations, full hi-res galleries that you can download for free, and fantastic photos that will fill you with joy.
Tips for Your Indian Lakes Wilderness Elopement
How to Get There
- Boulder/Nederland Access Point: This is the Brainard Lake Trail entrance, and is closest to Boulder. You’ll find the entrance about an hour from Boulder on CR 102.
- Grand County Access Point: This is a good starting point for accessing the lesser known areas of the park. From Granby, take US Highway 34 toward Grand Lake. Exit at the Arapaho Bay sign, and go about ten miles to the Monarch Lake Trail.
Due to its high elevation, trails in the Brainard area can remain covered in deep snow until late June or July. Brainard Lake Road typically opens in late June and closes by mid-October. In the off-season, you can access the area on foot from the Gateway Trailhead.
Lake Isabelle is drained each year in late July or early August. Check with the Boulder Ranger district to make sure the lake will be full for your elopement.
Do You Need a Permit?
You do not need a permit to have an elopement in the Brainard Lake Area if you have a small group and do not use any chairs or props. Be sure to double-check permit requirements or work with an experienced Colorado elopement photographer as requirements sometimes change.
Accessibility / Parking
Certain trails have accessibility and lots of parking options. If you want to elope near Brainard Lake, you’ll need to reserve a parking spot in the main lot. Otherwise you’ll be forced to walk an additional 2 miles each way at the winter parking lot. During the winter, you’ll have to utilize that parking lot no matter what, so expect to snowshoe or walk in snow to get the main Lake.
Best Time to Elope
- To get the best Alpenglow views, plan to arrive before sunrise so you’ll be ready when the sun comes up.
- Brainard Lake can get very crowded on the weekends. For more solitude, you may want to consider a mid-week elopement or a hike to Lake Isabelle. Also consider exploring some of the less popular areas from the Grand County Access Point.
- You definitely want to consider a weekday elopement, over a weekend. These trails and locations can be jam packed with people on the weekends. Weekdays typically see far fewer people.
Best Places to Elope in Colorado
Like all of the best places to elope in Colorado, the Indian Peaks Wilderness has something for just about everyone. Do you crave a thrilling backcountry hiking adventure? Or do you want a gorgeous lakeside ceremony that is accessible enough for your grandparents to attend? Either way, you’ll find it here. To learn more about other ideal sites for your Colorado elopement, check out these 7 Best Elopement Locations in Colorado.
If you have questions about the logistics of planning a Colorado elopement, you’ll want to read our post on How to Get Married in Colorado.
Hi there! I’m Adam. If you’re planning an elopement and want to learn more about elopement packages and find the best Colorado elopement photographer for you, I’d love to talk! Reach out for a free consultation. I can’t wait to start planning the day of your dreams!
Are you ready for a consultation one one of Colorado’s Best Elopement photographers? Want to learn more about the right Colorado Elopement Package for You? Hit me up! I’ll chat with you for free to see if we can make your elopement dreams a reality.