Ultimate Guide to a Commitment Ceremony

LAST UPDATED August 2, 2022

This Great Sand Dunes elopement inspiration shoot has been featured in A Northwoods Wedding!

Great Sand Dunes Elopement Inspiration

This Great Sand Dunes elopement style shoot was all about showing a simple, inexpensive elopement that is crafted completely around a couple’s unique style and interests. For Elena and Marcus, this meant an adventurous day that started with a delicious meal, and ended with playing in the dunes with their furbaby, Alfredo.

Elena and Marcus are both chefs, and their love of food is what first brought them together. As we started our day, they prepared an absolutely mouthwatering stir-fry meal together. It was magical to watch them share their passion for cooking and for each other, and of course the food was incredible.

As the sun began to set, we headed out to the dunes. Elena and Marcus shared some emotional vows as Alfredo looked on. We climbed higher and higher in the dunes and found a secluded spot where they could get more intimate, sharing steamy kisses and rolling in the sand. The fiery oranges and yellows of the setting sun were the perfect backdrop for their love. Then, they danced and played as the sun disappeared behind the dunes, marking a perfect end to a perfect day.

Couple prepares food together during their adventure elopement

Great Sand Dunes National Park

If you can’t decide between a mountain or beach elopement, Great Sand Dunes National Park has the best of both worlds. This unique and breathtaking park is located in Southern Colorado, and boasts the tallest dunes in North America. Just beyond the dunes, you’ll find yourself surrounded by mountains, grasslands, wetlands, forests and alpine lakes.

You can spend a full day (or multiple days!) just exploring the area and taking in all the sights. While there are no designated trails on the dunes themselves, you are free to roam the 30 square miles of sand. Beyond the dunes, there are forested trails that are a good option to escape the afternoon heat. If you’re looking for even more adventure, you can give sandboarding  or  sandsledding a try!

Couple shares vows at their Great Sand Dunes Elopement

Tips for your Great Sand Dunes Elopement

Where to stay

  • Camping  (April-October)
  • Piñon Flats Campground is located right in the park. It is often fully booked, so you will need to plan ahead to snag a site.
  • Great Sand Dunes Oasis is just across the street and is another great option. They even rent sandsleds and sandboards right there!
  • Hotels
  • Many people choose to stay in Alamosa, which is about a 35-minute drive from the park. There are also a variety of lodging options on the way to the park entrance.

Best time of day to elope

The sand gets HOTTT during the spring and summer months! Plan your activities for early morning or later in the evening, as the sand during midday can get to a blistering 150º F.

Do I need a permit?

Permits are generally required for weddings, elopements, and commercial photography. You can learn more about permit requirements here.


Weddings and other special events must take place outside the wilderness boundary of the dunes, and must not interfere with others’ enjoyment of the park.


Working with a Colorado Elopement Photographer (like this guy) who has experience with the permit requirements and process will help to make this part go more smoothly!

Are pets allowed?

Yes! As Alfredo can confirm, your furbabies are welcome in most sections of Great Sand Dunes National Park

Couple kisses at their elopement in the sand dunes

Why Should You Elope in Colorado?

I’ll just go ahead and say it: Colorado is absolutely stunning. No matter what type of day you have in mind, you’ll find it in Colorado. Are you looking for an epic adrenaline rush? Try whitewater rafting, snow (or sand!) boarding, snowmobiling or skydiving. If you like your adventures a little bit more on the chill side, you can try a short hike to one of the many amazing and accessible overlooks, beaches and lakeside paths to stroll, and waterfalls you can explore (and jump right into if that’s your thang).

Like all the best places to elope in Colorado, the Great Sand Dunes are a unique and diverse landscape where you won’t be limited to just one activity. There are dunes, forests, mountains, and streams to explore, and you can make your day as adventurous or laid-back as you desire.

Colorado is also a fantastic year-round destination, and the Great Sand Dunes are no exception. Imagine a peaceful winter elopement in the dunes, where snow falls about once per week but typically melts quickly. You’ll be surrounded by snow-covered mountains, and during this season you may even see Elk or Pronghorn in the evening hours.

For more reasons why you should choose Colorado, read these Top Reasons to Elope in Colorado.

Couple kisses at their Sand Dunes adventure elopement

How Do You Get Married in Colorado?

When compared to some other states, getting married in Colorado is pretty easy! You just need to follow a few steps to make it official: 

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 it’s best to check with the office to confirm. Once you fill out some paperwork, you can get your license right away.

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! You don’t need a human witness, but did you know that in Colorado you can have your dog, cat, or other furry family member sign your marriage license? (Told you… Colorado is the best.) 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 either return it to the office where you got it, or mail it in. And that’s it – time to celebrate!

Still have questions? Check out our blog post on How to Get Married in Colorado .

Couple runs together with their dog at their sand dunes elopement

Are You Ready?

Colorado Elopement Photographer stands next to a Jeep

Hi there! I’m Adam. Are you ready to say HELL YES to the adventure of a lifetime? Do you have questions about how to elope at the Great Sand Dunes or which elopement package is right for you? Just want to chat about how an adventure elopement photographer can help plan the day of your dreams? I’m here for you!  To to speak with the best Colorado elopement photographer for you, reach out here for a free consultation.

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