a couple walks hand in hand through Governor's Basin after their elopement ceremony in the San Juan Mountains

San Juan Mountains Elopement Locations

These San Juan Mountains Elopement Locations are some of my favorite locations in Colorado! The San Juan Mountain Range is one of the most distinct and unique mountain ranges in Colorado. They stretch from southwest Colorado to northwest New Mexico. They’re known for their lush green and red mountainsides along with their gray rocky peaks ranging from dark gray to light gray. They have some of Colorado’s bluest lakes. And it’s known for some of the best off-roading trails in the state. Plus with towns like Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton you really can’t go wrong with choosing the San Juan Mountains as an elopement destination.

From easily accessible locations where you can just step out of your vehicle and be at the destination to epic hikes and backpacking spots. The San Juan mountains have everything you can possibly imagine for an adventurous elopement location. I’ve written this list of over 30 locations as a guide for those thinking about eloping in Colorado’s Southwest region. You will find locations ranging from easily accessible with a 2WD vehicle and no hike all the way to harder-to-reach locations via either a 4×4 trail or a hike.

The Towns of the San Juan Mountains

Telluride

Telluride, Colorado is one of the most iconic towns in the state. It’s like it’s own little world. Its packed with epic adventures year round and surrounded by some of the most gorgeous terrain in the state, the San Juan Mountains. Telluride has world class skiing and riding (including heli drops into the backcountry) in the winter. Plus every outdoor enthusiasts dream list of summer adventures like hiking, backpacking, paddle boarding and 4x4ing in the most gorgeous mountain range in the state.

Ridgway

In my mind, Ridgway is the gateway to the San Juans. It’s not until you start getting closer to Ridgway do you begin to see the infamous 14er, Mt. Sneffels. It’s a tiny little town with a beautiful river and park area that runs right through the middle of it. It’s got great tubing in the summer time and a few good restaurants that are worth checking out.

Ouray

Ouray is known at the “Switzerland of Colorado” and the second you pull into town you’ll see why. It’s got that old wild west movie vibe. Ouray is a great central hub for local hikes and 4×4 trails. The town boasts a few cool restaurants and several hot springs lodges.

Silverton

Silverton feels like the SxS capital of the state. The land between Ouray and Silverton (and everywhere else around them) is covered in epic trails to ride. Silverton is another town straight out of a wild west movie. It’s doesn’t have any hotels but it does have an RV park and plenty of epic places to disperse camp. The hikes around Silverton are some of my favorite in the SJs.

Durango

Durango is South of Silverton on 550, just before you hit New Mexico. It’s an awesome and colorful little town with the Animas River running right through it. You can take the Silverton to Durango trail for a gorgeous ride through the San Juan Mountains. You’ll pass through Chicago Basin, a popular backpacking area that is only accessible via the train. Durango is a little bigger of a town and offers more modern amenities like hotels, restaurants and big chain grocery stores. The San Juan River runs through town where you can find tubers, kayakers, and white water rafters.

Pagosa Springs

Pagosa Springs is just a little east of Durango. It’s famous for it’s geothermal hot springs and accompanying hot springs resort. It’s an often popular town for mountain goers because of it’s direct access into the San Juan Mountains.

Lake City

Lake City is a small little town on the east of the San Juan Mountains. It’s on the other side of California Pass from Silverton & Ouray. Here you’ll find the trailhead for multiple 14ers including one of the easiest and most beautiful, Handies Peak.

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Easily Accessible Elopement Locations in the San Juan Mountains | 2WD or AWD

 

San Sophia Overlook

  • Venue at the top of San Sophia Gondola near the top of Lift 7 at Telluride Ski Resort
  • Easily accessible walk to the location upon getting off the gondola
  • Available to be reserved
  • More info
  • Nearest town: Telluride
San Sophia Overlook on Top of Telluride
Elopement Location on the Million Dollar Highway in the San Juan Mountains

 

Million Dollar Highway

  • Highway 550 runs from Ouray to Silverton to Durango with million-dollar views of Aspen trees that turn beautiful gold & red colors in the fall
  • This highway has several locations that are easily accessible from it
  • Hire me as your elopement photographer to learn more!
  • Nearest towns: Silverton, Ouray, Durango & Ridgway

 

Last Dollar Road

  • In the Uncompahgre National Forest between Ridgway and Telluride, Colorado
  • 18-mile unpaved road capable in most vehicles unless wet
  • Great spot for Fall elopements
  • has dispersed camp spots along it
  • More info
  • Nearest towns: Ridgway & Telluride



Last Dollar Road Elopement
Molas Lake San Juan Mountains Elopement

 

Molas Lake Campground

  • In the San Juan National Forest near Silverton, Colorado
  • Just one mile off the Million Dollar Highway on an unpaved road
  • Views of the Weminuche Wilderness
  • Campsites are available for rent as well as a few dispersed, first come- first serve sites nearby
  • Nearest town: Silverton & Durango



 

Alta Lakes & Gold King Basin

  • In the Uncompahgre Forest near Telluride
  • Has dispersed campsites that are first come first serve
  • Can rent the Alta Lakes Observatory for a more luxurious elopement experience
  • Nearest town: Telluride





Alta Lakes San Juan Mountains Elopement
Trout Lake San Juan Mountain Elopement

 

Trout Lake

  • 15 miles from downtown Telluride on Highway 145
  • Can fish, kayak, and SUP on the lake
  • Swimming is allowed
  • Has reserved & first come first serve camping nearby at Matterhorn and Priest Lake campgrounds as well as dispersed camping in the area
  • Nearest town: Telluride

 

Top of the Pines

  • A wedding venue in Ridgway, Colorado that boasts vast open views of Mt. Sneffels and the surrounding mountains
  • If you have more than 20 guests this venue is perfect to rent for your wedding
  • More info
  • Nearest town: Ridgway, Ouray & Telluride





 

Amphitheater Campground

  • Located in Ouray, Colorado
  • Has reserved campsites and first come first serve
  • Gorgeous views, super close to town, and hiking & 4×4 trails
  • Reservation information
  • Nearest town: Ouray





Hiking Elopement Locations with Lakes & Waterfalls

 

Bear Creek Falls

Bear Creek Falls in Telluride
Little Hawaii exotic elopement location in Telluride

 

Little Hawaii

  • slot canyon-like formations with a creek and brightly colored rocks
  • a once-secret spot along Bear Creek Trail
  • best at sunrise before the crowds come
  • must stand in the creek
  • Nearest Town: Telluride

 

Bridal Veil Falls

Bridal Veil Falls in Telluride
Colorado elopement photographer documents a couple near blue lakes in ridgway

 

Blue Lakes

  • Lower, Middle and Upper Blue Lakes in Telluride, Colorado
  • 3.3 miles and ~1600 feet gain to the lower lake (pictured)
  • 8.7 miles out and back to all three lakes with ~2500 feet gain
  • perfect location for a backpacking elopement with campsites at the lower lake in the trees and near the middle and upper lakes above tree line
  • Can access Mt Sneffels (14er) from here.
  • Nearest town: Ridgway & Telluride

 

Highland Mary & Verde Lakes Loop

Hiking Elopement Location Highland Mary and Verde Lakes Loop near Silverton in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
Columbine Lake hiking elopement location in the San Juan Mountains Colorado

 

Columbine Lake

  • 8.3 mile out and back trail with 2,933′ elevation gain
  • above tree line, here you’ll find the bluest lake in Colorado
  • perfect location for a backpacking elopement as the hike is strenuous
  • the trail winds through a gorgeous forest and then opens into a basin as you climb up and over a saddle before descending down to the lake
  • Nearest Town Silverton

 

Ice Lake & Island Lake

  • 7.7 mile out and back with 2,680 feet gain
  • gorgeous views the entire way with multiple blue/teal lakes and an island
  • perfect for a backpacking elopement as you can camp at either lake
  • there is also first come first serve camping near the trailhead and just down the road
  • this is very close to South Fork Mineral Falls as a great side adventure
  • Nearest town: Silverton
south mineral creek falls in the San Juan Mountains

 

South Fork Mineral Creek Falls

  • two-tiered waterfall surrounded by red rocks
  • easy 1-mile hike near Silverton, Colorado
  • creek crossing along the trail
  • perfect for a camping elopement
  • a great addition to a hiking elopement to Ice Lake or Island Lake
  • Nearest town: Silverton

 

Mystic Falls

  • less populated and gorgeous falls near Telluride, Colorado
  • 4WD needed to access the trail
  • must follow written trail directions as there is no downloadable map

Elopement Locations with 4×4 Adventures

San Juan Mountain Elopement Location American Basin

 

American Basin

  • a gorgeous basin filled with wildflowers in July
  • at the trailhead for Handies Peak (14er)
  • easy hike to Sloan Lake from the basin
  • Nearest town: Lake City

 

Yankee Boy Basin

  • near Ouray, Colorado
  • high clearance 4×4 vehicle needed
  • waterfalls, wildflowers & wildlife
  • Nearest town: Ouray
Yankee Boy Basin near Ouray in the San Juan Mountains
a couple walks hand in hand through Governor's Basin after their elopement ceremony in the San Juan Mountains

 

Governor’s Basin

  • near Ouray, Colorado
  • high clearance 4×4 vehicle needed
  • completely above tree line
  • waterfalls nearby

 

California Pass

  • chain of 4×4 roads connected Ouray to Silverton & Lake City
  • high clearance 4×4 vehicle needed
  • above tree line
  • can paddleboard, kayak or pack raft the lake (small hike in)

 

Bullion King Lake

  • 4×4 road near Silverton, Colorado
  • high clearance 4×4 vehicle needed
  • can paddleboard or kayak

 

Clear Creek Lake

  • near Silverton, Colorado
  • 4×4 road by the Ice and Island Lake trailhead
  • waterfalls nearby

 

Ohio Peak

  • 4×4 trail to a short hike near Red Mountain Pass and Silverton, Colorado
  • More info

Hiking Elopements Locations with Mountain Peaks & 14ers in the San Juan Mountains

 

Handies Peak (14er)

Colorado elopement photographer documents two brides on top of a 14er eloping in Colorado

 

Mount Sneffels (14er)

  • A peak between Ouray, Ridgway & Telluride
  • Accessible from Blue Lakes Trailhead or Yankee Boy Basin (4WD high clearance needed to go to the upper trailhead)
  • Can be coupled with backpacking to Blue Lakes, Camping, or an evening in Ouray at the Hot Springs.
  • One of my bucketlist 14ers. The views looks top notch.

 

Uncompahgre Peak (14er)

  • A peak near Lake City
  • You turn off the road that goes to American Basin to drive up Nellie Creek

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