NON-TRADITIONAL WEDDING AND ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER ✶ CO, IL, FL, INFINITY & BEYOND
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Introduction to your Great Sand Dunes National Park Elopement Guide
This is your ultimate guide to Great Sand Dunes National Park and how to elope or host your wedding inside the park! As a local Colorado elopement photographer who has photographed here many times, I can tell you with honesty it’s not the easiest location to navigate, and you’ll want someone on your side that’s well versed in the park to help guide you. And I guess that’s where I come in.
I’ll be honest, you’re looking at a pretty long drive from Denver. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is located technically in “Duncan, CO”, although that’s not really much of a town. You have a bit of a shorter drive if you were to fly into Colorado Springs instead (about 2.5 hours instead of 4), but still pretty hefty considering there’s not really much to look at on the way! I’ve highlighted above the more “scenic” route, but there’s a lot of plains and not many towns on the way, so you’ll want to consider that. When it comes to where to stay, you’d have generally two options: stay in Alamosa (the closest mountain now), or in Colorado Springs and then drive down (much more to do and more places to stay here, but again, it’s a pretty hefty drive for a day trip, and I’d suggest staying a lot closer).
While a 4×4 vehicle isn’t required, it’s absolutely a good idea to have with you. I’ll be honest, I’ve pushed my Subaru Forester on a few of these roads and she’s done just fine, but if you’re not willing to chance it, don’t. There’s a few areas you can’t really get to without one, but we do have options (like hiking in, or going to different spots).
A few things to also note: it’s obviously hot AF here in the summer, so plan accordingly. I would bring close toed shoes that are comfortable to walk in (so unfortunately no wedding heels here!), because even sandals will be extremely hot with the sand. There’s also little sand bugs throughout, so rolling around in the sand may offer some baby bites that are itchy for a couple days (no harm, but something to note lol). There’s also very limited shade and water, so pack in what you’ll need because you’ll be much thirstier here than you’d think!
Your best options are Denver International Airport for the most routes and flight options, or Colorado Springs airport, which is closer but a little less popular.
Honestly? It’s super fucking under rated! I feel like most couples don’t consider it because it’s a little further out, but it’s giving so much massive landscape that it’s just a no brainer. Between the mountain peaks and the tallest sand dunes at record, this location is the ultimate Colorado elopement spot if you want views on views on views.
Okay, this is where things can get tricky. This is a pretty remote spot, and I absolutely wouldn’t recommend winter here. You won’t get the same impact with the Dunes and mountains, and it’ll likely be pretty windy.
Spring is a great option because it’ll be cooler at the Dunes, but again, consider that weather may not cooperate, as we still have a risk for snow at this time.
I’d suggest early summer or early fall for this location, and plan for sunrise or closer to sunset to offset the hottest times of the day.
Easy peazy, you can get your Colorado marriage license from any county. Colorado requires you to make an advanced appointment or make time for a walk in, and you can walk out with your license therefore same day (there is no wait times!). There are no officiant or witness requirements to get legally wed, and your pets can even sign your marriage license!
This park DOES require a permit of $200, but you’ll need no additional for photography / video beyond this (it covers us). I’ve found this one to be pretty easy to obtain if you’re on a shorter timeline, because there’s less requests for this park, but an advance of 30-60 days is ideal to be safe. You can find wedding and permit information here.
Your best bet is outside of Alamosa, CO. While this is a smaller mountain town, they’re used to tourist traffic from the National Park, and there’s lodging and restaurant options throughout the town! You can also look for unique airbnb options here!
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