In the heart of the San Juan Mountains, you’ll find a magical mountain town rich in history and full of adventurous activities. Ouray is located in southwestern Colorado, and it’s one of the best hidden gem locations for elopements and weddings! Whether you’re planning a scenic hiking elopement or an intimate wedding ceremony at a world-class ranch, Ouray will exceed your expectations! I’m a Colorado elopement photographer who loves capturing dreamy mountain ceremonies, so I decided to write a guide packed full of all my best Ouray elopement tips and tricks. Keep reading this blog to learn EVERYTHING you need to know about planning the perfect Ouray elopement!
Widely known as the Switzerland of America, Ouray is a high-alpine community that sits 7,800 feet above sea level between high-in-the-sky mountaintops. Originally established in the 1800s as a silver and gold mining town, residents and officials have preserved the town’s old western charm and renovated its buildings to include modern-day luxuries. From hot springs to waterfalls, 4×4 adventure routes, scenic hiking trails, and lively Main Street celebrations, it’s full of activities, beautiful views, and friendly locals.
Ouray is stunning year-round. Each season brings different sightseeing opportunities and activities. I love late Summer and Early Fall elopements in Ouray. From August to October, the weather in the mountains is beautiful and pleasant. In August, the sun is shining, and the skies are blue. In September, there is a slight Autumn breeze. October brings colorful Fall foliage and sweater weather! A winter elopement in Ouray is a dreamy, snowy wonderland. While it is logistically harder to plan an elopement in Ouray during Winter due to unpredictable weather conditions, it can be done!
If you want to get married at a popular location in Ouray, I recommend eloping on a weekday to avoid crowds. This will ensure your ceremony is as private as possible. Visiting during a shoulder season, like September – October, instead of a peak season will also ensure low crowd levels.
Located on 1,200 acres of private land in the Rocky Mountains, Golden Mountain Ranch is a quiet and luxurious ceremony and accommodation retreat high above the city of Ouray. Couples can roam around the property and stay in The Wilmont, a cozy ranch house with elevated, modern amenities. The ranch also offers adventurous activities such as Via Ferrata and horseback riding. Whether you’re eloping with a few family and friends or planning an intimate wedding, Golden Mountain Ranch is what mountain ceremony dreams are made of!
Say your vows against a sweeping scenic overview of the Sneffels Mountain Range. Top of the Pines is an incredible outdoor ceremony venue with a dazzling dark nighttime sky for stargazing. The venue also offers a variety of activities, such as camping, disc golf, mountain biking, hiking, nordic skiing, and rope courses. This is the perfect location for an intimate wedding celebration with friends and family in the mountains!
This beautiful 200-acre ranch and barn wedding venue is located just outside of Ouray in Montrose, Colorado! Storm King Mountain Ranch is an elevated, rustic elopement location surrounded by some of the best alpine scenery in western Colorado! From towering evergreens to mighty mountain peaks, the view from the ranch will take your breath away! Storm King Mountain Ranch has many offerings for couples, guests, and vendors, such as a bridal suite, groom’s quarters, indoor and outdoor ceremony spaces, a grassy cocktail patio, a commercial kitchen for caterers, and more! This is the most magical mountain ceremony location to celebrate with close friends and family.
If you are looking for EPIC views of the mountains and an intimate ceremony spot for just you and your partner, the best location for your elopement is high above the clouds! Ouray is well known for its 4×4 trails that offer epic, panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. Here are three trails that are only accessible by 4×4 and have the best views in the state!
Ouray’s Main Street has a fascinating history and unique culture! From lively bars to fantastic restaurants, historical buildings, tours, and boutique shopping, you won’t run out of things to see and do while on your trip. A rustic, chic condo sits along Ouray’s Main Street, overlooking the quaint mountain town. This cozy accommodation is ideal for couples looking to reconnect on an intimate elopement getaway. The condo’s interior stands out with historic, exposed brick walls. It features two queen beds, a full kitchen, a community pool, a community gym, and more!
A high-altitude luxury alpine lodge located along Million Dollar Highway and surrounded by incredible mountain and national forest views. Only 20 minutes from Ouray, this accommodation features all the best modern luxuries —3 bedrooms, three bathrooms, a woodfire stove, a large kitchen, a cozy seating area, and a wooden outdoor patio. The lodge sleeps up to 18 guests and is dog-friendly! Whether you and your partner want this place all to yourself or choose to share it with friends and family during your elopement celebration, this one-of-a-kind mountain lodge will feel like your home away from home.
The Wild West meets modern-day luxury at The Western Hotel & Spa. If you and your partner are interested in an elevated, historical Ouray accommodation, The Western is the perfect place to unwind and relax in the charming mountain town. The rooms are decorated uniquely, with an adventurous, western Colorado touch. The Saloon and Dining Hall come alive in the evenings, offering classic libations and culinary treats. The hotel also has a spa designed with Nordic spas in mind. Additionally, the Western is an awesome spot to take elopement photos, and you can even reserve the Dining Hall for private receptions!
Depending on the season, there are many amazing activities to do in Ouray. Here are some of my favorite activities to do while visiting Ouray!
One of the best things about traveling to Colorado is all the airports we have! If you plan on flying into Colorado for your Ouray elopement, Montrose Regional Airport, Denver International Airport, or Colorado Springs Airport are great options. While Colorado Springs and Denver are almost 6 hours from Ouray, the scenic drive is incredible. Montrose Regional Airport is only an hour from Ouray, but it’s very small, and services select airlines with connecting flights.
I recommend renting a car, no matter which airport you fly into! All three airports have rental car agencies! You can also opt to book a private rental via Turo. If you’re planning a Winter elopement, anticipate mountain traffic due to weather and ski travelers!
Remember to pack layers when visiting Ouray, even in Summer. Summer can get a bit toasty during the day, but temperatures drop in the evening! Autumn can be chilly in the mountains, even on sunny days. Winter and Spring are snowy, with frequent freezing temperatures during the daytime. The more layers you can pack, the more comfortable you’ll be for any elopement in any season!
Ouray is deep in the Rocky Mountains, so be prepared to see wildlife. I have encountered a bear while sitting in town and even had a close encounter with a mouse at Crystal Lake! From animals as large as elk to those as small as chipmunks, wildlife is abundant. Be sure to give all animals plenty of distance, no matter the kind, and always stay aware of your surroundings, especially in nature!
The locals of Ouray are amazing, talented, and welcoming. I always recommend working with local vendors to help bring your elopement to life, and Ouray is no exception. Here are some of my favorite vendors around Ouray:
I hope my Ouray wedding tips helped you feel less stressed while planning your Colorado elopement! If you’re ready to say I do in Ouray, I’m your go-to adventure elopement photographer! It’ll help make your ceremony as stress-free as possible. I assist couples with location scouting, permits, timelines, and more! You can check out my photography packages here, and tell me all about your vision for your special day by filling out my contact form! If you’re in need of some Ouray wedding inspiration, check out this beautiful Ouray Colorado elopement at Golden Mountain Ranch!
A destination wedding and elopement photographer based out of Colorado! You can usually find me with a hot cup of coffee in my hand, sporting some comfy tennis shoes, or in pursuit of my next big escape!
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