Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs is an iconic National Landmark and considered one of the most incredible geological wonders of the world. It is truly one of the most spectacular places to get married - and it's completely free. There are currently no fees, permits, or reservations required. Keep reading to learn more about how you can easily start planning your own Garden of the gods elopement or wedding.
WHERE CAN WE CAN MARRIED?
There are 6 designated ceremony spots for Garden of the Gods elopements and small weddings; you can find the list here.
1. HIGH POINT OVERLOOK
High Point is my favorite of the designated ceremony spots. The views of the mountains and the rest of the park here can't be beat. It's located outside the main garden and can be accessed from a different side entrance of the park. This is nice because you avoid the big loop through the main garden on a one-way road, allowing you to skip all the tourist traffic.
2. JAYCEE PLAZA
Jaycee Plaza is located in the main area of the park which is naturally a bit more crowded than other areas. It is one of the larger ceremony sites and has a low wall surrounding the area which can offer some seating. This is a good option if you have guests that may need to sit during your ceremony.
3. SENTINEL PLAZA
Located at the intersection of several different hiking trails in the main garden, Sentinel Plaza is one of the busiest locations in the park. It puts you right up against the towering red rocks; however you can't see the mountains from here. With this spot being so centrally located and crowded, it's possible you might have a few onlookers during your ceremony.
4. THREE GRACES PLAZA
Like Jaycee and Sentinel Plaza, this location is also very busy. It's a little farther into the park but equally as crowded. Be ready for lots of people to be walking around. The rock formations are taller here than most others in the park and the natural pillars make for a dramatic backdrop.
5. SCOTSMAN PICNIC AREA
This is the least crowded of the 6, and you'll likely only see a handful of other people here. Located away from the main section of the park and away from the rock formations, Scotsman picnic area offers greenery, low trees, and 5 picnic tables. It's not the most picturesque of locations, but it offers plenty of space for food and hanging out with your guests.
6. SOUTH SPRING CANYON PICNIC AREA
Like the Scotsman Picnic Area, South Spring Canyon picnic area is a more forested spot covered in greenery. It doesn’t have the red rocks, but it does have some mountain views in the distance. It’s a good spot to consider if you want to continue the celebration with your friends and family as there are 6 picnic tables and a larger parking lot.
If you're looking for something a little more remote, there are less popular hidden gems around the park that I love taking my eloping couples (most of which require some light hiking). There aren't necessarily "designated ceremony spots" at these locations, but there is plenty of space to pull off and have an intimate ceremony - especially if it's just the two of you. So if you're willing to strap up your boots and take the adventure, I think you'll find they are worth it. Reach out to me if you're interested in seeing the full list.
WHEN SHOULD WE GET MARRIED?
It’s important to note that since there is no charge and you can't reserve a certain spot, that means they are all first-come, first-served. It’s also not possible to prevent other park guests from walking around the area of your ceremony. Weekend afternoons tend to be the busiest, so if at all possible, I recommend a weekday sunrise or sunset wedding to reduce the chance of crowds or a location being used by another couple.
Regarding the best time of year, that all depends on personal preference! Winter and Spring are nice because the park is generally less crowded; however the likelihood of running into weather-related issues is higher. It's not uncommon for Colorado Springs to get snow all the way through April, and sometimes into May. Just plan accordingly, keep an eye on the forecast, and come prepared! Summer and Fall, on the other hand, are the most popular times to get married at the park. These seasons bring milder temperatures (typically anywhere between 55-85 degrees), drier trails, and consequently, more visitors.
WHAT IS THE PARKING SITUATION?
When you drive through the main entrance via 30th Street near the visitor center, the road through the park is mostly a one-way loop. Although there are many designated parking areas along the way, it can sometimes still be challenging to find parking. The lots can easily reach capacity during peak times of the year, so tell your guests to arrive a little early and be prepared to wait a few minutes for a spot to open up. Carpool if you can!
HOW MANY GUESTS CAN WE INVITE?
Technically you are allowed to have a maximum of 50 guests at weddings in Garden of the gods park. Although from my professional experience, I recommend staying under 25 guests, simply to ease the potential stress of finding parking for everyone or the possibility of needing to switch locations.
DO WE NEED AN OFFICIANT?
Short answer: Nope! Colorado is one of the only states in the country that allows you to legally marry yourselves without an officiant or any witnesses. You can literally drive to the courthouse, fill out a marriage license, sign it and turn it in - and you're officially married. It really is that easy! I've photographed many ceremonies that consist of couples privately sharing their vows and exchanging rings all on their own. However; in the case that you prefer someone else to officiate your ceremony, you totally can! There are plenty of online websites where you can easily get ordained for free.
Find the most up to date information for obtaining your marriage license in Colorado Springs here.
CAN WE BRING OUR DOGS?
Yes! Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed. Just be sure to clean up after them and be courteous. Pro tip: have your dog sign your marriage license as a witness. Just stamp their little paw print on the line.
HOW CAN WE CELEBRATE?
Your elopement or small wedding is so much more than a photoshoot. It's is a special occasion, so treat it like one! Here are a few ideas of how you can personalize your experience and celebrate in a way that feels right for you:
Pack a blanket and have an elopement picnic
Pop a bottle of champagne or sparkling water
Bring a bluetooth speaker and find a private spot to enjoy your first dance
Check out one of the many hiking trails in the park
Enjoy a flight of local craft beer at Red Leg Brewery down the road
Book a romantic dinner at Garden of the gods Resort
Hopefully this inspires you and gets your wheels turning. I highly recommend making your wedding day extra special by incorporating things that you love to do together.
As an experienced wedding photographer based in Colorado Springs, I have photographed countless couples at Garden of the gods and I know the park like the back of my hand. Sometimes I joke that I could be a tour guide there. Rest assured, I've got you covered when it comes to planning your Garden of the gods wedding or elopement. If you have more questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out and ask.
SEE HOW OTHER COUPLES GOT MARRIED AT GARDEN OF THE GODS