January 5, 2024

Wedding Planning

10 Hidden Gems: The Best Places In Colorado For Engagement Photos

Created by Ali Coşkunfrom the Noun Project

Congratulations on your beautiful engagement! Being engaged feels so damn awesome — you and your partner are thrilled to start planning your next chapter, can’t wait to throw an epic wedding celebration, and just soak up all love and good vibes. I highly encourage you to always consider preserving this OMG moment in your life with some Colorado engagement photos! 

With so many dead-set stunning locations in our state, it’s easy to plan a romantic, outdoor engagement shoot that’s also fun! Think adventure, hiking, and killer mountain views — the perfect backdrop for your Colorado engagement pictures. Your engagement period seriously flies by, so it’s so great to slow things down and take an afternoon to just spend quality time together and take some images that you’ll absolutely love!

To help you get started, here are the best places for engagement photos in Colorado!

1. Lake Isabelle

If pristine glacial lakes, potential moose sightings, and dramatic mountain backdrops are your thing, you’re in luck my friend!! Lake Isabelle, located in Ward, CO, has a gorgeous 5 mile moderate hike roundtrip through pine forests to jaw-dropping views of the mountains for truly incredible engagement photos. The best part about this location is you don’t need a photography permit or a permit to elope.

Park in Long Lake Trailhead (the closest location), pay for a timed entry ticket for $16, and start the 2.5 mile moderate hike up! If day passes are booked up, the next spot to get your timed entry is Brainard Lake Picnic Site/Trailhead. Yes, it adds a couple more miles to your hike, but it’s not too terrible. And trust me, it’s worth it!

2. Sprague Lake

For your Estes Park engagement photos, one of my favorite recommendations is Sprague Lake! Set within Rocky Mountain National Park, I love this location because it has awesome mountain views — that require little to no hiking! The mountains reflect beautifully on the lake on sunny days and it just feels so serene and relaxing. 

The walk around the lake is only half a mile round trip and flat and accessible, so I love this location for quintessential Colorado engagement photos without the elevation or sweat! I’ll help you time our visit so we beat the crowds too, as this spot is also popular for weddings. If you are allowed to have a small wedding at this location all you need to do is purchase a wedding ceremony permit.

The trail to the lake is open year-round and if you’re cool with an early start, sunrise is the best time to shoot at Sprague Lake. 

3. Moraine Park

Another gem in Estes Park that I can never get enough of is Moraine Valley or Moraine Park. This vast valley seriously delivers wide open spaces — it was carved out millennia ago by a glacier. Estes Park in general is known for its spectacular scenery and mountain views, so it’s always one of my go-to spots for engagement photography. 

In spring it really pops, thanks to all of the gorgeous wildflowers in bloom. You’ve also got all of the splendor of the Rockies in the background, which is why I love taking Colorado mountain engagement photos here. You don’t need to hike at all to get to this location, and it’s generally not too busy. But, if you do want to hike, a few awesome trailheads start from here. Oh, and elk are often seen in Moraine Park too!

You can also combine your engagement shot with one of the many fun activities to do in Moraine Park like horseback riding and camping. 

4. Knoll-Willows Open Space

This beautiful nature preserve, in Estes Park, happens to be right across the street from the famous Stanley Hotel! It’s open year-round too, so Knoll-Willows is a good choice for winter or early spring engagement shoots (and the park looks so good with a light dusting of snow!). 

And if you don’t mind a short drive, this is one of the best engagement photo locations in the Estes park area (Denver is also an awesome wedding spot!) — you can get to Estes Park in around 90 minutes from the city. 

Historic remains of the Albert Birch cabin can also be found here, which really add a touch of unique history to your Colorado engagement photos! No matter which direction you look, you’re surrounded by mountains, which gives us lots of versatility when scouting out shoot backdrops. 

5. Paint Mines Interpretive Park

Looking for something a little quirky and unique for your engagement photos in Colorado? Check out Paint Mines, a park near Calhan. As much as we all love the mountains, this is a pretty cool alternative, featuring natural rock formations caused by oxidized iron compounds.

Your Colorado engagement photography is going to look so badass here, as the sunlight hits the rocks to create such stunning color that you really don’t find anywhere else — especially during the golden hours at sunset and sunrise. Paint Mines do require a special day permit for photography, which is $100 per day. 

Paint Mines really feels like something from another planet, which is so damn cool, but it also really shines at night — it’s one of the best astrophotography locations in the region if you want to come back at night to enjoy the stars. 

6. Guanella Pass

Guanella Pass is all about those mountain vibes! Located in Idaho Springs, it’s fun and easy to get to, but it’s at its best in autumn, since the color seriously pops when the leaves change. For fall engagement photo locations in Denver, Guanella Pass is just a short drive from the city, with plenty of pull-off locations to explore and take fun photos. (However, I can also recommend some additional Denver engagement photo locations that you’ll love!)

Think bubbling brooks, spruce and fir trees, and wildlife like bighorn sheep and beaver — everywhere you look delivers those killer views, with plenty of variety for your engagement shoot! The byway to Guanella Pass also offers views of Mount Bierstadt and the cute historic mining town of Georgetown. 

Note that, due to weather, the road to the pass is usually closed from late November until Memorial Day. 

7. Garden of the Gods

As your Colorado engagement photographer, I’m telling you — you HAVE to explore Garden of the Gods! It’s one of the best engagement photo locations in Colorado Springs — home to dramatic, jagged sandstone rock formations, this registered National Natural Landmark site also has plenty of epic hiking trails and views that will make you literally think ‘OMG how is this real’! 

The golden light here at sunrise and sunrise is also truly spectacular, so Garden of the Gods also makes a great outdoor choice for engagement photos in Colorado Springs. Within Garden of the Gods, we’re completely spoiled when it comes to scenic shoot locations — some of my favs are Siamese Twins trail, Valley Reservoir, and Cathedral Valley overlook. 

The park is dog-friendly too, perfect for couples who want to include their furry friend in their engagement shoot. 

8. San Juan Mountains

If you’re planning engagement pictures in Colorado within the southern part of the state, I always recommend the San Juan Mountains, near Ouray. The scenery here is so damn stunning that, honestly, it’s worth the drive from just about anywhere! Think turquoise alpine lakes, jagged peaks, and varied scenery — including waterfalls!

The whole area feels so romantic too, so it would be such an ideal weekend away to celebrate your elopement, go hiking together, and snap some unforgettable images of you guys together! There are tons of epic outdoor activities to do in the area, like white water rafting, zip lining, and waterfall hikes. 

9. Lost Gulch Overlook

Lost Gulch Overlook is a popular spot for wedding photography and Boulder engagement photos, with couples loving the stunning mountain views. For a simple photo session, there’s no hiking involved (unless you want to, of course!), with some of the best views easily accessible via car. 

This spot can get busy, which is why I love going as early as possible on weekday mornings. On our shoot, we can also visit nearby Chautauqua Park, a historic park with expansive mountain and valley views. 

Photography in Lost Gulch Overlook requires a special day-use permit from Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks, which is $50 for the day. 

10. Great Sand Dunes National Park

For rad engagement photos with a desert-like feel, Great Sand Dunes National Park is a great choice! It’s sandy, it’s a lot of fun, and the dunes seriously stretch on for miles. Not only is the park home to the tallest dunes in North America, but you’ll get those quintessential mountain views too, so the landscape here really feels unlike anywhere else. 

Morning and late afternoon are the best times for photography here, as we’ll get that sweet golden light that’s not too harsh. The sand can also get crazy hot when you’re taking those romantic barefoot photos, so you definitely don’t want to be at Sand Dunes in the summer midday heat. Spring and fall are generally the best time to visit, with more pleasant weather and fewer crowds. 


I hope that reading this has got you super inspired to plan your engagement shoot in Colorado! Whether you’re after engagement photos in Denver, Telluride, Vail, or just about anywhere in the world, I’m excited to help! Get in touch to start planning and I’ll get back to you within 48 hours.

I can’t wait to hear from you and learn more about what you have planned for your candid, romantic, and kickass photo shoot!

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