Lake Elopement Hike Within the Elk Mountains of Aspen, CO
Jon and Taylor wanted to celebrate their wedding day among the fabulous views of Aspen, CO. This elopement hike within the Elk Mountains is perfect for couples who are thinking about visiting Maroon Bells. This couple’s destination was a small hike to Crater Lake.
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About This Lake Elopement Hike Within the Elk Mountains
Crater Lake is a mountain lake in the Elk Mountains of Aspen, CO. The hike is 1.75 miles and has a pretty impressive view of crater stones scattered around the lake. Once Jon and Taylor made it to Crater Lake, they changed into their wedding attire and exchanged handwritten wedding vows. After the ceremony, they picked a few spots for portraits and then began the hike back down to Maroon Lake.
“My husband and I love to hike and backpack, and living in such a beautiful state we knew we wanted to incorporate Colorado’s beauty into our big day! Neither of us like being the center of attention so going the traditional wedding route didn’t excite us. We loved the idea of how simple and stress-free eloping could be. Hiking up a mountain gave us an unforgettable experience (and amazing photos) that we’ll remember forever!” [The Couple]
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Top Tips For An Elopement at Crater Lake in CO
We asked Aubrey to share her top tips for couples planning their elopement within the Elk Mountains of Aspen, CO. Here’s what she had to say:
- Obtain a parking pass, a shuttle reservation, or during winter be prepared to hike in the snow for about 12 miles just to Maroon Lake. Maroon Creek Road is closed to vehicles from late fall until late spring, but you can still cross-country ski, snow bike, snowshoe, hike, or take a snowmobile the 12.4 miles round-trip to access the bells.
- Be prepared for the gear you need. I always recommend lots of layers so that you can stay comfortable throughout your hike. Good shoes are necessary as well, the hike to Crater Lake is very rocky!
- High-altitude areas tend to have very low humidity and be more exposed to elements like sun and wind, so evaporation of water from the body increases as well. Hydrating often during your high-altitude adventure is key to avoiding dehydration: opt for a few quick sips every 15-20 minutes during activity vs. taking big chugs of fluids only when you stop for a break.
- Know the hike! The hike itself is not difficult and is rated moderate. The hike is 3.5 miles out and back and should take about 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete. Of course, you will want to enjoy the lake and share your vows, so be sure to plan some time for portraits and exploring.
- I recommend beginning early to beat the larger crowds. This is a very popular area for hiking, so you’ll likely encounter other people while exploring.
- The best times to hike to Crater Lake are June through October.
- Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash.
- Have your lodging reservations booked well in advance. Aspen doesn’t have a ton of lodging options, so book early.
7 Leave No Trace Principles for Your Elopement Hike
Aspen, isn’t your normal location for an adventure elopement, but a luxury wedding? Of course! It can be a bit challenging and out of the “norm” to elope in Aspen, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It’s totally worth the effort to get married at the Bells your way.
“We all want to get outside and enjoy nature. That’s why it’s so important to leave nature better than you found it. Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together.” [Aubrey, the photographer]
Here are the 7 Leave No Trace Principles:
- Plan ahead & prepare
- Travel & camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of others
From the photographer:
“Taylor and Jon’s elopement was just spectacular. One thing that always is fun to hear (and definitely happened several times on our way down) is when fellow hikers pass by and ask, ‘did you just get married up there?’ They are just astonished that people choose to get married out in nature on a hike to a beautiful spot. I’ll never tire of it! Also, I love that Emily, Taylor’s sister tagged along for their engagement photos in 2020 and then to officiate their wedding at Crater Lake. I think I shall invite her along to all my elopements to lend a helping hand and cracking jokes!”
From the couple:
“My favorite part of the whole experience was doing it the way we wanted instead of what others expected us to do. The entire thing was authentically ‘us’ and we were able to incorporate hiking and the great outdoors into our special day. It was really nice not having the pressure to please other people which allowed us to be completely present and in the moment the entire day.”
Are You Ready to Elope?
Taylor and Jon tell us there are thankful their families were so supportive of their decision to elope. While not having them there was the hardest part of the process, they knew they needed to plan a wedding day that felt right for them. They even set up an iPhone to record the ceremony to share with everyone and planned a post elopement reception with loved ones at a later date.
“One of the many benefits of eloping is how simple the process can be. We watched many friends go through planning a wedding and the general feedback we got was how stressful and overwhelming it was. Many said they were just ready for it to be over because of how stressful it was. The details of weddings can get messy and complicated and, we knew we didn’t want that to take away from our special day. The most planning we did was with our awesome photographer (aubrey), in which we simply coordinated a date and time to meet for the ceremony!” [The Couple]
Photos From This Elopement Hike Within the Elk Mountains