If you’re dreaming of a magical Brainard Lake elopement, you’re in the right place! One of my all-time favorite Colorado elopement locations is the Brainard Lake Recreation Area. And in this guide, I’m discussing how to elope at Brainard Lake.

bride and groom kissing and bride holding flowers up
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

From how to plan your elopement to where to stay, learn everything you need to know about eloping at this gorgeous lake surrounded by scenic views, diverse wildlife, and hiking trails.

Why elope at Brainard Lake?

I’ve joined over a hundred couples to capture their elopement, and Brainard Lake is easily one of my favorites. It’s an ideal alternative to eloping at Rocky Mountain National Park, with its beautiful scenery, accessibility, and various locations perfect for saying, “I do.”

Gorgeous Scenery

The Brainard Lake Recreation Area is in a glacially carved valley offering magical panoramic views of Brainard Lake. Alpine forests and high peaks along the Continental Divide surround the lake, making for breathtaking scenery.

No matter where you explore around Brainard Lake, the picturesque backdrops almost seem unreal – an elopement couple’s and photographer’s dream!

elopement couple holding hands with guests watching and mountain scenery in the back
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

Easy Access

With more than 20 trails and ample parking, Brainard Lake is easily accessible for most couples planning an adventure elopement.

Tip: Indian Peaks Wilderness, where Brainard Lake is located, is incredibly popular. Plan a weekday elopement for the most convenient accessibility.

bride and her dad walking together surrounded by trees at Brainard Lake
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

Many Locations

Although Brainard Lake gets very busy, there are many locations for your elopement ceremony. Not only are they all stunning, but this also makes finding a more intimate spot to exchange your vows easier.

Three popular locations for an elopement ceremony at Brainard Lake:

  • Brainard Lake Recreational Area: the central, main area with gorgeous scenery and close to hiking trails and activities
  • Mitchell Lake Trail: a short trail to a stunning lake that takes you past smaller lakes, jaw-dropping trees, and ample wildlife
  • Long Lake Trail: a scenic trail to two beautiful lakes, Long Lake and Lake Isabelle
bride and groom beside Lake Brainard holding hands and walking a away from camera
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

As a Colorado elopement photographer, I work with couples to find the best location. Since Brainard Lake gets busy, it’s best to be open to exploring the area to find an intimate wedding spot to exchange vows. Best of all, this is the perfect way to enjoy the day with your love and take pictures along the way.

How to Elope at Brainard Lake

To have the best Brainard Lake elopement experience, follow these steps: 

  • Book your photographer
  • Pick a date
  • Choose your location
  • Get your Brainard Lake permit
  • Book your trip
  • Plan your ceremony
  • Enjoy your elopement

Book Your Photographer

Booking an elopement photographer at the beginning of your planning process is the way to go for a stress-free experience. This ensures you have someone to capture all the special moments on your big day.

Many elopement photographers, like Among the Pines Photography (that’s me!), also help you plan the details leading up to your elopement.

Not only do I take pictures of your elopement ceremony and adventures, but I also help you choose your dream location, pick your wedding day attire, and plan day-of activities.

Pick a Date

The best time of year to elope at Brainard Lake is summer or fall. Otherwise, you risk a snowy elopement, which can make the adventure challenging.

Weekdays at Brainard Lake are also best for a more intimate experience. And you can’t go wrong at sunrise or sunset for epic scenery.

Choose your Location

As I mentioned, there are several beautiful areas around Brainard Lake. Having a few in mind for your elopement is nice, but flexibility is important for ensuring a stress-free day.

couple holding hands next to Brainard Lake
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

Get Your Brainard Lake Permit

The Brainard Lake Recreation Area has a timed entry system to ensure parking and accessibility are available.

You can reserve your pass online for $16. If you have an annual national park pass, parking is $2. These are prices as of August 23, 2023.

Book Your Trip

If you’re traveling to Colorado for your elopement, you’ll need to book your travel and accommodations.

The Denver International Airport is about an hour away. There are a few small airports nearby, too.

There are also several excellent places to stay near Brainard Lake. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Pawnee Campground: a campground next to the lake ideal for adventurous couples who enjoy camping
  • Nederland: a charming mountain town twenty minutes from the lake
  • Boulder: a city in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains about an hour from Brainard Lake
  • Denver: a larger city filled with fun activities and unique places to stay just over an hour away

Plan Your Elopement

Here are some planning details to consider for an amazing wedding day:

  • Wedding rings and attire: Comfortable shoes are important. You can always bring other shows with you.
  • Your vows: Use this guide to help you!
  • Wedding day activities: Make your elopement day special with meaningful experiences.
  • Celebrate with loved ones: Even though you’re eloping, you can include loved ones by celebrating before or after your elopement day. You can also invite them to write letters you and your partner can read together.

If we work together, I’ll also send you a planning questionnaire that helps us get creative to plan meaningful activities. There are so many fun things to do around Brainard Lake, including hiking, kayaking, and picnicking.

bride and groom doing a cheers
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

Enjoy Your Elopement

Finally, the best part – enjoying your elopement experience!

On your elopement day, it’s best to be in the moment with your love. I recommend making the entire day about you and your partner. 

Instead of worrying about a rigid schedule, go with the flow. Enjoy spending time together and exchanging your vows to share your commitment to eachother.

When I eloped, my husband and I did a sunrise hike, relaxed in a hammock, and went to a coffee shop together.

I always encourage couples I’m working with to be flexible and embrace the small moments of their wedding day, as this makes for the most authentic experience and best memories.

Other Tips for Your Brainard Lake Elopement

Here are a few more details important to be aware of when eloping at Brainard Lake:

  • Marriage license: Many couples prefer doing the legal stuff in their home state. That said, getting a marriage license in Colorado is easy because you don’t need a witness or officiant to legally get married.
  • Guests: It’s best to keep your Brainard Lake ceremony intimate, given the available space and the nature of an adventure elopement. That said, if you’d like to invite a few close loved ones, don’t forget to focus on you and your love for your big day.
  • Leave No Trace: As a Leave No Trace Aware Photographer, following the principles is important to me to ensure we preserve the area.
  • Bring your pet: Pets are welcome, but there are moose in the area, so it’s required to keep them on a leash and close by for safety.
Brainard Lake elopement couple posing with two dogs
Brainard Lake, Among the Pines Photography

Brainard Lake Elopement Packages

As a Colorado-based elopement photographer, I offer adventure elopement packages for a memorable Brainard Lake wedding.

While packages vary based on your dream experience, they all include:

  • An initial phone consultation
  • Location scouting
  • Timeline planning
  • Vendor recommendations
  • A 100-page guide with elopement planning resources
  • Outfit planning help
  • My travel expenses
  • A custom online gallery with all edited high-resolution images
  • 24-hour sneak peek photos
  • Rights to printing

Let’s Plan and Capture Your Elopement at Brainard Lake 

Brainard Lake is stunning and romantic, making it an incredible Colorado elopement location. 

If you’re ready to start planning, I’d love to help you! I work with adventurous couples to plan and capture an unforgettable elopement experience. 

Client Praise


Brooke is professional, prepared, and provides all the peace of mind that a bride needs on her wedding day. Because of our conversations leading up to the day, I had no doubt that she would capture every important moment and more. Throughout the day, she was present and helpful, but never overbearing or controlling. She beautifully captured the moments that happened naturally & her experience allowed for insight and ideas that I wouldn't have thought to ask for but that I'll now cherish forever! She is flexible, understanding, and patient, and looking back, we can't imagine our day without her. If you are looking for someone to capture your wedding day, or just any day, Brooke is your girl. She goes above and beyond to serve her clients, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does.

"SHE GOES ABOVE AND BEYOND TO SERVE HER CLIENTS, and she is absolutely gifted at what she does."

Linden + Brent

In the end, her creativity and our happiness totally shine through in every single photo. Brooke made both of us feel so at ease, from our individual sessions before we had our first look, to strolling through downtown Ouray, to our ceremony and in the scenic spots we visited afterwards. Her talent is beyond compare and we are absolutely thrilled with our gallery of photos we will treasure forever. We give Brooke our highest recommendation and can’t wait to work with her again!

"Throughout the entire planning process, Brooke was honest and flexible, and made it clear that her goal was for us to be 100% happy."

Emily + Nick

Brooke is hands down the most talented photographer I have ever met in my entire life. I gave her my inspiration and she took it and made it into something entirely unique and beautiful. Brooke was able to work with my budget and offer me options. Along with all of this, she was always there to communicate with me from ideas to concerns. The day of never goes as planned, she was thrown curveball after curveball and dodged them all with ease. The photos we received memorialized the best day of our lives and we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created.

"we are forever grateful for the beautiful artwork she created."


Brooke was booked to do our wedding June 6th. However, the virus hit and we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to have our wedding in June so we decided to go ahead and get married with just our parents there. I called Brooke and told her our plans and literally we were getting married in a week and she was so quick to say yes and capture our day for us. She helped make our day very special. She was super fun and made Zach and I feel very comfortable. I got my pictures back and I felt so overjoyed to see the happiness and love I felt on that day. Even though we didn’t have our wedding like we planned, it was still very special and Brooke was a big hand in that. She truly captured some very special memories that I will have for the rest of my life. 


Our wedding was in Kentucky in September. Brooke not only traveled for us but made a custom package for us because we had a unique situation. She took pictures the day before, and just seemed to be in the right place at the right time. She met with me before the wedding and we communicated a few times up to the wedding about my specific requests, and she hit the nail on the head. I am so very thankful for Brooke's story-telling, organic nature. She captured our wedding for exactly what it was and what I will remember it to be...full of joy, laughter, love and hope for the future!

"I AM SO VERY THANKFUL FOR BROOKE'S storytelling, organic nature."



She’s professional, creative, organized, kind, and just a blast to be around. She made my husband comfortable instantly in front of a camera so she’s a miracle worker too. We can’t stop staring at our photos! So many people keep telling us how amazing they are!


Jessica & Robby

Brooke has a true talent. She is able to tap into and capture moments you didn’t even realize were happening.  Absolutely 100% recommend Brooke and her beautiful pictures. We booked her services for our engagement pictures and then immediately realized we needed to have her for our wedding also. I’m already preemptively dreaming of the anniversary shoot I want!

"Brooke will make you feel comfortable and like a friend - she will take your ideas and inspiration and produce something better than you thought."

Rori + Eli

Brooke truly listened to what we wanted as a couple, our hopes, and took time to understand our "vibe," which came through in her work she delivered.

I can't thank Brooke enough for her amazing work - seriously the BEST decision we made and brings me to tears each time I look at these beautiful, photographic memories we'll have forever.


Not only is Brooke an amazing photographer, but she is so fun and easy to work with! She made the whole process feel natural and comfortable for someone who typically feels awkward and weird while getting pictures taken! I love all of the pictures and I highly recommend Brooke as a photographer!

"SHE MADE THE WHOLE PROCESS FEEL natural & Comfortable."


That's exactly what Brooke does, she captures a story. No words needed. You can see it and feel it. You can remember the exact moment and how you feel for that person and see how they feel about you. Her intuitive eye has only gotten sharper. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await for her to capture.

"SHE CAPTURES A STORY, NO WORDS NEEDED. you can see it and feel it."

Christy + Austin

Brooke is the absolute best. She truly went above and beyond for my fiancé and I to be able to get our engagement photos taken with the fall colors. Our engagement session with Brooke was such a special experience and a memory we will cherish forever.

Brooke is so sweet, fun, personable and incredibly talented. We could not be more in love with our engagement photos!

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