How to Elope at Colorado National Monument
If you're looking for the best place to elope on Colorado's western slope and you're hoping to stick near Grand Junction, you should check out the Colorado National Monument! If you love the desert and canyon aesthetic, this place is magical. It's not nearly as popular as national parks, and sunrise and sunset will both offer a bit of seclusion, especially during the fall!
During the fall of 2020, my best friend and I traveled to the western slope, searching for her maternity photos' epic location. We decided on the Colorado National Monument since her family visited Palisade and the Colorado River for their 30th wedding anniversary and vow renewal. This location didn't disappoint! It was easy for pregnant Chelsea to maneuver around, it offered fantastic cliff views, and the sunset and sunrise were phenomenal. I highly recommend getting up for sunrise here, even if you're not an early bird.
Get the best views at the Colorado National Monument for your elopement:
Every view in Colorado National Monument is breathtaking, making epic elopement photos! We stopped at Canyon Rim Trail right near the campgrounds for sunrise for Chelsea's photos, facing the east. We later ventured down to Independence Monument View, Grand View, and Monument Canyon View. The sunrise's vibrancy against the red rocks that make up the canyon was breathtaking. The valley and cliffs still looked terrific in bright daylight, making us want to take pictures all day.
Here's a map of the Colorado National Monument to help you plan your elopement: View here.
Hikes in Colorado National Monument:
If you're ready to get dirty on your elopement, hiking in Colorado National Monument is impressive. You'll have breathtaking 360-degree views and plenty of photo opportunities.
Monument Canyon Loop Trail
Length: 4.5-mile loop
This trail has excellent views from the bottom of the valley, including tons of rock formations. It includes the unmaintained Wedding Canyon trail ass well as the monument Canyon trail.
Devils Kitchen Trail
Length 1.6 miles out and back
Toward the monument's Grand Junction entrance is Devils Kitchen Trail. This hike has plenty of rock formations and picture taking opportunities. Beyond the Devil's Kitchen, two miles in, you'll find a waterfall!
Get your wedding permit:
National Park Services own the Colorado National Monument, but it isn't a national park, meaning their restrictions aren't as tight. Unlike Rocky Mountain National Park, which only allows a few hundred weddings to occur per year (Wowza!). Ceremonies are limited to three hours with a permit, but that gives you plenty of time to say your vows. For more information on what NPS permits in the park, visit their website.
Reminder, since this is protected land, no pets are allowed on trails or bicycles. Always do your best to follow the Leave No Trace guidelines.
You don't need an officiant in Colorado! Isn't that cool? Instead, you can self-solemnize, and it's legally binding. However, if you'd like someone to, that's okay! In addition to my photography services, I'm a wedding officiant, so that I can sign your marriage license.
Elopement Activities near Colorado National Monument:
I only had a taste of a biking wine tour while I visited Palisade, so I can't wait to go back and experience the little town, wineries, and orchards. You can book a private wine tour by horse carriage, limousine, segway, or bike! Don't forget to bring your photographer with you! I highly advise doing this during your stay, if not after your morning elopement ceremony!
If you want leisure without a tour guide, rent a bike or bring your own. Check out Palisade bike rentals here.
The Colorado River runs from Palisade to Fruita (right past the Colorado National Monument), making it an epic rafting experience. You'll have amazing views the entire stretch! Find out more about rafting in the area here.
Want a safari in Colorado? Palisade offers safari styled adventures through the wineries and orchards. They even go through the Colorado National Monument.
Colorado River Swimming
While we visited Fruit a, we went for a swim in the Colorado River. Others go tubing as well!
Lodging Near Colorado National Monument:
Camping Colorado National Monument:
This beautiful landscape is nestled up against the town of Fruita, making it easy to access. If you want to camp for your elopement, you can do so at the Colorado River State Park, just at the monument's entrance.
If camping isn't your cup of tea, I have stayed at the Comfort Inn right down the road from the moment. It probably took us 15 minutes to reach the top of the moment from this hotel for sunrise, so it's super quick and convenient!
For a more superior hotel experience, stay in Grand Junction at these locations.
If you're looking for an adorable cottage instead (why not?), check out this one-bedroom home with great views below the monument.
The Best Restuarant in Fruita:
Hot Tomato is the number one restaurant in Fruita. This isn't my opinion; this is Fruita locals, mountain bikers, and the brand Patagonia all love Hot Tomato. While the pizza is excellent, this joint is so popular due to its advocacy and inclusivity. You can learn about their adventure and see some great sites around the western slope here:
If you're not really into eating pizza for your elopement dinner, there are plenty of great restaurants nearby, especially romantic ones in Palisade. Palisade is only 30 minutes from Fruita, and it's home to Colorado's best peaches and a ton of vineyards. I highly recommend this area because the views are stunning, the food is excellent, and the wine is even better!
Here are the best restaurants in Palisade:
Here are a handful of great restaurants in Grand Junction eateries: