• Cassandra Vagher

How to Elope at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado



If you're looking for a landscape that's more similar to mars than your average Colorado mountain view, look no further than the Paint mines Interpretative Park. The valley is unique, with pastel and colorful clay formations that make it feel otherworldly. This neat park covers 750 acres (but with only a small section of it being paint mines) and is an essential piece of history due to having evidence of human life from 9,000 years ago! This location's uniqueness makes it an epic place to have your elopement ceremony.


This guide will help you pick the best date for your ideal elopement, the best location in the park, and walk you through all the details you need for a stress-free day. Always feel free to reach out with questions!

Table of Contents

Location of the Paint Mines The Best Time of Year to Elope at Paint Mines The Best Time of Day to Elope at the Paint Mines Astro Photography Elopement Photos at the Paint Mines The Best Wedding Ceremony Location at the Paint Mines Where to Park at the Paint Mines for Your Elopement Hiking Elopement at the Paint Mines Leave No Trace Elopement Officiants Color Schemes For Elopements at the Paint Mines Elopement Activities near the Paint Mines Lodging Near the Paint Mines


Me at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado
Me at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado

Location of the Paint Mines:

29950 Paint Mine Rd, Calhan, CO 80808

The Paintmines Interpretive Park is roughly 50 minutes outside of Colorado springs. The quickest route is to take US-24 E to Yoder St.



The Best Time of Year to Elope at Paint Mines:

If you can avoid it, I would not suggest eloping at the paint mines during the winter. While I love winter elopements, this location has potential for high wind, and the snow/water makes the trail muddy. I recommend late spring, summer, or early fall for warmer weather.


The Best Time of Day to Elope at the Paint Mines:

This spot is no longer a secret, so that it can get mildly busy throughout the day. If you want complete seclusion during your elopement, opt for a sunrise ceremony. A sunrise ceremony will guarantee the most privacy since it doesn't open until dawn technically anyway. Keep in mind the best lighting of the day is a golden hour, which means either the hour immediately after sunrise or the hour before sunset. I always try to plan around sunrise and sunset for important elopement photos.


Astro Photography Elopement Photos at the Paint Mines:

If you asked National Geographic what their top picks for astrophotography locations in Colorado would be, they'd pick the Paint Mines, Interpretive Park. They suggest a crisp fall night for the best weather and the possibility of clear skies. Don't forget that if you aim for epic astrophotography shots during your elopement, you don't want the moon to be out, and plan your day around a new moon.



Partial map of the Paint Mines park with elopement ceremony location marked
Map from El Paso County

The Best Wedding Ceremony Location at the Paint Mines:


If you haven't been to the Paint Mines, I suggest you visit! If you don't have time before your ceremony, that's okay, I'll help you outline an idea of where your ceremony should be. I've circled the approximate best location for your elopement ceremony on the map. At the end of this trail, you'll see some of the best rock formations the park has to offer. Remember, if you're bringing anything with you for your ceremony, it must also leave (we practice Leave No Trace Here). I recommend not having backdrops; this landscape already has enough character and is gorgeous by itself.

Here's a map of the Paint Mines.




Where to Park at the Paint Mines for Your Elopement:

The best parking lot with the most comfortable access to the best views is the West Overlook. Driving South on Paint Mine Road, pass up the main entrance and turn left into the smaller parking lot.


Hiking Elopement at the Paint Mines:

If you're looking for a cool location with an easy hike on your elopement, the paint mines trail is only 3.4 miles, with 334 ft in elevation gain, so it's easy! Do note that most of the views will be of prairies rather than the rock formations.


Leave No Trace

I know it's tempting, but it's super important not to climb on the rocks here, even if they're not that high. This isn't for your safety, but the formations, they're more fragile than you think! Even though it might make a good photo, please follow El Paso County's guidelines. Also, take nothing and leave nothing. The park is protected by law. Taking anything of harming anything is a legal offense.

Things you need to know about the Paint Mines Interpretive Park:

  • Dogs aren't allowed

  • Photography permits are required for weddings and elopements

  • Drone use is prohibited

  • Permits are necessary for night use


Elopement Officiants:

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.

Color Schemes For Elopements at the Paint Mines:

If you're looking to Pinterest perfect at the paint mines, it's relatively easy (don't wear bright blue as I did during my visit pictured). The majority of the paint mines are a creamy pastel or off white. Other sections have more pink, orange, yellow, and purple! When edited, photographers can make it appear a little more saturated, or it also looks great with a moody or light and airy theme. Most of the wildflowers are yellow in the area. Here's a sample color palette you can work off to achieve a cohesive planned look:


***Pro note: This area looks fantastic with a bohemian style wedding dress!


Elopement Activities near the Paint Mines:

I always suggest making your elopement an all-day activity to make it unique. Some people hike during their adventure elopements, but others opt for various other activities. My usual recommendations are snowshoeing, stargazing, sightseeing, picnicking, bonfires, fine dining, but you can also go with ziplining, helicopter tours, or four-wheeling! Here are a few popular sites in the Colorado Springs area that you can visit during your elopement:

Change Scenes and Visit Garden of the Gods

If you're all about good views and taking photos during your elopement adventure, consider visiting the Garden of the Gods roughly 50 minutes away in Colorado Springs. Garden of the Gods has much more foot traffic than the Paint Mines, but it also has cool rock formations and views! Consider starting your day off with an intimate and private ceremony during sunrise at the Paint mines and ending the day with a picnic and epic view at the Garden of the Gods. This is also a popular location for weddings and elopements, so anticipate seeing other couples tying the knot there.

Visit Pikes Peak

Want photos from the top of the world? Visit Pikes peak. You can hike or drive up the mountain for epic alpine views. Pikes peak is roughly 50 minutes from the Paint Mines, and even if you're driving up, it anticipates it taking around three hours. Learn more about the mountain here.

Visit a Waterfall

There are a few waterfalls in the Colorado Springs area. If chasing waterfalls is your jam, check out these three:

Rainbow Falls - Manitou Springs

The Broadmoor Seven Falls

Helen Hunt Falls

Lodging Near the Paint Mines:

Calhan doesn't offer many options in the lodging department, other than Calhan Inn, which doesn't even have a website. For the best hotel options, plan to stay in various hotels in the Colorado Springs area.

Airbnb:

Cañon Retreat next to Broadmoor and nature reserve

This location might be the most relaxed place to stay in Colorado Springs. Although it feels like it's meant for a party, they don't allow weddings there (boo), but if you have 12 other people attending your elopement, they would easily fit with you in this epic house. It cost $440 a night, but it's readily justifiable with the dramatic views, 1200sqft wrap around deck, and six people hot tub.

Peak View Barndominium

How about a chick barn? This home has a modern feel with a barn aesthetic. This barn is $150 a night in Colorado Springs.


Stream Side Modern Retreat

If you're aspiring for Frank Lloyd Wright vibes, this as close you'll achieve in Manitou Springs. Bring your guests and house up to 10 people in this gorgeous home for $282 a night.


Calhan Tiny Home

This is where the farm meets a tiny home. Expect goats, chickens, and a snug and comfortable experience that fits two. If you're a budget shopper and up for an adventure closer to your destination, it's only $53 for a night in this tiny house.


Hey there! I'm Cassandra, a Colorado elopement photographer! If the Paint Mines isn't the right spot for your elopement, don't worry! I have a complete guide to the best places to elope in Colorado. Check out my resources for writing your vows and how to elope, and tell me what else you need! If you're ready to chat about your dream elopement, I'd love to hear from you; let's meet up over coffee or zoom! Let's plan your elopement, contact me here.