St. Mary’s Glacier is one of my favorite places for people to elope! It is only an hour from Denver and the perfect spot for saying your vows.

Where is St.Mary’s Glacier?

2.4-mile out-and-back trail near Idaho Springs, Colorado. It is a quick hike with massive rewards. You can hike to the little lake below the glacier (just like Amanda and Seth did) or you can hike on the glacier for a fun adventure. There are forests, mountain views, and a glacier that has a patch of snow on it all year round.

Another reason I love this hike is that it is dog friendly. AllTrails has great information for this hike.

Is a Permit Needed to Elope?

The great thing about eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier is that no permit is needed! All you have to do is pay for parking. As of May 2023, parking costs $20/per vehicle. The lot usually fills up quickly, so I recommend eloping at sunrise. The area is pretty quiet until the sun is up. After that, a lot of people will start to show up.


There are 2 parking areas. I like the one that is just past the trailhead. Don’t park in an area that is not designated parking. All of the area around St. Mary’s is private property and you will get ticketed or even towed.

There are envelopes in each parking lot for payment. This location is CASH ONLY, so make sure you bring $20 per car. There isn’t an ATM or anywhere to exchange large bills for small ones. Be aware of this when planning to go to St. Mary’s Glacier.

What to Expect when Eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier

There are pros and cons to eloping at the glacier. Personally, I think the pros outweigh the cons. If this location isn’t right for you, head over to my blog post with more information on choosing a location.

Pros of Eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier:

The hike is short: The hike to the glacier is only 3 miles! That is an easy hike for anyone who regularly works out or hikes. It is a little steep, but if you are worried about being a slow hiker, you can add more time to the hike.

The views: I mentioned this before, but the views are spectacular. After hiking uphill for a while, the first view of the lake and glacier is stunning.

Close to Denver: The drive takes around an hour from Denver. It is a little longer if you are coming from the airport. Some couples will want to stay in Idaho Springs, but that is not necessary with how close the hike is.

Cons to Eloping at St. Mary’s Glacier:

Wind: It can get a bit windy at the lake. It is not a big deal, but some people, won’t want their hair going everywhere when saying their vows.

Not accessible to everyone: The hike is considered moderate, but older individuals or those with chronic pain might struggle a little.

Crowds: If you get there early enough, the crowds are not bad. But, as the day goes on the crowds will become larger. Combat this by eloping in the morning.

Parking: Parking is expensive. But, parking is also cheaper than a permit in many locations.

When To Elope

It can be hard to decide when to elope, so here is a breakdown of different options:

Different Seasons:

Summer: I think summer is the best time to elope because the weather will be warmer, buttttt the crowds will be a lot bigger.

Fall: Fall will still have some crowds, but they will start to thin out as the weather gets colder. There are some colored leaves, but I would not recommend Mary’s Glacier if you are hoping for those stunning aspen photos.

Winter: Winter is a cold and harsh time of year at the glacier. Many people choose to backcountry ski, and that is great! Make sure you have experience hiking in cold weather if you choose to get married here in the winter.

Spring: Spring is beautiful. Crowds will start coming out, but it will not be as crowded as summer. Weather can vary in Colorado during the spring, so there may be ice on the trail

Weekend vs. Weekday

Because this is such a popular hiking spot for the locals, I would recommend getting married on a weekday. You will deal with fewer crowds, and overall it will be more enjoyable.

Amanda + Seth’s Elopement:

Take a look at some of the photos from Seth and Amanda’s elopement in July! They brought their immediate family and had so much fun 🙂

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