American Basin Engagement | Madeline and Chris

Madeline and Chris | American Basin Engagement

telluride-engagement-photographer-handies-peak

Savannah Chandler Photography | San Juan Mountain Engagement Photographer

The American Basin.

What a magnificent place. Somehow, existing in nature, are these amazing jagged peaks right above a stunning alpine basin that fills with wildflowers each year. Just outside of Lake City, the lower basin is accessible by 2wd vehicles. Having a 4×4 will grant you direct access to the upper basin which is where the trailhead for Handies Peak sits.

When Madeline and Chris decided on the basin for their Colorado engagement photographs – I knew they’d absolutely LOVE the area. Neither of them had been to this area of the San Juan mountains yet. We decided on sunrise (which is my personal favorite time of day in the high country) and that we’d meet up in Silverton to make the drive over Cinnamon Pass together in the dark.

Cinnamon Pass is mild on the Lake City side – however, coming from Silverton requires a 4×4 vehicle capable of climbing over some rocks that sit on a shelf road. Knowing that their vehicle would have some trouble, we met up at Grouse Gulch trailhead and took my Jeep over the pass at 3am in the complete darkness. Madeline and Chris wanted to hike the spectacular Handies Peak after their shoot, and they could make a loop to meet back up at their car at Grouse Gulch – which worked out amazingly.

After a little white knuckling over the pass, we arrived into the basin just as blue hour was starting to give way to the sun breaking the horizon. We had the clearest Colorado skies, which always makes for an amazing display of Alpenglow on the mountaintops. American Peak turned an amazing full red right as we began photographing down near the river.

We made our way around the basin, making sure to walk on foot paths and dirt ways as to not damage any of these amazing wildflowers. Remember that photographs and angles can be deceiving – leave no trace when you’re in areas with fragile tundra and wildflowers.

Once we were done photographing, Madeline and Chris headed up the trail to hike Handies Peak. Both of them are avid mountain hikers, and Chris is a legit mountain and alpine climber. No climbing necessary on this amazing Class 1 14er, but in my opinion, you picked the prettiest peak in all of Colorado to hike up and conclude your morning.

I had an absolutely AMAZING time adventuring around the American Basin with you, Madeline and Chris. I can’t wait to see all the photographs from your California wedding <3

Cheers –



Savannah Chandler Photography | Telluride Engagement Photographer | San Juan Mountain Adventure Photographer | Based in Denver, Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide

Photographing across the Rocky Mountain Region: Telluride |Aspen | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray | Arapahoe Basin | Silverton | Silverthorne | Spanish Peaks

Interested in seeing all the different locations that the San Juan mountains have to offer? Click HERE to see my location suggestions!

Blue Lakes Elopement | Lola and Jason

Lola and Jason | Blue Lakes Elopement | Ridgway Colorado

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Hiking Elopement Photographer

When I hiked Mount Sneffels in 2020 – my entire goal of reaching the summit was to be able to overlook the 3 blue lakes that sit in the basin below. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to hike up to the teal colored waters of the Blue Lakes.

Sitting near Ridgway, Colorado – the Blue Lakes trail takes you to three separate lakes. The lower, middle and upper – topping out at nearly 11,800 feet. The hike it’s self is very pleasant with many rolling hills to reach the lower lake followed by a few pushes of steeper elevation gain to reach the secondary two lakes.

Jason and Lola had decided to elope at the third lake, overlooking the middle lake, at sunrise on a Thursday morning. Knowing we’d have to start hiking incredibly early, my secondary photographer Natalie and I decided to backpack into the lower lake the night before and meet up there to all hike up together to the third lake. Carrying a pack with not only backpacking gear, but camera equipment made for quite the exercise!

At 3:30 am, we met up with Lola, Jason, and their 3 human and 2 doggo wedding attendants to head up and up to overlook Dallas peak. The hike it’s self was great – and we arrived at the lake roughly an hour before the sun began to come up. As I often say, I would rather overshoot our hike time and arrive early than to underestimate and miss alpenglow!

The light began to scatter across the bright green valley, right under the Southwest Ridge of 14,157′ Mount Sneffels at 5:40am.

With Dallas Peak in full Alpenglow, Lola and Jason had the most beautiful alpine ceremony. I love listening while I photograph during ceremonies – we learned that they had been together TEN years and through many fun, difficult, and loving times together.

After celebratory hugs, beer cheers, and dog hugs – we began our trek to the lower lake overlook.

As we reached the overlook, the mountains were an amazing shade of pink with flowers galore over the teal waters of the Lower Lake. We spent some time scaling some of the rock sides for photographs, then “arts and crafts” time commenced to make Lola and Jason’s Finally Married signs. I think taking the time to personalize your elopement day with things like smashed beer can Elopement signs is hands down one of my favorite things about spending time with couples in the mountains. Making the intentional decision to commit yourselves in a way that makes your souls soar is truly what adventure elopements are all about. <3

Back down at the sun-filled waters of the lower lake, Lola asked if they should get into the lake. The answer to that question (as long as it’s not a protected lake that has regulations against humans in the water) is always HELL YES!!

They made their way into the freezing alpine lake (which I later got in myself and can attest to the freezing temperatures of) right as the sun crested over the mountainside.

Thanks again for adventuring with me, Lola and Jason! I can’t wait to see more of your adventures together.

Cheers –

Photographing across the Rocky Mountain Region: Telluride |Aspen | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray | Arapahoe Basin | Silverton | Silverthorne | Spanish Peaks

Savannah Chandler Photography | Hiking Elopement Photographer | Based in Denver Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide | Ridgway and Telluride Elopements

Colorado Elopement Photographer | Haley and Alan | Twin Lakes Elopement

Haley and Alan | Twin Lakes Elopement

colorado-elopement-photographer-twin-lakes-willis-gulch

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer

Oh, how I love Twin Lakes and Independence Pass.

Haley and Alan came out from Florida for their Colorado Elopement – after getting engaged on the top of Pikes Peak last year it only made sense to have a beautiful mountain wedding! We talked about many locations, and settled on Twin Lakes for their intimate ceremony.

Joining them to celebrate their marriage, a few family and friends gathered near the waterfront for a lakeside ceremony. Booming at over 13,000 ft behind, the Twin Peaks and Quail Mountain were still snowcapped and looking as stunning as ever.

After their ceremony, we had some quick hugs and CONGRATS, then the three of us headed on our way for some amazing Colorado Mountain couple’s portraits.

Staying by the Lakes for a little while, we walked the rocky and sandy shores to capture some of the crazy haze settling in the valley. Haley even wore her heels through all the elements and uneven ground – a true Coloradan Bride.

As the sun began to dip towards the horizon, we started our drive up the road to Independence Pass.

There’s a small bridge that goes over Lake Creek on the way up, which I mistakenly drove right past the turn off. When I pulled off in a dirt turn-around section – we glanced to see we had even more stunning access to the water with some stunning rocky outcroppings. Sometimes, getting a little lost is one of the best ways to find some new and amazing locations.

With the sun still dipping below the adjacent mountains, we were graced with the most magical light just hitting the rocks and parts of the rushing creek below. As we were taking our photos in the area – Alan mentioned that they love waterfalls and were hoping that we’d somehow find one on their elopement day. The universe has an amazing way of providing if you take the time to let it speak to you <3.

To cap off our evening together, we headed up to the summit of Independence Pass at 12,095 feet.

In true Colorado fashion, there were some wildfires burning in multiple areas of the state. The smoke had begun to settle in the distance, making for the most dramatic sky gradient and incredibly deep pink alpenglow.

We galloped across the alpine tundra trail and watched the glowing sun set to the West.

Thank you for adventuring with me, Haley and Alan. I hope that your trip driving through all the National Parks to hike and enjoy the amazing nature our country has to offer was nothing short of spectacular.

Cheers –

Photographing across the Rocky Mountain Region: Telluride |Aspen | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray | Arapahoe Basin | Silverton | Silverthorne | Spanish Peaks

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer
Based in Denver, Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide

Colorado Elopement Photographer | Vicki and TJ | Alamosa Engagement

Vicki and TJ | Alamosa Engagement

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer

When I first spoke with Vicki and TJ, we were trying to decide on an amazing location for their Colorado engagement session. Somewhere a little different than where everyone else goes. When I mentioned that I’d be at my cabin in the San Luis valley the week they’d be in town, and that it was just a short drive away from the Sand Dunes – we knew we’d found the perfect location.

TJ had mentioned that he was interested in trying to get some Milky Way and/or star shots if the sky was clear enough. We talked about logistics – things like waiting for Blue Hour to conclude, the temps dropping, and crossing the river at night to get back to our cars. Night shots are quite a lot of work for just a few images – but those few are typically my personal favorites <3.

We met near the base of the Dunes, and headed up for some sunset photographs before the sun dipped below the horizon. We didn’t have the intense sun with shadow/light play that I’ve become accustomed to, but we did have some stunning softer light. There was a storm out to the West of us, hiding the sun and creating for some dramatic skies off in the distance.

Once the sun dipped, we picked out a Dune that we’d shoot on in the dark and waited for the stars to start popping out one by one. First, we could see satellites start to dart across the sky then slowly the dark night started to appear.

There’s an amazing app (shoutout to PhotoPills) that allows you to project what the night sky will look like on the terrain you’re at. We had seen that the Milky Way may start to hit the horizon over the mountains, and we got just the start of the galaxy before we wandered back to the cars in the middle of the night.

Thanks, Vicki and TJ, for adventuring out to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night for your adventure engagement session.

Cheers –

Photographing across the Rocky Mountain Region: Telluride |Aspen | Dillon | Keystone | Vail | Breckenridge | Winter Park | Granby | Grand Lake | Estes | Buena Vista | Ouray | Arapahoe Basin | Silverton | Silverthorne | Spanish Peaks

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer
Based in Denver Colorado | Available for Travel Worldwide

Aspen Wedding Photographer | Lynn and Tyler | Old Thompson Barn Wedding

Tyler and Lynn | Old Thompson Barn Wedding

Savannah Chandler Photography | Aspen Wedding Photographer

I met Lynn and Tyler through a couple whose wedding I had photographed a few years back. We first met at the very beginning of 2020, hiking up the Mount Bierstadt trail for their winter engagement session. Not too long after our snowy day post-holing up to a viewpoint of Bierstadt and the Sawtooth, the world flipped upside down.

As the summer of 2020 began to approach and Covid cases here in Colorado leveled out (for a while, at least), wedding venues began to allow ceremonies and receptions to move forward as long as proper restrictions were being followed.

It was always Tyler and Lynn’s intention to have a more intimate wedding celebration, so the Pitkin and Garfield County cap of 50 guests was right in line with what they had been planning all along.

On a beautiful September day, I headed up to the Old Thompson Barn to celebrate with Tyler and Lynn. I absolutely LOVE the Barn for hosting a local Carbondale / Aspen wedding – the views of 12,966′ Mt. Sopris are absolutely stunning.

For their ceremony, Tyler and Lynn were greeted with rays of sunshine and beautiful fall weather. Just before their vows, the couple took a few moments to say something about each and every guest that was in attendance at their wedding – including myself – which was so beautiful and an amazing way to personally thank everyone for celebrating with them.

To cap off their night, some lawn games and indoor distanced seating for conversation made for the perfect intimate setting. We took a few moments to sneak off and capture the Milky Way – which is always a personal favorite way to end our night together.

Thanks for inviting me to celebrate, Tyler and Lynn!

Cheers –