Kelly and Michael | 4×4 Elopement at American Basin and over Cinnamon Pass
Savannah Chandler Photography | San Juan Mountain Elopement Photographer
Kelly and Michael’s Intimate 4×4 Elopement in the San Juan Mountains of Southern Colorado
Kelly and Michael had a vision from the beginning of what they wanted for their intimate elopement in the mountains of Colorado. Back in the Day, Michael was a climbing guide out of Lake City, Colorado – guiding people on adventures in the San Juan Mountains. A few years prior to their elopement, Michael and Kelly came as a newer couple to climb (one of my very favorite peaks) Handies. It’s such an amazing 14er, and boasts one of the most photogenic trailheads in all of Colorado: American Basin.
Love Across State Lines
Kelly and Michael’s love story began in the heart of Texas, where they met through a medical practice and discovered a shared passion for adventure and the great outdoors. Their journey together took them through ups and downs, eventually leading them to the mountains of Colorado, where they decided to say their vows in the midst of nature’s splendor. Seeing that they both work in the field of Cardiology – there were many sayings, jokes, and general happy sentiments that were based upon the Heart. Michael’s brother officiated – and had some lovely words to say that were based on the different Heart Chambers. As a non-medical professional – what stuck with me from all the Heart-Talk was that these two are truly in love with all their hearts.
A Scenic Journey to American Basin
The San Juan Mountains are renowned for their rugged terrain and stunning vistas. To reach their elopement destination at the Alpine meadows spanning across American Basin, Kelly and Michael along with their closest family and friends embarked on an off-road adventure. It was incredibly important to them to make sure that their invited guests had a true Colorado experience. The day before their elopement, everyone hopped on the Narrow Gauge Rail and took the steam train from Durango to Silverton. If you’ve never had the opportunity to take the Narrow Gauge – it’s one of those amazing experiences that everyone should try to do. It’s also the gateway to the Chicago Basin – an area that boasts 4 of the most remote 14ers in the state.
The morning of their elopement, Michael and Kelly had everyone rent a fleet of Jeep Rubicon’s, allowing them to navigate the challenging 4×4 road that leads from Silverton and over a few passes into American Basin. This thrilling journey not only added an element of excitement but also emphasized the couple’s love for exploration and the great outdoors. To add to the excitement – Colorado had a very late snow pack in 2023, meaning that the 4×4 roads were rather torn up and extra rough this year. Everyone certainly got the rugged Colorado experience that Michael and Kelly were hoping for.
Wildflowers Galore and Mountain Majesty
Upon arriving at American Basin, Kelly and Michael found themselves surrounded by a sea of wildflowers in full bloom. The vibrant colors of nature provided a picturesque setting for their intimate ceremony. As a Colorado elopement photographer, I was in awe of the natural beauty that enveloped us, making every shot a work of art.
The majestic American Peaks provided a stunning backdrop as Kelly and Michael exchanged their heartfelt vows. The San Juan Mountains’ towering presence added a sense of grandeur and awe to the ceremony, reminding everyone in attendance of the power of love amidst nature’s wonders.
Their ceremony consisted of an old wedding tradition of warming the rings. They invited everyone to say something as they held the couple’s rings in their hands. Everyone in attendance had something incredibly sweet and emotional to say. There were many tears and laughs to be had by all.
Cinnamon Pass Adventure: 4x4ing Back to Silverton and connecting to California Pass
After bidding farewell to American Basin, the adventurous couple and their guests continued their journey by venturing over Cinnamon Pass. This iconic 4×4 road led them eventually to the charming town of Silverton, Colorado, where they celebrated their love in a more intimate setting at the Eureka Lodge.
Making our way across the passes – we stopped at one of my favorite locations in the area: California Pass. This little tiny pull off boasts some amazing views looking into Poughkeepsie Gulch and Como Lake. Both of which were closed for the majority of the year in 2023 due to high snow and dangerous roads. Looking down into the teal waters of Como Lake from 12,000ft. was likely better than heading down into the gulch though.
Once we got to the overlook, I looked to my left and saw little nest of rocks. I didn’t even have to ask if they felt comfortable getting out onto the rocks – these two have adventure running through their veins.
Congratulations again, Kelly and Michael. Look at one another every day as you did on your elopement.