Makenna and AJ | Castle Creek Mountain Elopement
Savannah Chandler Photography | Aspen Elopement Photographer
Makenna and AJ’s Just the Two Of Us Elopement in Aspen, Colorado
Makenna and AJ chose to elope just the two of them in the mountains tucked away in Aspen, Colorado. AJ flys private jets and has flown in and out of Aspen’s airport looking down at all the mountains from above. When they were deciding what kind of wedding day to have – they looked at what was important to them as a couple. They wanted privacy, to spend time together in a place that had access to mountains as well as great food, and a place they could drive their awesome Porsche for the weekend.
How we chose Castle Creek
As with many couples, Makenna and AJ looked first to the Maroon Bells for their Aspen elopement. As beautiful as the bells are (definitely worth a visit as a human being) – the area can be crowded, particularly in fall, and new a new permitting system was put into place in 2020 requiring reservations for anyone entering via. Maroon Road in a vehicle regardless of what time you’re looking to enter. The permits go FAST – many dates were sold out within a few hours, if not minutes, of when they were released in the previous April.
Seeing that there were no reservations into the Maroon Bells area, I recommended a few places in the area that I knew were just as stunning, if not more so, and significantly less crowded.
Castle Creek leads to a few 14ers that have been on my list to hike for years now – I still have yet to head up Castle and Conundrum Peaks – but I knew that along the road there was an amazing little beaver pond that provided amazing views of Star Peak, Taylor Peak, and Pearl Pass. I knew that this amazing little beaver pond would provide a stunning backdrop – but also a ton of privacy as it’s tucked away on a 4×4 road and you’ve have to be very intentional to “stumble” upon the area.
Once we had Castle Creek down as our area for their elopement, we began planning the logistics for their elopement day
The deets of Makenna and AJs Sunrise Elopement
We met just before sunrise and headed up Castle Creek. We began on the opposing side of the creek to watch the sun rise over Star peak for their vows.
I always love when couples start our time together with their vows/ceremony – the lighting is typically absolutely stunning, the sun tends to come up and greet us at the most emotional and dramatic moment of your elopement day, and you get the “anxiety inducing” part of the elopement completed before adventuring around for portraits.
I always remember tidbits from all the ceremonies and vows I hear – I have a nice little memory bank of lots of emotive, funny, or ridiculous moments in other couples’ lives.
After an emotional ceremony, we watched the skies behind turn stunning shades of purples and pinks. For those wondering the difference between sunrise and sunset photos – I’ve found that sunrises tend to be on the Cooler-tones side (pinks and purples) while sunsets tend to be on the warmer end of the color spectrum (oranges and cyans).
Just before it started to rain, Makenna and AJ walked around the lake for what can only be described as a Photographer’s dream – mountains, a reflective lake, sunrise, and a stunning couple.
Once the rain passed us by – we popped the champagne. When I say that this was the best champagne spray I’ve had to date – that’s in all seriousness. AJ made it rain champagne. A Champagne Supernova if you will (had to throw in my Oasis pun there).
We headed down into the valley and towards Ashcroft – where we stopped in the most magical forest that ever did exist. I saw the skirts of Makenna’s gown swooshing as she walked – and we had some fun quite literally frolicking along the aspen-lined road.
Another part of their elopement day consisted of reading letters that their parents wrote them alongside the aptly named Castle Creek. I love seeing the personalities of parents shine through their letters – Makenna’s mother had sent a handwritten note, while AJ’s dad had a fully designed paper including the location, date, and it’s own manilla envelope.
To end our time together, we basked in the sun that rose over Ashcroft and then headed down into town in search of breakfast and coffee (or I certainly was in search of said items). I actually found that Aspen has an AMAZING farmer’s market on the weekends and I got me some homemade Argentinian sausage.
Logistics for Makenna and AJ’s Castle Creek Elopement:
Permits Needed: None, just be sure to follow all LNT principles and limit groups to 15 and under
Access: 4×4 required to access Beaver Pond above Castle Creek Trailhead (or it’s a 0.9 mile hike to the location without one)
Best Seasons: Open late May through Mid October, the road closes at Ashcroft in winter
Closest Town: Aspen, Colorado
Things to Consider:
This is a hiking area, be sure to yield to those participating in outdoor activities
ALWAYS pack out what you pack in
It gets cold at 10,000′ feet. Be sure to have layers and gloves regardless of time of year.
There are no restrooms – if you’re changing be prepared to do so in nature
TAKE TIME AND ENJOY THE SCENERY. It’s beautiful out here <3
I had SO much fun adventuring around with you, Makenna and AJ. And I’m still jealous that you got to pilot Jerry Seinfeld AJ – I have all the references lined up still ;).