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Colorado Elopement Photographer | San Juan Mountain Elopement Locaions

San Juan Mountains | Elopement Locations

Overlooking Blue Lakes from the Mt. Sneffels Summit at 14,147 feet

Located in SouthWest Colorado, the San Juan Mountains boast some of Colorado’s most spectacular views. Formed from Volcanic activity, many of the peaks in this southern area of the Rocky Mountains are incredibly jagged and dramatic. Green mountainsides are filled with wildflowers in the summer months while teal lakes and yellow aspens line the horizon in the later months of fall.

Spanning for 150 miles and into New Mexico, the San Juan Mountain range begins in the town of Ouray. When looking for lodging and a home base, the major towns with excellent Mountain access are: Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, Durango, and Lake City. In order to fully experience the San Juans, I would highly recommend renting a 4×4 vehicle such as a Jeep or Side by Side. Many passes connect multiple towns, reaching heights of up to 13,000 ft.

Locations are endless in this expansive wilderness. Some areas are perfect for those intimate weddings that include your closest family and friends while others are secluded and provide coveted privacy for a Just the Two of Us elopement.

Are you looking to step up your Adventure? Here are my Bucket List Weminuche Wilderness locations that I’m offering special pricing on:

• Chicago Basin
• Vestal Basin
• Sunlight Basin/Upper Sunlight Lake
• Rock Creek Lake

Easily Accessible Locations, Can be reached with a 2WD or AWD Vehicle

Last Dollar Road

•Stretching between Rigway and Telluride

•Best Season: Fall

•Seasonal Access: Closed in Winters, Seasonal Road

•Road Difficulty: Bumpy and Dirt, No Large Obstacles.

Molas Lake Campground

• Between Silverton and Durango

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

• Road Difficulty: None

San Sofia Overlook

•Mountain Overlook accessed via. Gondola in Telluride or Mountain Village

•Best Season: All

•Road Difficulty: NA, Only Gondola Access

4×4 Adventure Locations

Alta Lakes

•4×4 Difficulty: Easy

•Nearest Town: Mountain Village and Telluride

•Best Season: Summer and Fall – Seasonal Road

American Basin

•4×4 Difficulty: Medium.

•Clearance Required: Medium

•Access from Lake City (easier) or Silverton (more advanced)

•Best Season: Summer

Clear Lake

•4×4 Difficulty: Medium

•Clearance Required: Medium

•Access from Silverton

•Best Season: Summer and Fall

Cinnamon Pass

•4×4 Difficulty: Hard

•Clearance Required: Jeep/Side by Side or higher

•Some Rocks to crawl over, especially on the Silverton Side

•Easiest Access: Lake City

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Corkscrew Gulch

• 4×4 Difficulty: Easy/Medium

•Clearance Required: Low

•Switchbacks narrow towards top, has drop offs

• Alpine Lakes accessible off the road

Yankee Boy Basin

•4×4 Difficulty: Easy to Difficult, depending on how far into basin

•Clearance Required: Low for start of basin, High and short wheel base for upper basin

•Waterfalls and Alpine Tundra

•Closest Town: Ouray. Can access from Telluride via. Engineer Pass – Difficult

• Can continue on to many passes, or to Wrights Lake. All more difficult and clearance required.

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Governor’s Basin

•4×4 Difficulty: Medium/Difficult

•Clearance Required: Medium, unless doing full loop then high is needed.

•Road has a shelf section with drop offs

•Best Season: Summer and Fall

•Closest Town: Ouray, accessed via. Yankee Boy Basin.

Gold King Basin

•4×4 Difficulty: Medium

•Clearance Required: Low

•Closest Town: Mountain Village and Telluride

•Best Season: Summer and Fall

Imogene Pass

•4×4 Difficulty: Difficult

• Clearance Required: Medium/High

•Shelf road with steep sections, has lots of areas with exposure

•Can be accessed from Ouray or Telluride

•Best Season: Summer and Fall

Velocity Basin

• 4×4 difficulty: Easy

• Clearance Required: Minimal

• Accessed from Silverton – connects to other 4×4 roads in area

• Best Season: Summer

Hikes in the San Juans – Alpine Lakes and Waterfalls

Island Lake and Ice Lakes via. Ice Lakes Basin

• 7.5 miles RT for Island Lake, 8 miles RT adding Ice Lakes.

• 2650+ elevation gain

• Closest Town: Silverton

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Blue Lakes

• Lower, Middle and Upper Lakes – 8.6 miles RT for all three. Lower Lake is 6.6 miles RT.

• 2505 elevation gain for all 3, 1600 to Lower Lake.

• Closest Town: Rigway

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Sloan’s Lake

• 3.4 miles RT

• 1350 feet elevation gain (from upper trailhead)

• Closest Town: Lake City

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Highland Mary and Verde Lakes Loop

• Full Loop – 7.3 miles RT, Highland Mary Lake – 6 miles RT.

• 2120 elevation gain full loop, 1530 elevation gain for Highland Mary Lake

• Closest Town: Silverton or Lake City

• Best Season: Summer or early Fall

Columbine Lake

• 8.3 miles RT

• 2933 elevation gain

• Closest Town: Ouray or Silverton

• Best Season: Summer or Fall

Bridal Veil Falls

• 4.8 Miles RT

• 1368 feet elevation gain

• Closest Town: Telluride

• Best Season: Spring, Summer, Fall

Little Hawaii

• 2.7 Miles RT

• 410 feet elevation gain

• Closest Town: Telluride

• Best Season: Accessible Year Round, Best in Spring, Summer, Fall

• Can continue on to Bear Creek

Mountain Summits in the San Juans

Mt. Sneffels, Class 3

• Class 3 Hike – Some exposure and scrambling required on both routes.

• Standard Route: Yankee Boy Basin 3.2 Miles RT; 1677 FT elevation gain

• Ridge Route: Blue Lakes 13 miles; 5500 FT. elevation gain

• Closest towns: Ouray or Rigway

Handies Peak, Class 1

•Class 1 Walkup

• Standard Route: American Basin 6 miles RT; 2505 FT. elevation gain

• Closest Town: Lake City or Silverton

V2 Peak, Class 2/2+

• Class 2/2+, scree hill leading up to saddle and exposure on upper ridge

• Island lake route, 9.7 miles RT; 3510 FT elevation gain

• Closest Town: Silverton

Redcloud Peak, Class 2

• Standard Route from Silver Creek Trailhead, 9 miles RT; 3700 FT elevation gain

• Closest Town: Lake City

Uncompaghre Peak, Class 2

• Standard Route from Nellie Creek (upper 4×4 trailhead), 7.5 miles RT; 3000 FT elevation gain

• Beautiful valley and large, dramatic summit block

• Closest Town: Lake City

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

Wetterhorn Peak, Class 3

• Standard Route from Matterhorn Creek Trailhead (Upper 4×4 trailhead), 7 miles RT; 3300 FT elevation gain

• Stunning valley, lots of wildflowers in July. Summit block is very large.

• Closest Town: Lake City

• Best Season: Summer and Fall

General Note about Colorado’s Mountains, High Mountain Passes, and High Elevation Summits

Colorado is known for our insane weather patterns… and insane it can be. Some adverse weather is absolutely stunning, some is life threatening. Above treeline (typically 11,000+ feet), the risk of lightning increases dramatically, and humans are the biggest target for a strike. Our summers can consist of intense afternoon storms, meaning morning summits, hikes, and 4×4 adventures are many times the safest option. The mountains can create their own weather patterns, and the weather can move quickly. Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice when above treeline. I suggest sunrise in July and early August – while later August and September typically have less thunderstorms and later day adventures can be easier to plan.

We also get snow. And some years, lots of it. The San Juans are known for getting pounded in the winters – which is why the hillsides are so incredibly green and the wildflowers grow so amazingly. This can mean some years, access is pushed into June or even July due to snow pack. If you’re wanting to avoid snow fields, Late July through September are typically your best bets.

Savannah Chandler Photography | Colorado Elopement Photographer | San Juan Mountain Elopement Locations

San Juan Mountains:
Telluride Elopement Locations
Silverton Elopement Locations
Ouray Elopement Locations
Lake City Elopement Locations
Mountain Village Elopement Locations
Rigway Elopement Locations

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

Ready to Start Planning your San Juan Mountain Elopement?