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Just in case you didn’t get it before from the website name, I’m the woman behind the camera. 

Walls are lonely without photos. Coffee tables are sad without photo albums. And your Christmas cards should not have everyone in matching reindeer sweaters (unless that’s your vibe, which is honestly pretty awesome). Let's do this memory-making thing!

It's me, Megan!

Couple walk in the snow during engagement photos in Estes Park

Expert Tips for Beautiful Engagement Photos in Rocky Mountain National Park

In 2019, Rocky Mountain National Park saw a record number of visitors. More than 4.6 million people made the trek last year, an increase of nearly 2% from 2018.

Are you planning to celebrate your engagement in this picturesque area? One look around, and it’s easy to see why many couples choose this locale. From wildflower fields and overlooks to crystal-clear lakes and woodlands, the park is replete with awe-inspiring views.

Located at the eastern entrance, Estes Park is an especially gorgeous location. Today, I’m sharing my expert tips on how to turn this spot into the perfect backdrop for your engagement session, including the top Estes Park engagement photo spots! Read on to discover how to prepare for your special day.

couple laughs in RMNP in the winter

Choose the Right Clothes

The same extreme weather patterns that give Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) its brilliant sunsets and snow-capped mountain peaks can make it slightly challenging to pick the perfect attire for your photo session.

Temperature fluctuations are common in mountain weather, and this area is no different. Daytime and nighttime temperatures can vary greatly. This means you might begin the day shivering and end it sweating.

That said, it’s smart to pack plenty of layers. You might not need those mittens, thermal socks, and thick toboggan, but you’ll be glad you brought them if you do. At the same time, throw in a pair of hiking boots. No one wants to walk across rocky terrain in heels all day!

Want to show off that show-stopping dress you’ve been saving just for this day? Put it on with a pair of tights and a sweater, and pack an extra-heavy coat just in case! For the men, the same goes for that short-sleeved, button-down plaid shirt you’ve been planning to wear for the occasion.

Especially if you’re planning a mid-day photo shoot, it’s always best to over-prepare. It’s not uncommon for Estes Park to see snowfall in July! Plus, even if the precipitation doesn’t turn into fluffy snowflakes, there’s always a chance of rain in the park.

According to 10 years of data, Estes Park receives more than 13 inches of rainfall every year! Go ahead and pack a raincoat and umbrella in your bag, and don’t forget rainboots!

Bring Easy Warm-Ups

As we travel around Estes Park looking for the perfect backdrops, there will likely be downtime in between poses. This includes the time it takes me to set up at each location.

To stay warm during this time, it helps to have a few go-to items on hand. Some of my favorites include thermoses of coffee or hot cocoa, heavy blankets, and instant hand warmers! Look for items that are easy to transport and don’t take up much real estate in your bag, but pack a powerful punch against the cold.

Understand Local Restrictions

One of the smartest ways to prepare for your engagement photo session in Estes Park, and RMNP in general, is to understand the local rules and regulations that help govern the area.

For instance, many couples wish to include their four-legged furbaby in their photos, but unfortunately, the park prohibits pets on all of the trails, tundras, and meadows. The only place we’ll be allowed to snap pictures of your puppy would be along established roads, parking areas, campgrounds, or picnic areas.

Other regulations to keep in mind include:

  • No use of drones
  • No shortcuts through trails
  • No approaching within 25 feet of any animal
  • No vehicles (including bicycles) permitted on trails or off-road areas

These are only a few of the guidelines you’ll need to keep in mind as you plan your visit. The National Park Service (NPS) has provided a more detailed list. If you have any questions about whether an idea is allowed, feel free to run it by me as well!

Consider the Images You Want

To make sure we get the perfect shot styled just the way you want, it helps to brainstorm how you plan to use the pictures from your engagement photo shoot.

Do you want a variety of different poses and backgrounds you can collect into a personal album or guestbook for your reception? Or, do you want a select few that coordinate for a wall gallery or save-the-date card? There’s no right or wrong answer, but your personal preference can help guide the process!

The Best Estes Park Engagement Photo Spots

I’m always ready and willing to suggest a gorgeous spot for a photo op, but if you have a particular type of scenery in mind, it pays to do a little research beforehand. 

For inspiration, think about the kind of background that best describes your relationship, and go from there.

Do you both love the skiing, hiking, and everything the mountains have to offer? If so, focus on the hills, ridges, bluffs located within the park. If you’re more into water views, there are plenty of lakes, rivers, and streams to visit. Below, you can learn more about some of my favorite locations near Estes Park!

couple hugs at lily lake near Estes Park colorado

Lily Lake

The Lily Lake Loop in the RMNP is one of the most scenic paths around. Just over three-fourths of a mile long, it’s filled to the brim with views of the lake and adjacent wetlands. 

There are also plenty of places to take in the surrounding mountains, including Estes Cone, Mt. Meeker, and Longs Peak. For an all-in-one shot of the water and peaks, you can climb about 100 feet on the Lily Ridge Trail junction!

Allenspark

The town of Allenspark is located about 25 minutes from Estes Park, with scenery you can only find in storybooks.

Surrounded by both the Roosevelt National Forest and the RMNP, Allenspark is situated along the spectacular Peak to Peak Scenic Highway. Looking for a backdrop like no other? Pose in front of the inspirational Chapel on the Rock! Designed by a local Denver architect in 1936, it seems to grow effortlessly from the rock formation beneath it.

The adventurous can also explore Ouzel Falls or Calypso Cascades for stunning waterfall views!

Stanley Hotel

The historic Stanley Hotel is an experience all on its own. Not only does it feature several different indoor and outdoor wedding venues, but it’s also situated on a gorgeously manicured property with plenty of great places to take engagement photos.

The hotel’s all-new Pavillion is the heralded as northern Colorado’s newest and most extravagant wedding and event complex. Featuring a 250-seat auditorium and more than 8,000 square feet of reception space, the real showstopper is the massive glass door that reveals magnificent outdoor views.

couple holds hands at the birch ruins in Estes Park

Centennial Open Space

The Centennial Open Space at Knoll-Willows is a 20-acre park located behind the Estes Park Town Hall and Estes Valley Public Library. From this surprising vantage point, you can discover awesome views of Estes Park, Lake Estes, Longs Peak, and even the Front Range Mountains of RMNP! 

Purchased in 2002 by the town of Estes Park, this open area was originally named the Knoll-Willows Open Space. There is a one-mile dirt trail on the property, along with two impressive structures: Birch Cabin and the Birch Ruins.

The Birch Ruins are located on a 75-foot rock outcropping and reveal remnants of the massive stone structure of a bungalow built around 1904 for Albert Birch, one-time city editor of the Denver Post. The bungalow burnt down in 1908, and what remains of the unique site has been preserved over the years. Birch Cabin was built the next year just below the ruins and stayed in the Birch family until the 1980s.

Now, visitors can explore both sites and reveal at the formations. They’re also excellent sites for romantic photos with a time-honored, rustic flare.

Rocky Mountain national park engagement session

Rocky Mountain National Park

Of course, no list of photo ops in Estes Park would be complete without a mention of RMNP itself! Everywhere you look, there are plenty of picture-worthy spots to explore. From Sprague Lake at sunrise to Moraine Park at golden hour, there isn’t a bad time to visit.

One of the best parts about this park is that there are vistas and views from both the flatlands and the higher elevations. If you’re not up for climbing tall heights, we can still capture that perfect shot together! There are plenty of technicolor meadows, glassy waters, and Ponderosa pines to make any image come to life. If you venture to the right spot, herds of elk or other wildlife might even make a surprise cameo!

Celebrate Your Engagement in Estes Park

While there’s nothing more beautiful than love, Colorado’s natural wonders are a close second. 

All around the RMNP area, there are various locations to strike a pose and capture the memory of a lifetime. As you reveal in your new engagement, why not memorialize it for years to come? As one of the top Estes Park wedding photographers, I’m well-versed in the very best spots to capture that perfect moment under the sky.

Take a look at these Estes Park engagement photo spots, and feel free to research any other areas you’d like to explore. Above all else, come ready for an adventure! This is one of many exciting journies you’ll take together, and I’d love to be by your side.

Contact me to learn more and let’s get started!

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- maureen, bride

Megan is the best! Megan was hands down our best wedding vendor and we would hire her 1000 times over. Actually, I know we will when we need family photos! Megan is not only incredibly talented with photography but she really helps keep to the time line, which helped us a ton on the day of! From our crazy (blizzard) engagement shoot to a month after the wedding we have loved working with and talking with Megan! We couldn’t be more in love with our photos and are so thankful!! She captured everything we wanted and so much more, and we even have a photo of almost every guest!! 

"Would hire 1000 times over"

- LAURA, BRIDE

There were points during the ceremony that I think Megan duplicated herself to get every angle. My fiance and I were both uncomfortable in front of the camera and Megan was able to get us to relax and get plenty of authentic, candid and beautiful photos. There are so many that we love that we don't know how we will choose what to frame or include in our photo albums. Megan has a great approach to weddings, she provides just enough feedback to help you take the perfect photos while also staying in the background to allow you to enjoy each moment of your special day. 

"I think Megan duplicated herself"

- Stephanie, bride

Megan was an absolute godsend from the beginning. Not only does she take amazing photos and has a very approachable price-- her personality is a total bonus! She lightened the mood when storm clouds rolled in ("It won't rain. It never rains. Those clouds are a joke, no way, not today!") and when our wedding shuttle brought guests to the wrong place- she kept us laughing and moving through the photo-ops efficiently. She was directive and efficient- both things you really NEED on your wedding day- while still being calm and positive. Megan's an absolute gem... we could not have asked for more in a wedding photographer and look forward to using her services for future events! 

"Megan's an absolute gem"

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