I might be a tad biased, but I genuinely believe that Colorado ranks among the best places for a memorable portrait session. Think about your proposal, engagement, anniversary, vow renewal, or simply Taco Tuesday. You’re tired of cell-phone selfies and forced smiles, aren’t you?
It’s time to capture those sweet moments in one of the most breathtaking locations across the entire country.
Colorado boasts a diverse range of landscapes, offering everything from snow-covered peaks to rolling sand dunes, lush forests, and those iconic red rocks. With such an abundance of options, where do you even begin? Well, you’re in luck—I’ve put together this guide to inspire and assist you in selecting the perfect Colorado location for your couples portraits whether you’re celebrating your proposal, engagement, anniversary, or simply celebrating “just because.” Let’s dive into 16 awe-inspiring locations across Colorado (plus a lesser-known 17th option) for your Colorado portrait session.
Let’s start our Colorado portrait journey with the breathtaking Mount Falcon. This Colorado gem offers awe-inspiring views of the Front Range and a lush evergreen forest that looks fantastic year-round. Being just a little over 40 minutes away from Denver, it’s a convenient choice that helps you avoid the gamble of navigating I-70 during the winter months. Thanks to the evergreens, this area remains lush throughout the year.
The beauty of this location truly shines during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset, perfect for those enchanting, golden-hued photos. While you’ll need a Jefferson County (JeffCo) permit to have your portraits or engagement session here, don’t worry—I’ve got you covered. I always carry this permit, so you won’t have to worry about a thing.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park, a mere 45-minute drive from Denver, offers an idyllic setting for your portrait session or engagement photos. Its proximity to the road makes it easily accessible, but don’t let that fool you—the beauty is abundant. The aspen trees in this park are nothing short of phenomenal, particularly in the fall, when they burst into a brilliant display of golden hues.
While there are numerous options within the park for portrait locations, Panorama Point stands out. It treats you to absolutely stunning views of the Continental Divide. To capture your love amidst this stunning backdrop, you’ll need a specific permit from the park, but I’ll take care of the logistics so you can focus on celebrating your love story.
Next up, we have the majestic Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most sought-after destinations in the entire national park system, and for good reason.
Rocky Mountain National Park offers expansive mountain views, serene forests, and picturesque alpine lakes that provide the perfect backdrop for your engagement photos or portrait session. Located just 1.5 hours from Denver, it’s a convenient escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. Plus, you might even have the chance to spot some of Colorado’s fascinating wildlife during your portrait session!
While this location is breathtaking and open year-round, it’s important to be aware of potential road closures during the winter months. For the best experience, consider planning your portrait session or engagement photos during the spring or fall seasons. While summer showcases undeniable beauty, it can also bring crowds, so keep that in mind. If you decide on Rocky Mountain National Park for your portraits, they have their own permit requirements. But, don’t worry – I always ensure my couples are well-prepared by assisting with permits and logistics. Your experience will be as smooth as the mountain lakes in this stunning park!
Lost Gulch is located just outside of Boulder and a short one-hour drive from Denver. It is a beloved location and a top choice for portrait sessions and engagement photos. The vistas at Lost Gulch are simply breathtaking, offering sweeping mountain views that will undoubtedly leave you in awe. The westward-facing overlook treats you to panoramic views of the Indian Peaks Wilderness and the mountain peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park.
While this location is beautiful year-round, I highly recommend planning your session between June and October for the most favorable weather. Special caution is required during the winter months, as the trails and rocks can get slippery and chain laws go into effect on Flagstaff Mountain. To have your portraits taken here, you’ll need a Boulder OSMP permit. Don’t fret, though—I always have this permit on hand, so you won’t have to worry about the logistics.
Sapphire Point Overlook, situated between Keystone and Breckenridge, is just under 1.5 hours from Denver. It’s a true gem and an amazing spot for portraits. This remarkable location treats you to grand views of the Gore and Tenmile mountains, with the serene Lake Dillon below. And, sitting at an elevation of 9,500 feet, it showcases its beauty in every season.
One of the reasons this is such a popular portrait session or engagement photo location is because it combines breathtaking mountain views with accessibility; it’s even ADA accessible. Since it’s a very popular spot, you can’t guarantee having the space all to yourself without a reservation. However, even though you don’t need a permit here, you can reserve the overlook to guarantee privacy for your portrait session. This can be particularly helpful if you are planning a proposal!
Photographed by Boston Mountain Photo
Chautauqua Park is a portion of an iconic historic landmark that dates back to when the City of Boulder began preserving wild lands over 100 years ago. Just a short 45-minute drive from Denver, this little pocket of sunshine is a great spot for portraits.
Situated at the foot of Boulder’s famous Flatirons, the views here are stunning, especially around golden hour. This is also a great spot to catch some wildflowers if you visit from May through early August. Also, you won’t have to worry about obtaining the permit because I already have the required Boulder OSMP permit. So, capturing your love against this picturesque backdrop is hassle-free.
Boreas Pass is a stunning dirt road that runs from Breckenridge to Como, just a two-hour drive from Denver. This picturesque location reaches an elevation of approximately 12,500 feet and provides breathtaking views of the Colorado Rockies.
Boreas Pass is splendid from June to October, but it truly shines in the fall. During this season, the aspens that line the road create a breathtaking golden glow that pairs perfectly with the magnificent mountain vistas. The combination of golden aspens and stunning mountain views makes this place a showstopper for your portrait session.
Here’s the great part: you won’t need a permit to have your engagement photos or portrait session here, making it even more appealing for capturing your love story against this incredible backdrop.
Photo Credit to SkyeWater Photo + Film
Edits by Stephanie Yves Photography
Loveland Pass is one of the highest mountain pass roads in the country and is home to Pass Lake, sometimes called Loveland Pass Lake. It’s a fairly easy location to access because the pass remains open year-round and reopens once the roads are cleared in the winter. If you’re a mountain lover, this spot is bound to steal your heart when choosing a location for your portraits. Just a little over an hour from Denver, this beauty offers spectacular mountain-top views along with a tranquil alpine lake setting- all while sitting at over 11,500 ft in elevation.
Now, let’s talk about the snow. This area is no stranger to it, and you might find it blanketed in the soft powder for most of the year. To escape the winter wonderland, late summer is the perfect time to schedule your portraits. However, if you’re yearning for a touch of Colorado’s magical snowfall to add a sprinkle of enchantment to your photos, then fall is the ideal season.
This location is also convenient because you don’t need a permit and it’s close to places like Georgetown and Silver Plume, where you can wrap up your day of mountain magic with a delightful meal. So, whether it’s a proposal, engagement photos, or a portrait session, Loveland Pass + Pass Lake sets the stage for a truly unforgettable experience.
St. Mary’s Glacier, a popular hiking location near Idaho Springs, awaits just an hour’s drive from Denver. This stunning spot offers captivating views of an alpine lake and the lush beauty of the evergreen forest, creating an enchanting backdrop for your photo shoot. As the lake sits at an elevation of 11,000 feet, it can get quite icy during winter. However, it’s the perfect escape from the summer heat.
The alpine lake is just one element of the incredible scenery here. The 1.5-mile round-trip hike is a breathtaking experience and highly rewarding for your engagement photos and portrait session. While you do need to pay for parking, you won’t need a permit to capture your memories in this picturesque setting.
Let’s shift our focus to a scenic mountain destination—Dillon Reservoir, also known as Lake Dillon. This stunning mountain lake is conveniently located between Dillon and Frisco, with Silverthorne just below the dam. It’s a short drive from Breckenridge and approximately 1.25 hours from Denver, making it a versatile choice for your portrait session.
Dillon Reservoir boasts 26 miles of shoreline surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas. It offers a picturesque and easily accessible backdrop for your engagement photos or portraits. If you’re keen on capturing the golden aspens during the fall, you’ll find breathtaking fall foliage alongside the alpine lake and mountain views.
The best weather for your visit here is during the summer and fall. The good news is that you won’t need a permit to photograph your engagement photos or portrait session at Dillon Reservoir.
Great Sand Dunes National Park is an extremely dynamic and awe-inspiring location in Colorado to have your engagement photos or portrait session. Home to the tallest sand dune in North America, set against the backdrop of the Colorado mountains, it’s a place that feels almost ‘otherworldly.’ It is hard to believe this extraordinarily unique location is only 3.5 hours from Denver.
While you can expect a bit of wind year-round here, the prime time to visit is from June to October. This designated Dark Sky Location offers a unique opportunity to capture stunning night shots during your portrait session. This timing aligns perfectly with the Milky Way season in the Northern Hemisphere, making it even more magical.
But remember, to take photos here, you’ll need a permit. Rest assured, I’m here to guide you through the planning and logistics, ensuring you’re well-prepared for your experience in this enchanting setting. However, Great Sand Dunes National Park knows just what a gem it is, with a permit cost of $300. Nevertheless, having had my own portraits taken at this stunning location, I can’t deny that it was worth every penny!
Photo Credit to SkyeWater Photo + Film
Edits by Stephanie Yves Photography
The Byron White Courthouse is one of my very favorite urban locations for portrait sessions. It dates back to 1916 and boasts an impressive neo-classical design that leaves a lasting impression in the historic heart of downtown Denver. The grandeur of its sixteen majestic, three-story marble columns has earned it the nickname, “a poem in marble.” What makes this place even more extraordinary is that the very same marble used to construct this courthouse was also used in the revered Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the iconic Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
During any time of year, this location shines as a sleek and timeless place that feels like it was pulled right out of a romantic movie. Luckily, there is no cost for the permit to capture your engagement photos and portraits here. So, we are free to create beautiful memories against this historic and magnificent backdrop without the complicated logistics.
Photographed by Olivia Elaine Photography
Ahh. The Denver Botanic Gardens. Nestled right in the heart of Denver, this beautiful location is a floral wonderland with diverse and vibrant gardens that provide a breathtaking backdrop for your portrait session.
From April to October, you’ll witness the best blooms, turning this place into a living gallery of colors and textures. It’s an excellent time to capture your love against a backdrop that almost feels like it was plucked right out of a fairytale.
Now, you will need a permit for photographing your portrait session here, but don’t worry—I’ve got you covered. I’ll be there to assist and ensure that everything runs smoothly, so you can focus on creating beautiful memories together.
Now, let’s hop over to Cheesman Park, conveniently situated in the heart of Denver, just east of Capitol Hill. This urban oasis spans a generous 80 acres, making it a fantastic choice for your engagement photos or portrait session. One of its highlights is a lush, grassy lawn overlooked by a neoclassic marble beauty—the Cheesman Memorial. This Greek-style pavilion, adorned with stunning white columns, was constructed in 1910.
Cheesman Park truly comes to life in the summer when vibrant greenery thrives, and the space is graced by various tree species. With this mix of natural beauty and the stately marble memorial, you’ll find no shortage of picturesque spots for your portraits or engagement photos here. An added bonus is that if your portrait session involves fewer than 5 people, you’re in luck—you won’t need a permit.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, known for its iconic music venue in Morrison, Colorado, also happens to be an incredible place for portrait sessions. This location features towering red rock formations and beautiful mountain views that create a stunning backdrop for your photos.
Just a short 20-minute drive from Denver, this location is absolutely stunning year-round. However, for the most ideal weather conditions, I recommend visiting during the period from early summer to fall. Summer is especially nice because the wildflowers are in full bloom, adding a burst of color to your photos.
If your portrait session or engagement shoot involves less than 5 people, you will not need a permit, making it even more convenient for capturing your love amidst this natural wonder.
Garden of the Gods is, without a doubt, one of the most photographed spots in all of Colorado Springs. Just 1.25 hours from Denver, this place is a dream come true for portrait sessions. Why? Because it offers those fiery red rocks against the backdrop of Pikes Peak and the Front Range.
Here, you have the opportunity to nestle among towering, fiery red rock formations or have great views of the snow-capped mountains. Or, you can capture it all—stunning rock formations with grand mountain views. The choices are abundant.
It’s nice to know that you don’t need a permit for portrait photography here. While it can get busy, particularly during the summer, I always recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset to beat the crowds. But the true magic of this location is that it’s truly gorgeous year-round, with the vibrant red rocks providing a stunning contrast against the white snow.
Now, here’s an idea that often doesn’t get the attention it deserves when it comes to engagement photos and portrait sessions. I absolutely adore capturing your moments in the cozy embrace of your own home or a charming Airbnb. The possibilities are virtually endless when you choose to have an engagement shoot or a portrait session in an Airbnb.
The beauty of having your portraits at an Airbnb lies in your ability to handpick a setting that perfectly complements the vibe and scenery you desire. When you opt to have your portrait session in your own home, it’s like offering a glimpse into your most intimate, everyday life. In the comfort of your personal space, you’re naturally at ease, creating a unique and authentic atmosphere for your portraits. It’s an idea that truly deserves consideration from everyone looking to create unforgettable portraits.
Plus you can even plan a cozy, fun activity for your portrait session! Whether you want to play board games or cook breakfast together, the options are endless.
Embarking on a portrait session might initially feel a tad intimidating, especially if you’re new to the world of having your photo taken professionally. But rest assured, I’m here to make the entire process smooth and stress-free, right from scouting out the perfect location to handling the nitty-gritty logistics, including permits. I’ll even guide you through posing, showing you firsthand how to bring out those authentic moments. You’ll be running, dancing, and whispering silly secrets – whatever it takes to evoke genuine interactions and real laughter.
When it comes to the age-old question of “What should I wear for my engagement shoot?” or any other portrait session, I’ve got some friendly advice. While neutral colors are a safe bet, I go the extra mile by providing each of my couples with a style guide. It’s a little something to ease the process and help you confidently choose your outfits, ensuring that you look and feel your best during your portrait session.
There are numerous benefits to having portraits taken. Not only is it great to document your love story, but it can also be incredibly helpful, especially when it comes to engagement photos. Planning engagement photos offers you a chance to experience how your photographer works. It’s a two-way street – the photographer gets to know you as a couple and the best way to authentically capture your love. This is also the perfect opportunity to schedule your hair and makeup trials. Combining your hair and makeup trials with your engagement photos allows you to experiment and see how it will look in your wedding gallery.
Believe it or not, I often hear couples say, “I didn’t expect to have so much fun” after a portrait session. But, truth be told, I always knew you would. I come prepared with props, prompts, games, and a dose of comedic relief to help you feel at ease in my presence. You bring your real and raw emotions, resulting in a gallery of beautiful memories that you’ll cherish forever.
Whether it’s the moment you say “Yes,” the excitement of your engagement, a special anniversary, renewing your vows, or simply celebrating “just because,” every milestone in your journey deserves to be beautifully documented. And with my handpicked location recommendations and style guide, you’ll find a *vibe* that fits like your favorite pair of jeans. Whether it’s the vast expanse of a desert landscape or the cozy familiarity of your living room, one thing’s for sure – we’re going to have a blast. So, let’s come together and preserve the beautiful moments of your unique love story!