Table of Contents
- 1 Denver Engagement Session Location Information
- 2 April’s List of Favorite Engagement Photography Locations in Denver
- 2.1 Denver’s Best Nature + Mountain Views Engagement Session Locations
- 2.2 Best Alternative to Chautauqua Park for Engagement Photos near Denver
- 2.3 Best Engagement Photography Alternatives to Red Rocks
- 2.4 Best River Location for a Denver Engagement Photoshoot
- 2.5 Best Denver Garden Engagement Locations
- 2.6 Denver’s Best Public Park Location for Engagement Photography
- 2.7 Best Mural Art + Graffiti Engagement Photography Location in Denver
- 2.8 Best Historic Location for Engagement Photos in Denver
- 2.9 Best Downtown Denver Engagement Photo Location
If you are searching for the best Denver engagement session locations in all of the Mile High City, I’ve got you covered! If you are an engaged couple looking for some inspiration for where to go for your engagement session, be sure to check out the curated list of Denver photo locations I’ve determined are the best spots after more than 15 years of photographing engaged couples in Denver. Below you’ll find a list of the best Denver engagement photography spots that are all one hour’s drive from downtown Denver or less. I grew up here on the Front Range and I’ve lived in Denver since 2000 and have been photographing professionally since 2005. In my time as a Denver engagement photographer, I’ve photographed at so many different places in the Denver metro area and I decided it was time to consolidate my absolute favorite Denver engagement session locations into one list. So, if you are doing your research for places to do engagement photos, you have to check out the best Denver spots below!
Denver Engagement Session Location Information
I’ve included a photo or two for each of these Denver photography locations as well as a brief description of why I like it so much. I did my best to include a variety of different types of locations and where applicable, I’ve included pricing information. Many of these engagement session locations are free when you book with me since I buy certain permits every year. Other locations have their own separate pricing. Some have specific restrictions (like no dogs) and I’ve done my best to include any relevant information like what time of year they look their best. Please note that this is by no means an exhaustive list of all of the great engagement photo ops in Denver. These are a small fraction of the engagement photo spots in Denver that I find to be the best, year after year. If you like what you see, please check out the WEDDINGS page of my site and get in touch. I’d love to photograph your Denver engagement photos!
April’s List of Favorite Engagement Photography Locations in Denver
Below you’ll find my list of the top Denver engagement photo session locations in the metro area! Not all of these engagement photo locations are located in Denver proper. But, each engagement photography spot is less than one hour away from downtown Denver.
Denver’s Best Nature + Mountain Views Engagement Session Locations
1.) Squaw Pass Road in Evergreen
I’m kicking off this list of best engagement photo locations in Denver with my absolute favorite photo location in the Denver metro area. This Squaw Pass Road mountain meadow is actually located up in Evergreen, Colorado and is located roughly 15 minutes from where Squaw Pass Road intersects with Highway 74 (the main road in Evergreen). Depending on where you live in the Denver Metro, it’s probably the furthest away from downtown Denver, but it only takes me about 40 minutes to get there from my house on the west side of town. You’ll definitely want to leave yourself extra drive time if going during rush hour, but even then it’s generally within an hour’s drive.
I LOVE the Squaw Pass Road engagement session location in Evergreen for engagement photography sessions for so many reasons. The meadow itself has tons of tall grasses, a cute little hill of a mountain in the backdrop which is dotted with fall color during the autumn season, and it’s surrounded on both the east and west sides of the meadow with the prettiest aspen tree groves. And these are not those thin little aspen trees that you see most places this close to Denver. Usually to get those nice large aspen trees you have to head further into the mountains, but this is the nicest grove of aspen trees with nice thick trunks (insert easy joke about thick trunks here) that I’ve seen close to Denver. Dogs are allowed at this location so if you were hoping to bring your best friend to your session, go right ahead! I also have a secret spot with the best mountain view that I like to pair with the Squaw Pass Road mountain meadow. It’s stunning with layers of mountains in the distance and looks great at sunset!
To see more engagement session photography from Squaw Pass Road, be sure to CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, or HERE!
Pros: Stunning scenery, great fall color, lots of space to work with, plenty of parking, dogs allowed, looks great year-round.
Cons: Further from Denver than the other locations listed, can be quite crowded during the fall season
2.) Lost Gulch Overlook in Boulder, CO
Ok, ok, I know this is supposed to be a list of favorite Denver engagement session locations but I have a couple of spots located in Boulder because it’s basically part of the Denver metro at this point and they are less than an hour away (barely, and depends on traffic). I am nominating Lost Gulch Overlook as my second favorite location with mountain views that is under an hour away from Denver. Lost Gulch is located on Flagstaff Road just west of Chautauqua Park. It has gorgeous views of the mountains and is quite a rugged location. This is a tricky place if you are hoping to wear heels because it does require a bit of scrambling around on rocks and uneven surfaces. During winter, it can be damn near impossible to walk through certain areas due to the ice.
The beauty of Lost Gulch bought it a spot on my list but I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t mention how crowded it has become. It is always full of partying undergrads from CU Boulder and tourists and there are usually at least a couple of other photographers with their clients there too. We try to take turns as best we can, but if you hate crowds or the smell of pot, this is not the place to be. I am pretty adamant about not photographing here on weekends and holidays because of the crowds, but sunrise and weekdays usually work better at this popular location. Please note, Lost Gulch does require a permit and it is one of the permits that I already have secured for my clients. The rangers there DO check so don’t get caught without one or you’ll get a fine. They also charge anyone who doesn’t live in Boulder $5 for parking.
UPDATE: Due to Covid-19, Boulder Open Space is requiring reservations at their most popular locations like Lost Gulch and Chautauqua (among other Boulder locations), so if you are interested in photographing your engagement photos here, we’ll need to plan ahead!
If you’d like to see some more photo examples from Lost Gulch Lookout on Flagstaff Mountain, please CLICK HERE and HERE!
Pros: Gorgeous mountain views, dogs are allowed, looks nice year-round
Cons: Crowded, requires a permit and a $5 parking fee
Best Alternative to Chautauqua Park for Engagement Photos near Denver
3.) South Mesa Trail in Boulder, Colorado
You may be wondering why I didn’t include Chautauqua Park as my other Boulder location on this list. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chautauqua and it can make a beautiful engagement session location but I have another Boulder engagement photo location called South Mesa Trail that I prefer. I like South Mesa Trail as an alternative photo location for Chautauqua because it also has those rugged Boulder mountain backdrops. No, it’s not the iconic Flatirons views, but I think they’re just as pretty. I also love that the South Mesa Trail has some other cool features to work with for your engagement photos. There is a nice river (South Boulder Creek), a cool historic stone house, field of tall grass, and some oak shrubbery.
The red sumac plants are an extra neat feature of the South Mesa Trail because in the fall season, it’s one of the only locations I know of that actually has red fall color. People who aren’t from Colorado are always asking me for reds and deep oranges and the truth is that our fall color is mostly yellow and sort of orange here in the centennial state. So if you really want some red in your fall color engagement photos in Denver, this is the place to go! It doesn’t have many trees other than some cottonwoods near the trailhead and next to South Boulder Creek so I wouldn’t say it’s a go- to for me for fall color. I just mention it for those of you who are looking for some red fall color. South Mesa Trail does require a permit so be sure your photographer acquires one prior to your session or you may be fined. I buy the permit needed every year for this location so if you book me for your Denver engagement photos you don’t have to worry about it. Not included in the permit fees are the $5 parking fees that Boulder charges at their trailheads for those who don’t live in Boulder.
UPDATE: As with Lost Gulch, South Mesa Trail is one of Boulder’s more popular trail heads and we’ll need to plan ahead to request reservations for photographing here due to Covid-19.
If you’d like to see some examples of engagement photo sessions done at the South Mesa Trail, please CLICK HERE, HERE, and HERE!
Pros: Pretty mountain views, has a river, dogs allowed
Cons: Known rattlesnake area, requires a permit, some of my favorite parts have been sectioned off for rejuvenation, and charge a $5 parking fee.
Best Engagement Photography Alternatives to Red Rocks
4.) Roxborough State Park
You may be asking yourself, why Roxborough State Park and not Red Rocks? I have pretty strong feelings about photographing at Red Rocks Amphitheater and they all revolve around “It’s a huge pain in the ass.” First and foremost, I find the permit process extremely painful. If you want to use both the trails and the actual amphitheater itself, you must deal with two separate government entities and get two separate permits. It’s not easy, requires a lot of paperwork, and I can’t buy a permit for the year and have to do it prior to every session. (No, we can’t go without the permit, the rangers there check regularly so be aware of that if you plan to risk not getting one) Secondly, and a reason that makes it harder for my clients and not just me is that there are concerts and events nearly every night there. It’s a big deal to me at my engagement sessions that we photograph in the hour or two prior to sunset because that is setting us up to have the prettiest light of the day in your pictures. This makes nearly every evening impossible to do an engagement session at Red Rocks due to their concert schedule.
But I have some incredible options for engagement session locations with a Red Rocks feel while avoiding the concert venue itself. My favorite is Roxborough State Park. Roxborough’s red rock formations are stunning. I personally think they rival the ones at the Amphitheater so you won’t be getting “2nd best.” If you are hoping for some dramatic Colorado scenery that you can use on your save the date photos, this is your place! It’s about 40 minutes south of Denver right where the foothills begin. I think this location is gorgeous year round because it’s all about those red rocks whether it’s green outside or if there is snow on the ground. I find it particularly pretty during springtime when the trees are flowering.
Obviously, the gorgeous scenery boosts Roxborough State Park to my favorites list, but I do want to outline some of its drawbacks. The one that irks me the most is that they close the park right at sunset which would be fine, but they close their gates 30 minutes prior to sunset and it’s about a 15 min drive from the main visitor’s center. This obviously eats into my favorite time of day to photograph so I am not a fan. However, at this particular park, the sun drops behind the rocks and mountains earlier than other locations so it’s not a deal-breaker. They are also quite strict about staying on the path because it’s a known rattlesnake area and because it’s good for the leave no trace impact which I can get behind. Sadly, they do not allow dogs at Roxborough and they also charge a $55 photography permit fee in addition to their $9 daily vehicle pass.
If you’d like to see some sessions done at Roxborough State Park CLICK HERE or HERE!
Pros: Gorgeous scenery with the dramatic red rocks, barely any people there so it’s great for privacy. Update! Recently, I waited in line for 30 min on a weekend to get in. They don’t have as much parking at this state park so you may want to avoid going on a weekend date, or go a little earlier than you need to just in case.
Cons: Known rattlesnake area, no dogs allowed, earlier closing times not ideal for photography, and has permit and entrance fees.
5.) Mount Falcon East Trailhead in Morrison, Colorado
I have not just one, but two awesome locations for alternative Red Rocks engagement photography sessions. My second best alternative to Red Rocks is the East Mount Falcon trail head. Although the red rocks found at Roxborough are much more dramatic, East Mount Falcon trailhead has actual views of Red Rocks Amphitheater if you really like the idea of getting that famous concert venue in your photos. It’s located just south of the amphitheater and has a cool high altitude desert look with some smaller red rock areas we can use in your photos. I find that the East Mt. Falcon area looks good at any time of year, but I really like when it’s nice and green during late spring and summer. Most photographers are more obsessed with its sister site, the West Mount Falcon trailhead which is on the other side of the mountain and has its own separate look and perks, but I like this side because it’s less crowded. We just have to keep an eye out for the rattlers here! (I may be mentioning rattlesnakes way more than necessary in this article. I have never encountered one in real life, knock on wood. But, I like to be as informative as I can) This location does require a permit, but it is included in the yearly permit fees that I buy so if you go with me, you are covered!
If you’d like to see some East Mount Falcon Engagement sessions check out THIS LINK and THIS LINK!
Pros: Awesome Red Rocks alternative with views of the amphitheater, cool high desert look, dogs allowed
Cons: Known rattlesnake area, doesn’t have as much varied plant life as I would ideally enjoy having at my engagement photography sessions.
Best River Location for a Denver Engagement Photoshoot
6.) Cherry Creek at Four Mile Historic Park
Speaking of locations with a river, I have a little secret spot that I like to use at Cherry Creek near the Four Mile House historic site on the east side of Denver. I admit, I’m way more of a fan of the locations closer to the west side of the metro area due to mountain proximity, but if you are looking for something awesome on Denver’s east side, this location next to Cherry Creek is my absolute favorite. It’s not a huge area, but it packs a lot of beauty into its tiny footprint. If you like the idea of going more playful at your session, this would be a fun spot to splash around in. During fall, all of the cottonwoods next to Cherry Creek change colors and it’s extremely shallow in this part of Cherry Creek so the water stays pretty warm for a long time. I would say this location looks best during summer and fall when the trees have had a chance to get their leaves grown in.
If you’d like to see an example of an engagement session done at Cherry Creek Four Mile Park, CLICK HERE!
Pros: River location, East side location, Dogs allowed, and Nice fall color
Cons: Not as much variety, smaller space to work with
Best Denver Garden Engagement Locations
7.) Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite locations in all of Denver to do photography sessions at. It’s located in the Congress Park Neighborhood on the east side of Cheesman Park so it’s nice and centrally located. Denver Botanic Gardens is such an incredible location for engagement photos in Denver because it’s not just a pretty garden setting (although there are certainly plenty of gorgeous gardens to use) it also has lots of cool structures and other garden hardscaping to use. I like this location best during summer and fall when the gardens have had a chance to grow in more (we have a shorter growing season here in Colorado because of our desert-like climate and altitude) but it can be nice during spring too. In fact, the photo shown below was taken in May. If you’d like to see what it’s like during winter, CLICK HERE.
My one and only complaint about Denver Botanic Gardens is that their permit fee is slightly pricier than other locations in the Denver area. They charge a $100 fee to use their gardens for a photoshoot which includes the entrance fees for up to 6 people including me for up to 2 hours of time. However, despite their higher permit fees, their grounds are so beautiful that I think it’s worth it to pay the price they ask for. I also think it helps cut down on the number of people visiting just to do portrait sessions which is great for the average person who wants to explore the gardens. There are so many nooks and crannies to use in the gardens that I never run out of ideas for your engagement pictures and I always seem to get great photos without lots of people in the backdrop.
Update: Denver Botanic Gardens is not allowing permits for portrait sessions to be purchased this year due to Covid-19. (Wah wah!) But, hopefully it’s available again soon!
If you’d like to see some other photo examples of Denver Botanic Gardens, CLICK HERE and HERE!
Pros: Pretty gardens, lots of variety, central location, free parking
Cons: Permit fee is a little bit more than other locations, sometimes it can be crowded (avoid weekends if possible!), and no dogs allowed.
8.) Hudson Gardens
If you want a garden location for your Denver engagement photos but don’t have the extra cash to spend on the DBG permit, then Hudson Gardens is the best garden location on a budget that you’ll find in my opinion. They also charge a permit fee, but Hudson Gardens photography session fees are half the price of Denver Botanic Garden’s permit fee at $50 for a session there. Hudson Gardens has a much different feel than Denver Botanic Gardens. It’s more spread out and doesn’t have quite as many different types of gardens. It is has more of a nice, wide-open, almost farm like feel (they do have a cool red barn there) at their gardens. I think the sheer variety of what you can create at Denver Botanic Gardens puts it on top for me, but Hudson Gardens is an extremely close second.
Check out THIS LINK to see a pretty springtime engagement session done at Hudson Gardens.
Pros: Beautiful garden setting with some mountain views, free parking, and tons of space so it’s pretty private too!
Cons: Has a permit fee and no dogs are allowed at Hudson Gardens
Denver’s Best Public Park Location for Engagement Photography
9.) City Park
I may have made this up, but I feel like there is a rivalry between City Park and Wash Park in Denver for which one is everyone’s favorite park. I am firmly in the City Park camp. Yeah, Wash Park is nice for doing outdoor activities and the people who live there are insane about their love for their neighborhood park and it’s a little more lively. (One thing I’ll give Wash Park is that they have a smoother road for roller skating than City Park which I appreciate) But in my opinion, for photography especially, City Park has Wash Park beat, hands down. Although I sometimes start my sessions on the west side of City Park, it’s all about the east side right outside of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. There are views of the historic pavilion with Ferril Lake and the Denver skyline stacked up in front of the mountains. It’s definitely known for having the best views in the city of the Denver skyline. And I am in love with the little row of lilac bushes that the parks department has invested in and grown throughout the years. When I first moved to Denver (Holy crap, that was 20 years ago now, where has the time gone?), they were just these tiny little shrubs and now some of them are huge! They also have a really nice rose garden right outside of the museum. It’s a larger park than Wash Park with more paths to have fun getting lost in and also less crowded which is great for your engagement photos.
I’ve created many beautiful engagement sessions at City Park. CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE to see a handful of them.
Pros: Lots of Space, not crowded, dogs allowed, beautiful views of the Denver skyline and mountains
Cons: Not as much varied plant life as more rustic settings offer, SO MUCH GOOSE POOP!
Bonus location: Zuni & Speer Denver Skyline near the Diamond Hill Office Complex
I am not including the above location as it’s own separate entry because the view of Denver is the only reason to hit up this spot. It works best when you pick another spot for the majority of your pictures and then end at this one for the view of the Denver Skyline. It’s what I call an “add-on” location. I know I just got done saying that City Park has the best views, but I just have to mention this intersection as also having some pretty kick-ass Denver skyline views. The view from this area looks toward the city from the west side so it doesn’t have the mountains as well but with the right lens you can really make it look cool!
Best Mural Art + Graffiti Engagement Photography Location in Denver
10.) Five Points (recently been “rebranded” as River North Arts District) Neighborhood in North Denver
Once upon a time, when I paid only $300 a month for my half of the rent in the top half of a cute old house, this entire area was called Five Points and I lived in a specific part of it called Curtis Park in North Denver. However, it has since exploded into a fairly gentrified hub in Denver full of restaurants, breweries, wineries, specialty shops and more. And the artists have completely taken over and painted its alleyways and walls. It’s incredibly colorful and fun to take a stroll admiring all of the artistic touches you can find in seemingly every nook and cranny. RiNo is always at the top of my list for great Denver photography spots for those who prefer more of an urban look vs. a nature look in their pictures. And I always suggest it as particularly awesome during winter since the time of year makes very little difference at this location. There is a minimal amount of plant life there in this concrete jungle of a place. All of the bright colors can transform a blah-looking winter scene into something much more fun to look at. It’s not the only part of Denver with lots of street art. We can talk about exploring some of the alleyways in this great city which I’ve always loved to do at my sessions even before they were this colorful.
To get a taste of what you can find in the Five Points (aka Rino neighborhood), CLICK HERE and HERE!
Pros: Extremely colorful, urban, fun to explore, and dogs allowed
Cons: Lots of walking, not good for those with little city experience or who prefer nature
Best Historic Location for Engagement Photos in Denver
11.) Oxford Hotel’s Cruise Room (with Views of Union Station outside)
As my pick for my favorite of the historic Denver photography locations, I’ve selected the Oxford Hotel and the area right outside their front doors on 17th Street. They have an amazing downstairs cocktail lounge called The Cruise Room which is the epitome of vintage elegance. It’s decorated in a stunning red art deco style and I am pretty sure they allow it to be rented for short engagement sessions outside of their regular hours. It would also make an excellent spot to kick off your date night right after your engagement photos are done! Right outside of the Oxford Hotel there is a lovely view of Union Station which is one of my favorite most iconic Denver scenes to get in engagement photos for my clients.
Pros: Urban, Historic Architecture, & Unique!
Cons: No dogs inside Cruise Room and permit fees for using that space. (Free to just use the views outside of Union Station) Also, must find parking in downtown Denver which isn’t always easy or cheap.
Best Downtown Denver Engagement Photo Location
12.) Larimer Square
Truly, there are a ton of fun little parts of downtown Denver that would make for great engagement photos, but my very favorite location is Larimer Square photographed right at sunset. When the sky turns that beautiful dusky blue with the lights hanging across Larimer Street it looks magical. In a city that doesn’t seem to have much love or respect for saving what little history it has, I love that this old block of historic buildings are still there, standing strong in all of their charming glory. And not far from Larimer Square, there is a pretty blue mural along the Cherry Creek bike path that I have enjoyed using in conjunction with Larimer Square itself.
I do think it’s nice to pair Larimer Square with a secondary downtown Denver location (consider the blue mural area shown below or Centennial Gardens if you want a little bit of nature along with the lights of Larimer) because it is one of the busiest locations out of all that I have mentioned. Still, the look of it is so incredible that I think it’s worth putting up with the crowds of people at this bustling downtown intersection. Sunday evenings work pretty well here since you can avoid the weekend night on the town crowds and the rush hour traffic of weekdays but it all depends on the time of year we’re photographing your engagement photos.
If you’d like to see some other downtown Denver engagement sessions that took place at least in part at Larimer Square, CLICK HERE, HERE, HERE & HERE!
Pros: Pretty, urban, colorful, and looks great at any time of year since we’re not dependent on plant life.
Cons: Can be extremely busy, both with cars and pedestrian traffic, not great for those who are shy and don’t like people looking at them since onlookers are always interested in what we’re doing!
There you have it! My absolute favorite Denver engagement photography session locations that are all within a one hour drive from the center of the city or less. In my opinion these are the best of the best places for engagement photos in Denver although I have plenty of other Denver metro area locations up my sleeve as well. If you would like to see more of my favorite engagement photos taken throughout the entire state including the mountains, head over to the ENGAGEMENT GALLERY area of my site and take a look!