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Golden Gate Canyon State Park weddings are some of the most affordable Colorado weddings you’ll find. But rest assured, at Golden Gate Canyon State Park you don’t have to sacrifice beauty for affordability. In fact, this is one of my go-to portrait locations particularly during the fall color season because you can find some great aspen trees and mountain views at this lovely Colorado state park. I would definitely recommend Golden Gate Canyon State park for couples who are looking to elope in Colorado or who plan to have a very simple and small wedding since the available spaces are not really large enough to host hundreds of guests. In fact, due to Covid-19 only 25 people or less are allowed right now at the Red Barn area and Panorama Point. I would also recommend this place as a potential wedding venue for those who might want to host some sort of camping wedding since there are a few different camping options available right there at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I will note that one tricky part of hosting your wedding at Golden Gate Canyon State Park is that they only allow camping and wedding reservations up to 6 months prior to your wedding date. So the long-term planners out there might find this a tad bit stressful. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is definitely a little more of an elopement style wedding location for this reason.
The fees for hosting your wedding at Golden Gate Canyon State Park are very reasonable and this pretty state park is going to be one of the most affordable wedding options you’ll find in Colorado. Each reservation you make costs a $10 non-refundable fee. Please note that these prices do not cover the entrance fees for each car that enters the park which is $10 per vehicle. Carpooling is a really good idea for Golden Gate Canyon State Park since parking is limited (particularly at weekends, all of the state parks in Colorado have seen a huge uptick in visitors in the last couple of years).
Panorama Point: $150 Mondays-Fridays and $300 for Saturday and Sunday
Red Barn Group Picnic Area: $150 Mondays-Fridays and $200 for Saturday and Sunday
Columbine Meeting Room: $110 to use as a wedding dressing room
I put the camping costs in the section that talks about camping below.
There are two main options for weddings at Golden Gate Canyon State Park which I talk about in depth below. You can book them separately, but I would say you might want to consider booking both of them (Panorama Point for your ceremony to get the incredible mountain views and the Red Barn Group Picnic Area if you want to host a small reception right there inside the park).
Panorama Point wedding ceremonies are the most popular wedding site at Golden Gate Canyon State Park because this is the place to go for the gorgeous views of the Continental Divide. There is a wood deck that lots of tourists stop in at, but if you venture out a little further there is a nice small wood deck perfect for a small, intimate ceremony that’s a little bit more removed from all of the activity that takes place a little closer to the parking area at the top. In normal years you can fit up to 40 people on these decks, but right now while Covid-19 is still going on the Colorado parks department has limited it to up to 25 people max. You can book Panorama Point for 2 hours between the hours of 9 and 5 pm and I highly recommend booking the latest time slot they allow if you can and schedule your ceremony as close to sunset as possible for lighting reasons. Alternatively, you might consider the very first timeslot of 9 am and do some portraits around Golden Gate Canyon State Park prior to your ceremony when it’s closer to sunrise. Summer is going to be tough to get the best light here since sunrise and sunset are pretty far away from these available times, but the prime fall color season might work well! (Please note, Golden Gate Canyon State Park does not allow weddings to be reserved on the last two weekends of September due to high traffic during the prime fall color season, so you’ll have to do a weekday wedding during that time).
The red barn group picnic area at Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a great place to reserve if you want to actually host a wedding reception right there inside the state park. It’s available from 10 am-10 pm so it’s a little more flexible with timing than Panorama Point. It’s also only available from May-October, but the park does not issue refunds for inclement weather so watch out for late spring snow storms which are pretty common here in Colorado. October is generally less risky than the spring in my opinion although May is not as bad as March and April for snowstorms. There is room for up to 12 vehicles to park at the Red Barn Picnic Area. I love the rustic beauty of this simple wedding venue with it’s mix of dark green evergreen trees and golden aspens surrounding the quaint little red barn. When I say that it’s rustic, I really mean that as there is no potable water to use here. It’s truly a picnic site where you’ll need to bring in everything that you need just like you would for an actual picnic. There are no linens or decorations at the Red Barn picnic area so if you want to “zhuzh” it up a little you’ll need to provide your own decor. Even though it’s located right next to the main road, there is still a feeling of privacy with this space since the covered pavilion’s walls create an L shape with the closed off back section next to the road and the open section facing in toward a nice courtyard between the pavilion and the red barn. The last time I was there I wanted to get a few photos to share here so you can see what I’m talking about, but there was actually a wedding taking place and I didn’t want to disturb them. So I’ll be sharing photos of the Red Barn picnic area as soon as I can get up there again. In the meantime, you can see some simple pictures at the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Red Barn website.
I’m only briefly going to mention the Columbine Meeting Room as a potential wedding space at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. I think you could potentially use it as a “getting ready” type of space, but in my opinion it’s not the best for natural light and is really more of a conference room with a classroom feel with its large tables and white board. I would actually recommend splurging on a nice hotel room suite with some good natural light if you want your wedding photos to look nicer (although I know that option is less convenient). If you are keeping your wedding plans super simple and don’t care or need photos for this portion of your wedding day, this could be a good prep area to consider for $110 and access to space and electricity for curling irons and other necessities on your wedding day.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is not so out of the way that you couldn’t get married there and then host a reception in the city afterward with access to hotel creature comforts for your guests’ overnight stay. It’s roughly a 40-50 minute drive to Boulder and only a 25-30 minute drive to Golden. But I know there are a lot of couples out there who love to camp and spend time out in nature who might like the idea of hosting a camping wedding here in Colorado. Golden Gate Canyon State Park has some options for camping right there in the park after hosting a wedding either at Panorama Point or the Red Barn. Below are some of the camping options that are available for your Golden Gate Canyon State Park wedding.
The Rifleman Phillips Campground is found on the east side of Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It’s super closer to Panorama Point with only a 5 minute drive on Gap Road between the two. This is a tent only campground in a stand of Lodgepole Pine Trees with no access to electricity so it’s not going to have a “glamping” feel. However, there is room for up to 75 people and 20 vehicles. It’ll cost you $364 to reserve this group campsite and does not include the $10 per day vehicle fee for each car.
For weddings, I much prefer the Works Ranch Group Campsite since there is an actual old log cabin on site giving it a bit more of an upgrade from only tent camping. This cabin is extremely rustic with no running water and there are vault toilets outside the cabin. It does have electricity and a wood burning fireplace with baseboard heating. There is room for up to 6 people to stay inside the rustic cabin and 24 more can stay in tents outside and sadly, no pets are allowed at this site. I love the outdoor fireplace at this campsite! It’ll cost you $202 per night with a two night minimum to stay here.
Harmsen Ranch is not meant for group activities and celebrations and is meant to only be a place to lodge at Golden Gate Canyon State Park. It is definitely a step up from the other overnight accommodations available at the park as it’s an actual ranch house with 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a gas fireplace. They do also allow up to 2 RVs spaces to also be rented along with the house for a total of 20 people and up to 8 cars with those rented. If just the guest house is rented, they have a max of 8 people and they have a strict no pet policy at the Harmsen Ranch house. It’s $270 per night here with a minimum of 2 nights stay.
If you don’t need your own private campground to stay, you can take a look at the Reverend Ridge Campground which is roughly just a 3 minute drive away from Panorama Point. This is more of your typical campground where trailers and RVs are allowed with flushing toilets and showers available at this location too (although the shower building and dump stations are closed during winter). There are 97 sites available with 6 people max at each site and it’s between $28-36 per night at this location.
Aspen Meadow Campsite is also super close to Panorama Point (just a 3 minute drive away) and is another more basic tent-only campground in the area. This one is on par with Rifleman Phillips and the only difference is that it’s not only yours when you reserve a campsite here. It’s $28 per night to camp here with 35 available spots.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park not only makes a beautiful location for weddings but it’s also stunning for engagement photography sessions too. The nice thing about doing your engagement photos here is that you can work around the sunrise or sunset timing more too. (Your photographer is always going to talk about when sunset takes place because lighting is so important for getting beautiful engagement photos!) The last time I photographed here it was $20 for the portrait photography permit plus the individual car entrance fees of $10 per vehicle. Trust me, it’s well worth the extra fees, especially during fall when the color is looking gorgeous. I love summer time at Golden Gate Canyon State Park too!
I’d love to be your Golden Gate Canyon wedding photographer. I have experience photographing at this beautiful state park and have been a wedding photographer since 2006. Feel free to check out the WEDDINGS page of my site and get in touch to tell me about yourselves and your wedding plans!
Address: 92 Crawford Gulch Road Golden, CO