How to Elope in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Hi, I'm Alisha!

I’m Alisha, Leesh, and lovingly known as Loco Leesh (she/her). I wear many hats as your elopement photographer. I’m also here to be your guide, planner, resource, best friend and hype woman. I'm here to laugh, cry, and occasionally dance alongside you. I'm also a barefoot hippie veteran. Betcha never saw that coming! What really sets my soul on fire is connecting with people on a deeply personal level *My Pisces is showing*. I’m here to tell you that you have permission to DREAM BIG on what you think your wedding day should look like. Because your crazy love deserves to be captured in an authentic way. 


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June 2, 2021

How to Elope in Great Sand Dunes National Park

Did you know there are 30 square miles of sand dunes in Southern Colorado? Chances are yes…because you’re researching How to Elope in Great Dand Dunes National Park. Isn’t that pretty FREAKIN’ cool?! The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of nine national parks in Colorado. Located 30 miles from Alamosa, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is nestled underneath the Sangre De Cristo Mountains. The sand dunes are one of the most unique places in Colorado and an ideal place to plan your elopement. You’ll feel like you’re in Morocco without having to fly across the world. So if you’re wondering how to elope in Great Sand Dunes National Park, then let’s dive in!

Getting a Permit

Many national parks require a permit to get married in them. Sometimes it’s just a commercial photography permit, other times it’s more in-depth and requires a separate ceremony permit that the couple has to apply for. Thankfully, in order to legitimately elope in Great Sand Dunes National Park all you need is a special use permit, which is covered in my elopement packages. 

Getting to Great Sand Dunes National Park

It’s pretty simple. Coming from Denver, it’s a 4-hour drive where you spend most of your time driving on I-25. Colorado Springs is a 2-hour drive from the dunes. If you’re heading north to the dunes from Albuquerque, it’s basically almost a straight shot up I-25. All these drives are relatively simple and you don’t need an AWD car to get there.

Getting a marriage license

To get a marriage license you’ll need to head to the Alamosa County Clerk’s office. You’ll have to apply for the license in person and bring a form of ID. Licenses are valid for 35 days in the state of Colorado. The license costs $30. What’s great about getting married in Colorado is that you DO NOT need an officiant. Colorado is one of a few states where you can self-solemnize. That means that you can marry yourselves!

Can I bring my dog to Great Sand Dunes National Park?

Can your dog be a part of your elopement? YES! While many national parks are strict about dogs, Great Sand Dunes National Park restricts dogs in the backcountry. Meaning, you can bring your pup to be a part of your big day. Just a warning, the sand gets very hot. Make sure you don’t bring out your pup when the sand is too hot for them. The best time to bring them also happens to be around the best time to get photos for your elopement (during sunrise or sunset). Psst, speaking of dogs. Did you know that your dog can “sign” your marriage license as a witness in Colorado?

Get ready for a workout

Hiking up the sand dunes is no joke. They seem pretty small until you’re standing directly underneath them. Anyone who’s walked on a beach knows that sand can be a sneaky calf burner. What’s great, is that you don’t have to go very far to experience them.

When to elope in Greand Sand Dunes National Park

The best time to elope in Great Sand Dunes National Park is in late spring/early summer/early fall. Temperatures aren’t as intense as in the summer months and you’ll find that there are fewer tourists visiting the park. In the middle of the summer, temperatures can reach up to 115 degrees during the day. If you’re still looking for a summer elopement, then it’s ideal to plan your elopement around sunrise or sunset when the temps aren’t so unbearable. 

Where to stay

There are a couple different ways you can stay at or near Great Sand Dunes National Park. You can camp (on the dunes), camp outside the dunes, scout out some Airbnbs in Mosca and Alamosa, or van life it up!

Some notable places to stay:

What to do 

  • Sandboarding. This is a must for your first time at the dunes. You can rent sandboards and sleds right outside the park at the Great Sand Dunes Oasis Campground.
  • Play in Medono Creek around late May and June. Playing in a creek next to a dune sounds almost unbelievable. But the runoff from the snow melt in early summer makes this a spectacular viewing experience. Plus, if you’re too hot from the dunes, you can cool off in the water.
  • Off-road on Medano Pass. If you love to off-road then you can apply to get a permit to off-road on Medano Pass.
  • Head to Zapata Fall. While Zapata Falls isn’t a part of Great Sand Dunes National Park it is a MUST while you’re in the area. The hike is relatively short and the reward is a gorgeous waterfall.
  • Hike. There are plenty of places to hike in and around the park if you want to hit a trail for your elopement. (Summit Star Dune, Mosca Pass Trail, and Montville Natural Trail are some notable hikes).
  • Go to the hot springs. Sand Dunes Recreation is 24 miles from the dunes. There’s a pool outside and covered hot springs inside. You can visit any time of the year and relax in the springs.
  • Picnic. Why not pack a charcuterie board spread and hike to the top of the dunes?
  • Get a backcountry permit and stay the night in the dunes
  • Stargaze. The dunes are positioned far from any major cities which means there is little to no light pollution. Imagine finishing up your elopement day with some pictures under the stars.
  • See the dunes on horseback. There are a few companies you can go through to do a guided horseback riding tour in the park. What’s more epic than horseback riding on the sand dunes?


Eloping is unique and such an adventure! Pick any view in Colorado and you won’t go wrong 🙂 And I’ll be here to be with you every step of the way. Through location scouting, help with all of the planning, and all the way down to delivering your unforgettable photos!

My Colorado packages start at $3,300 and include:

  • Options of 4-Hour, 6-Hour, and 8-Hour Packages
  • 100+ Page Elopement Planning Guide
  • Unlimited Guidance & Consultation Calls
  • Custom Timeline
  • All Travel Fees and Expenses-Minus something extra like a helicopter ride.
  • Vendor Recommendations
  • Permits Assistance and Location Scouting of The Best Locations in Colorado
  • Upgrade to 1:1 Vow Writing Consulting (pst did I mention I have a background in copywriting?)
  • Discounted Photo Album Design Services (with creative and romantic storytelling of your gorgeous elopement)
  • Gallery Slideshow
  • 500+ Culled and Edited High-Resolution Photos
  • Digital Gallery with Printing Rights
  • Surprise Gift From Me!

    Want to elope somewhere else in Colorado? Check out this blog on Where to Elope in Vail, Estes Park, and Breckenridge and Where to Elope in Colorado.


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    “She really puts her heart and soul into this.”

    My husband and I decided to elope after feeling a little overwhelmed with the idea of planning a wedding. , Alisha pitched a lot of ideas based on what we were imagining and they were so killer so it was so hard to pick. She can really zero in on what a couple is all about and plan from there. And all her ideas were incredibly creative and original. On the day of our elopement we were so relaxed. Alisha picked out all the locations including our vow ceremony spot which was beautiful, private and romantic. We literally laughed the whole time and kept repeating "I'm so happy we did this." After the desert ceremony in Death Valley she drove to Vegas with us, waited for us to change into our cool Vegas attire, and carted us all over the strip and downtown to take more fun photos. The photography is beyond remarkable. I mean COME ON. I've never seen more beautiful photos in my entire life. We're so happy to have them to enjoy forever, so so SO worth it. She really puts her heart and soul into this. It actually makes me tear up...We love you Alisha.


    “Hire her. You
    won't regret it.”

    Our first experience working with Alisha was on an elopement styled shoot. I knew from that day on she was going to be the photographer to capture our wedding day. Alisha said "yes" to absolutely every crazy idea and vision I had for our wedding day. She literally hiked miles and woke up before the sun to make it happen. Alisha is completely in her element when photographing, she knows how direct a shoot without being bossy, she captures every angle without being in the way and doesn't make you feel like you're even behind the camera. Alisha pours her entire self into every shoot she does, she doesn't stop until everything is perfect. It put me at ease knowing Alisha was paying such close attention to detail when it came to the location scouting and capturing every single photo imaginable. Working with Alisha was a breeze, she's communicative, fast and detail oriented. Not to mention, an incredible photographer. We were blown away when we got our wedding gallery within a month of our wedding, with over 700 beautiful photos. Our families cried happy tears all over again reliving those memories. If you're wondering, "is it worth it?" The answer is 100% ABSOLUTELY yes, hire Alisha, you won't regret it.

    — Katie & Kevin

    “I do not think any other photographer would have been able to do that for us.”

    Choosing Alisha for our elopement photographer was the absolute best decision we could have made. Bryan and I had a pretty short timeline of only a few weeks until our wedding day so I was not sure if Alisha could make it work, but she went out of her way to travel and make all of the behind the scenes arrangements in advance. She made everything so easy for us leading up to the day helping with park permits, scouting out photo locations, making vendor recommendations, and suggesting fun ideas for the day. As two people who do not feel natural in front of a camera, she made us laugh, have fun, and get out of our shells in a way we could not have expected. From start to finish, our experience with Alisha was so genuine and natural. She is just a joy and a light to be around. On top of that, we were truly blown away when we received our wedding photo gallery. You can feel the emotion, beauty, and love in every single image. Because she took the time to get to know us on a personal level and really understand us as a couple leading up to the wedding, the photos showcase who we are in a real and honest way, and I do not think any other photographer would have been able to do that for us.


    “Incredibly talented, creative, caring, and personable.”

    My fiancé and I could not feel more fortunate to have crossed paths with Alisha while searching for a photographer for our engagement shoot. Let me tell you, this girl is a GEM. I talked to at least 50 photographers during my search and Alisha is the only one that I felt truly cared about what we wanted. We met up at sunrise on the day of our shoot and I can truly say that it was a flawless experience! My fiancé and I were exhausted and nervous, but immediately upon meeting Alisha, we felt comfortable and excited. Her positive energy is contagious. I tend to be awkward and never know what to do with my hands, but she was so patient and guided us every step of the way, giving us prompts and making us laugh the entire time. It felt like we were leaving the shoot with a new friend. WE ARE OBSESSED WITH OUR PHOTOS. In short, Alisha 10000000% exceeded my very high expectations. She’s incredibly talented, creative, caring and personable. You can tell she has a huge heart and is passionate about what she does. 

    — LAUREN & NIK

    I will continue to use her and her talents for life!!

    Alisha is the best photographer and person you’ll ever work with! She has such a fun and calming manner about her. Her system is down to a t. And very personalized as well. I found her through a friend but loved her because her art and photos weren’t so posed and perfect. She captured such perfect moments and seemed like she had 10 photographers! I can’t believe the photos she got of our wedding and all the special moments I got to see that I otherwise would have never known happened! My husband can not recommend her enough! And will continue to use her and her talents for life!!

    — SYD & JAKE

    “Book her now.”

    Alisha is the consummate photographer that you want capturing your special day. We used her (twice!) for engagement photos and she was the first we asked to be our wedding photographer. From the moment we engaged her for the big day, she was all about us. From a welcome care package that frankly knew us almost better than we knew us, to her wedding guides, assistance in finding other vendors, and of course her amazing skill behind the camera Alisha was the perfect choice for our wedding photography. On the day of the big event she took great photos and had creative ideas for shoots in and around the venue. She’s given us keepsakes that we are thrilled to treasure forever and proud to frame and hang on the wall. Book her now.


    “She gave us the best photos EVER!”

    We absolutely love Alisha! She gave us the best photos EVER! She planned everything to the smallest detail. It was so easy and she made sure we had everything we were looking for. My husband and I even flew back to get wedding photos done! Alisha braved the cold winter for us. We are so thankful to have memories in the best photos ever. I can’t say enough about her. Not only is she an AMAZING photographer but such a good person! We will definitely be having plenty more sessions in our lifetime :)

    — danielle & Xavier

    “Alisha is easily one of the best humans I’ve ever met”

    Where do I even start!? Alisha was an absolute dream to work with!!! She was so flexible with us and our last-minute cancellation due to covid. We had originally planned to meet her in Vegas for our anniversary shoot in March and we ended up canceling our trip a week out due to the virus. She was so understanding and even offered to refund our deposit. We knew we still absolutely wanted to shoot with her so we scheduled another trip to Colorado this time and she met us there for an amazing sunrise shoot at Great Sand Dunes Natl Park. The whole experience was incredible and Alisha was so amazing and personable, we felt like we had left and made a new friend! She sent us sooo many sneak peeks just a few days after the shoot and Then probably 100 more photos a few weeks later. They were absolutely stunning. She is easily one of the best humans I’ve ever met and not to mention an extremely talented photographer with a clear passion for her clients and her work! We can’t wait to shoot with her again!

    — MIA & FERMIN

    “I cannot wait to
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    I have never done a couples shoot but I fell in love with Alisha's work on social media. I was beyond ecstatic when I found out she was traveling to Minnesota. Where do I begin? From the moment I spoke with Alisha, she easily made me feel comfortable and confident. She responded back to my questions and concerns within a timely manner and was easily accessible. Her talent and passion for photography is truly admirable! It’s so evident that she genuinely cares about each and every couple that she works with. Alisha has a gift for detail and seeing things differently than everyone else. She took some breathtaking pictures that will always have a special place in my heart! Alisha doesn't just take photographs, she creates beautiful works of art that don’t just capture smiles but our souls, and to be a part of her art is an absolute honor. Not only is her work stunning, but she is a great person to be around. She is professional, patient and outgoing and I cannot wait to book with her again! Thanks for the memories, laughs and for creating such an enjoyable experience.

    — Miriam & Jaime

    “She made everything perfect! 10/10 recommend”

    Alisha was super professional and friendly throughout the entire process of our engagement shoot. I was super indecisive on where to have our shoot and she gave me multiple choices. She even went to the spot before hand to scope it out for us. My fiancé hates getting pictures taken but he loved natural and fun our experience was. Alisha made us our own playlist to listen to throughout the shoot which made both of us feel super comfortable. We ended having our shoot in Breckenridge and made a weekend out of it. Honestly, one of the most rememberable and amazing weekends we could ask for. Alisha communicated with us throughout everything and was SO fast getting our sneak peak photos and album to us. She even sent us a little gift that we appreciated SO SO much. I would highly recommend Alisha for any photography session whether its an adventure shoot or a wedding. She made everything perfect! 10/10 recommend :)

    — GRACE & JAKE

    “Alisha is the absolute
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    Alisha is the absolute best photographer!! We did our engagement photos with her and she made my fiance and I feel so comfortable. We had never gotten professional pictures taken so were a bit nervous beforehand but Alisha made us feel so comfortable and the photos came out AMAZING. I literally scroll through all of them a few times a week because of how much I love them and how they capture our love for each other so beautifully. I highly recommend using Alisha as your photographer!