Piney River Ranch Wedding Guide

Updated March 29, 2021

alpenglow at piney river ranch wedding photo

Where is Piney River Ranch located?

Piney River Ranch, 700 Red Sandstone Rd, Vail, CO 81657.

Elevation: 9,350 feet

Getting to this venue is a doozy, but it’s oh so worth it.  You’ll have to take a not so well maintained forest service road into the mountains above Vail for about 45 minutes to get here.  It’s not a smooth ride.  But when you emerge and get your first glimpse of Piney River Ranch, you’ll fall in love.  The venue is only open 4 months of the year though, so get on their calendar early!

What is the overall feel of Piney River Ranch?

Vibe: The log reception area and glamping tents make this venue feel rustic, but I’ve yet to do a wedding there that isn’t downright classy and elegant.

Favorite Part: The VIEWS! The views of the gore range across Piney Lake are spectacular.  And the alpenglow at sunset is quintessential Colorado beautiful.

Overall Impressions: It’s a tough venue to get to, but if your guests aren’t afraid of a little bumping on a dirt road, it’s well worth it.  Piney River Ranch Weddings are some of my favorites and I’m thrilled when I have a chance to go back and celebrate again.

From their site:

Piney River Ranch is open and accessible from June 21st through the last weekend in September, and is one of Colorado’s prime wedding destinations. Beneath the Gore Range, one of Colorado’s most beautiful mountain vistas, we can accommodate up to 200 people in our wedding and event space. With two custom log pavilions, and a ceremony deck that boasts mountain views guaranteed to take your breath away, it’s no wonder couples from all over the country come here to say “I do.” The ranch is complete with six guest cabins, three glamping tents and an on-site restaurant and bar as the perfect place to entertain your guests.

romantic sunset photos with alpenglow at piney river ranch photo

Pro Tips for Getting Married at Piney River Ranch

When you visit Piney River Ranch, take a good look at the ceremony site and determine exactly how you want to set up the benches or chairs for your guests. Make sure you have the best view of the mountains for your ceremony!

Summer Piney River Ranch wedding photo

There are cabins and glamping tents on site, which would be perfect for post wedding gatherings.  However, there are no showers on the premises, so I would opt to get ready somewhere in Vail and then shuttle up to the venue in time for portraits.

There is so much beauty surrounding this venue that I always want more time to explore for photos.  While we’ll capture many beautiful spots on your wedding day, you won’t have time to explore all of the trails. Consider heading to Piney for your engagement session too!

And of course, photos at sunset are a must, so plan at least 30 minutes for those. If you haven’t seen the alpenglow on the range in person, it’s insanely beautiful.

The venue is wonderful about letting couples take canoes out on the lake at sunset. If you’re feeling adventurous, make sure you request that!

bride and groom in canoe at mountain lake in colorado photo

There is no cell phone service or wifi available at Piney River Ranch. Let your guests know this ahead of time and encourage them to embrace being off the grid for the evening.

Leashed pets are allowed, so consider bringing your furry friends!

Piney River Ranch sits at over 9,300 feet, so be aware that altitude could be an issue for guests. Check out my 10 Tips for Getting Married at Altitude and plan ahead!

Due to the location constraints, Piney River Ranch only offers catering through their on-site caterer. But don’t worry, it’s delicious!

Also, there are moose that live in the area and they often make appearances along the shoreline on a wedding day.

You have access to the venue for 10 hours on your wedding day, including 5 hours of event time.

Where do you get ready at Piney River Ranch?

There are two getting ready spaces at Piney. They’re located right next to each other, so it makes it easy for your photographer to jump back and forth between them as needed.

You can choose to get fully ready on site if you want, but most couples opt to get ready at a hotel in Vail and then shuttle up to the venue and use the spaces for finishing touches. Due to the check in time at the venue (which is 3 hours prior to your ceremony), getting ready in Vail is often the best choice.

Then you can use the getting ready rooms to put on your dress, do your finishing touches, and prep for your first look.

bride getting ready in bridal suite at colorado mountain wedding photo
groom getting ready in Groom's Room at Piney River Ranch photo

The reception space at Piney River Ranch

Receptions are held in the wooden reception pavilion. The space can seat up to 200 people for dinner, and can be partially cleared for dancing.

The reception pavilion is adjacent the main ceremony deck, which can also be used for cocktail hour or open air dancing.

There is also a fire pit nearby that you can use for s’mores or cozy snuggles as the evening cools off. Be aware that there are often fire bans in Colorado due to draught, so the fire pit may not be available.

Pro Tip: consider hosting your first dance on the deck in front of the view!

Best places for wedding party and couples photos at Piney River Ranch

There are literally no bad places to take photos at the Ranch. And, in fact, I’m often wishing there was more time for photos because there are just so many beautiful spots to explore! Below I’ll talk about some of my favorite spots to explore for photos at Piney River Ranch and give my recommendations on when you should plan to visit them.

The stream that feeds off the lake

The area by the stream is a very pretty area, surrounded by evergreens. I often do first looks in this area because it offers some privacy from others.

You could also consider coming here at sunset for both gorgeous late day lighting (the sun sets on this side of the property) and a different perspective of the mountain range. If you choose to do this spot at sunset, I would take advantage of the last of the sunlight and then head to the docks to capture the alpenglow on the mountain peaks.

If it’s later in the year and the stream isn’t too deep, you can even plan to take off your shoes, wade in the river, or climb on the rocks.

Evergreen grove near the stream

For some of the most beautiful shaded lighting on a sunny day, I like to hit up the grove of evergreens near the cabins on the way to the stream. This is a great spot for pre-ceremony wedding party photos.

nude and sparkles mismatched bridesmaid dresses photo

The glamping tents

If you happen to rent a glamping tent for post-wedding, or if one of the tents is unoccupied on your wedding day, consider a few portraits on one of the porches. This can be a fun spot for a wedding party photo, or just a cool spot to hang out with the two of you for a few minutes.

The docks and canoes

The docks are most popular at sunset because you have spectacular views of the alpenglow on the mountain peaks. You can take a canoe out onto the lake for a spin, and/or prioritize photos on the dock itself.

The path by the lake

You’ll get similar mountain views along the path by the lake, and it’s up to you how far you want to go down the path. You could utilize this path earlier in the day, but it’s also most popular around sunset. If you’re heading to the docks anyway, you might as well photograph along this path at the same time.

bride and groom walk by Colorado lake photo

The aspens and red rocks

If you can turn your back on the mountain view for a few minutes, you’ll find an incredible grove of aspens up the hill. These trees are beautiful in all seasons, whether it’s the green of summer or the yellow of fall. If there is any late day sunlight left, you can take advantage of it and get some beautiful glow through the trees. If not, it doesn’t really matter, because the trees shine on their own.

How much does it cost to get married at Piney River Ranch?

For the most up to date pricing, contact Piney River Ranch at

Piney is also currently offering a ceremony-only package on weekdays. Contact their team for pricing.

Favorite vendors that serve Piney River Ranch and the Vail Valley

Most wedding vendors, like planners and photographers, will travel all over Colorado for your wedding. In these instances it’s not necessary to have some located in Vail. But for other vendors, hiring local can be a big bonus. Check out the vendors below for some of my favorite local vendors in the Vail Valley.


Vintage Magnolia – For elegant, beautiful florals, Caitlin and her team are some of the best in Vail. They know Piney River Ranch well and can provide a variety of beautiful floral decor for your event.

A Secret Garden – With a boutique shop in Vail Village, A Secret Garden is well known in the event industry in the Vail Valley.

Blogs from Piney River Ranch Weddings

I travel all over the state of Colorado and across the US to capture connected wedding stories for devoted and courageous couples. I am very familiar with weddings at Piney River Ranch and I’d love to be your Piney River Ranch wedding photographer!

Same-sex wedding photographer Jennie Crate Photographer

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