Why Choose Boulder for your Engagement Photos?
Boulder is one of the most accessible “mountain” towns near Denver. I put “mountain” in quotes, because it’s not up in the Rockies like Vail or Breckenridge. But Boulder is where the Foothills start and they kick off with the Flatirons peaks, a key features to any Boulder landscape.
The Flatirons are located in Chautauqua Park, and are as iconic as they are beautiful.
Aside from exploring the Flatirons, you could also explore Boulder’s famous pedestrian street, Pearl Street Mall. Or take a jaunt up Flagstaff mountain to several viewpoints overlooking the city.
I’ve highlighted some of my favorite Boulder locations for Engagement photos below, but I’ll add to list as I find new places to explore.
*NOTE: Almost all of the iconic locations in Boulder require a photography permit from OSMP (Open Space and Mountain Parks). Most photographers who photograph in Boulder regularly purchase the permit annually, but make sure you choose your location a few weeks in advance in case your photographer needs to renew before the session.
Interested in scheduling your session with me? Reach out and let’s chat!
Chautauqua Park Engagement Photos
Chautauqua Park is located at the base of Flatstaff Mountain, off of Baseline road.
The full span of the park includes a Ranger’s Cabin (with information and bathrooms right by the trails), an open grassy field, a historic dining hall/ restaurant and historic park buildings that can be rented for meetings and events. There are also side streets with privately owned and rentable historic cabins that were built between 1899 and 1954.
There are multiple trails that start at the main parking area, all of which can be explored for photos, though there are a few that I usually prefer for the views and access.
It’s one of the most popular parks in Boulder, so be aware that parking can often be an issue (particularly in summer and fall). If you can’t find parking in the main lot, you could try to park in the one way paved road that surrounds the open field. And if you luck out there, you can park on the side streets outside of the park and walk over.
Pro Tip: One thing to consider when choosing Chautauqua Park is your footware and your fitness level. The trails are dirt packed and/ or rocky, and they gain in elevation quickly. While we won’t be power hiking up the mountain, it’s worth knowing what to expect. I would recommend closed toed shoes to combat the dirt and grasses. We can also plan to walk as slow as needed to keep us from getting too out of breath (it happens to everyone!).
What season should I schedule my Chautauqua Park engagement photos?
I’ve photographed in the park in all seasons, but my favorites are summer and fall.
Winter: It will likely be cold in the winter in the park, but Colorado’s sunshine still makes this a good spot to explore. The rocks and evergreens of the park make the trails up towards the flatirons a good option for winter as they look about the same year round. You might even still get some green grass in the main open field in November/ December.
And parking will be significantly easier in the off season.
Summer: Summer is a great time to be in Chautauqua Park. The weather is great in the evenings (much cooler than earlier in the day), and if you explore in July, you might get some great wildflowers in bloom.
The grasses will also be tall and lush and provide great layering opportunities along the trails.
You will have to plan on crowds though, as the popular park peaks for hikers and visitors in the summer. Plan for extra time to find parking and be willing to be patient as you’ll get passed by hikers on all the trails while you’re trying to shoot. You’ll likely see other photo shoots happening too.
BUT, in exchange, you’ll get to enjoy a great evening outdoors in Boulder, which always feels like a win to me.
In the summer, I highly recommend planning your session for a weeknight. I’d also avoid extended holiday weekends, graduation weekend, and move-in and move-out weeks for CU Boulder.
Fall: In the fall the tall grasses along the field start to dry out and the days get shorter. But October is still a great month to explore the park. Plus the areas around the open field and historical buildings boast trees and bushes that change color, so you can still take advantage of the colorful fall feel of Boulder.
Lost Gulch Engagement Photos
Lost Gulch features some of the best views in Boulder, and is also one of the most accessible viewpoints, which doesn’t require hiking to reach.
To get to Lost Gulch, drive past Chautauqua Park and up Flagstaff Mountain. You’ll pass a few other great photo spots (more info on those blow), and then come to the parking lot for Lost Gulch on the right (about 10 minutes driving up the mountain). The parking lot is not paved and holds space for about 15 cars.
As with most OSMP spots, you’ll have to pay the $5 parking fee to visit lost gulch and they only take cash. If you’re a Boulder resident, this fee is waived. Parking is NOT allowed on Flagstaff Road when the parking lot is full.
What time of day should we visit Lost Gulch?
Lost Gulch is beautiful at both sunrise and sunset and has good light in the afternoon. I prefer afternoon to morning for the light, but morning is usually less crowded.
Sunrise: If you plan to arrive for sunrise, I’d suggest getting to the park prior to the actual sunrise time, then exploring in the early dawn light before you get the actual sun’s rays. You will likely have the overlook all to yourself at sunrise too, as it’s not nearly as popular this time of day as it is in the evening.
Sunset: Sunset is the most popular time to at Lost Gulch for locals, students, and out of town visitors. On a nice summer evening, be prepared to squeeze in for parking, or wait for a few minutes for someone else to leave. I like to arrive with at least 20-30 minutes before actual sunset to take advantage of the late light in the trees before taking in the views as you loose sun behind the peaks. Once the sun is gone, you might even get some colorful clouds to top off your night.
One thing to be aware of with Lost Gulch is that the wind is sometimes really fierce. I’ve seen incredibly windy conditions in spring, summer, and fall, so it really depends on the day. If it’s a windy or stormy day in Boulder, you can expect it to be extra windy at Lost Gulch. Luckily, there are a few spots were you can escape to the trees to block some of the wind. But if you want the views, you might encounter some wind and we’ll be extra careful about the spots we pick to make sure everyone stays safe.
Pro Tip: I often suggest pairing Lost Gulch with a second location in Boulder. Chautauqua is an obvious choice, but really any of the spots on this page could work.
Halfway House is so named because it exists halfway up to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. It’s accessible via a parking lot on the left of the road, which isn’t usually that crowded. From the parking lot there is a trail that goes through an open field towards a sideways view of a flatiron peak. In the summer there are beautiful wildflowers in this field, and you can follow the trail to some rocky boulders. The light in the afternoon is really gorgeous at Halfway House!
This spot is also a great pair with Lost Gulch Overlook as you’ll pass it on your drive up Flagstaff Mountain.
Halfway House is also one of the reservable wedding spots available through the City of Boulder. So be aware that there might be a rental with guests happening and it would be considerate not to interrupt.
The People’s Park (Formerly Settler’s Park)
This park is a slightly hidden gem in Boulder. According to the website, foot traffic is fairly high, but I’ve never seen it super busy compared to Chautauqua Park. It’s a little farther off the beaten paths of popular hiking spots, but it features some really cool rock formations that aren’t super difficult to get to.
Pearl Street Mall
An iconic part of Downtown Boulder, the fully pedestrian Pearl Street Mall stretches for roughly 4 blocks and hosts hundreds of restaurants, shops, service businesses, and street performers. It’s often crowded in the summer, but it’s a great spot to capture that cute, walkable vibe in your engagement photos. You could grab some ice cream, cuddle on a bench, or just walk under the street lights at twilight.
A few iconic spots you could visit in and around Pearl Street are Dushanbe Teahouse, The Boulder Theater, The Historic Boulder Courthouse, Hotel Boulderado, and Avanti Food and Beverage (with a great view of the flatirons from the rooftop).
If you really want a cool touch to your photos, you could pay $250 to get your names up on the Marqee of the Boulder Theather.