New Mexico is one of those states that not everyone know where it is or what it is like. The surrounding states sure. When I moved here from FL a few years ago nobody knew what I was talking about. New Mexico is not just a desert, we have seasons, forests, high elevations and snow. It is like Arizona and Colorado had a baby, maybe a little bit of Texas too. There are so many places to elope in New Mexico. If you are considering it, I have listed out a few of my favorite places!
To start, there is always a chance of something going unexpectedly when you choose to elope outdoors where you can’t rent or reserve a location. That is okay! When planning out an elopement day, I always have a backup plan. The most common problem is people being where you planned to be. To avoid this problem, I always suggest setting your date on a Mon-Thursday if possible. For many locations there is enough room that a few people is okay; or there are other similar options close by. When planning an elopement you always have to be ready for a plan B or even C. Don’t worry, plan A often works out!
Whether you live in New Mexico or are coming for the first time to elope, the land of enchantment is an unforgettable place to say your vows! Here are some places to elope in New Mexico.
The Sandia Peak Tram is one of the “must do” things in Albuquerque. Whether you are visiting or live here, it is likely that the tram is not foreign to you. Not only is it an experience to ride to the top of the Sandia Mountains, but it is a breathtaking view. From one side you can see Albuquerque and the other is Cedar Crest.
A little information about the tram. The ride is $25 a person and starts at the bottom of the mountain in Albuquerque at and elevation of about 5,000 and ends at the top of the mountain at an elevation of 10,378. It is a slow 13-15 minute ride but may not be easy for someone who is scared of heights. I always tell my couples to drink a lot of water when they come to Albuquerque; but especially if they are taking the tram. The elevation in Albuquerque is surprising to people visiting, and they don’t always realize they need more water at a higher elevation. The temperature at the top of the mountain can also be 20-30 degrees cooler than at the bottom. Always bring layers!
When it comes to eloping at the Sandia Peak, you will get beautiful views in every direction. There is not too much walking, but it is steep, so bring appropriate shoes. In the winter it can be impossible to walk around up there too since it is basically just ski slopes. Make sure you plan accordingly when choosing your elopement date. If you feel like grabbing a bite or a drink, you are in luck. There is a great restaurant at the top called Ten 3 that I highly recommend!
Whether you are looking for a beautiful spot to elope, have a photo shoot or just explore. Sandia Peak is a must see in Albuquerque.
Rio Grande River
The Rio Grande River runs all the way from Colorado through the whole state of New Mexico. Eloping at the river gives you many options since it goes through the whole state. The water up north in Taos is usually cleaner than further south. Though it depends on time of year and if it has rained recently. The water in the river mainly comes from melted snow from CO. It will typically be fuller at the beginning of the summer when the snow has more recently melted. If it has rained, it also will be fuller and cleaner.
The river offers many activities if you and your partner are adventurous or outdoorsy. You can swim, kayak, tube, etc. If any of these activities are just “so you”, you might want to consider doing that during part of your elopement for some fun memories and cute photos!
The iconic Rio Grande Gorge Bridge in Taos is also a must see. As stated before, I think the part of the river in Taos is the prettiest and it does offer more variety for pretty elopement locations. There are so many beautiful locations out there with bridges and overlooks for ceremony spots. You can also find great locations near Santa Fe and in Albuquerque by the river for your elopement.
Taos Ski Valley
Taos and Taos Ski Valley are beautiful and cute little towns. You can get the beautiful forest locations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, but there are more options in Taos. The weather is typically better up there too and gets a bit cooler at night. That being said, Taos also gets a lot more snow in the winter and certain areas will be closed. Be prepared to work around that, and possibly have to make some last minute changes if you choose Taos for a winter elopement.
There are a lot of campgrounds and trails to explore in Taos that offer beautiful locations for a ceremony and portraits. Both Taos and Taos Ski Valley are pretty touristy. A weekday elopement would be a great idea to avoid having people potentially being where you planned on going. This can also vary depending on the time of year.
If you have never been to Taos, there are some very unique things to check out! As mentioned before the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge is a breathtaking view that you just have to see. There is a colony of earthships in the area that are just unreal. If you like to ski or snowboard this is one of the best places to do it in the state. Even if you don’t, the ski valley has a cute area with shops and restaurants. Hotel Luna Mystica is another really cute place to check out and stay at if you are into vintage trailers!
Taos is one of those places that has it all. Desert, forest, water, mountains, and just amazing views no matter where you go and is a great location for an elopement!
New Mexico has so many options for cool rock locations if that is your jam! I am a sucker for slot canyons so I am grouping them as a category here. There are so many around the state, and hidden gems that would be great spots for an elopement. One of the most known slot canyons in the state is the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument (not pictured). This is a beautiful location for an elopement and photos. Be sure to get the necessary photography permits before planning.
In order to follow Leave No Trace Ethics I am not going to tag or link to any other specific canyons. Whether I am your photographer or you choose someone else, they probably know of some hidden gems like the ones below. Finding a good photographer is key. If you are looking for a place that is not necessarily well known, but still would be great for an elopement ceremony and/or portraits, they will have a list. If a location is iconic and well known, I have no problem sharing that online. To keep these other locations from becoming overcrowded I only share them with booked clients who want to elope there.
New Mexico is so underrated in my opinion. After moving here a couple years ago and exploring I have realized that there is much more than I had ever imagined. If you want to elope in NM, you can not go wrong with where you choose. The hard part is there is SOOO much to choose from that you never knew.
Hacienda Dona Andrea de Santa Fe
Hacienda Dona Andrea in Santa Fe is different from my previous suggestions, but it is a must see. This house is beautiful inside and out. It is a rental property and would be great for a small group for an intimate wedding. There are several rooms for guests to stay in at night and a large kitchen to accommodate everyone. If you are looking to get away for a couple of days with your closest friends and family, or even just the two of you, this is a great option to consider!
This venue is a rental with many rooms, but they do not rent out the rooms individually. You won’t have to worry about strangers staying on the property during your visit, you get it all to yourself! From the tall ceilings and vining plants inside, to the beautiful open courtyard outside overlooking Santa Fe. You will have an unforgettable stay and elopement here.
I personally have been here three times. I feel like every time is a different experience and I find more new things to appreciate. The property is secluded but also not far from shops, restaurants, and hiking trails in Santa Fe.
The Gilman Tunnels in Jemez are quite a sight. There is not much room for parking, which is why these would be a great location for an elopement! There are two of these man made tunnels that you can drive up to and through to take beautiful photos. It is right along a stream with a biking and hiking trail just passed the tunnels.
During the winter the gate to drive all the way to the tunnels is closed because rocks fall when it snows. Don’t worry, you can still park at the gate and walk. The walk to the tunnels is about 10 minutes or less. Though it may not seem that way when you park at the gate because you can’t see them. The first one is right around the corner though, I promise.
If you end up going to the tunnels to explore or for your elopement, it does get darker there earlier. It is essentially a canyon. You will want to keep that in mind when deciding what time will be best with your photographer.
The brewery scene in New Mexico is unlike anywhere else. If you are a local and have a favorite brewery, you might want to consider eloping there; or even just stopping by for a drink and a couple of photos. If you have never been to New Mexico, but love breweries, you will love it here! No matter what you decide, if a brewery is going to be a part of your day, make sure you let them know ahead of time and plan for a day that won’t be very busy. If you want to get some nice photos, the less people in the background the better. But, it is your day and totally up to you!
When my husband and I eloped in Sedona (read more about that here), we stopped at a brewery before our little hike to say our vows. They ended up giving the two of us a free beer, and I assume most places would do that!
A quick little stop to a brewery or a place to say your vows. This is definitely a unique and unforgettable idea to consider for your elopement! Luckily New Mexico has plenty of options for which brewery would be best for you.
Albuquerque is known for its beautiful sunsets. One of the factors that plays into the stunning views is the pink mountain glow as the sun goes down. If you are planning a trip to Albuquerque for your elopement, you will see what I mean! It only happens for the last couple of minutes right as the sun is going below the horizon, as long as no clouds are covering the sun. It is a beautiful backdrop even though it is only a few minutes!
The foothills in Albuquerque have so many different locations to choose for an elopement. Almost every road towards the mountain off of Tramway has some sort of trail to consider. One area called Elena Gallegos is a beautiful location where you can rent a space called the Double Shelter Reservation Area. If reserved, you won’t have to worry about strangers being in the way. You get an area to say your vows that is so beautiful and a shelter nearby. Both places accommodate a handful of people, so it is perfect whether it is just the two of you or your closest friends and family.
The Sandia foothills are a beautiful option for a classic Albuquerque elopement. As always, remember that you are in the desert, at a mile high elevation, so be sure to drink a lot of water no matter the time of year!
I have mentioned how stunning and unique New Mexico is, but these white rocks are unlike anything else. To again follow Leave No Trace Ethics I will not be listing exact locations here. Though your photographer (if it is not me) will probably have their own little list of hidden white rock gems. There are a few areas near Albuquerque like this and also near Abiquiu there are options. These white rocks are sure to make a statement with your elopement photos and are a natural reflector; a photographers dream!
If you are considering a white rock location in New Mexico, it may be best to choose a weekday, or at least not a Saturday. The locations I know of are much busier on weekends (mainly Saturdays) for photo shoots, biking and hiking; though when I say busy I don’t mean very crowded at all. Some areas can be small, like the one pictured below. If someone else is there taking photos you will have to wait. If you chose a less popular day it is more likely that you will have it all to yourself!
If you love red rocks like me, Ghost Ranch is a beautiful option! It is located in Abiquiu which is near Santa Fe. Weddings and Elopements need a reservation and do require a photography fee of $50 per person. The views of this beautiful place are stunning and remind me of Sedona or Moab, but New Mexico! Ghost Ranch is a place I have yet to photograph an elopement at. The reference photos below are from a location nearby with similar rocks (no longer open for photography unfortunately).
If you are looking for a place to stay, eat and drink, say your vows and take photos, you will find accommodations for all of that at Ghost Ranch. If you just want to say your vows and take photos there, that is okay too! The Abiquiu area is stunning all around. It has many campgrounds and trails to explore if you are an outdoorsy couple.
There are so many options for places to elope in New Mexico. If you want a river, lake, mountains, forest, desert, or a beautiful home to rent, New Mexico has it all! There are many options that I have not even touched on here. I would love to answer any questions and suggest locations if you are considering a NM elopement. I am always here to help my couples with planning and location scouting as much or as little as needed.
As stated a few times, I follow Leave No Trace Ethics. I do not link locations or geotag on my social media for locations that are not already widely known. I do keep my location list for my booked clients only. If you have any questions about why that is please feel free to ask. I hope these places to elope in New Mexico inspired you to find your dream elopement location! New Mexico will not disappoint you.