Durango-based Shannon Hahn and Jason Bushey, both 33, met when friends introduced them after a mountain bike ride; they began hiking, biking and skiing together. Jason proposed marriage at a remote alpine lake in the Weminuche Wilderness during a backpacking trip, and they have decided to hold their wedding outdoors as well. The couple is planning to tie the knot at Chris Park Campground, a Forest Service group site near Haviland Lake, 18 miles north of Durango. The coronavirus outbreak delayed the wedding but they’re hoping to marry next summer.
“We wanted to throw a laid-back and fun wedding,” said Hahn. “We wanted most of our budget to be spent on food, drinks and entertainment, and not the venue.”
They’ve reserved all three group sites at the campground, which can accommodate up to 150 campers, though their event will be smaller than that. Some of Shannon and Jason’s guests will camp, others will book a room at nearby Purgatory Resort. When asked what her biggest piece of advice would be for someone planning a campground wedding, Hahn said, “You need to plan far ahead. The reservations go fast. Planning your wedding in a campground is a do-it-yourself endeavor, but we think it’s the best value.”
Oh, and their honeymoon? “We’re going to explore the Canadian Rocky Mountains — mountain biking in Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, Golden and Revelstoke.”
For anyone else thinking of holding their wedding at a campground, here are a few options in Colorado:
Note: Given the uncertain nature of the coronavirus outbreak, make sure to check restrictions ahead of time.
Chris Park Group Campground
North of Durango
This Forest Service group facility is in a sheltered hollow of ponderosa pines. Its three sites have large gravel lots for RVs and dispersed tent camping in the woods. You can take a dip in Haviland Lake, accessible via the short Wagon Road Historic Trail. There are no mountain views from the campground, but the lake is scenic. Some sites and all facilities are wheelchair-accessible. There are picnic tables, grills and fire rings, vault toilets, drinking water, an event pavilion, horseshoe pits, and a volleyball court. Reservations are required at 877-444-6777 and recreation.gov. The fee is $100-$220 depending on group size. Contact: San Juan National Forest, Columbine District, 970-884-2512, fs.usda.gov/sanjuan
Windy Point Group
South of Frisco
This group campground on the southeast shore of Dillon Reservoir has incredible panoramic views and two large sites for tent camping that hold up to 100 people each. The lake site has a covered pavilion for 95 people. The other site is more rustic. RVs can park in the parking lot and there are picnic tables, grills and fire rings, vault toilets, and a picnic pavilion. The facilities are wheelchair-accessible. Make reservations at 877-444-6777 and recreation.gov. The fee is $215-$265 per night. Contact: White River National Forest, Dillon District, 970-468-5400, fs.usda.gov/whiteriver
South of Carbondale
On the banks of the Crystal River, between the Maroon Bells-Snowmass and Raggeds Wilderness areas, Bogan Flats is in a fly-fishing haven, 5 miles from the historic town of Marble. The group site is upstream of the main campground and is private. Make reservations at 877-444-6777 and recreation.gov. The group site costs $135 per night, for up to 50 people. Contact: White River National Forest, Sopris District, 970-963-2266, fs.usda.gov/whiteriver
Arapaho Valley Ranch
This off-grid “mountain resort” on the South Fork of the Colorado River is ideal for events like weddings and reunions; its accommodations include camping sites, glamping tents, teepees, cabins, a historic lodge and dance hall, and access to “Colorado’s smallest bar,” the Red Dog Saloon. Wedding parties get exclusive use of the entire property for a three-night weekend. There’s excellent fishing, including a trout pond for kids. Contact: 720-550-0684, arapahovalleyranch.com
Top of the Pines
This is a smaller option, with a handful of campsites. It has a heated indoor pavilion with electricity and flush toilets, plus space to set up a large outdoor event tent. For your outdoor ceremony, there is a lovely meadow with views of the Sneffels range. The deck has stunning views, and the bonfire area is a nice touch for after the reception. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, topofthepines.org
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Adventurist, to get outdoors news sent straight to your inbox.