How to Elope in US National Parks
Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About Getting Married in a National Park
National Parks here in the beautiful United States of America are often thought of as national treasures, and they really are. If you are an adventurous couple who love the natural splendor of the wild: mountains, oceans, and forests – an elopement or intimate wedding in one of US national parks is a must.
Almost each state has their own amazing parks, from the wind-swept deserts of Death Valley in Nevada to California’s Redwood Forest, there are endless possibilities. This is truly a diverse country for scenery and parks. It is such a great place to elope!
There are a few things to take into consideration before you start planning your elopement wedding.
Weather and best time to come:
The weather is extremely important. Some roads may be closed in the winter, while a brutal snowstorm could close parks altogether.
On the flip side, summer can be seriously hot in places like Zion National Park, Arch National Park and etc. Also, with summer come the crowds. Zion and Yosemite is especially chaotic in the summer, often without enough space to even pitch a tent or park a car.
If you considering have a winter elope in national parks: Winter Elopements: US National Parks
Make sure to plan responsibly. You don’t want tourists snapping photos of your private elopement ceremony. Schedule around the crowds and research the best places within each park to find a little privacy. Always remember that Wednesday is less popular than Saturday or Sunday.
Keep in mind is that permits are necessary in most NP to perform the wedding ceremony. You will want to search the state’s rules and plan accordingly, as it's can take up to 4 weeks to get your permit. Photographers permit can take even longer to secure than the wedding permit.
Keep all this in mind and make sure to have all your permits ready before you elope.
Dogs can be a hot issue, since many National Parks has very strict regulations on where you can go with your fur baby, do the research first to make sure.
This is most Dog friendly National Parks in US:
1. YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK – CALIFORNIA
2. ZION NATIONAL PARK – UTAH
3. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK – ARIZONA
4. ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK – COLORADO
5. CUYAHOGA VALLEY NATIONAL PARK – OHIO
6. SHENANDOAH NATIONAL PARK – VIRGINIA
7. ACADIA NATIONAL PARK – MAINE
And always remember to leave the park the same as when you arrived. Leave no trace of yourselves behind.
Lastly, you want to understand how you will reach the location for your ceremony. If you have picked the location based on a stunning photography, think about if you will need to hike six hours to reach it on the side of a mountain or not. This can be a challenge for some, especially if you are wearing a dress or nice clothing!
Parking may also be a hassle, and some guests might have difficulties trudging through the snow to reach your dream spot if you are having a winter elopement. Be sure to check first before you make any decisions.
Here is a list of the top 10 national parks to have your elopement wedding.
Olympic National Park, Washington
This park is located snugly on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest. The park incorporates a whole bunch of awesome ecosystems and gives a little something for every nature lover. The mountain is intense and peaked with icy glaciers, while the surrounding rainforests are lush and striking against the dramatic coastline. This is a perfect place to have an adventure wedding. You can elope among some of the most unique scenery in the world.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Another great park in Washington, the North Cascades offers mountains, lakes, and glaciers. The scenery here is unparalleled, sprinkled with creeks and hiking trails. Elope here for a peaceful retreat into a sprawling green wilderness. You may even encounter a bear or two!
Grand Teton Nation Park, Wyoming
In Wyoming’s Northwest is this amazing national park, which includes the impressive Teton Mountain Range and its tall, craggy peak. Many locals refer to the deep Teton valley as “Jackson Hole.” This is a great elopement destination for people who love backcountry fishing and camping. You can also get very easily to Yellowstone National Park for even more hiking and scenic views.
Mt. Rainier, Washington
The third Washington park (yes, Washington is amazing!) on our list is Mr. Rainier. This volcanic hotspot has some of the most dramatic mountain views in the country. In fact, this park is one of the world’s oldest recognized national parks. Take your elopement here to experience a living and breathing volcano up close and personal. It’s not dangerous, but it is an incredible experience. The photos will always impress.
Zion National Park, Utah
This rocky park is a maze of canyons, sparse forest trails, and the river flowing below. Find desert animals, rough chasms, and trickling waterfalls all throughout this amazing park. The only downside is that in the summer months it can be very busy and very hot. This is a picturesque mix between park and desert, and a great place to elope for those who like this kind of rugged scenery.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
In Southern Utah you can find this great natural reserve, best known for its crimson hoodoo rock formations. The canyon’s beautiful cliff walls are mixed hues of reds and browns. This park is best experienced at sunrise or sunset when the sun reflects off the incredible crimson walls of the canyons. This is an ideal place for lovers who want a sunset wedding with spectacular golden photographs in the falling sunlight.
Glacier National Park, Montana
The Rocky Mountains are the world’s second largest mountain range after the Himalayas, but no less jaw-dropping. This park stretches along the Canadian border and the Rocky Mountains. It includes beautifully crisp lakes with crystal blue glacial waters and endless camping with starry skies. This park is home to grizzly bears, goats, and creeping wolves. It is a great place to marry if you and your partner love unspoiled nature without the crowds. Check out Hidden Lake for some spectacular photos.
Yosemite National Park, California
Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite is one of this country’s most famous parks. It is known mostly for the enormous sequoia trees and the breathtaking views of the Bridal Veil Fall. There are many shops, sleeping options, and cute restaurants for you to enjoy with an elopement wedding here. There is even a museum and an art gallery.
Arches National Park, Utah
The second park in Utah on our list, Arches is famous for its towering sandstone arches of desert red. This entire park is full of rocky terrain and impressive geological formations. Be married underneath one of these unique arches and spend the day tracking down lizards under the desert rocks with your partner. This is an amazing landscape of dust, rock, and sand – a must for lovers of sand-swept desert scenes.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Alaska is arguably one giant national park. Denali alone spans an incredible six million acres of prime Alaskan wilderness. This is a great place to come in the summer to walk the tundra trails, hold hands in the empty and solitary spruce forest, and tread along the retreating glaciers. Check out Mount McKinley for striking views of North America’s tallest mountain peak. Keep your eyes open for moose and caribou roaming the grasslands or on the side of the road. Alaska is an amazingly romantic getaway for elopers. Privacy, wildlife, and millions of acres of untouched beauty.