Canyonlands National Park Elopement

A couple shares a twirl at an Overlook after shari their vows in Canyonlands.

Canyonlands National Park is in the South central area of Utah. The park was established in the 1960’s and overlooks both the Green River and the Colorado River. The park covers over 500 miles of land enjoying the protection of national distinction. With such a fragile landscape as can be seen with some of the old mining operations, it’s very important to tread lightly when enjoying this space. We love Canyonlands for so many reasons, but a big reason is because it offers a romantic and surreal location to get married.

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Can you get married in Canyonlands National Park?

Yes, you can get married in Canyonlands National Park!! In order to get married in Canyonlands National Park you will need to pull a permit with the National Park and you will need to get a marriage license through the state of Utah. Both of these things are super casual so don’t stress over these little must do’s. You can do this online through Utah Counties website or if having the physical paper in hand is important, you can go in person at the nearest clerk office in the town of Moab.

Where can you get married in Canyonlands?

Because the park has a wedding permit system this means there are very specific locations within the park you are allowed to hold your ceremony. These are locations where you can gather with your loved ones and hold a formal ceremony. National Parks do have more strict policies when compared to neighboring BLM or national forest land, however they are very reasonable and are only there to ensure that we can all enjoy the park for generations. When it comes to just getting your picture taken and exploring the park without the formal ceremony, you can go anywhere else in the park as long as you are following Leave No Trace and the other park rules.

Island of the Sky Elopement Locations

Island of the Sky is located at the end of highway 313. Please watch for cows in the road way as your drive out there, especially in the spring!! This is about a 45 minute to an hour drive from Moab town center. The views here are all overlooking the canyons. There are a few hikes to explore, but mostly all of the ceremony options include little to no hiking to get to the location.

  • Grand View – 25 people maximum + best at sunrise towards the start of the trail, sunset if you are adventurous and going all the way to the end of the hike
  • Green River – 25 people maximum + best at sunset
  • Mesa Arch – 25 people maximum + best at sunrise + the busiest location option within the park
  • Shafer Overlook Trail – 10 people maximum + best at sunrise

Our personal favorite if you are going to have guests come along would be the start of Grand View and if it is just you two, we would suggest going to the Green River overlook. Our favorites are based on experience, lighting/framing for photography and how busy certain areas can get. We like privacy and intimacy, as do most of our couples!

Needles Elopement Locations

This area of the Canyonlands National Park is actually 1.5 hours south west of Moab town center. This area of the National Park is a lot quieter than most areas of Moab, but even more so quieter than the Island of the Sky region. I would say this part of the park is ideal for couples interested in backpacking during their elopement, exploring longer hikes and looking for a lot of privacy.

  • Pothole Point – 10 people maximum + best at sunset
  • Needles Group Campsites – options vary from 10, 15 and 50 people.
Sunrise through Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park

When should you elope in Canyonlands?

Canyonlands National Park is open year round and you can get married there year round. Here is a break down of what the seasons are like. However, it is important to remember this is an outdoor space and weather has a mind of its own 🙂

  • Spring – we consider this in Moab to be late March to Mid May. During this time temperatures are warm and pleasant with comfortable nights. The milky way is starting to make its presence. Earlier in spring is also known to be on the windy side, but as you get closer to May the windy days are fewer and fewer.
  • Summer – we consider this to be late May to mid September here in Moab. During this time the days can be super hot, and the area in general is a bit crowded with summer tourism. People unfamiliar with the desert can often underestimate how hot and dry things can get, so while it’s completely safe to explore here during this season, it’s very important to be mindful of temperature, exertion, and your water intake.
  • Fall – we consider this to be late September to the first week of November in Moab. This time of year the temperatures are starting to cool down, this tends to be a quiter season than spring with the same ideal temperatures.
  • Winter – we consider this to be November to March in Moab. This time of year is for sure the quietest time offering the most privacy in some of the most beautiful areas, but it will be cold. Sometimes you can even catch a snow flurry.

When deciding on your elopement date in Canyonlands, we highly recommend considering a weekday to avoid the weekend crowds. The reasons you’re getting out on this adventure is to share an intimate space in the beauty of nature with your life partner, ideally not with a whole tour bus of people too!

Best time of day to Elope in Canyonlands

Canyonlands is accessible 24/7 unless there is an unlikely closure. We always recommend eloping here at sunrise or sunset for the best lighting. If you’re not from the area and you’re making a big trip for an epic wedding day, I’m sure you want the best opportunity for the most stunning photos possible. Without getting too nerdy about photography, being mostly mesa overlooks the sun can be quite harsh mid day creating unflattering shadows, but also temperatures can get quite warm and unpleasant mid day depending on the time of year.

Whether you should elope at sunrise or sunset really depends on the lighting of the location you select. Some places are better than others at different times of the day and the year, but don’t worry about that, we’re here to help! If you prefer privacy, then you for sure want to consider sunrise.

Things to do in Canyonlands National Park for your Elopement

Canyonlands can be seen by driving around and hopping out at view points, but on your elopement day there is so much more for you to do!!! Here are our top things to do in Canyonlands

  • Off road Shafer trail taking in all of the sights along the way
  • Off Road White Rim – permit required
  • Backpack in the Needles area
  • Stargaze
  • See Canyonlands from above via helicopter or a small plane
  • Camp
  • Horseback ride (allowed on backroads)
  • Hike some of the trails to view points, exploring quiet areas among the rim in Island of the sky
A bride waves to the drone outside of Canyonlands National Park

Rules for Eloping in Canyonlands National Park

The National Park rangers have laid out some very important rules to follow when you get a permit and elope in the park. Even if you only plan to have your portraits captured or while sharing an activity in the park, it is important to follow these rules so future couples can continue to get married and enjoy this space on their wedding day.

  • Any invasive plants are not allowed in the park, even dried florals. Stick to fake florals or local plants to the area.
  • Follow Leave No Trace
  • No decorations or butterfly releases allowed
  • No pets and No drones
  • Food service vendors not allowed, you can have a personal picnic, but it can not be catered
  • Do not block areas or restrict public access
  • You will likely have a National Park ranger present at your ceremony simply to observe.
  • Cars must be parked in designated parking spaces

Is Canyonlands worth seeing?

We hear a lot, is Canyonlands worth it?? Heck yes, it is!! Canyonlands is a sight you will likely never forget after visiting. It can feel like why go, with Dead Horse Point State Park before it, but the views Canyonlands offers is just as grand and different than those at Dead Horse. Also, we love the fact that Canyonlands feels more interactive as you can drive down the canyon experiencing the different levels of the rock bed.

Is Canyonlands or Arches Better?

This is another questions we get often – Canyonlands and Arches are different. One is not better than the other. If you are trying to determine which one might be best for your elopement, ask yourself these questions to weigh out the options:

  • How important is privacy to me?
  • What are things I want to do on this day?
  • What type of view do I want for my ceremony?
  • Where are the other places I plan to go on this day, what is the distance to each park?

How long do you need in Canyonlands?

Telling you how much time you need in Canyonlands is a bit tricky without knowing what all you want to do. To experience both sides of the park, I would say no less than two full days. We have personally been to Canyonlands many times and still feel like we haven’t scratched the surface beyond the places most people go. It is a big park that takes some time to go to, so do not rush your stay. Make a list of your must see spots and calculate your time needed from there.

How much does it cost to get married in Canyonlands?

The permit to hold a ceremony and get married in the park is currently $185 dollars. There may also be an additional fee for having a park monitor on site as determined by the park. The Utah marriage license costs around $50 depending on the county. So by the most basic terms of what does it cost to get married in Canyonlands, the answer would be $235. However these are the other things you may want to factor into your budget:

  • Photographer
  • Officiant
  • Video
  • Dress/Suit (Attire)
  • Hair and Makeup if needed
  • Travel – including but not limited to flight, rental car, off road rental, food, stay, etc
  • Food/Cake
  • Vow books
A bride looks over the edge of a canyon towards the Colorado River.

Canyonlands Elopement Packages

We are adventure elopement photographers that not only capture your wedding or elopement day here in Canyonlands, but we ourselves have off-roaded and explored this area. The Southwest was our home during van life for years. We love, as I say, being one with the rock, from climbing, hiking, sitting and taking it in, watching the sunset, off roading and more. We have helped couple plan their elopement day that have never been to these areas before, but also helped couples plan their day that already have an immense connection to the area. No matter your connection with this sliver of the world, we are here to capture your story.

We offer 4 elopement packages in this area, but if you aren’t seeing a good fit for you, we are happy to put together a custom package. We offer a video add on for any of our photo packages. Our packages are:

  • Mini Elopement
  • Half Day
  • Full Day
  • Two Day

Each of our packages would be perfect for a Canyonlands Elopement! Which package depends on what all you want to do on your elopement day and what all is important to capture from your day. The 4 hour mini elopement is great if you want to spend sunrise at a vista sharing your vows and taking portraits after and on the other end, the two day elopement is perfect if you want to spend one day getting married out in Island of the Sky and the next day off roading White Rim Road, backpacking/hiking in the Needles district and seeing Canyonlands in the air via a small crop plane! There are endless options!

Canyonlands Elopement Photographer

Hi! Meet your Canyonlands Elopement Photographers!

Hi – we are Traci + Bill! The desert stole our hearts some time ago as we were adventuring around solo in our vans. As our relationship grew, so did our love for the desert.

To us your elopement day is about – story, heart, connection and authenticity. We are here to help you create a day that is just that, you. We are here to help you preserve the memories you make in this grand place, getting married to the love of your life!

We’d Love To Hear More About Your Moab Elopement Plans!

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“On elopement day, Traci and Bill made us feel so comfortable and it felt like we were hanging out with friends. They capture our love story so well and you can definitely see that through the photos. They are truly gifted and made our elopement such a beautiful and unforgettable day. It was an incredible experience! All of our loved ones can’t stop raving about how wonderful Traci and Bill are. We can’t thank them enough!” – Stephanie

A view of Canyonlands at sunset.