Eloping in Zion National Park
(updated for 2023)
Zion National Park is a world wonder that draws in over three million people every year! While the park and land contained within the park has a fascinating and varying history, the area was first established as a National Monument under the name of Mukuntuweap in 1909 and only ten years later was designated as Zion National Park on November 19th, 1919. Since the land had gained protection so early on in American history, it has preserved so much of the pristine beauty that creates the awe and wonder we all share in when visiting the park.
When it comes to planning an adventure wedding, whether you plan to bring guests or just your partner along, celebrating your wedding day in Zion National Park has the perfect nook for each and every person. From the most popular hikes like Angel’s Landing and The Narrows to a quiet and private corner secluded from the rest of the world, there is sure to be a location that draws your heart in. This blog is here to help you bring your vision to life when it comes to planning your perfect Zion National Park Elopement Day!
- How to get to Zion National Park
- Where should I stay when visiting Zion National Park?
- When is the best time of year to elope in Zion National Park?
- Where can I elope in Zion National Park?
- How to get legally married in Utah
- How much does it cost to elope in Zion National park?
- How to prepare for a Zion National Park elopement
How to get to Zion National Park
The time of year and which part of the park you plan to enter (more on this later), is very important to consider when it comes to planning your route into the park. It has become very common in recent years for Zion to be included into a grand southwest national park tour, in which case where you’re coming from can vary tremendously. But! We’re going to assume here that you’re flying in from out of state and Zion National Park is THE destination for the trip. We think like all of our beautiful national parks, if you can afford the time, it’s definitely best not to rush your way through here!
What is the closest airport to Zion National Park?
The closest airport to Zion National Park is going to be McCarran International Airport (LAS) which will bring you into Las Vegas, Nevada. You’ll for sure be looking into renting a vehicle since it will be a 170 mile drive into Springdale, Utah which is the most popular entrance into the park. When it comes to getting around the desert in general, Uber’s and taxi’s are not a dependable service like in the big cities so be aware of that incase you planned to just catch a ride. A perk when it comes to flying into Vegas is that this airport typically has plenty of rental cars available and is often a more affordable airport than some other options in the southwest. Also, Vegas is another bucket location for a lot of people so it could be a convenient way to check that off your list!
Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC) will be the next major airport to consider, and flying into here will require 311 miles of driving to make it into Springdale. Given that it’s almost double the distance from the Vegas option, unless visiting Salt Lake City is big on your to do list, then we’d say to skip going this route!
In terms of smaller airports, you can fly into St. George Regional Airport (SGU). This will place you with just under an hour of driving and only 45 miles of driving! This airport does have car rentals available, but if you plan on going this route we recommend that you book your ticket and rental car as early as possible. The smaller airports often run out of vehicles much faster than their international counterparts!
How do I fly with my wedding dress?
This is a big one to consider that can often be overlooked in the planning process! This goes for any suits or garments that you want to try your best to avoid getting wrinkled up. When it comes to booking your flight for your Zion elopement, call and ask the company you plan to fly with and ask if they have a closet to hang your wedding clothes in. While the closet is usually “reserved” for first class, it is rarely ever used and flight attendants are always happy to hang your special attire in the space.
If that isn’t an option with the ticket you already booked, then we recommend rolling the dress and carefully placing it in your carry-on luggage. If you’re really worried about keeping your attire as sharp as possible during transit, then it could be worth purchasing a travel steamer to bring with you to bring your clothes back into top shape!
Where should I stay when visiting Zion National Park?
We always emphasize focusing on what experience is important to you for your elopement day. For this reason, where you decide to stay while visiting the park will impact not only the travel associated with your wedding day, but your whole trip too. Some couples fall in love with an option for a stay and are happy to drive for hours to get between their elopement ceremony, portrait locations, and plans for the day. For other eloping couples, long hours in the car and big gaps between activities aren’t their jam, and the beautiful thing about planning a day centered around your love, is there isn’t a right or wrong here! The important thing is knowing your vision for the day and booking a stay that helps to bring your dream wedding to life. Here are our top three locations to base your stay out of for your Zion National Park Wedding!
Staying in Springdale, Utah for a Zion Elopement
If you’re looking for a tourist hub that puts you right next to the main park entrance, has coffee shops, restaurants, gift stores and more then this is a great area to consider basing your stay out of. This area is surrounded by stunning sandstone cliffs and provides more than just a sneak peak of what to expect once you make your way into the park. As a perk, if you’re holding your wedding ceremony in Zion National Park while the shuttle system is up and running, then you can catch the bus from as far south in the town as Majestic View Lodge. There are also tons of great stay options all throughout this little town. From a hotel space to use as a basecamp through lavish private home rentals, this little town has everything you need to stay cozy while eloping in Zion.
Staying in St George, Utah for a Zion Elopement
Maybe a tourism hub isn’t what you have in mind when it comes to where you want to stay for your Zion National Park Wedding day. While it may add an hour of driving to the park entrance, this city is going to offer more amenities with more availability than Springdale. Maybe you’re considering a private chef for your elopement dinner? While Kelso’s will travel outside of St. George for a private chef catered wedding experience (and they deliver an AMAZING dining experience), being in the city will open up more options for sure.
Staying in Kanab, Utah for a Zion Elopement
Okay, so the first two options cover the west side of the park which is by far the most popular area given the shuttle access to popular hikes like Angel’s landing and Emerald pools, but that doesn’t mean the east entrance doesn’t have just as much to offer! Maybe you’re looking for a small town without the hustle and bustle of the city and with a fraction of the tourism that Springdale brings in. Well, if that sounds more like your style, then this lovely pocket of Utah is definitely an area not to be overlooked! Kanab is only 35 minutes away from the east entrance of Zion so planning to stay in this area for your wedding in Zion is absolutely a choice to consider.
Zion National Park Glamping Stay Options
Okay, so the three locations above meet everything you’re looking for in terms of comfort, amenities, and access to the park but you just can’t put your finger on why you haven’t fallen in love with any of them. Maybe you’re looking for that fashionable desert aesthetic to match the vibe of your Zion Elopement or you just want somewhere unique and fun to base your trip out of while getting married in Zion National Park. Perfect! We love that vibe too! Here are our two favorite recommendations for glamping in the area!
- Under Canvas Zion – The perfect desert vibe that beautifully blends the feel of camping but flips a switch to make it upscale and is placed in a stunning section of the desert just outside of Zion National Park
- Zion Tiny Oasis – Tents aren’t the vibe you were looking for? No problem! This location utilizes shipping containers that have been converted into themed stays, perfect for cuddling up to your partner in the hot tub at night after eloping in Zion.
When is the best time of year to elope in Zion National Park?
Like many higher elevation locations in the desert, when it comes to planning your wedding in Zion, choosing the best time of year to fit your dream elopement is very crucial. The winters in the park are stunning and you can see the snow covered peaks but definitely expect it to be cold, and in the summers the park is full of life and sunshine but it can be very hot. Many desert locations experience temperature extremes in both directions, so for this reason we always recommend to couples to plan on eloping in Zion during the Fall or the Spring. If privacy and lower trail traffic is important to you, then we suggest planning your visit just on the verge of shoulder season in either direction. This way it might be a little chilly (you never know in the desert and a warm day isn’t uncommon during shoulder season) but not absolutely freezing.
What activities can I do while Eloping in Zion?
Another important factor to consider when it comes to choosing the date of your Zion elopement is to keep in mind what activities you plan on doing. This is your wedding day and at Adventure and Vow, we are huge advocates on planning for experience. We’ve been honing our craft with our cameras for a long time, so we promise we’ve got the photos covered! What’s important for those stunning images is that you build an elopement day centered around your relationship.
So what does that have to do with weather and the time of the year? Some activities won’t be possible or enjoyable depending on the season that you choose. Maybe rock climbing is super important in your relationship and you’ve been eyeing a south facing multi-pitch in the park. While you’re wearing your wedding clothes, the peak of summer might be the last time you’d want to pull that off! Maybe the vision is a multi-day backpacking trip to get away from all the hustle and bustle and celebrate having just held your elopement in Zion. While possible, you might not be looking to rough it out in the dead of winter.
Now those are just some ideas to help focus your intention when it comes to planning your dream wedding day. Zion National Park is an absolute wonderland when it comes to the outdoor enthusiast so here is a list to help with the planning process:
- Go for a hike on a trail you’ve been dreaming to complete
- Climb a route you’ve been eyeing
- Share a single night backpacking trip for a first experience as newly-weds
- Canyoneer into one of the many slot canyons
- Go off roading on some of the parks hidden dirt roads
- Share a picnic in the park for lunch
- Write your vows together at sunrise
- Watch the sunset from a stunning vista
- Play your favorite card game together to help curate an intentional experience
- Read letters from loved ones who couldn’t be there on the day of
Not all of these are weather related, but the key thing here when it comes to planning your dream elopement day in Zion National Park is to be mindful of what your vision is and planning to fully bring it to life!
Where can I elope in Zion National Park?
Every national park varies with how they manage their permitting systems and what is allowed where, and for our subject of discussion, elopements in Zion National Park are no different. While social media posts and photos you’ve come across may present a different narrative, you can only legally hold your elopement ceremony in Zion national park in a handful of specific locations. Due to the limited staffing across public lands, it isn’t uncommon for people to disregard the rules since the risk of receiving a fine is quite low. We strongly encourage that you plan your wedding day in harmony with the national park.
In order to hold your wedding ceremony in Zion, there is a list of pre-approved locations which the park allows to be utilized for weddings. The park also has a limit of no more than 100 guests, and only the South Campground Amphitheater can accommodate a group the size. This includes your photographer, officiant, yourselves, and anyone else who is involved with your wedding. When choosing to elope in Zion National Park, we highly recommend that you do your best to include the smallest number of guests you can without harming your vision for the day. We suggest this because traffic can get backed up in the park, parking can be very difficult to come by, and cell phone service is limited. With a wedding group of 100 people, this can result in hours of unplanned time waiting for guests to park or if they aren’t arriving as a group, they may get lost on the way in. If you’re planning a ceremony with more than 20 people within Zion National Park, we recommend booking a venue or private land to hold the ceremony and then celebrating your elopement in the park with just the two of you.
Here is the list of where you can hold a wedding ceremony in Zion National Park and how many guests each location is limited to service:
- South Campground Amphitheater – maximum of 100 people
- Zion Lodge Lawn – Maximum of 75 people
- Nature Center North Lawn – Maximum of 50 people (available November – Early April Only)
- Temple of Sinawava – Maximum of 35 people
- Timber Creek Overlook – Maximum of 20 people
- Menu Falls – Maximum of 10 people
When choosing a location to elope in Zion National Park, be mindful that during certain times of the year, some of these locations are only accessible by the shuttle system. This means that you’ll have to plan your day around the public transit. Other locations, like Timber Creek Overlook, won’t require a shuttle but is located on the north end of the park.
Do I need a Permit To Get Married in Zion National Park?
When it comes to officially getting married in Zion National Park, a permit is required. Visit this webpage from the national park service in order to access their wedding permit. Currently the fee is $100 and the national park service requests at least three weeks of time in order to process your request. As elopements in Zion National Park have grown in popularity, we would recommend applying for your permit as early in advance as you possibly can. Your permit will secure that you are the only couple legally holding their ceremony at that given location.
Our National Parks have been gaining a lot more visitors since 2020 and staffing hasn’t quite caught up with the influx of visitors. Parks also only have one or two permit officers in charge of every type of special use permit (this is what you’ll be obtaining for your wedding!) so their workload can get backed up, especially during the busy season. As soon as you know you’re for sure getting married in Zion National Park, we definitely recommend that you start on the permitting process!
Do I need a permit to take wedding photos in Zion National Park?
We hope the talk about permits hasn’t scared you away from holding your dream wedding in Zion! Applying for and obtaining a permit is very simple, just the processing time can be backed up sometimes. Let’s say you only wanted to have your love story captured in the park. That means you aren’t planning on holding a legal wedding ceremony within Zion National Park. In that case, then you can have your pictures taken anywhere you’d like within the park so long as it is somewhere the public has regular access to and you won’t be restricting public access while you’re in the area!
If you don’t want to deal with the trouble at all of contacting the park in order to obtain a wedding permit but still want those stunning images captured within the park during your elopement day, then that is completely possible to do. We get it, these rules can be kind of silly sometimes, but so long as you aren’t holding your legal ceremony within the boundaries of the park, you can have your portraits captured while fully dressed up and wedding ready!
Can I have drone photos of my elopement in Zion National Park?
Zion National Park does not allow the take off or landing of drones within the boundaries of the park. However, if drone coverage is important to you, there are a few ways this can still be included in your day. The first thing you’ll want to be sure of when hiring your photography team is to verify that they have their Part 107 (We do!). This is a pilots license issued by the FAA which allows the operator of the drone to utilize the aircraft for commercial purposes. The last thing you want on your elopement day is any possibility to be waiting around for your photographer to finish getting ticketed and having their drone with your images on it confiscated by the authorities!
If you’ve chosen to stay at a private residence at a location that you love, then it is possible that you will be able to have drone photos taken there. This depends on a number of factors, one very important one being the classification of the airspace where that residence is in, so be sure to have your elopement team check ahead of time to know if it’s possible or not. Another option would be to utilize a nearby state park. Sand Hollow for example will provide you the opportunity to receive those stunning arial shots. It won’t have the same views like Zion, but that isn’t to say the state park isn’t beautiful in it’s own right. If kayaking is something you love to do with your partner, then this would be the perfect activity to tie into your elopement day.
Wedding venue outside of Zion National Park
If you have a large group that you couldn’t imagine your day without, you still want the desert aesthetic for your wedding day, and you’d love to include Zion National Park as a part of your elopement then there are plenty of stunning locations that can meet that vision. We centered on one that we had to include in our how to elope in Zion blog because it truly is that great.
- Zion Red Rock Oasis – This venue really has it covered when it comes to delivering comfort and beauty all in a stunning space to host an elopement near Zion National Park. They offer three separate complexes named Oasis, Villa, and Chalet, and between them they have room to sleep 20 to 58 people overnight! Each space allows for weddings on location. All of the properties are nearby so if you have a really large group, you could rent out everything and hold a multi-day wedding with 136 of your closest friends and loved ones! Either way, this wedding venue is only a 10 minute drive from Zion National Park making it the perfect home base for an elopement day you’re whole group won’t forget.
How to get legally married in Utah
So you’ve booked your flights, you’ve selected the stay, and you know exactly what your plan is for the day and where you’ll be holding your elopement ceremony in Zion. Well on last important piece of the puzzle is the legal paperwork to make it all official!
In order to get married in Utah, you must first obtain a marriage license from a county clerks office within the state of Utah. You can not bring a marriage license from your home state, it will not be legally recognized. You can however obtain a marriage license from any clerks office within the state of Utah and then use that license anywhere within the state. That means you can pick up your paperwork in transit if that is most convenient with your travel plans.
Here’s what you’ll need to bring with you in order to obtain your marriage license from a county clerks office:
- For an in-person application, both yourself and your partner will need to be physically present
- You will need to provide your legal names, your current address, and your birth date and where you were born
- You will both need your social security numbers, unless one of you doesn’t have one.
- The names and birth places of both sets of parents.
- You’ll need valid picture ID’s such as a passport, birth certificate, driver license, or state ID card.
There will also be a fee to obtain your paperwork. While there is a fee in most counties that will include two certified copies of your marriage license, it’s important to note that some counties do not charge a fee for the license, but will charge for the certified copies. You’ll need to inquire with the county that you choose for those details.
Once you’ve obtained your marriage license in the state of Utah, there is no waiting period, so you can get married that very instance! Be aware that the the license will only be valid for 32 days, so don’t get it too far ahead of time or else you’ll need to go through the process again!
Where to obtain a marriage license in Zion National Park
When it comes to choosing the closest place to Zion for obtaining your marriage license, it really depends on where you’re staying if it will be convenient or not. The three nearest places which have an office where you can pick one up will be Kanab, St. George, and Parowan Utah. If you choose to go in person to acquire your license, we always recommend calling ahead to see if making an appointment is possible. Also inquire with that specific office if there are any requirements they have which may be different. For example, some offices are cash only, so knowing this ahead of time will ensure that you are able to have your marriage license for your elopement day.
If you took the time to see how far all of these locations are from Zion National Park, you’ll see that they require a bit of driving. Don’t worry though, Utah County offers a fully online service where you can complete all of the paperwork without needing to step foot into any office. This is a great option if your trip doesn’t allow for a pit stop to the clerks office. The one downfall is that you won’t have a physical paper to sign on your wedding day, but that only matters if it matters to you!
How much does it cost to elope in Zion National park?
The cost to get married in Zion National Park is roughly $150. This is the cost for both the special use permit from the park and the Utah marriage license. The fee for the marriage license will vary based on the county. After that, it’ll all come down to what you plan on doing for your elopement in Zion. The cost of an elopement is difficult to estimate, because just like every couple is different, so is every elopement day. Some elopements are striped back and hyper focus on the couple sharing a moment in nature while other elopements have more in-depth itineraries with lots of decor and activities throughout the day. Regardless of which best fits your vision, eloping in Zion is definitely more affordable than a traditional venue with 100 people to cater and host.
Depending on what your plan, be prepared to spend $6000 to $15,000 on an elopement in Zion. There are a few important things that factor into this expense which is likely to be a part of most elopements. As you could imagine, the more decor, vendors, and services you’d like to include in your wedding day, the cost will increase. Here is a general break down in expected costs and things to plan for to help you determine your budget for an elopement in Zion:
- Permit: $100
- Marriage License: $30 – $80
- Park Entrance Fee – $35 for a 7 day pass or $80 for a yearly national parks pass
- Photographer: (These are our packages that range from 6 hours to multi-day)
- Video: We offer video as an add on to our packages!
- Officiant: This is included in our packages if you utilize us as your officiant, otherwise expect to pay $300 – $1000 depending on how remote your elopement ceremony location is
- Stay: this depends greatly on the number of days, how many people, and what you’re looking for in a stay but on average it’s safe to say between $200 to $500 per night.
- Travel (flight, rental car, gas, etc – Travel in Utah can just above the national average in terms of cost, so be mindful of that as you create your budget.)
- Food: This greatly depends on if you’re making your own food, hiring a private chef or catering and for how many people
- Florals: Are you envisioning just a bouquet and a boutonniere or a specialized floral arrangement that will require the florist on location?
- Hair and Makeup Artist: Some brides go DIY when eloping and others hire out. With the city of St. George nearby, finding a hair and makeup artist for your elopement in Zion is actually a lot easier than other national parks!
- Dress and/or Suit: Anywhere from $300 if you borrow or thrift or $1000’s if designer wear has caught your heart!
- MISC: This section you’ll know best! Think of things like, do you plan on including a sage smudging into your ceremony? Maybe you’ll be exchanging surprise gifts on the day of. We’re a full stoke make it happen kind of team, so we’d love to help you here if you have any ideas!
Zion National Park Elopement Packages
We’re an elopement photography team, meaning you get two people all hands on deck for your elopement day. We assist with planning and picking the best locations for your adventure wedding in the park. Officiating is included in all of our services as well as one witness.
Our photography packages go from a mini elopement to multi-day adventures ranging from $4500 to $9800. We also offer elopement videography as an add on to any of our elopement packages for $1800. We work closely with our couples in the initial call to help them pick the perfect elopement package for their day and the experience that they are envisioning.
We’ve worked in Zion with many couples and are excited to chat with you about the possibilities from hiking, camping, off roading, canyoneering and more!
How to prepare for a Zion National Park elopement
If your elopement day will also be tied into your first time visiting Zion National Park, here are a few key points to consider:
- If you’ll be visiting during the height of season, be prepared for traffic. With busy season in mind, the most visited areas of Zion National Park require that you take the shuttle system. While the shuttle works great, it does mean that you’ll be required to utilize it. If that doesn’t matter to you when considering where to hold your elopement in Zion, then no worries, but if you don’t like the sound of that then we’d recommend choosing a location that isn’t on the shuttle route.
- Be mindful of local events. For example, there is a yearly Iron Man event which shuts down multiple roads for the entire day. This can greatly impact your route to the park depending on where you’re staying. So while busy season in Zion national park is an important factor to consider, also check where you’ll be staying and the locations along the way to the park to be sure nothing will cause an unexpected delay.
- Be sure to eat and stay hydrated before, during, and after your elopement day. We can’t stress enough how important it is to build a day that captures your love story and fully meets your vision. The last thing you want is to be hungry or thirsty without any amenities around to relieve that stress.
- Dress for the weather. This one is especially important if you’re looking to elope in Zion during the colder months. It’s a much more enjoyable experience to select an outfit that you’d love to be photographed in and be comfortable while exploring the park versus trying your best not to shiver to get a quick photo before retreating from the cold.
- We touched on this one earlier, but if you’ll be spending more than a week in the park or if you plan on visiting different national parks as part of your trip, then we recommend buying an America the Beautiful pass. After three different national parks or three weeks worth of time, then the pass pays for itself.
- Plan for the experience and not for the photos. We promise with years of photography under our belts and hundreds of love stories captured, we are absolute pros when it comes to taking pictures. We’ll help you organize all of the ideas into an amazing day, and from there you get to fully embrace your elopement, stress free.
Zion Elopement Photographers!
Hey there! We are Traci and Bill, a husband and wife elopement photography and videography team. Our passion is capturing authentic love stories in the most beautiful places across the country. If you are looking for a team that is just as invested and excited about your day as you are, then we’re the couple for you. We can’t wait to hear all about your vision for holding an unforgettable elopement in Zion!