With its magical Red Rocks and sprawling vistas, there is no doubt that Sedona is Arizona’s best place to Elope in 2023. This year-round elopement destination has countless activities you can participate in and amazing views that will take your breath away every time. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that this is a popular destination and can be very crowded, especially at certain times of the year. If you have your heart set on an extremely private ceremony with no other people around, Sedona may not be the place for you. Though, as a Sedona local (for half the year), I may have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you find a much more secluded and off-the-beaten-path elopement location that will have fewer people.
Popular Elopement Locations in Sedona
Ah, Cathedral Rock! Such a beautiful location but also a very busy one! This one is best attempted very early in the day at sunrise and on an early weekday (M-W) to avoid crowds. I cannot deny the light here at sunset is pretty spectacular, though, so if that is what you are going for, just remember that there will be other people around. If you are willing to put up with chillier temps and possibly snow, winter would be a great time to elope at Cathedral Rock. While there are still crowds, It’s likely a bit less during winter vs. spring or fall. Plus, snow on the Red Rocks is beyond magical! Note: Only very small groups are allowed for Elopement ceremonies here. The hike to Cathedral Rock is a 1.2 mile out and back with almost 750ft elevation gain. This is a very steep hike and you will have to scramble up some rocks, so make sure to be prepared. There are also several areas around Cathedral rock where you can get spectacular views of it with fewer crowds!
Doe Mountain is my favorite for sunrise elopements! The sun rises perfectly over the far-off mountain vistas and creates beautiful backlight! It is, of course, still beautiful at sunset as well!! This can be a popular hike but there is more space to spread out and find a spot away from other people here, which is why it makes for a great elopement location. The hike to Doe mountain is 1.5 mi. out and back trail with switchbacks and around 500ft elevation gain.
Bell Rock/Courthouse Butte
The Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte trails are pretty easy and you don’t even have to go far to get amazing views in all directions! This location is ideal for a quick stop on a full-day elopement or as the main location for a shorter elopement day. Because of the convenience, these trails can be pretty crowded, and only very small groups are allowed here.
Merry Go Round
Merry Go Round rock is an ideal location for those who love to do some off-roading. If you don’t have your own off-road capable vehicle there are tons of places all over Sedona where you can rent Jeeps or ATVs or you can also hire a guide to drive you if you do not wish to risk it yourself! This location can be accessed by the Schnebly Hill OHV road or if you prefer not to take the bumpy ride, you can also hike a 6.5 mile out and back through beautiful scenery!
The Road Less Travelled
I am more than happy to help you find locations that are a bit more off the beaten path and less busy. Location scouting is included in my Arizona Elopement Packages and while I do not advertise my secret locations, couples who hire me for their elopement get exclusive access to all my extra knowledge of Sedona locations.
It is important to know that Elopements are not allowed in certain areas of Sedona, particularly Wilderness Land. Places such as Devil’s Bridge, any of the caves, or many other popular hikes are off-limits. Just because you may have seen others with photos there on social media does not make it okay. It’s crucial to be respectful of the local rules and Leave No Trace so that the opportunity to elope in Sedona is not taken away completely!
Do we need a permit to Elope in Sedona?
Not for most places as of right now, but I continually check to ensure the rules on this have not changed, as things are changing quickly in the Elopement landscape. As mentioned above there are certain locations in Sedona that are off-limits but most Forest Service land is okay and does not require a permit. It is smart to always check with the Forest Service before assuming a location is okay to use for your elopement ceremony and photos. Also, setups of any kind are not allowed in Sedona. This means ceremony arches, chairs, etc. and you MUST follow Leave No Trace.
If you want to Elope in a State park or at Crescent Moon Ranch, permits are required, so again be sure to find the best contact for your desired location, be respectful of rules and obtain a permit if required.
How much does it cost to Elope in Sedona?
Elopements can vary hugely in cost. It really depends on how simple or extravagant you want your adventure to be! Elopements in Sedona can range from $5000 – $25,000 depending on your travel, accommodations, and what you plan for your elopement day and trip! Below is a breakdown of what the average couple might need to hire/get for their Sedona Elopement.
- Wedding Attire
- Hairstylist/Make-up artist
- Marriage license
- Cost of activities planned
- Flight/Travel costs
- Hotel/Airbnb costs
- Car rental
- Red Rock or National Park Pass
Getting to Sedona
Sedona does have an airport; however, no commercial flights come in or out. You can, however, book a private or Charter flight to fly into Sedona. The closest major airports are Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG).
Phoenix Sky Harbor – about a 2-hour drive to Sedona.
Flagstaff Pulliam Airport – about a 50-minute drive to Sedona.
Best time of year to elope in Sedona
Personally, I am all about Winter in Sedona (December – March) … I know that may sound different than what most will say, but I love that it’s less busy and that temps are a bit cooler for hiking. It may not be quite as green or have fall colors, but it is still breathtakingly gorgeous. There are also opportunities for snow if you are lucky, and let me tell you, Sedona is absolutely magical when it snows.
Fall (September – November) and Spring (April – May) are the most popular times of the year in Sedona, which means… crowds. While these seasons are beautiful and have near-perfect weather, you will have to deal with a lot more people as well. Traffic in Sedona can be insane as it was not exactly built for all the tourism it sees. Not trying to sound negative here, just want to set expectations so you know what to expect when visiting Sedona. It can be very disappointing if you have one idea in your mind and experience something totally different.
Summer (late June – end of August) is, of course, very hot and can be potentially dangerous for outdoor activities, so I would not recommend choosing this time of year to elope in Sedona. If you are set on it, a very early sunrise elopement would probably be best at this time of year. Late summer also brings the Monsoon season, which can be very cool to see when just visiting but does not lend well to outdoor photography!
What can you do in Sedona?
Sedona offers so many different activities that can suit all types of people, most of which can be incorporated as part of your elopement day! You don’t even have to be super outdoorsy to have a great experience in Sedona.
- Hot Air Balloon ride
- Helicopter or Private Plane ride
- Mountain Biking
- Horseback Riding
- Jeep Tours
- Train Rides
- Trolley Rides
- Outdoor Yoga
- Dining at many awesome restaurants
- Couples Massage (highly recommend Good Medicine for this)
- Salt Room Therapy
- Getting Tattoos
And so much more!
What to pack for a Sedona Elopement
Being prepared for your adventure will always help to make the experience even better. Use this list to help make sure you have everything you need.
- Wedding Attire
- Marriage License
- Vow Books
- Supportive footwear (hiking boots)
- Sunscreen, chapstick, & lotion
- Layers- the desert can be very warm during the day and very cold at night
- Headlamps – especially if you want to go Stargazing at night.
- Hiking Pack – to carry all your gear as well as snacks and plenty of water!
- Trail maps – downloaded offline – because getting lost is no fun!
- Emergency First Aid Kit
- Any gear specific to your activities planned
Need a Sedona Elopement Photographer?
While I am an RV-living nomad, I do spend 6-8 months of the year in the Sedona area because I just love it so much! I would absolutely love to help you create and document your amazing adventure in Sedona! I am ordained, so I can help sign your marriage certificate, and am wilderness first aid and CPR certified!
Sedona Elopement Packages include:
- Coverage from 4 hours up to two days (or more)
- Personalized planning assistance to create an experience that is all yours
- Private online gallery with unlimited downloads and personal printing rights
- No extra fees
- An EPIC Adventure that you will cherish for a lifetime
Nearby places to “Honeymoon” to after your Sedona Elopement
If you are eloping in Sedona, there are many awesome nearby places that you can Honeymoon to after your elopement! Here are just a few of the great places Northern Arizona has to offer.
P.S. Did you know you can Hire A Photographer for Honeymoon photos also? This is not something a lot of people think about, but if you are big on getting epic photos of your epic adventures, there is no better way to enjoy the moments while letting someone else worry about documenting them for you!!
The Grand Canyon
The Majestic Grand Canyon is a little over a 2-hour drive from Sedona and is definitely worth the visit if you have never been there. You can even take a train from Williams, AZ, all the way up to the Grand Canyon.
Antelope Canyon is seriously one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen. The way the water carves through the rocks there is just insane! You will need to book a guided tour with a Navajo guide, but the tours are very fun and informative! The canyon is located in Page, Az, which is about 3 hours or so from Sedona.
Also near Page, AZ, is Horseshoe Bend! This, along with Antelope Canyon, can easily be done in a day trip from Sedona. Another stunning view that you will want just to sit and stare at, or maybe get those Honeymoon photos that I mentioned above.
A shorter 35 minutes from Sedona is Arizona’s most haunted city, the old mining town of Jerome! If you are a history buff this is a fun visit. It is famous for being a Ghost town.. literally! You can even go on Ghost tours and eat at some ghoulish restaurants!
Elope in Sedona!
I hope this post has helped convince you that Sedona is one of the best places to elope in Arizona! Even if you are not planning to elope, this stunning Red Rock city will take your breath away and you will find yourself wanting to come back over and over again!