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Utah Elopement Destinations + Adventure Elopement Guide

If you’re looking for a truly epic elopement destination, a Utah elopement has you covered. 

Between the otherworldly desert landscapes and only-in-Utah destinations like Zion National Park and the Bonneville Salt Flats, you can’t go wrong with an elopement in Utah. 

I know planning a Utah elopement can be overwhelming, so I created this guide to all the best places to elope in the Beehive state! We’ll cover everything you need to know to elope in Utah, including permits, marriage licenses, elopement planning, and more. 

A bride poses on the Bonneville Salt Flats during a Utah elopement
The Bonneville Salt Flats are such a dreamy place for an elopement

Why Elope in Utah?

Why is Utah one of the best places to elope? Imagine off-roading to your ceremony location, rafting the Colorado River, and rock climbing on your elopement day. Or how about sitting down to a gourmet picnic at a private glamping site, or enjoying an intimate dinner watching the sunset?

A Utah elopement is truly a choose-your-own-adventure experience.

Beautiful red rock formations in Utah
Magical desert views in Utah

Utah is a land of dramatic, varied landscapes, from red rock deserts and canyons to alpine lakes, high mountains, and the Great Salt Lake. And with mild weather year-round (in some places) and no waiting period for marriage licenses, eloping in Utah is simple. 

There’s a major airport in Salt Lake City, so it’s easy to get to Utah. And since the state is pretty much dead center in the US, it makes a great destination if you have friends and family coming from around the country for a small wedding. 

And that’s just the technical stuff! The best reason to get married in Utah is the epic, incredible landscapes. There are SO MANY amazing places to say your vows, so let’s jump and look at some of the best places to elope in Utah!

Utah Elopement in a National Park

Zion National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park are some of the most popular places to elope in Utah. The Beehive State has five national parks, the other two being Bryce Canyon and Capitol Reef. 

Double Arches in Arches National Park - one of the most popular Utah elopement destinations

These locations are spectacular, but eloping here is not as simple as just showing up with your hiking boots. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you want to elope in a national park in Utah:

  1. Permits 

You’ll need more than just a marriage license to elope in Utah at Zion or Arches. You’ll need a special use permit to hold your elopement at any of Utah’s national parks.

In fact, these parks have strict regulations about weddings and events— what you can bring, how you can decorate, how many people can attend, etc. (Elopements are the way to go if you want to get married in a place like Arches or Zion!) 

Permit fees vary, and you’ll want to make sure you’re applying for your permit several months in advance. Below are the links for how to get a permit for each park, and how much they’ll cost

Zion National Park Wedding Permit - $100

Arches National Park Wedding Permit - $185

Canyonlands National Park Wedding Permit - $185

Bryce Canyon National Park Wedding Permit - $100

Capitol Reef National Park Wedding Permit - $50

Keep in mind that most of the parks require you to apply for your permit AT LEAST 4 weeks in advance! Get started early and be sure to factor permits into your elopement planning. When you apply, you’ll need to provide some details about your elopement. 

A view overlooking Bryce Canyon National Park - one of the most popular Utah elopement destinations

Photography rights are typically included in your wedding permit, so you usually don’t have to worry about an extra permit for your photographer. (Some parks may require a photography permit if you’re doing something extra complex, like a two-day photo shoot.) 

If all this sounds confusing, don’t worry! As your elopement photographer, I can help guide you through the permitting process. It’s my job to make sure everything is in order so both the planning and your elopement day are stress-free. 

  1. Crowds

Utah’s national parks are gorgeous, but they are no secret. The five parks saw a combined 11.3 million visitors in 2021. Crowds can be a major factor in determining when and how you want to elope in Utah. 

If you want an intimate experience (and photos without hundreds of other tourists in them) I strongly recommend that you elope in Utah in the off-season, and at off-peak times. About 70% of visitors to Utah’s parks come between April and September, with the summer months being the busiest.

Aim for sunset or sunrise, and consider eloping in the winter months when crowds are less intense. 

Red rock arch formation overlooking a view in the Utah desert

Location is another important consideration when planning for crowds. This is where it’s key to have an elopement photographer who’s familiar with the area. 

A good photographer will know when the best spots for an elopement get busy and when they’re likely to be crowd-free. 

  1. Restrictions

Getting married in one of Utah’s incredible national parks comes with some extra restrictions and responsibilities. 

In general, the parks only allow you to have your elopement in designated locations— you can’t just have your event anywhere you want. 

There are also limits on the number of people you can bring. (While this is potentially an issue for a big traditional wedding, it’s not usually a problem for someone having an elopement or a small wedding with their closest friends.)

The parks also have restrictions about what you can bring to your ceremony— rice, some outside florals and alcohol are a no-go in some parks. 

Beautiful Utah national park scene. River running through a red rock canyon

Lastly, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace if you’re eloping anywhere in Utah, but it’s even more important in a national park (Hey! I’m a Leave No Trace certified photographer!) 

As your photographer, I’m happy to help your craft an LNT-aware elopement day, or connect you with other like-minded vendors for the perfect Utah national park elopement. 

Best Places to Elope in Utah

While Utah is home to some of the most famous and popular national parks in the country, there are SO MANY off-the-beaten-path places for an elopement ceremony. We’ll cover some of the popular spots first, and then dive into some lesser-known locations to elope in Utah. 

A river running through a Red Rock Canyon in Utah

Zion National Park 

A wedding day in Zion is a dream for many couples. The park is an amazing place for a Utah elopement, and its 2,000+ ft red rock walls and dramatic cliff views make for some incredible photography. 

If you want to elope in Zion National Park, be aware that you’ll have to choose from the park’s list of official locations. (No, you can’t elope at Angel’s Landing, unfortunately.)

In general, you can’t alter the landscape in the park in any way. Decorations require approval and you can’t play music or throw confetti, birdseed, or anything similar. 

Most importantly, all areas of the park remain 100% open to the public, even if you have a wedding permit. You’re expected to be respectful of other guests and share the space. 

The full list of rules and regulations for Zion weddings can be found here.  

All this might sound like a bit of a bummer, but don’t worry! Just because you can’t get legally married cliff-side in Zion, that doesn’t mean you can’t still take amazing photos in the park. 

Many couples opt to have their ceremony in one place (either inside or outside the park) and then hike to their photo-op of choice. So you CAN still have those cliff-side wedding photos in Zion.    

If you’re interested in going down this road, I’m happy to help with the planning and permits you’ll need to make it happen!

Towering cliff views in Zion National Park Utah. One of the most popular Utah elopement destinations

 

Arches National Park

Arches is a red rock dream, one of the best places in Utah for a desert elopement. 

Similar to Zion, Arches National Park only allows weddings in specific locations throughout the park. No catering, alcohol, amplified sound, or non-native plants are allowed. The full list of rules for eloping in Arches can be found here

This park is particularly well known for traffic in the summer months. If you want to have your Utah elopement here, I strongly recommend coming in the shoulder season (November - February). Parking at trailheads and even getting passed the park gates can be a challenge in the summer. 

The winter months in this part of Utah are generally mild with minimal snow, so you can still enjoy the views over the desert and the nearby La Sal mountains. (In fact, some far-off snow in the mountains can actually make the red rocks even more stunning)

Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, one of the park's most famous arches.

Canyonlands National Park

Right next door to Arches is Canyonlands National Park, another red rock paradise with sweeping views over eastern Utah’s canyons. 

Canyonlands is a great choice if you’re looking for epic Utah views that are accessible without a hike. The major viewpoints here are all drive-up, so there’s no need to worry about hiking in your wedding clothes or trying to change at your ceremony location. 

The rules here are similar to Zion and Arches— designated locations and no tents, alcohol, or music. You’re expected to share the space with other guests and not take up entire parking areas. The full list of rules for a Canyonlands elopement is here. 

Bryce Canyon National Park

For classic Utah landscape and gorgeous canyon views, Bryce Canyon is a great choice for your elopement. This park is still popular, but not quite mobbed like Zion or Arches. 

Sunset Point is the only location at Bryce where you’re permitted to have an elopement ceremony. (Within Sunset Point, there are two locations, the Main Amphitheater and the Silent City viewpoint) Here’s the full list of rules for a Bryce Canyon elopement

Sunset Point is an incredible spot with sweeping views into Bryce Canyon and beyond, but if you want to hike, there are plenty of other trails to take you to even more secluded red rock views for photos.  

A view into Bryce Canyon at sunset.

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef is the least visited park in Utah, which makes it an awesome choice for an intimate Utah elopement. 

Capitol Reef is often called the unsung hero of Utah’s parks. There are canyons, desert views, and red rocks galore, all with far fewer crowds than the parks mentioned above. It’s a great place to explore and find an off-the-beaten-path location for your elopement ceremony. 

Capitol Reef doesn’t have a pre-approved list of locations for a wedding (your elopement photographer can help you pick one). 

Like Utah’s other parks, you’re expected to keep your ceremony simple and short and not interfere with other guests at the park. The full list of rules for a Capitol Reef elopement is here

Moab  

If you’re eloping in Utah to make your wedding day an adventure, Moab is the place. 

This little town, located just outside Arches and Canyonlands, is an epicenter for mountain biking, off-road driving, Colorado River rafting, and just about any kind of desert fun you can think of. This is one of the best places to elope for a unique, fun elopement experience. 

There are some distinct benefits to basing your Utah elopement out of a town like Moab. First, there are lots of excellent vendors based in town, so you’ll have plenty of options for crafting your dream elopement. 

Second, it doesn’t take hours of driving to get to a secluded location. You can explore the backcountry, get married in an epic location, and still enjoy a gorgeous hotel or fine dining experience on your wedding day. 

A massive red rock arch in Moab, Utah.

Salt Flats

Perhaps the Beehive state’s most unique and famous attraction, the Bonneville Salt Flats are one of the best places to elope in Utah. Located west of the Great Salt Lake, they’re famous for land-speed driving records and, of course, stunning views. This area is gorgeous, unusual, and an excellent spot for photography

While the Salt Flats are popular with tourists and photographers, they’re so huge that it’s easy to drive off and find a secluded spot for an elopement. 

They’re located about two hours west of Salt Lake City, so they’re a great destination if you want to sneak off for a private ceremony or a sunrise photo shoot, and still have time in your day for more activities. 

You can drive on the flats, but only when they’re dry. During the winter and spring, they’re flooded with a thin layer of water, creating a mirror effect with the sky. 

A view over the beautiful Bonneville Salt Flats on a sunny day with blue sky

Snow Canyon State Park 

A lesser-known Utah gem, Snow Canyon State Park is an amazing Utah elopement destination for a couple looking for a unique adventure. You can climb red rocks and even sled on the dunes here! Check out this gorgeous engagement session for some inspiration.

Snow Canyon is located near Zion, so you’re getting similar scenery without the crushing crowds or logistical hurdles. 

The rules are restrictions for a wedding here are similar to getting married in a Utah national park, with a major exception. You can actually reserve a private area! 

The Lower Galoot area can be reserved for several hours in the morning or afternoon, so you can have a private, intimate Utah elopement. The full breakdown of rules and fees for a Snow Canyon State Park wedding can be found here. 

Kanab

Imagine starting your wedding day in a gorgeous glamping site, then descending into a slot canyon to have your elopement next to towering red rock walls. If that’s what you’re looking for in your Utah elopement, head to Kanab. 

Slot canyons are the main draw to this southern Utah town. While the Lake Powell area is home to some more famous canyons like Antelope Canyon, the slot canyons in Kanab are easier to access without permits and tickets. 

Kanab is also a great destination for film buffs. The town has served as a backdrop for many western movies, so it’s a great choice if you’re looking to add a cinematic aspect to your day. 

View of red rock cliffs over a lake in Utah

Adventure Elopement Ideas in Utah

If you’re coming to Utah for an elopement, you’re already doing something out of the ordinary. If you’re looking looking for something as unique and adventurous as the two of you, Utah is the place. Here are some only-in-Utah elopement ideas:

Off-Roading Elopement/Jeeping Elopement

Utah is a mecca for off-road driving. Whether it’s world-class technical trails like Hell’s Revenge in Moab or long-distance overland routes like White Rim Trail, off-road driving can make for an incredibly fun Utah elopement. 

Off-roading or jeeping elopements are an awesome way to do something you love on your wedding day and get somewhere epic in style. Many Utah towns (particularly Moab) offer lots of 4x4 rental options, including Jeeps and even high-performance side-by-sides and ATVs (think Polaris, Can-Am, etc.)

There are literally thousands of miles of 4x4 roads throughout Utah. I personally own a Jeep and I love off-roading, so I’m happy to share my insider knowledge and help couples craft their perfect off-roading adventure day!

Hot Springs Elopement

Utah has some amazing natural hot springs, and while they’re not necessarily private, they can make an amazing elopement activity. They’re a great way to relax and enjoy some quality time with your new or soon-to-be spouse. 

The state has a mix of developed and natural hot springs for you to choose from, although the natural ones are the most scenic. Fifth Water, Inlet Park, and Mystic Springs are some of the most popular. Some are accessible with a short drive, while others will require a hike in. 

Utah’s hot springs are popular, so plan on sharing the pools, or head in early or late. Be aware that some of the approach roads are closed in the winter, meaning a longer hike in. 

Backpacking Elopement

Want to take your first steps as a couple completely free from stress or distractions, with just each other and your surroundings? Consider a backpacking elopement. You can have the main event either at the beginning or end of your trek. 

There is so much public land in Utah, and one of the best ways to explore it is via the state’s hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Head out into the backcountry and enjoy some quiet, solitude, and desert landscape. 

A couple in wedding clothes hiking to their ceremony location on their elopement day.

Planning Your Elopement in Utah

Planning your elopement in Utah doesn’t have to be stressful. Here’s what you need to know:  

Marriage License

To elope in Utah, you need a Utah marriage license, which is issued by the county. Fees vary from county to county, and different counties will allow you to apply in person or online. However, you’ll need to pick your marriage license up in person. 

This is the Utah state guide to marriage license requirements, with links to each county’s page. 

Luckily, there’s no waiting period for a marriage license in Utah! You’re ready to go the day you pick up your license. It’s valid for 32 days, and you’ll need to return it to the courthouse after your wedding. 

Officiant

You’ll need to have your ceremony performed by an officiant in Utah. An officiant can be a priest, rabbi, judge, or someone ordained online

Two Witnesses

In addition to your officiant, you will need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. They need to be over the age of 18. 

Vendors

Maybe I’m biased, but your photographer could be your most important vendor. Here’s my guide to what to ask your elopement photographer, so you can be sure you’re getting the photography you want. 

In addition to a photographer, you’ll need an officiant (or a friend who’s been ordained online)

After that, consider if you want things like professional hair and makeup, food, or music at your elopement. The best thing about eloping is that it’s your day, and you can have whatever means the most to you two. 

Beautiful view over the Utah desert

Final thoughts

There are so many places to elope in this amazing state. If you’re having trouble choosing, reach out to me and as your elopement photographer, I can help you find the perfect location for your elopement. 

If you’re ready to take the plunge and elope in Utah...

Contact Me!

I can’t wait to help make your Utah elopement dreams come true.

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Comments Expand -
  1. Utah is full of amazing locations for an elopement, And my top pick would be bonneville salt flats. Its like another planet and makes For an amazing back drop!

  2. Utah truly seems to have it all! Glad to see An advocate for more Utah elopements! This is a super helpful guide, as well!

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