Amongst Utah’s desert landscape, Big Cottonwood Canyon perfectly combines lush greenery and rocky desert scenery. This canyon tucked in the Wasatch Mountain Range is a gorgeous destination any time of year – and for couples who want a unique wedding day full of adventures, a Big Cottonwood Canyon elopement might be just the thing!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to elope in Big Cottonwood Canyon – planning tips, marriage laws, where to stay, and more!
If you elope at Big Cottonwood Canyon, you can get married at easily accessible overlooks, or hike into the canyon for a more private ceremony. If you’re eloping with family, you can have a ceremony at an easy-to-reach spot, then head off for adventures on your own!
Big Cottonwood Canyon is just outside of Salt Lake City, making it a convenient elopement location. From the city, you’ll take I-215 to the South Canyons exit, then follow signs to Solitude. You’ll end up on the scenic byway that travels through the canyon, and this 15 mile stretch will narrow into gorgeous alpine scenery, with plenty of places to stop along the way.
While Big Cottonwood Canyon is gorgeous year round, it’s very different in each season! When you decide when to elope, weather will be a huge factor.
Summer is the most popular time to visit Big Cottonwood Canyon, as the weather is mild and perfect for hiking. Temperatures usually hover in the low 70s during the day, so you’ll likely run into a lot of people this time of year.
In the fall, you’ll see a lot less people around! The temperatures are cool and crisp, and the fall foliage colors the mountainsides for a stunning view of the canyon.
In the winter, Big Cottonwood Canyon is a popular skiing destination. If you want to play in the snow or hit the slopes, this is the perfect time to elope. Be prepared for cold temperatures!
Spring is one of the best times for a Big Cottonwood Canyon elopement! The wildflowers bloom as the snow begins to melt, creating a gorgeous, colorful view of the grassy meadows. As temperatures start to warm up, it’s perfect for hiking!
You can take the scenic drive through Big Cottonwood Canyon and stop at any of the overlooks for a ceremony, a celebratory picnic, or some photos – but if you want to explore a little deeper, or find a more secluded place to say your vows, here are the best hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon!
The Brighton Lakes trail ascends through the canyon, and features several lakes – which means you can decide how far you want to go! The loop is 7 miles total, but the first lake is less than a mile from the trailhead. You’ll see wildflowers and mountain views, and this is also a great trail for spotting moose!
Lake Blanche is right under a summit sailed Sundial Peak, whose jagged top creates a picturesque scene. The peaceful lake is surrounded by meadows, and this is a great place to camp if you want to make your elopement an overnight trip!
This trail offers a unique waterfall view in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This is a short, easy hike, so it can be done if you elope with guests! The waterfall plunges through the rocky canyon, and the enclosed box canyon echoes the sounds of falling water.
To get legally married during your Big Cottonwood Canyon elopement, you’ll need a marriage license from the state of Utah. This can be obtained at any county clerk’s office in the state – so if you’re a Utah local, choose one close to home. If you’re traveling, the most convenient office is located in Salt Lake City. You can find the application online here, and fill it out before stopping by the office in person to pick up your marriage license. You’ll need to go to the county clerk’s office, with a photo ID and $50. You’ll get your marriage license, and it can be used right away – but it expires after 30 days.
An officiant is required to get legally married in Utah. They’ll need to sign the marriage license, so you can hire a professional officiant, or have a friend or family member get ordained!
Along with an officiant, Utah also requires two witnesses to sign the marriage license. The only rule is that they need to be over 18, so you can ask your guests, your elopement vendors, or any two adults you find throughout the day!
When you elope in Big Cottonwood Canyon, you’ll need a place to stay! Find a cozy home away from home that will add to your elopement experience.
There are several lodges around Big Cottonwood Canyon, offering rooms close to the action, with mountain views! Check out the Snowbird Inn and the Cliff Lodge. These spots are right next to the ski resorts, and make a great winter destination.
For an extra adventurous elopement, go camping! You can wild camp in Big Cottonwood Canyon, as long as you’re at least half a mile from the road. There are also several established campgrounds nearby, like Tanners Flat and Albion Basin.
Airbnb is always a good option for finding lodging. There are plenty of rentals near Big Cottonwood Canyon, including everything from big homes that can accommodate guests, lodges with hot tubs, and cozy Airstreams.
Eloping is all about being intentional in how you get married, and I’m here to help you plan a stress free, authentic, meaningful day. As an elopement photographer, my job is to make sure you have the wedding day of your dreams.
Contact me to start planning your Big Cottonwood Canyon elopement! I’ll help you find the perfect spot to say your vows, help you with marriage licenses and witnesses, and give you all my tips and tricks for the perfect day.