Along with 5 breathtaking National Parks, Utah is home to beautiful dark starry skies, snow-capped mountain ranges, shimmering lakes, white salt flats, misty waterfalls, vast canyons, and unique rock formations. The state also offers various adventurous outdoor activities, making it one of the best places to elope in the United States. As an elopement photographer, I’ve spent years wandering around Utah with couples on epic wedding adventures. If you’re curious about how to elope in Utah, keep reading to learn about all my favorite ceremony locations, along with tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years!
In Summer, Utah gets extremely hot, especially in its deserts. If you’re planning a hiking elopement in Summer, hike in the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler. Pack ample water and emergency supplies, and tell friends or relatives where you’ll be going and when you’ll be back.
Flash floods are also common in Utah, especially in its deserts during the monsoon season, which runs from mid-July to mid-September.
Always check the weather and any state or national park websites before going out on a hike. Avoid venturing into slot canyons and dry stream beds. Always stick to high ground when possible, and never drive through flood waters.
Utah’s National Parks are spread across the state. While downtown Salt Lake City is walkable, with public transportation running from the city center to the airport, the rest of the state requires a car to get around. Salt Lake City International Airport offers on-site rental car companies if you’re flying into Utah.
Utah is a desert oasis with unique rock formations, canyons, trail systems, wildlife, and mountain ranges. Utah is unique because its deserts are comprised of a fragile crust called cryptobiotic soil. The preservation of this soil is crucial to the health of Utah’s delicate desert ecosystems. We can protect the environment by practicing Leave No Traces’ 7 Principles while explore and elope in Utah!
Here are the 7 principles:
Plan Ahead & Prepare
Travel & Camp on Durable Surface
Dispose of Waste Properly
Leave What You Find
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The time of year really matters when it comes to planning a Utah elopement — it gets hot!
Summer is the most popular time to visit Utah! This means crowd levels will be higher on trails and at popular landmarks.
While Summer is beautiful in Utah, it gets extremely hot in the state’s deserts. Plan to have your ceremony in the early morning or late evening to avoid the desert heat! The mountains are also beautiful this time of year and offer cooler weather temperatures during the day. One tip for avoiding crowds during this peak time of year is eloping on a weekday at either Sunrise or Sunset.
Utah’s colorful Sunrises and deep, dark starry skies in the evenings are the perfect backdrops for an adventurous elopement!
Fall is beautiful in Utah. In the mountains, autumn colors begin to cover the landscape treeline, and desert temperatures become comfortable during the day.
Even the deserts of Utah are cold in the Winter! Higher elevations, like mountain towns and trails, see large amounts of snowfall. Utah is the perfect snowy elopement location if you dream of a winter wonderland ceremony in the mountains.
Spring is the rainiest season in Utah, with snow flurries still occurring here and there at high altitudes. Late May is a very pleasant time to visit Utah, especially if you’re looking to plan an elopement just before the Summer crowds and heat begin to wave over the state.
There are many incredible places to elope in Utah, from picturesque famous rock formations to National Parks and hidden gem locations I’ve stumbled upon over the years. Here are the best places to elope in Utah!
Located in Northwestern Utah, this 30,000-acre white salt crust extends to Graham Peak and Cobb Peak. Sunrise and sunset elopements here are unique and breathtaking, with Late Spring and Summer being the best time to visit. There is no entrance fee here, and the Bonneville Salt Flats are open to the public nearly year-round. Special permit fees are usually required at this ceremony location, but I can help with the process!
This small desert town features a historic downtown with jaw-dropping scenic views. Located in eastern Utah, Moab offers a variety of opportunities for adventurous activities like mountain biking, off-roading, hiking, camping, and much more! Moab is a great elopement location for couples passionate about exploration and thrill. My favorite elopement locations in Moab are Arches and Canyonlands National Park.
Zion National Park is Utah’s first and most popular National Park. Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion is full of towering sandstone cliffs, wildlife, hiking trails, and various fun activities. You and your partner can embark on a hiking, kayaking, or canyoneering elopement before saying vows in front of one of the park’s many waterfalls or natural rock arches. My favorite elopement locations include Zion Canyon, Virgin River, Crawford Arch, and Kolob Arch.
All visitors are required to purchase an entrance ticket, either in the form of a daily, weekly, or yearly pass. Reservations to visit the park are only required if you plan to visit Angels Landing. Zion National Park does require a permit for various activities, including eloping.
Arches National Park is made up of over 2,000 natural red rock arches. This National Park sees nearly 1.5 million visitors a year just north of Moab. The best time of year to visit Arches is March-October, providing couples with a ton of desert activities in peak tourist months. You and your partner won’t run out of this to do during your elopement adventure in Arches. My favorite activities here include off-roading in a Jeep, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and hot-air ballooning! While the hundreds of thousands of arches are an obvious backdrop choice for elopements, some of my favorites include Delicate Arch, Double Arch, Turret Arch, and Devil’s Garden. If you want to elope near a non-arch structure, check out Balanced Rock, one of the most odds-defying elopement locations I’ve ever seen!
Much like Zion National Park, all visitors must purchase an entrance ticket, either in the form of a daily, weekly, or yearly pass. Timed Entry Reservations to visit the park ARE required at Arches, in addition to an entrance ticket, and may be reserved online from April to October. An elopement permit is also required at Arches National Park.
Canyonlands National Park is also located just outside of Moab and is a vast canyon system carved over the years by the rushing waters of the Colorado River. Divided into four districts; Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers (Green & Colorado, this National Park is full of Native American history, thrill-filled activities, and canyon overlooks. Couples can enjoy whitewater rafting in Cataract Canyon, off-roading on White Rim Road, stargazing, or hiking one of the many intricate trail systems that run throughout the park. Your elopement ceremony at Canyonlands National Park will be unforgettable, no matter which location(s) you choose to explore on your special day. Some of my favorite spots include Green River Overlook, Grand View Overlook, and Mesa Arch!
This National Park is open year-round and requires an entrance pass. Canyonlands does not require a Timed Entry Reservation but does require a special use permit for elopement ceremonies!
As the shining star of southern Utah, Bryce Canyon National Park doesn’t just stand out in uniqueness amongst the state but the entire world! The park’s Hoodoos, or irregular columns of rock, are so abundant that no other place on Earth is home to a larger concentration of Hoodoos than Bryce Canyon. The geology of this elopement location is fascinating, colorful, and dramatic. While hiking and stargazing are common activities here, the park offers scenic driving routes, wildlife viewing, backcountry camping, and more. One of the only caveats to eloping at Bryce Canyon National Park is that couples must choose between one of two designated ceremony sites; the amphitheater or Silent City at Sunset Point. Reservation permits are required far in advance for these sites, and they do go fast.
In addition to a ceremony site permit, the National Park requires an entrance fee. A Timed Entry Reservation is not required to enter the park, and it is open year-round.
Lake Powell is also located in southern Utah and is a beautiful Summer elopement location for couples that love spending time on the water. From house boating to wakeboarding, waterskiing, and kayaking, you’ll have a blast spending time with your partner on this refreshing reservoir. If you’re looking for an adventure just off the lake’s edge, the area also includes cool locations like Rainbow Bridge and Glen Canyon Dam. One of my favorite spots where couples say I Do on Lake Powell is on a boat in Cathedral in the Desert. Cathedral in the Desert is what most call a “natural amphitheater.” Couples can take a boat or kayak into the natural rock formation, hop onto a sandy shore, and say their vows. There’s no other ceremony location like this in Utah!
Lake Powell is open year-round and located in Glen Canyon National Park. Summer is the best time to visit the lake, and an entrance pass purchase is required for entry. While no Timed Entry Reservation is necessary, you’ll need to bring your own boat, rent one or book a lake excursion or houseboat.
Located in Red Cliffs Desert Preserve, Snow Canyon State Park has many sandstone canyons and is home to an extinct volcano, lava tubes, lava flows, and sand dunes. Sightseeing while hiking is the most popular activity in the park, with the parking containing over 30 miles of hiking trails. Snow Canyon is a hidden gem if you’re looking for a low-key, quiet, and intimate elopement spot. Since it’s so close to Zion National Park, it often gets forgotten about. The best elopement locations in the park are the Petrified Dunes, Sand Dunes, and Snowy Canyon Overlook.
Snow Canyon State Park requires a day-use pass for entry, and an elopement permit is required. If you and your partner plan on celebrating with family and friends in the park, Lower Galoot Day Use Area can be reserved for an hourly fee for those with a large group. It’s also a great ceremony location before a picnic reception!
Capitol Reef National Park is another hidden gem in the south-central desert of Utah. Filled with wondrous rock formations like Canyonlands, Capitol Reef’s large sandstone structures are over 250 million years old. While hiking, camping, and horseback riding are just a few fun activities you and your partner can enjoy during your trip, Capitol Reef offers a seasonal activity that no other National Park offers in the state – Orchards! Apricots, peaches, pears, and apples are available for picking, depending on the time of year. Some of my favorite elopement ceremony locations include Chimney Rock Pillar, Hickman Bridge Arch, Capitol Reef, and the towering monoliths of Cathedral Valley.
This National Park does require an entrance pass and elopement permit. Capitol Reef does experience seasonal canyon closures but is open year-round. The best time to visit is in the Summer and early-mid Fall. This is also the best time to experience the park’s orchards!
This scenic 7-mile route is just 25 miles outside of Salt Lake City and winds through the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Autumn is The best time to drive along Little Cottonwood Canyon. Fall colors flourish and fill the dense forest that lines the byway. Along the way, you and your partner can stop to hike the Temple Quarry Nature Trail or Little Cottonwood Trail. There are also two waterfalls, Gloria Falls and Lisa Falls, along with some lakes like Red Pine Lake and Maybirds Lake. Wildflowers in Summer are abundant along Little Cottonwood Canyon, especially in Maybird Gulch.
While typically, no permits are required to elope in and around Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Little Cottonwood Canyon is a crowded route because it’s so beautiful. Driving the route at Sunrise or Sunset or on a weekday will ensure traffic levels are as low as possible.
Getting legally married in Utah is simple! You and your partner will need to obtain a marriage license in Utah. You can do this by visiting a Utah County Clerk’s office nearest your elopement location. Once you get your marriage license, there is no waiting period, so you can say I Do immediately! Note that the license is only valid for 32 days, and the marriage must be solemnized within that timeframe. If it isn’t solemnized, the license will expire.
You will need the following to obtain a marriage license before you elope in Utah:
Additionally, two witnesses over 18 and a legally permitted officiant must be present at the wedding ceremony. You can learn more about marriage requirements in Utah here.
As your Utah elopement photographer, I’m here to help you find your dream elopement location. Apart from location scouting, I’ll also ensure you and your partner have the right location permits and a detailed and personalized elopement day timeline.
If you’re ready to start planning your adventurous, meaningful, stress-free wedding day today, contact me to learn more about my Utah elopement packages. You can learn more about eloping in National Parks by reading my National Park elopement guide!