A couple with hiking packs set off to their elopement ceremony spot in Badlands National Park

Kellie & Ethan’s Badlands National Park Hiking Elopement

Filed in elopements — May 12, 2023

I met Kellie and Ethan at the edge of the Great Plains in southwestern South Dakota for a Badlands National Park hiking Elopement! I had the time of my life capturing Kellie and Ethan’s elopement experience, from their first look to their celebration picnic and everything in between. Here’s a look into their unique day, full of stunning landscape views, a rain shower stroll, and lots of laughter. 

Newlyweds hold hands in a field in Badlands National Park A newly married couple kisses in Badlands National ParkA couple is seen standing in a wide open space in wedding attire

All About Badlands National Park

Badlands National Park is an expansive natural wonder made up of fossil beds and spired rock formations. The park is located in Southwestern South Dakota and spans over 250,000 acres. 

Apart from hiking, Badlands National Park offers a variety of activities and sightseeing opportunities. The park is abundant with wildlife and ideal for dark viewings of the starry night sky. Badlands National Park requires an elopement permit and park entrance fee, which can be accessed online ahead of time. 

Badlands National Park is a popular elopement location, with Conata Point being one of the best ceremony spots in the entire park! I met up with Kellie and Ethan for their beautiful Badlands National Park hiking elopement at Conata Point, and I’m excited to share a little glimpse into their perfect day below!

Newlyweds embrace in wedding attire on an overlook pointA sign of a hiking trail in Badlands National Park is pictured A bride leans on her husband's chest as she laughs

Kellie & Ethan’s Love Story

Kellie and Ethan’s love story feels like fate. After connecting on a dating app, they quickly went on a first date! They shared great conversations over Thai food and a stroll in the park. Ethan and Kellie’s first day together quickly turned into months; the rest is history. After dating for some time, Ethan planned to propose with a sweet picnic outdoors. Unfortunately, it started raining before the big moment. So Ethan altered his plans and set up the most romantic indoor picnic proposal in his apartment. 

Ethan laid blankets on the floor and surrounded the space with plants and flowers. Then, to set the mood, he decorated the area with twinkling lights and put nature videos on for background ambiance. Kellie was so excited when she arrived at Ethan’s apartment. They ate sandwiches, cookies and drank kombucha. Afterward, Ethan played Kellie a song he had written for her on piano through emotional, love-filled tears. Following the song, Ethan got down on one knee and asked Kellie to marry him. 

Newlyweds pose for a photo in wedding attireA man holds a woman's cheek in admiration A bride and groom's hands are shown against a rugged landscape background in a national park elopementA blurry photo shows a couple in Badlands National Park

 Kellie & Ethan’s Badlands National Park Hiking Elopement

The morning of Kellie and Ethan’s elopement was moody, with rain showers and a chill in the air. According to an old wive’s tale, rain on a wedding day is good luck! It’s said that the knot being tied (i.e., tying the knot) becomes wet and is harder to untangle, thus making the bond of marriage stronger. Whether you believe in superstitious tales like this or not, not even rain can come between Kellie and Ethan celebrating their love. 

A couple walks side by side in the rain while holding umbrellas in Badlands National ParkA bride and groom walk in the rain before their hiking elopement A black and white wedding photo shows a couple admiring Badlands National ParkA groom reads vows to his bride A black and white photo shows a couple standing back to back reading love notesA bride is seen reading vowsA couple is seen reading vows in a national parkA couple reacts to their first look of one another in wedding attire before their ceremonyGroomsmen are seen in neutral wedding attire for a national park elopement

A dried floral wedding bouquet is pictured and mixed with live roses and colorful flowers A bridal party is pictured with the bride and wearing burnt orange wedding attireA pair of white women's Blundstones is pictured with embroidered flowersA wedding party poses for a photo in front of a canyon overlookA couple celebrates their wedding ceremony with a kiss in Badlands National Park

A couple reads their vows to one another in front of an officiant at their elopement in BadlandsA couple kisses in Badlands National Park after their weddingLuckily, the rain slowed just before the couple’s first look and letter reading at Big Badlands Overlook. We did a few short hikes before their ceremony at Conata Point. Fortunately, the clouds disappeared, and the sun came out just in time for Kellie and Ethan’s beautiful ceremony. In a touching celebration full of nostalgia and happiness, the couple celebrated their love with a picnic, yet again, at Conata Picnic Area.A couple hikes up to their picnic spot following an intimate national park wedding

A bride follows her groom up to a picnic spot on their hiking elopement

A newly married couple enjoys a picnic after their elopementA donut and coffee celebration is pictured A newly married couple shares donuts after their elopement

Looking To Plan A Badlands National Park Hiking Elopement?

Badlands National Park is full of some pretty epic overlooks accessible via scenic hiking roots, walking trails, and 4×4 adventures. If you’re interested in learning more about a Badlands National Park hiking elopement, you can read my Badlands National Park Elopement Guide. Badlands National Park is one of my favorite places to explore with couples, and I’d love to help capture and plan a stress-free elopement day full of adventure and love. You can inquire about bringing your dream day to life here

An elopement photographer poses with a couple before their elopement in Badlands National Park