The Ultimate Guide to planning an intimate Elopement in Zion National Park
There are so many reasons to ditch the big wedding, hop on a plane, and turn your "I do's" into a big adventure. Forget pressure from friends, family, and society telling you what your wedding day "should look like." Instead, plan a day that is true to your love and plan an elopement in Zion National Park.
An intimate elopement in Zion National Park, whether with your closest family and friends or just the two of you, is the ultimate way to combine travel, outdoor adventure, and the celebration of your love.
Exchange vows beneath soaring sandstone cliffs. Wander with your love through swirly canyons of deep red and vibrant orange. Feel the desert sun on your skin and the red sand beneath your feet as you commit to loving your person forever. It really can be that simple and beautiful.
In this guide, I will walk you through the ins and outs of planning a small and intimate elopement in Zion National Park.
WHERE CAN WE GET MARRIED IN ZION?
There are 6 locations inside the park that are approved for weddings. A Special Use Permit is required for all weddings, regardless of group size. The application fee is $100 and must be received at least three weeks before the requested date. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO
The park is serious about ensuring weddings have as little to no environmental impact as possible, and they have very stringent guidelines for decor and amount of people. Each location has different rules and allowances.
Temple of Sinawava (maximum of 35 people)
If you want soaring sandstone cliffs, then this is your spot. Temple of Sinawava is the last shuttle stop in the Zion Canyon. The approved location is set away from tourists and in my opinion, is the most stunning and natural location of the six.
Temple of Sinawava can only be accessed via shuttle from mid February - mid November. In most cases the park will not issue passes to drive a car into the park so your guest will have to take a shuttle.
Menu Falls (maximum of 10 people)
This quiet and off-the-beaten-path location is a quiet little spot away from crowds. It is accessed via shuttle most of the year but does not have a shuttle dropoff. Between mid-February and mid-November, you will have to walk about 1/2 mile to get to Menue Falls, but in most cases the park will allow you to drive a car or two into the park.
Zion Lodge Lawn (maximum of 100 people)
Surrounded by towering cliffs and massive cottonwood trees, the Zion Lodge Lawn is a stunning location to get married. This location can be very busy in the summer and is only accessible via shuttle most of the year.
Durning March-November when the shuttle is running you can book a stay at the Zion Lodge. Staying at the Zion Lodge will give you access to drive a car into the park. This is a great way to get around the hassle of having to take the shuttle into the park.
Nature Center North Lawn (Maximum of 50 people)
Available November-early April only
The Nature Center lawn is a beautiful location for a ceremony and has easy accessibility. This location is next to the Pa'Rus trail making it easy to walk over and get beautiful photos along the trail.
South Campground Amphitheater (Maximum of 100 people)
The South Campground Amphitheater is another easy option for a ceremony and is close to the Pa'Rus trail. This location is already set up with benches and is very easily accessible for guests.
Timber Creek Overlook (Maximum of 20 people, 4 cars)
The Timber Creek Overlook is in the Kolob Canyons section of the park. This section of Zion is located between Hurricane & Cedar City and is about 1 hour from Springdale & the Zion Canyon. This location is stunning and the accessiblity for photos along the stunning Timber Creek Overlook trail after the ceremony makes this location a top contender for me.
Can we exchange vows in other areas of the park?
A great way to open up more location options and make the moment special and meaningful is to do a simple vow exchange in the park.
Make the most of your time in Zion being among the sandstone cliffs and lush desert landscape by saying your vows privately in a stunning off-the-beaten-path location and doing the official ceremony/marriage formalities before or after your time in Zion.
Another great option is to plan a formal ceremony with friends and family at a number of stunning locations just outside the park and then head into the park afterward for all the amazing photo spots you have your heart set on. Reach out to us to get a detailed guide of those locations.
When is the best time to get married in Zion?
There isn't a perfect time to get married in Zion. It really just depends on what you are looking for on your special day.
If you don't want to deal with heat and crowds, don't elope in July. Elope in the late spring or summer if you want to be surrounded by a lush green desert landscape.
Here are some things to think about when choosing your date.
SUMMER - Summer is the hottest and busiest time in the park but also the most lush and green. The monsoon season runs from mid-July through the end of August and consistently brings evening storms to Zion. PRO TIP - Plan your ceremony at sunrise for the best chance of cooler temps.
FALL - Zion is busy in the fall, but the temps are beautiful during the day. Zion is dripping in yellow foliage, and the Zion Canyon is incredibly stunning this time of year. The fall season runs from October thru November. Temps can be very cool in the morning & evenings dropping to the 40s and 50s.
WINTER - This is the least busy time to visit the park except during Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. Temps average 40's and 50's during the day. There is no shuttle service into Zion Canyon so that you can drive into the park. The canyon looks very stark without all the green leaves. Trails can be closed, and icy conditions are often present. Services in Springdale are more limited in the winter.
SPRING- Spring starts at the end of February and runs through April. The park is busy, but temps are great during the day. The Zion Canyon is just starting to get lush and green again.
PRO TIP - The Zion Canyon changes drastically with the seasons, but East Zion does not. Photos among the slot canyons and slick rock along Zion's east side will have a similar look from winter to summer. The light and the temps are very different, but the vegetation looks mostly the same.
What are the best spots in Zion for a private vow exchange + epic photos?
For epic views and the classic Zion look, I have a few favorite spots that I recommend on a regular basis. I'm not going to give away all my secrets (Hire us for that!), but here are a few of my favorites.
The Pa'Rus Trail is a quick & easy location to get classic Zion scenery. It is a paved trail that runs along the Virgin River with epic views of the iconic Watchman Mountain in the background.
Canyon Overlook is easily the most popular location in Zion for elopement photos + a private vow exchange. A 1.25-mile round trip hike leads you to incredible views. CLICK FOR MORE INFO
Clear Creek is an excellent location to get the those beautiful slot canyon photos. This dry stream bed that runs long the east side of Zion has tons of beautiful slick rock and is easily accessible. CLICK FOR MORE INFO
A 6.5-mile round trip hike, this location features the biggest views in the park. It even overlooks Angels Landing. A great hike for adventurous couples and getting away from the crowds in Zion. CLICK FOR MORE INFO
This meadow along the Kolob Terrace section of Zion features stunning views of Zion in the background. It is easily accessible and perfect for a simple vow exchange.
What are the best spots to get married outside the park if we don't want to hassle with a permit?
Many of the hotels in Springdale allow weddings on their grounds. Cliffrose Lodge and Cable Mountain Lodge are a few. There are also beautiful rental properties set up for weddings. Check out Zion Red Rock and The Ardella Cottage.
Here are a few of my favorite outdoor locations to have a ceremony without needing a permit.
Located 35 minutes northwest of Zion/Springdale, this off-the-beaten-path location features stunning views, lots of jagged red rock, and a small slot canyon. The area is easily accessible. CLICK FOR MORE INFO
Smiths Mesa is a quiet and secluded spot along the Kolob Terrace section of Zion tucked just outside the park making it a great place to get married without needing a permit.
Known for being a popular mountain biking trail, Gooseberry Mesa offers stunning wide open views and is the perfect spot to elope in Zion in the background.
Red Reef Trail
This location in the Hurricane Valley features a seasonal waterfall & stream, a beautiful canyon, and lots of red rock. It is a little over 2 miles round trip with stream hopping and climbing rocks. CLICK FOR MORE INFO
***Zion Eco Cabin in Hildale, Ut - Adventure photog Kennedy
Where should we stay for a romantic few nights close to Zion?
OPEN SKY - The ultimate in luxury, this property is quietly tucked into the desert landscape and ready for guest to come and connect with nature. Located just 20 mintures from Zion Canyon this property is what desert dreams are made of. Their handcrafted, safari-style tents traveled all the way from South Africa. Each tent has optimal views and premium luxury.
CAVE LAKES CANYON RANCH - This is a unique new glamping property tucked into a private canyon between Kanab and Orderville! Spring-fed ponds, cave lakes, beautifully designed glamping tents, and cabins all tucked into a stunning secluded private canyon. I can't get over how cool this property looks.
ZION ECO CABIN - The most "liked" airbnb on instagram in 2021, this tiny cabin boasts some of the most stunning red rock views in all if Southern Utah. It is located in Hildale, Utah. A 50-minute drive to Zion.
***The Ardella Cottage in La Verkin - Photos courtesy of Ardella Cottage
Where should we stay if we are bringing friends and family?
BASECAMP 37 - This stunning off-grid glamping property in Kanab is the perfect desert retreat for friends and family to come together and celebrate in the desert. Rent out the entire property of beautiful glamping tents with a large main house perfect for hosting big groups.
ZION PONDEROSA - One of the largest resorts in the west, Zion Ponderosa is tucked into the east side of Zion. Full of adventure,activities, and fun for all sizes of groups. The large homes allow for families to stay together and some are even set up for wedding celebrations.
ZION RED ROCK - With an assortment of large beautiful homes located next door to Zion, Zion Red Rock is sure to have the perfect home for all your friends and family to come together and celebrate.
ARDELLA COTTAGE - This stunning historic home in La Verkin, Ut is located just 30 minutes from the park and is filled with all the luxury, comfort, and charm you could possibly want for your Southern Utah celebrations.
What are some epic adventures we must do while visiting Zion?
E-bike the Zion canyon
My absolute favorite way to experience the Zion Canyon! Zoom through the canyon with the wind in your hair, smells of the lush desert vegetation around you, while feeling the pockets of cool and warm air on your skin. Rent your bike from Greater Zion E-bike Rentals.
Take A guided adventure with East Zion Adventures
Check out East Zion Adventures for tons of great options to get off the beaten path and explore Southern Utah in a fun new way. I highly recommend the White Mountain Horseback Ride or the Crimson Canyon Slot Canyon UTV Tour.
Go Canyoneering with All Ways Adventure
For a spectacular adventure repelling one of the beautiful slot canyons in Southern Utah, book a canyoneering package with our favorite canyoneering company All Ways Adventure.
Book a helicopter tour
Go big or go home! A helicopter tour is about as epic as you can get. With awe inspiring views of Zion and the surrounding cliffs and valleys, book a helicopter tour with Zion Helicopters and fly close to the amazing rock formations and right over 2,000’ sheer cliffs.
Take An ATV/UTV Sand Dune Tour
Explore miles and miles of sand dunes, zoom down sand hills, and take in expansive and stunning views. The sand dunes at Sand Hollow in Hurricane are absolutely stunning and so much fun to explore. Booking a guided tour with Southern Utah Adventure Center.
PLAN A ROMANTIC LUXURY PRIVATE PICNIC
This is such a beautiful way to celebrate and make your day extra special. Reach out to Kay's Events and Picnics and let them handle every detail while you create unforgettable memories. Embark on a journey of relaxation and enchantment. Their picnics are the perfect thing to do visiting Southern Utah, Zion National Park or anywhere in southern Utah who want to experience the beauty of the area!
WHY SHOULD WE HIRE ZION ADVENTURE PHOTOG TO CAPTURE OUR ELOPEMENT?
At Zion Adventure Photog we are a team of local photographers who love the outdoors but even more than that we love adventuring with our clients and showing them our amazing home.
With all our local knowledge and 7 years experience capturing elopements in Zion we are skilled in making sure every detail of your day goes down without a hitch. We help you figure out the perfect locations, timing, and all the details of your day to make it everything you want and more.
Let us take you on an adventure and capture your special day with lots of love, adventure and epic desert scenery.