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.
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.
Menu Falls (maximum of 10 people)
This quiet and off-the-beaten-path location is stunning but very hard logistically. 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. In the winter, when this location is accessible via car, you run the risk of icy conditions and tourists being part of your ceremony.
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. The difficulty of getting chairs to the lodge makes this location hard logistically for larger weddings.
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 much easier accessibility because you can drive a car. So bringing in chairs isn't an issue.
South Campground Amphitheater (Maximum of 100 people)
The South Campground Amphitheater is another easy option for a ceremony. 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.
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.