Planning a National Park Elopement
National park weddings and elopements are some of my favorite ceremonies to capture. The views are unique to each park, and the varied landscapes offer a magical place to say, “I do.” Here is a quick breakdown for a few popular national park wedding destinations for couples––perfect for intimate and authentic elopements, or small wedding gatherings. For more detailed information national parks to elope in, find some of elopement guides here.
1. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is home to otherworldly views of mountain peaks, and the famously beautiful Going-to-the-Sun Road. Peak wedding season in the park is May through October, and depending on which site you would like to get married at, there are limitations on how many people and or vehicles can be present.
Whether you are planning to elope or have a full-on wedding ceremony in the park, you will need to acquire a special use permit via application. It’s suggested to submit your application at least 30 days prior to the date of your elopement. The sooner you apply, the better! In order to obtain this permit, simply download a special permit application from the park’s website, fill it out and mail it, along with a payment of $125 in the form of a check or money order to email@example.com or you can mail it to:
Glacier National Park
Attn: Special Park Uses
PO Box 128
West Glacier, MT 59936
You will receive your permit via mail, which you will then need to sign and send back to the park. This permit will need to be carried with you throughout your elopement day.
Glacier National Park only permits ceremonies at pre-approved locations found here. Keep in mind maximum participants allowed vary by location and also by peak/non-peak season. The wedding locations outlined on this list also share when they are accessible and if there are any conditions.
2. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park boasts impressive granite mountainsides, waterfalls of all sizes, and crazy views of a lush sequoia wilderness. It’s nearly 1,200 square miles of valley, meadows, giant sequoias, and world-famous waterfalls. It’s no surprise this park is at the top of the list for most couple’s when deciding where to celebrate their elopement.
A special use permit is required for any commitment ceremony for a fee of $150. Be sure to inquire early as spots are sure to fill up, and do your research as there are specific locations you are limited to for a ceremony. To secure your spot, simply download a special use application, fill it out and send it, along with your payment to:
Special Park Uses/Film and Weddings
Yosemite National Park, National Park Service
P.O. Box 700
El Portal, CA 95318
Special Park Uses/Film & Weddings
Yosemite National Park
5083 Foresta Rd
El Portal, CA 95318
For wedding permit information contact Catherine by email or by phone 209-379-1858. Permit applications are accepted up to one year advance and no less than 21 days of your elopement date. After reviewing your application, a special use permit will be mailed to you for signature. Upon receipt, you will sign and return the permit to Yosemite’s office for final approval.
Yosemite National Park only permits ceremonies at pre-approved locations found here. If your party is less than 11 people, you are not limited to the location list, with exception of open meadows and riparian environments.
3. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park’s surreal landscape and vast desert air make for a beautiful place to commit your life to one another.
There is a permit application process for any commitment ceremony that takes place in the park, as well as a $120 nonrefundable fee. Checking with the Special Park Use Office is always a good idea to inquire about the current gathering restrictions and limitations. You may download the application permit HERE and email it to the Special Park Use Coordinator, Jeannie Wilson, at Jeannie_Wilson@nps.gov. For further questions, Jeannie can be contacted at (760) 367-5518.
The following locations are pre-approved within Joshua Tree National Park:
- Indian Cove Amphitheater; No more than 100 people total and only 1 vehicle.
- Hidden Valley Picnic Area; No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
- Turkey Flats; No more than 35 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
- Cap Rock; No more than 25 people total and up to 8 vehicles.
- Rattlesnake Picnic Area; No more than 20 people and 8 vehicles.
- Quail Springs Picnic Area; No more than 15 people and 8 vehicles.
- Split Rock; No more than 15 people and 5 vehicles.
- Porcupine Wash; No more than 12 people and 4 vehicles.
- Queen Valley Mine Intersection; No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.
- Lost Horse Parking Lot; No more than 10 people and 5 vehicles.
- Live Oak Picnic Area; No more than 5 people and 3 vehicles.
For detailed information on how to elopement in Joshua Tree National Park, check out my elopement guide HERE.
4. Zion National Park
Zion National Park’s diverse mix of landscapes makes it a uniquely interesting place to get married. It has slot canyons, sandstone cliffs, high plateaus, and crazy hikes leading you through and around its diverse landscape.
Getting married here requires a special use permit and a $100 fee. For application details and materials, you can visit the park website HERE. Keep in mind applications must be submitted at least three weeks in advance to be considered. Zion National Park is a popular location, so I highly recommend submitting your application as soon as possible. The application for the permit can be found HERE.
Your ceremony location will depend on the size of your party. A complete list of pre-approved locations can be found on the park’s website.
5. Sequoia National Park
Some of the world’s largest, and oldest trees live in wild groves at Sequoia National Park. Wedding and elopement photos with ancient, sacred living organisms in the background are anyone’s dream.
A special use permit is required to have any sort of ceremony in the park. Simply fill out an application, and return it via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a non-refundable payment of $150. Applications must be submitted a minimum of 60 days prior to the event date to be considered. Allow at least 30 days for them to process your request. If approved, you will receive an email of your raft permit for review and signature. You will then email back the signed permit to be finalized by their office.
Sequoia National Park has pre-approved ceremony locations that can be found on the park’s website. Note that all locations have a maximum capacity of 15 people.
6. North Cascades National Park
Although North Cascades National Park is a less popular option amongst park-goers, its diverse landscape of mountain peaks, waterfalls, and valleys makes it a hidden gem. From the ponderosa pines to the wet rainforest, there are an endless amount of options for organic, authentic photography to emerge.
A special use permit is required to get married in the park, and your best bet at receiving application materials is to contact the Park’s Commercial Service Office, or call (360)-854-7213. You can also submit an inquiry via their contact form to inquire for an application. You will complete the Special Use Permit Application and email it back to their office. The $50 application can be paid HERE. You will then receive a finalized permit via email, which you must carry on your elopement day.
7. Rocky Mountain National Park
The rugged, mountainous landscape of Rocky Mountain National Park paired with an intimate gathering of family and friends couldn’t be a better scenario for a wedding. Being one of the U.S.’s most visited national parks, weddings here are becoming more and more common.
The park asks that you inquire about a spot for any sort of commitment ceremony at least one year in advance and pay a non-refundable $300 application fee for a special use permit. RMNP does have maximum permit limits as noted here:
- May- October: 60 per month for all issued permits on a first come – first served basis
- November – April: 40 per month for all issued permits on a first come – first served basis
Keep in mind that ceremonies are limited to 30 people at this time within this national park. RMNP requests you check for availability prior to submitting an application through their contact form. When applying for your permit, you must submit the completed application via email. You will receive instructions after you have submitted your application on how to proceed with payment. To submit a permit request, download a Special Use Application.
After review of your application, a Special Use Permit will be sent to you for signature via email. Upon receipt, sign and return the permit via email for final approval from the park’s office. You will receive your finalized permit via email. The approved permit must be in your possession at the time of the ceremony.
Ceremony sites at RMNP can be found HERE.
8. Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the highest volcanic peak in the contingent U.S. Its rich wilderness is a prime location for beautiful wedding or elopements photos.
Contact the Special Use Permit Coordinator at email@example.com, or via phone at 253-307-6361 for any questions, or to email in your application for consideration at least 30 days prior to the date of your elopement. Keep in mind that your location will change depending on how many people you will have present at your ceremony. You will receive instructions after you have submitted your application on how to proceed with the $60 permit fee online. Detailed information about how to obtain a permit can be found HERE.
As a final note, if you are considering national parks to elope in, be sure to do your research as there are typically specific areas in the park that you are restricted to because of the growing popularity of national park weddings. For more information on how I can support you through this process and choose the best package for your elopement, send me a message HERE!
I’m Karen, a California elopement photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to push the boundaries of tradition and create an unforgettable experience.
I help all couples worldwide by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.
here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience