Everything to Know About Having an Elopement or Wedding at National Parks: Best National Parks to Elope Around the World, Logistics, Permits, and So Much More!

Over the past few years, as adventure weddings and elopements have become more common, national parks have quickly become a popular choice for couples looking to elope in nature. The United States has over 60 national parks, and with countless more in countries all around the world, there is no shortage of epic places to get married. 

Today on the blog we’re sharing a list of the best national park wedding and elopement locations to consider and everything else you need to know about getting married in a national park.

Bride and groom celebrate at their national park elopement in Yosemite

Choose the Right National Park & the Best Ceremony Location

As with any wedding or elopement, choosing the right place to get married is a decision between you and your partner. The only “right” national park is the one where you can envision yourself saying ‘I Do’. 

For any couple that chooses to elope, we recommend that you sit down together, close your eyes, and envision your dream wedding day. Where do you see yourself? What activities do you want to enjoy together? Is there hiking involved? Do you want to invite guests to come along? All these questions will help you start to narrow down the right location for you! 

Once you’ve decided on which national park you want to get married in, you’ll want to take a look at the available ceremony spots within the park. Some parks limit the locations where you can hold a ceremony, so this is an important step to consider when choosing your national park wedding or elopement location.

Need more help deciding if an elopement is right for you? Check out our blog post on the most important things to consider before eloping.

Obtain the Proper Permit for Your National Park Elopement or Wedding

First things first. Before you can get married in a national park, it’s important to do your research and apply for the proper permits. Most national parks will require a special use permit (SUP) for any wedding ceremony or event that takes place within the park (note – this is on top of the entrance fee that is required.)

Special use permits typically range between $50-$300. As each park has different rules and fees, it’s important to visit the national park website for whichever park you choose to get the most up-to-date information. 

Keep in mind that many parks limit the number of weddings within the park each year, so once you have a date set, it’s best to apply as early as possible. There is typically a one-month turnaround time when submitting your application, so don’t wait until the last minute to send in your application. 

4 Important Questions To Consider When Eloping at a National Park

Bride and groom celebrate at their national park elopement in Banff

When deciding to elope in a national park, there are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for your special day. 

Distance from the closest airport

If you’re flying in for your wedding day, you’ll want to consider how far the national park is from the nearest airport. Most national parks are a couple of hours’ drive away from the nearest major airport so be sure to give yourself enough travel time in case your flight gets delayed or any other unexpected situations arise.

If the main airport is a few hours away, you can also try looking to see if there are any smaller, regional airports that can fly you closer to your destination but, keep in mind, that these flights can be more limited. 


Whether you are planning an intimate wedding or eloping in a national park, did you know that you can invite guests to celebrate with you? Having loved ones around you on your special day is a great way to share your experience, and inviting guests to your national park elopement is a relatively simple process.

Most national parks will allow you to have guests at your wedding or elopement, but many will limit the number of guests you can have at your ceremony. This limit is meant to help protect the park’s environment, while also keeping it open and accessible for other visitors to enjoy.

Some parks may limit the guest count to 10 people while others will allow up to 75 so it’s best to research your desired park to find out exactly what is allowed.

Oftentimes, as photographers, we recommend inviting no more than 30 guests to your national park elopement (park permitting). If you want to have more guests, it’s best to consider a venue or even a 2-day adventure wedding like this one in Banff.

Wedding/Elopement flowers, ceremony decorations & picnics inside the park

If you’re eloping at a national park, you may be wondering what options are available for your ceremony decorations and any other special setups you may be envisioning. 

Many couples choose to elope in a national park because of the beauty and nature that already exists within the park. This often cuts down on additional decorations and setups, though some couples still like to incorporate unique and meaningful items as a token of their relationship or to serve as a reminder of loved ones who have passed. In this case, it’s important to know that while getting married at a national park is an amazing experience, it’s not without some restrictions. Some parks have restrictions on bringing in outside food as well as limits on the types of flowers or decorations you are able to bring in. 

While this may be discouraging, it’s important to abide by these restrictions as they are meant to protect the parks’ natural environment and the wildlife within. If you find that the park limits are not able to include everything you envision for your day, as your wedding and elopement photographer, we can always help you plan and incorporate those special moments into other parts of your wedding day timeline.

For more information on how to do your part to protect the environment, keep reading to learn more about Leave No Trace. 

Cost of Eloping at a National Park

Eloping in nature is a great way to save money on a wedding venue. While there are still some costs that come with planning an outdoor wedding or elopement, the cost is typically much less than a traditional wedding. 

For national park weddings and elopement, you typically only need to pay an entrance fee into the park as well as a fee for your special use permit. You’ll also want to include items in your budget for a national park elopement photographer as well as any other wedding vendors and travel/accommodations you may need. 

To learn more about how much it costs to elope, click here!

What is “Leave No Trace” and Why It’s Important for Your National Park Elopement/Wedding

As experts in adventure elopement photography, we care a whole lot about “Leave No Trace”, which is where we go on adventures for photos but also make sure we leave things the way they are by doing our parts to preserve the beauty of nature. Here are some things we do and expect our couples to do (not limited to):

  • Stay on trails
  • Not climbing over fences, roped-off areas, or places with visible signs of “Do Not Trespass”
  • No meadow stomping
  • No confetti inside National Park (doesn’t matter if they are bio-degradable or not): Each National Park has their own living organisms, plants, animals, etc… By us leaving things behind, we can harm these living organisms. Bio-degradable confetti takes a while to degrade and might need rain or water to speed up that process. In the meantime, other animals might still be able to ingest them. If you are thinking about confetti, we can do so at your cabin (if allowed)


Best National Parks for Mountain Elopements & Weddings

North Cascades National Park

Two grooms couples photos during North Cascades National Park elopement

The North Cascades is home to some of Washington State’s most incredible (and truthfully, underrated) mountains. Spanning across Oregon, Washington, and Canada, this mountain range is ginormous, meaning there are tons of incredible places to plan a mountain elopement/wedding! 

Though it is best known for its stunning mountain ranges and jagged peaks, North Cascades National Park is also filled with mountains, glaciers, streams, and forests so you have endless options when it comes to choosing the scenery for your adventure elopement or intimate wedding.

Nearest Airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) 

Visit our North Cascades National Park elopement guide to learn how to plan your North Cascades elopement or wedding! 

Check out these real North Cascade Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Mount Rainier National Park

Bride and groom exchange vows during Mt Rainier National Park elopement at sunset

No national park elopement guide would be complete without mentioning Mt Rainier National Park! Living in the PNW I may be biased, but Mt Rainier is truly one of the most incredible places I’ve visited! 

This national park, located just a couple hours outside of Seattle, has four different entrances. Each entrance provides different trails and views within the park, but they all have one thing in common; epic views of Mt. Rainier herself! 

Fun fact: Standing at 14,140 feet tall Mount Rainier is not actually a mountain; it’s a dormant volcano! Her peak is covered in snow all year round, making this national park an excellent choice for snowy mountain elopement/wedding views! 

Nearest Airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) 

Want to learn more about this incredible national park? Click here to check out our complete guide on eloping at Mt Rainier!

Check out these real Mount Rainier Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Yosemite National Park

Bride and groom wearing dark moody wedding outfits taking couples photos at their Yosemite National Park elopement

There is a reason Yosemite National Park is one of the most highly visited national parks in the U.S.! Located in Northern California, this national park is filled with amazing views from towering granite cliffs to cascading waterfalls, to ancient giant sequoias. 

Some of the most popular places to elope in Yosemite are Taft Point and Glacier Peak; both with stunning views of the park’s famous granite mountains. 

Nearest Airport: Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT)

Learn more about eloping at Yosemite as well as some other amazing places to elope in California here!

Check out these real Yosemite Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Rocky Mountain National Park

Bride and groom couple photos at Rocky Mountain National Park elopement

With elevations spanning anywhere from 7,860 feet to 14,259 feet, Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest national parks in the United States! There is more to see in this national park than just mountains though. There are also evergreen trees, crystal-clear lakes, and wildflower-filled fields. It’s a top destination for watching wildlife and the perfect place to go to get off the grid!

Nearest Airport: Denver International Airport (DEN) 

Sarah and Mason’s Rocky Mountain National Park Elopement

Banff National Park

Bride and groom sitting on a rock overlooking the lake and mountains at their Banff National Park elopement

If there’s one place I wish I could come back to over and over and over to photograph engagements, elopements, and weddings, it would be Banff National Park for sure. I’ve been to a lot of beautiful places to photograph couples in love, but truly, nothing beats Banff.

With iconic places like turquoise, glacier-fed Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, Banff has been getting lots of tourists, so while we always work to take our couples away from these crowded places, with us as your wedding and elopement photographers, we’ll be sure to find you the best (and most private) locations Canada has to offer! 

Nearest Airport: Calgary International Airport

Ashley and Derrick’s Sunrise Elopement in Banff National Park

Best National Parks for Desert Elopements & Weddings

Zion National Park

Bride and groom standing on a rocky ledge during their Zion National Park elopement

Zion National Park wasn’t always a national park. In fact, it was originally a national monument. It wasn’t until 1919 that the area was established as an official national park, making it the 16th national park in the United States. 

Zion is an adventure lover’s dream and the perfect national park for couples looking to plan a desert elopement. With its scenic sandstone canyons, high plateaus, and cascading waterfalls, Zion has quickly become one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. and an incredible place for couples who want to elope in the desert.

Nearest Airport: Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) 

Kiersten and Emily’s Stunning Zion National Park Elopement

Check out these real Zion Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Joshua Tree National Park

Two brides kissing during their Joshua Tree National Park elopement

It’s no secret that Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places to elope in California! Located in the Mojave Desert, this national park is filled with a variety of unique plants (aka Joshua Trees), rock formations, and animals. This southern California park is a beautiful and popular place for desert elopements and intimate weddings and has some of the dreamiest sunrises and sunsets we’ve ever seen!

Nearest Airport: Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) 

Ashley & Ash’s Adventurous Desert Elopement at Joshua Tree

Check out these real Joshua Tree Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Death Valley National Park

Bride and groom running through the sand dunes at their Death Valley National Park elopement

While Death Valley may not have the lush meadows and alpine lakes you’d see at many other national parks, this national park has a beauty all its own. Most of the landscape within Death Valley National Park is desert, but places like Rainbow Rocks and Zabriskie Point show off stunning colors within the rock formations that will leave you in awe.

Known to be one of the hottest places in the world, eloping in Death Valley is possible, though it’s important to choose the best time of year to avoid the extreme heat summertime brings. Springtime brings its own magic to the park through the many wildflowers that populate the desert ground. It truly is a beautiful site to see and can make your wedding or elopement at Death Valley so much more magical!

Nearest Airport: Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) 

Hannah & Blake’s Gorgeous Desert Elopement at Death Valley

Check out these real Death Valley Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Arches National Park

Bride and groom climbing up a rocky trail for their Arches National Park elopement

Located in Moab, Utah, Arches National Park is an incredible red rock desert park that is known for its many…ARCHES! According to the NPS website, “Arches National Park has the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world.” 

Arches National Park is not only an incredible place to visit but also an amazing place to elope! Because it is located in Moab, it’s also very near to some of Utah’s other amazing landscapes like Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park, giving you an opportunity to visit multiple breathtaking locations on your wedding or elopement day. 

Nearest Airport: Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)

Brittney & Dustin’s Moab Adventure Elopement in the Desert

Best National Parks for Forest Elopements & Weddings

Redwood National Park

Bride and groom exchanging vows at their Redwoods National Park elopement ceremony

There is nothing quite like eloping in a forest, with nothing around you except the quiet stillness of trees and nature. Redwood National Park, one of nine national parks in the state, is actually made up of four smaller national and state parks: Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. These parks are filled with a variety of groves, coastal areas, amphitheaters, and overlooks so there are really a variety of options and locations to choose from when planning your Redwood forest elopement or intimate wedding. 

Nearest Airport: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

Alexis & Ben’s Northern California Redwoods Elopement

Check out these real Redwood Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Best National Parks for Lake & Beach Elopements

Olympic National Park

Bride and groom kiss in front of a haystack rock at their Olympic National Park elopement during blue hour

We may be biased when we say that Olympic National Park is one of the best places to elope, not just in Washington, but in the world! 

Olympic is the only national park in Washington state that is OPEN YEAR ROUND, plus it also offers unlimited views of evergreen mountains, alpine lakes, rainforest, fog, and everything that gives you the ultimate PNW mood. This park truly has the most versatile locations for all your adventure elopement and intimate wedding needs and when we think of a true PNW elopement, we immediately think of Olympic National Park.

Nearest Airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) 

Visit our Olympic National Park elopement guide to learn how to plan your Olympic elopement! 

Check out these real Olympic Elopements & Intimate Weddings

Crater Lake National Park

Image sourced from Adobe Stock

Famous for its striking blue water, Crater Lake National Park is not only the deepest lake in America but also one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the U.S. This park is perfect for couples who want to connect with the outdoors and experience a low-key outdoor elopement or intimate wedding at one of the most beautiful places in Oregon. 

Nearest Airport: Portland International Airport (PDX)

The world is truly full of so many incredible places to elope. Whether you choose to plan an intimate wedding or destination elopement at a national park overseas, or you want to elope at a national park in your home state, eloping in a national park is sure to give you a day where you can express your love to each other surrounded by the best that nature has to offer.

Let us know which national park you would choose to elope at down in the comments below! And, if you’re ready to start booking your own National Park elopement or wedding, click on the button below and send us an inquiry!

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