Eloping in the Southwest is both wondrous and adventurous. Elopements, small weddings, and intimate weddings all bring magic to the desert landscape in the Southwest. You’re surrounded by cliffs, arches, canyons, red rocks, mountains, and deserts that create this stunning scenery to celebrate your union. You’re able to celebrate your love and have an adventure of a lifetime by hiking, camping, backpacking, and more. What are you waiting for?! Here are the top 6 best places to elope in the Southwest!

  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • A marriage license needs to be obtained in person
    • There’s a $35 entrance fee that’s valid for a week. To elope in the park, you’re required to obtain a special use permit for one of their pre-approved locations! The permit must be received at least 3 weeks before the elopement date and there is a $100 fee
  • Hiking Trails
    • The best hiking trails in Zion National Park are Angels Landing Trail, the Zions Narrows Riverside Walk, and the Zion Canyon Overlook Trail. The Angels Landing Trail is an extremely challenging trail and not for the faint of heart! I don’t recommend it for anyone afraid of heights or as an elopement photo location. It has grown popular due to its epic views and incredible adventures! To deter overcrowding and have more safety measures, the park does require that you need a permit. The permits are only given through a lottery system and you can find more information to apply for the permit here
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • There are so many adventures to experience at Zion National Park such as hiking, backpacking, bicycling, bird watching, camping, canyoneering, rock climbing, horseback riding, driving and hiking through Kolob Canyons, hiking The Narrows, ranger-led activities, river trips, learning how to bring your stock animals to Zion, and sunset and stargazing.
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • The crowd levels can be the highest during the Summer and lowest during the Winter.
  • Weather
    • Elopements can happen all year round at Zion National Park, but the time of year and time of day will greatly affect your experience. The summer is the most popular time of year, and it can also be hot—so if you’re headed out on a hike, make sure to plan for early mornings or evenings. The winter is the least crowded season and has the added benefit of snow on the red cliffs. Fall and spring are perfect times to visit—the weather isn’t too hot or too cold, but be sure to pack in layers since it can get chilly at night.
  • Location
    • Moab, Utah – nearest airport is Canyonlands Field Airport (note: to get to this airport you need to fly United from Denver); 2 hour drive from Grand Junction Regional Airport; 4 hour drive from Salt Lake City International Airport
    • Check out this blog post, How to Elope in Moab!
  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • $30 marriage license, which can be purchased and process at the County Clerk Office
    • $185 wedding permit
    • You’ll need to pay a $20-30 entrance fee to any national park in Moab, Utah
  • Hiking Trails
    • Whether you’re getting ready to hike, bike, trail run, or explore other outdoor activities, there are 272 scenic trails in the Moab area. There are 63 easy hiking trails in Moab that are perfect for beginners or families with kids
    • Top recommended hiking trails
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • Auto touring, backpacking, biking, boating, camping, climbing, guided tours, hiking, horseback riding, ranger-led programs, and stargazing
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • There is so much space and various national parks in Moab, Utah that you don’t typically have to worry about crowds invading your intimate elopement experience. Canyonlands National Park is the most popular national park and is still a destination that can offer you a private experience. However, Arches National Park is smaller and more popular than the Canyonlands National Park, so it can be crowded pretty quickly. The high season for crowded areas is Spring and it’s recommended to elope during the weekday
  • Weather
    • Moab, Utah is a dry and hot desert. Colder during the nights and have the most drastic temperatures during the Summer and Winter. Fall and Spring are the perfect times to visit this area, but keep in mind these tend to be the high seasons too
  • Location
    • Slot Canyon – Northern Arizona and Southern Utah – there are multiple ones to choose from in that general region! Most of the canyon options are a 4 to 5-hour drive from Sky Harbor Airport
  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • The fee for a marriage license is $83.00
    • Antelope Canyon, the most widely known Slot Canyon, actually does not allow wedding or engagement photos of any kind. There are other slot canyons though that offer similar views!
    • Most of the available slot canyons are located on Navajo land, requiring a private, guided tour in order to access the slot canyons and be allowed to have photos or a ceremony in the canyon. These tours can range anywhere from $600-$2000 for a 2-3 hour private tour, depending on the slot canyon.
  • Hiking Trails
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • Boating, kayaking, hiking, off-roading, camping, stargazing, helicopter tours
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • The Slot Canyons are typically very crowded, but since you’re required to book a private tour for having photos or a ceremony in the canyon, it would just be the people you ask to join you + your tour guide
  • Weather
    • The weather in the Summer can be brutal since it’s very hot and dry. If you want to avoid the intense heat, then it’s recommended to go during Spring, Fall, or Winter. Temperatures also tend to be cooler early in the morning or later during the night
  • Location
    • Joshua Tree National Park – 45 minutes from Palm Springs International airport
  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • California marriage license fee is on average $90; marriage licenses are valid for 90 days from the issuance date for a ceremony anywhere in the State of California
    • $35 entrance fee
    • $120 permit fee for a Special Use Permit; you need to submit your application at least 30 days before your elopement date
  • Hiking Trails
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • Backcountry roads, backpacking, biking, birding, climbing, geology tours, hiking, horseback riding, photography, ranger programs, stargazing, and wildflower viewing
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • Recommend planning your Joshua Tree elopement during the Spring or Fall. You’ll find it’s much less crowded, it’s not too hot, and the light is incredible. Sunrise or sunset are great times to shoot. If you’re worried about crowds, consider midweek elopements as well!
  • Weather
    • The weather in Joshua Tree is pretty hot and dry throughout the year and temperatures can get pretty high in the summer. We highly suggest having your elopement between either March to May or October to November when temperatures are around 85 degrees. Joshua Tree National Park is an open desert, so there’s not a whole lot of shelter from the sun, wind, or rain
  • Location
    • Salt Flats – 1.5-2 hours drive from Salt Lake City International Airport
  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • $30 marriage license, which can be purchased and processed at the County Clerk Office
    • You need a Special Use Permit, since it’s considered BLM land. You can find more information about the permit here
  • Hiking Trails
    • If you’re a lover of hiking, then unfortunately the Salt Flats doesn’t offer many hiking trails. Hence the name Salt “Flats”. Bonneville Salt Flats is the largest of the salt pans that sit to the west of Utah’s Great Salt Lake. While there isn’t much in height, you’ll be able to walk around the salt flats for hours taking in the beauty of the vast land
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • Bicycling, camping, ATV or dirt biking, geocaching, windsurfing, hiking, photography, casinos, and shopping
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • The land on the Salt Flats is very vast and no matter how crazy the crowds can get throughout the year, you’re always going to be able to find an area that will give you a private elopement experience. The only thing to be mindful of is when there are events in the area, which can make it very crowded. There tend to be racing events throughout the year in this area. Recommended going during sunrise or sunset for the best lighting
  • Weather
    • The Salt Flats is a desert landscape, which means extreme temperatures! It can be extremely hot in the Summer and cold in the Winter. While the temperature is mild in the Spring, it’s rainy and the Salt Flats would not be a pleasant place to be with many salt puddles. Fall is the best time of the year to elope at this destination
  • Location
    • Sedona – 2 hours drive from Sky Harbor Airport
  • Wedding Laws + Permitting
    • The fee for a marriage license is $83.00
    • You do not need a permit to elope in most places in Sedona, however, you can not have free-standing arches, tables, chairs
  • Hiking Trails
  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Nearby Activities
    • Bicycling, camping, climbing, hiking, horse riding, hunting, nature viewing, OHV riding, outdoor learning, picnicking, scenic drives
  • Crowd Levels + Best Time of Year to Go
    • You’ll find the least amount of crowd in the Fall and Winter, however, there are so many places to shoot in Sedona that you’ll always be able to have a private and intimate elopement experience
  • Weather
    • From March through May, the weather ranges from the low 60s to mid-80s—the ideal temperature for exploring Sedona and enjoying every inch of your surroundings. And with desert flora blooming everywhere during that time of year, Sedona is full of beauty. If you’re hoping to minimize crowds on your big day, plan earlier in the Spring season. The Summer has extremely hot temperatures

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