Elope in a national park. Wedding in Arches National Park.

2024 is continuing the trend of VERY populated National Parks. I, for one, don’t mind the reservation systems. I appreciate that it holds people accountable and spaces out the activity. Frankly, I think it’s better for the parks and I am their guest, they aren’t mine! Let’s elope in a national park responsibly! Travel and Leisure released their roundup of the 2024 reservation systems. So what does this look like for some of our most favorite parks?

Glacier National Park

Elope in a national park. Wedding in Glacier National Park.

The Montana park will bring back a reservation system starting May 24 next year for the west side of the always-popular Going-to-the-Sun Road and North Fork, and starting July 1 for the Many Glacier valley, according to the NPS.

New for 2024, vehicle reservations will only be valid for one day, rather than the three days this year, so more reservations can be issued. But park goers will be able to access the Apgar Village amenities without a vehicle reservation. Like the other parks, reservations are free except for the $2 processing fee.

As a Glacier National Park elopement photographer, it’s my job to be in the know. When we plan your Glacier National Park elopement, I guarantee we have the right permits, to the right place, for the right date. ALL KEYS THINGS!! If you are ready to dive in on GPN, check out our Glacier National Park Elopement Inspiration.

Our favorite Glacier National Park Ceremony Locations

I have rounded up a few of our most FAVORITE ceremony sites for your Glacier National Park elopement. There are 32 places in the park that allow for ceremonies and I broke down some of my favorites. To see all of Glacier National Park’s ceremony locations, download your free Glacier National Park Ceremony Guide!

Lake McDonald – 7 mile pullout

The views from Lake McDonald are absolutely stunning and Lake McDonald is the most accessible area of the park. It’s closest to the West Glacier Entrance and it’s just 45 minutes away from Kalispell and Whitefish. The 7 mile pullout location is just 7 miles into the park and allows up to 15 participants in peak season.

Glacier National park ceremony locations. Couple gets married at 7 mile pullout in Glacier National Park. Bride and groom elope in a National park.

Sun Point

We love Sun Point for a Glacier National Park ceremony location because it has one of the best views in the park. There is also a parking lot and toilets close by. There is a bit of a steep scramble to get up to this spot, but it’s totally worth it! Sun Point allows for 20 participants in peak season.

Glacier National park ceremony locations. Couple gets married at Sun Point in Glacier National Park. Bride and groom elope in a National park.
Glacier National park ceremony locations. Couple gets married at Sun Point in Glacier National Park. Bride and groom elope in a National park.

Big Bend

Big Bend is one of the most iconic views in Glacier, so of course it’s a really fun spot for a wedding ceremony! Because of that, the crowds are a TOTAL thing, so if you can plan for morning or evening, that’ll help you out! The maximum amount of participants is 10. The ceremony takes place on the gravel at the top of the hill, literally just a few feet away from where people park their cars.

Sunrise elopements aren’t for the faint of heart. It’s for the badass people out there who want an adventure. Lainey & Kyle are just those people. We leave our campground at St Mary at 1:50am in the morning and drive the Going to the Sun Road for their Sunrise Glacier National Park Elopement.

Glacier National park ceremony locations. Couple gets married at Big Bend in Glacier National Park. Bride and groom elope in a National park.

Many Glacier Hotel Green

It takes the longest to get to this part of the park (about 2 hours from the West Glacier entrance), but damn is it pretty! The mountains in Many Glacier are next level and the hiking is our favorite in the park. Cracker Lake and Grinnell Glacier are our favorites. You can also take boat rides to Lake Josephine and cut your hike to Grinnell Glacier by a few miles! The maximum participant number is 15 for the Many Glacier Hotel Green, located behind the Many Glacier Hotel. It is available from the last week of May through mid October as weather permits.

Arches National Park

Starting on April 1, 2024, Arches National Park will re-introduce a pilot program similar to a model it implemented this year. Reservations will be released in monthly blocks three months in advance, according to the National Park Service, and will allow travelers to enter the park during a one-hour window. Visitors can then stay however long they wish. The reservation is free, save a $2 recreation.gov processing fee.

If you’re wondering how to elope in Arches National Park, you’ll need to download and fill out this application and pay $185 to Pay.gov by selecting “SEUG” in the pay.gov search window. Make your payment at: Canyonlands and Arches NP & Natural Bridges and Hovenweep NM Special Use Permit. Click on “Continue.” Select which park your Special Use Permit is for, and under Permit Fee click on Permit and select Wedding. Enter a total dollar amount of $185 for the type of Special Use Permit you are requesting, then follow the instructions and fill out the forms. Make sure to save your payment confirmation – you will send this with your application to seug_commercialservices@nps.gov

Elope in a National Park – Our Arches Experience

Elope in a national park, Arches Utah

Hannah and Casey’s adventure of their Arches National Park elopement started the minute we got into the park. The sun shines as we drive the windy Main Park Road. We drive past Park Avenue, and soak in the views of the Organ and the Petrified Dunes on our way to the trailhead. I know I wasn’t the only one going all heart eyes for these views! We wind our way up to the trailhead, to begin the rest of their journey.

Arches National Park ceremony spots:

Check out our Arches National Park Elopement Guide for more on these locations!

Park Avenue – 15 people
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint – 50 people
Double Arch – 25 people
The Windows – 25 people
Panorama Point – 50 people
Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater – 80 people

Casey & Hannah climb cliffs and cascade down cracks. We explore Pine Tree Arch, soaking in the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the distance. Next, we hike to Double Arch where we eeek out all the available light of the day. We put them inside an arch, and let them look out over the horizon as the sun sets. The light is behind them, and we celebrate that they’re finally MARRIED with their Arches National Park Elopement.

how to elope in a National Park, Arches National park elopement, Moab elopement with stars

More Moab info to elope in a national park

Moab is the perfect place for an adventure elopement! Here’s our Where to Elope in Moab Guide! Thinking Utah, but not sold on Arches? Let me recommend Zion National Park. It’s Utah’s first national park. You can follow the paths where people have walked for thousands of years. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present-day adventures. Let’s go!

Yellowstone National Park

Mountain wedding in Yellowstone National Park. Elope in a national park.

Yellowstone has not been affected by the reservation system, but there is still plenty to know! Weddings, vow renewals, elopements, commitments, and other ceremonies may be permitted in certain areas of Yellowstone National Park depending on location, group size, and the time of year or day.

Special Use Permit is required for your ceremony to take place in any area of the park. Applications will be accepted up to 12 months in advance and no later than 2 weeks before the requested ceremony date. Due to changing conditions and resource issues, permits will not be issued more than a few weeks in advance; the approved permit must be with you during your event. You can find full planning guidelines at Weddings and Other Ceremonies – Yellowstone National Park.

wedding ceremony locations in Yellowstone National Park

  • Artist Point
    In the treed area on lower platform. Maximum 40 people. Carpooling recommended for this location; parking is limited. During busy season a National Park Service monitor is required at an additional fee.
  • Barnes Hole Road
    Maximum 30 people. One of the more secluded locations.
  • Fishing Bridge Visitor Center Beach
    Maximum 40 people.
  • Lake Butte Overlook
    Maximum 30 people.
  • Lamar Valley
    Maximum group size of 5 people allowed. Groups may choose an empty pullout along the road in Lamar Valley the day of the ceremony.
  • Nearby to Lamar Valley
    For ceremonies up to 20 people, we have four designated locations in the northeast corridor: Trout Lake, Barronette Meadows, Thunderer Cutoff Trail Head, and Warm Creek Picnic Area. Permits for the northeast corridor will include all four locations (when available) to allow for flexibility in crowded conditions.
  • Mammoth Chapel
    Application fee is $300. Maximum 250 people (parking limited, carpool or bus required for larger weddings). National Park Service monitor is required at an additional fee.
  • Old Faithful Area
    Maximum 40 people. Designated location is on east side of Old Faithful.
  • Parkwide Amphitheaters
    Amphitheaters are a good place for a larger group gathering. Capacity varies up to 150 people.
  • Virginia Cascade Picnic Area
    Maximum 30 people.
  • Two Ribbon Trail
    Maximum 15 people.

Yellowstone ceremonies just hit different.

We had the BEST Yellowstone wedding with Shannon & Jonathan. Their Yellowstone National Park Wedding, in Gardiner, Montana was nothing short of spectacular. It’s the place where elk walk the street like they live there, and the locals are the NICEST! Shannon saw her groom for the first time during their first look, her stress just melted away. The wind even blew his hat right off his head – that’s Gardiner for you! 

Elope in a national park. Yellowstone feature.
Elope in a national park. Yellowstone feature.
Yellowstone National Park Wedding with bride and groom portraits. Elope in a national park.
Wedding dress during Montana wedding, sunflower bouquet. Elope in a national park!
Wedding dress during Montana wedding, sunflower bouquet. Elope in a national park!
Wedding dress during Montana wedding, sunflower bouquet. Elope in a national park!
Elope in a national park! Yellowstone National Park Wedding with horseback ride

If Yellowstone has captured your heart, let us know! We will create a whole guide tailored just for you on how to elope in Yellowstone. And yes, we can check out some spots from the show Yellowstone. The Pioneer Woman shares, “The Dutton family’s gorgeous log cabin is actually a 5,000-square foot mansion located on Chief Joseph Ranch near Darby, Montana. Just like on TV, it’s a real working cattle ranch and family home—and it’s totally stunning, of course.” We promise to avoid all train stations.

Yosemite National Park

Visitors will be able to choose from two different types of reservations: Those valid for a full day, or those valid for entry any time after noon.  Reservations will also be required on weekends from Feb. 10 through Feb. 25 as well as on Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 19. Day-use reservations cost $2.

reservation is required to drive into or through Yosemite National Park on some days from April 13 through October 27, 2024, for those driving into the park between 5 am and 4 pm as follows:

  • April 13 through June 30: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and on holidays (May 27 and June 19).
  • July 1 through August 16: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm every day.
  • August 17 through October 27: A reservation is required from 5 am to 4 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (September 2 and October 14).

Yosemite wedding ceremony locations

Attention Yosemite Valley enthusiasts:

Please note that the picturesque locations are not exclusively reserved for your event. Independent rafters and other park visitors might be soaking up the scenery, which could potentially disrupt your plans. We recommend early-morning weddings (from 8 am to noon) to dodge the crowds, especially from the Tuesday after Memorial Day until September 30.

Oh, and just a friendly reminder: furry friends aren’t allowed to join the party.

Now, onto the nitty-gritty about our stunning spots: with their proximity to rivers and waterfalls, you’re in for some majestic views. However, during peak flow seasons (March through June), conversing might be a tad challenging over the roar of rushing water. Yosemite Falls tends to dry up from mid to late July until October or November, while Bridalveil Fall maintains a steady flow year-round, albeit a bit low from July to October or November. Keep in mind, though, Mother Nature’s mood swings might alter these conditions based on snowpack or weather.

Yosemite, USA - July 6, 2015: Yosemite National Park, Hikers hiking around and climbing half dome on a sunny day, how to get married in yosemite national park

Let’s dive into the locations:

  • Cascades Picnic Area: Tucked west of Yosemite Valley, this gem offers a serene setting for your gathering. With limited parking (8 vehicles max), it’s a cozy spot for up to 30 people. Just be sure to keep ceremonies away from the river’s edge and steer clear of the falls viewing platform.
  • Lower Yosemite Fall Paved Trail: A stroll along this path promises breathtaking views of Yosemite Falls. With space for up to 50 people, it’s perfect for an intimate affair. Just remember, ceremonies aren’t allowed on Yosemite Creek Bridge or at the base of the waterfall. And don’t worry about parking – hop on the shuttle bus for convenience.
  • Swinging Bridge Picnic Area: Nestled by the bridge, this spot is ideal for a quaint gathering of up to 20 people. Just avoid ceremonies on the bridge or in the meadows, and consider carpooling to save on parking woes.
  • Cathedral Beach Picnic Area: Closed during the off-season, this location accommodates up to 50 people from Tuesday after Memorial Day through October 31. Parking’s a bit tight (6 vehicles max), so carpooling is your best bet.
  • Sentinel Beach Picnic Area: Similar to Cathedral Beach, this area is open from Tuesday after Memorial Day through October 31, hosting up to 100 people. Parking’s limited (8 vehicles max), so coordinate rides to ease congestion.

And that’s just the beginning!

From Glacier Point to Tuolumne Meadows, we’ve got a plethora of picture-perfect locales to make your special day unforgettable. Just remember to check road conditions for closures and keep an eye out for fellow nature lovers.

So, pack your sense of adventure and get ready to say “I do” amidst the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite Valley!

BTW Yosemite is on our bucket list, so if it’s on yours too, let’s connect! A Yosemite wedding would be absolutely stunning place to elope in a national park and just so much fun. Our California elopements so far are all over the state! We have had multiple Lake Tahoe elopements and a very special Torrey Pines elopement in San Diego.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park will require a timed entry reservation for two areas of the park, according to the NPS. Both the Paradise Corridor and Sunrise Corridor will require reservations for entry beginning on May 24 and July 3, respectively. Reservations will be required for guests from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. — guests without reservations can access these areas at all other times.

Visitors can start booking reservations for just Paradise Corridor as early as Feb. 21 for access to the area from May 24 to June 30. Reservations for July — for both areas — will be available on April 1 while reservations for August will May 1 for both Paradise Corridor and Sunrise Corridor. Visitors can reserve their time slots on recreation.gov with the $2 processing fee.

The NPS describes that as an active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning five major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. If you’re asking where is the most romantic place to elope, it might be Washington. Depending on where you go in the state you have access to beaches, rivers and lakes, mountains, and forests. Whatever you want, the beautiful PNW can deliver!

Olympic National Park

Also, in Washington is Olympic. We told you the Greater Pacific Northwest is full of nature’s treasures! There are NO CHANGES to the entry system in 2024 to Olympic National Park. As in previous years, all visitors are required to pay an entrance fee. When we plan your Olympic National Park elopement, we will be mapping out the best way to enter the park. On busier days, the parking lots at Hurricane Ridge (pictured above) and Hoh Rain Forest fill up fast! Our lovely couple below shows how BEAUTIFUL flower fields are for elopement photos.

Back to how to elope in a national park

If you are ready to elope at a national park, secure your wedding permit FIRST and that will bypass the needs for a reservation. 

GNP Permits

Any and all vow exchanges, elopements, ceremonies, weddings, or special events, etc., require a Special Use Permit. This is regardless of the size of the group, whether or not it is “officiated,” or if papers are being signed. If you are entering the park with a photographer only to take photographs and no vow exchange, signing of documents, or union is being witnessed, then no permit is required. Please remember that “mock” ceremonies for the sake of photography are considered ceremonies under Special Use Permitting regulations and do require a permit.

Why Do I Need a Permit?

Dog friendly elopement

The National Park Service is required by law to protect and conserve all resources under their care including scenery, wildlife, and tranquility. As such, it is sometimes necessary to regulate or limit activities within the park to reduce strain on park resources and provide a positive experience for all visitors. Therefore, the National Park Service has the authority to require a permit for certain activities, including weddings. Don’t worry, we are here to help you elope in a national park.

What about the Going-to-the-Sun Road Corridor Vehicle Reservation?

Arches National park elopement, Under Canvas Moab elopement
Arches National park elopement,

Special Use Permits are considered a “service reservation” under the vehicle reservation system in 2024. If your event is in the Going-to-the-Sun Road corridor, you may not need a vehicle reservation depending on the location. Check out the vehicle reservation system webpage for additional details.

You can find all the details for GPN: Getting Married in the Park – Glacier National Park 

If you’re one of our couples, don’t stress about it. The Honeybee experience means we do the admin work for you and you show up rested and ready for your elopement!

Downsizing to an Intimate Wedding and How to Keep it Special, top elopement location trends of 2022, Lake Tahoe Elopement

2 day elopements 

We always think 2 day elopements are the way to go, but this is especially true when you plan to elope in national park. You’ll want to explore the park with your love and any other guests your brought along.

What a 2 day elopement can look like when you elope in a national park

have a national park wedding

Think a glacier park elopement (our usual jam) but make it a full blown wedding and add an adventure session. That was the magic we created with Tori and Mitchell. Their 2 day Glacier National Park wedding was a full celebration, we’re talking no keg left untapped. Their 2 days in Glacier included a killer bridal party, delicious cake, and a day after adventure session. The special moments we can capture with our two day elopement photography is second to none! 

elope in a national park

Plan your wedding like your dream vacay

That means come prepared! We’re not here to overwhelm you, but we do need you to know that we will jump through hoops to make this literally the best day of your life. Your elopement photographer is so much more than just there to take pictures, and we’re here to show you all that we can do for you. We’re waaay too invested your once in a lifetime adventure to make it anything less than perfect! Here’s how we make that magic happen: 

  1. Time and Place
elope on the beach

Just like your dream vacation, the date and location come first. You can build everything else around that foundation. As your elopement experts we can help with this! Most of the soul on fire photos you see on our site were from locations that our couples didn’t even know existed before they hired us.

  1. Planning Beast Mode

Once you know where you want to go, we plan it all out. Mostly Honeybee Weddings scouts out permits and all the admin, then together we walk through what your perfect day looks like! Your job is to focus on your boo, our job is to help nail down the details for you! You want 1000 yellow daisies, we will find you THE florist. You want LEGIT street tacos, muy bien. We’ll even throw in some spicy margs. You envision yourself on a mothertrucking boat, baby we got the little black book of top notch activities.

  1. We send you all the resources

We’ve captured more than 100 elopements and with all that experience we’ve created guides and checklists so you can day dream while we work on the details.

Then what, Kelsey?

  1. Together, we create your timeline
elope in a national park in Montana

Just like you plan flights and check in times on your dream vacation, we will be working together on your timeline for your elopement. We’ll help you craft an all-day experience beyond your wildest dreams. You’ll be feeling things beyond what you even thought possible.

  1. Planning is over, LOVE IS HAPPENING

Your wedding day shouldn’t feel like a rushed photoshoot, it should be the best damn adventure of your life. You are 100% yourselves, all while we make sure you have laid-back, FUN & candid photos & video to cry over forever. 

  1. Your souvenirs

I mean, what’s a vacation without bringing home a little something something? We deliver your AMAZING photos so you can relive every adventure, every sweet vow coming out of your spouse’s mouth, and every feeling. You’ll be on cloud nine (or literally in the clouds on top of the mountain) every time you see your photos or watch your video. Learn more by checking out our full Elopement Guide, answering the burning questions I am sure you have. When you’re ready to chat it up, book your consult call. See you in the parks!

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