Are you ready to get married in the sky? Canyonlands National Park is the high in the sky and the jaw dropping, desert meets sky meets gorgeous couple in love that you are looking for. Let’s dive into the details and see if it’s the right spot for you! We’ll walk you through ALL the steps on how to elope in Canyonlands National Park!
Canyonlands National Park preserves one of the last relatively undisturbed areas of the Colorado Plateau. The landscape of canyons, mesas, and deep river gorges are part of the unique desert, ready to create one of kind photos with a once in a lifetime experience. Elevations within the park range from 3,700 to 7,200 feet above sea level. This rugged, unique desert is truly one of a kind for a wedding venue!
Canyonlands is part of the Colorado Plateau, a “high desert” region that experiences wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over 40 degrees in a single day. Remember, to elope in Canyonlands National Park means that the best time to go is spring (April through May) and fall (mid-September through October), when daytime highs average 60 to 80°F and lows average 30 to 50°F. Keep in mind, this is the most popular time for all other adventurers as well so try to plan for a weekday to swerve the crowds. If your heart is set on a Winter elopement, we also have you covered. Check out Best Winter Elopement Locations – honeybeeweddingsmt.com
The Marriage Logistics
While it would be great to say I do and be married at that, permits and planning need to be taken care of before your elopement. We’re here to help – this is your guide on how to elope in Canyonlands National Park! There are two types of legal paperwork you need- the marriage license and the wedding permit also known as “Special Use Permit”.
Your marriage license needs to be in the state you are getting married in, not the state you are a resident of. Here is everything you’ll need to know about getting a marriage license in Grand County, Utah. Here is the marriage application you’ll take with you to the Grand County. Total cost will be $185.00 which includes the Non-refundable Application Fee of $55 and Administrative & Management Fees of $130. Applicants should submit payments via Pay.gov. To make a payment:
• Enter “SEUG” in the Pay.gov search window.
• Payment will be made at: Canyonlands and Arches NP & Natural Bridges and Hovenweep NM Special Use Permit – click on “Continue.”
• Check which park your Special Use Permit is for. Under Permit Fee click on Permit and select Wedding.
• Enter a total dollar amount $185 for the type of Special Use Permit you are requesting.
• Follow the instructions and fill out the forms.
Once you have your license, you’ll have 30 days to get married.
Planning in Canyonlands Nitty Gritty
You can plan your elopement 1-12 months in advance. Canyonlands requires at least four weeks to fully process a basic permit request and the permit must be requested by the couple getting married and not by a third-party IE us. We will continue to guide you in every other way. Be aware of busy weekends and holidays when choosing dates!
Canyonlands has four sections: Island in the Sky (the most accessible and popular, check out the Island in the Sky Visitor Center), The Needles, The Maze, and The Rivers. Each area has their own special adventuring permits, purchase passes and permits here (Where to Elope in Moab – honeybeeweddingsmt.com). However, ONLY TWO locations are permitted for weddings- Island in the Sky and The Needles. Elope in Canyonlands National Park with either location will give you those forever photos. Below is a chart outline the specific locations and the group size limits.
|Locations at Island in the Sky||Group Size Limit|
|Grand View Point||25|
|Green River Overlook||25|
|Shafer Canyon Overlook||10|
|Locations at The Needles||Group Size Limit|
|Needles Group Campsites||The Needles Group Site: 50|
Wooden Shoe Group Site: 25
Split Top Group Site: 15
down and dirty
So, you’ve chosen your DREAM spot (good pick btw), now let’s talk about the down and dirty of making it happen.
Canyonland regulations state:
• We will evaluate the use of folding chairs on a case by case basis.
• Your group is responsible for site clean up.
• Your continuous time occupying the area under or adjacent to any arch is limited to 10 minutes when other visitors are present. Provide a break of at least 10 minutes to allow for unobstructed viewing and photography by other park visitors.
• You must restrict wedding activities to slick rock, dry washes, or maintained areas of the park, and you must be in compliance with all park rules and regulations.
• You may not occupy more than half of a parking lot or pull-out. You must allow for free traffic flow for visitors.
• Any wedding locations requested other than above locations will require a full compliance review.
• Your event must comply with all other park regulations.
It also states these activities are prohibited:
• Use of rice, birdseed, or any non-native plant seed.
• Releasing butterflies, doves, or any other wildlife.
• Conducting a wedding within any cultural resource site.
• Establishing tents, caterers, sound systems, tables, etc.
• Use of alcohol
• Playing musical instruments
• Amplified sound
So what can you do? Ohhhh let us tell you, a lot. Get creative! Find some of our faves with 100 things to do on your elopement day – honeybeeweddingsmt.com
Overall, not a bad list of regulations. We are excited to make your elopement vision come true when you elope in Canyonlands National Park.
Traveling to Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is high in the sky and there are two options to reach it– air or land. The desert (while beautiful) omits any water transportation for obvious reasons.
If traveling by air, the closest airport is the Canyonlands Field Airport. This can be reached with Boutique Air which provides daily commuter service from Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Albuquerque. Canyonlands Field Airport is located on US Route 191 just 16 miles north of downtown Moab.
If traveling by car, you have the freedom to narrow down exactly which part of Canyonlands you are ready to see- Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, or The Rivers. While marriage ceremonies are only permitted in Island in The Sky and The Needles, The Maze and The Rivers are great locations to explore if you come a few days early or stay a few days after. Be sure to pack a lot of water and opt for a four-wheeler experience for greater exploration.
Island in the Sky Directions
To reach the Island in the Sky district take US Highway 191 to Utah Highway 313 (10 mi/16 km north of Moab, or 22 mi/35 km south of I-70) and then drive southwest 22 mi/35 km. Driving time to the visitor center from Moab is roughly 40 minutes.
The Needles Directions
The Needles district can be reached by driving 40 miles (60 km) south of Moab or 14 miles (22 km) north of Monticello on US Highway 191, then take Utah Highway 211 roughly 35 miles (56 km) west. Highway 211 ends in the Needles and is the only paved road leading in and out of the district.
You’ve Arrived! Now where are you sleeping?
If a hotel is not the right choice for you, what about a campground? Both Island in the Sky (Willow Flat) and The Needles have campgrounds! Check out those details here. When you elope in Canyonlands National Park, don’t forget to add in time for star photos! Nothing can top being surrounded by those stars at night. Twinkle twinkle little lovebirds.
Ready for some after wedding fun? Hiking is a MUST in Canyonlands
island in the sky hikes
- Mesa Arch (0.5 mi / 0.8 km round trip). This mild walk out to an arch perched right on a cliff edge is great for a sunrise hike. ** We are putting this at the top of our list for a reason! It’s the perfect trail for everyone so you / your mother-in-law / your nephew / that adorable min pin / whoever is joining for your elopement will be able to see the famous Mesa Arch. Also, if you’re dream wedding is being married by an arch, check out our guide: How to Elope in Arches National Park – honeybeeweddingsmt.com
- Grand View Point Trail (2 mi / 3 km round-trip). This trail offers an easy walk out to the very end of the Island in the Sky mesa, including panoramic views. We call this, photo gold.
- Taylor Canyon (20 mi / 32 km round-trip). Starting from the Alcove Spring Trailhead, the trail descends via steep switchbacks to a rocky wash that leads into this broad, steep-walled canyon. Hikers can follow the four-wheel-drive road to the Green River. Four at-large camping permits are available. Groups may encounter significant traffic on the roads as well as on the river. Returning to the trailhead via Upheaval Canyon reduces the round-trip mileage. Now this one is for our expert level hikers. This will add a few days on to your trip but if you have the time, the hike + camping is a once in a lifetime combo. Eloping in Canyonlands National Park and this is a great way to see all there is to see.
the needles hikes
- Cave Spring Trail (0.6 mi / 1 km round-trip). This is a quick and fun trail featuring a historic cowboy line camp and prehistoric pictographs. Two wooden ladders must be climbed to reach the destination. Hellooooo adventure!
- Slickrock Trail (2.4 mi / 4 km round-trip). A little longer and warning of uneven slickrock surface, Slickrock Trail is a step more challenging than Cave Spring Trail. However, several viewpoints and sometimes bighorn sheep make it worth the extra 2 miles.
- Elephant Canyon / Druid Arch (11 mi / 18 km round-trip). Elephant Canyon sounds a bit like Elephant Graveyard from the Lion King, but with much better views! Starting from the Elephant Hill Trailhead this trail offers one of the most spectacular views in the Needles, and you didn’t hear that just from us! It follows the Chesler Park access trail to Elephant Canyon, then travels along the canyon bottom across a mixture of deep sand and loose rock all the way to its upper end. The last 0.25 mile is a steep climb involving one ladder and some scrambling. Are you up for the challenge?
The thrill-seeking couple will enjoy a good four wheeling adventure! The park offers some of the most challenging four-wheel drive roads to be found in the United States.
- White Rim Road. The 100-mile White Rim Road loops around and below the Island mesa top and provides expansive views of the surrounding area. Trips usually take two to three days by four-wheel-drive vehicle or three to four days by mountain bike. All vehicles and bikes must remain on roads. Permits are required for all overnight trips along the White Rim. During the spring and fall, demand for permits frequently exceeds the number available.
- Horse Canyon / Peekaboo. Located in the Needles District, this road travels along canyon bottoms where deep sand, deep water and quicksand are common. Prehistoric rock art may be seen at Peekaboo. There are several arches and Tower Ruin along the Horse Canyon road.
- Lavender Canyon. A road through a canyon in the Needles District where deep sand, deep water and quicksand are common. There are two major creek crossings with steep banks. Many arches and archeological sites may be viewed from the road.
Another adventure, another permit needed! All visitors must have permits for rafting. Outfitters based out of Moab can help arrange trips. Routes down the Green River, either from Ruby Ranch or from Mineral Bottom, are exceptional. Both routes are flat-water, and kayaks, canoes and rafts are all doable without challenge. The trips are wilderness camping at their best: extremely empty – only a few parties a day is typical and beautiful.
moab elopement packages
We offer elopement photography and videography for adventure elopements in Moab and Utah. We are your guides, planners, and best friends. From the very first moment we start talking about your elopement dreams (the consult is free), it’s an immediate connection. That’s when the magic begins! We want to know who you are as a couple, where your love story happened, and where you want it to go. Elope in Moab with us and you’ll leave with friends for life!