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How to Elope in Zion National Park [Updated for 2023]

bride and groom sitting together zion national park

Post Summary: Below is a complete Zion elopement guide, walking you through everything you need to know to elope in Zion National Park, with updated info for 2023! Get ready to fall in LOVE with this desert paradise, a true gem of southern Utah that makes for an absolutely epic elopement destination.

Welcome to this Zion National Park elopement guide, where I’m going to be taking you step by step through how to elope in Zion! From the reasons why you should elope in Zion to Zion wedding permit info, all the way to some of the most fun activities to do + nearby lodging to book for your trip, you’ll leave this guide confident and ready to plan your perfect Zion elopement. Let’s get right into this desert goodness!

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

Where is Zion National Park?

Zion National Park is one of Utah’s 5 incredible national parks, boasting exactly the type of landscapes you’d expect of southern Utah: massive sandstone cliffs, vast canyon & valley views as far as your eye can see, and canvases of orange, red, pink, and green blending together to create absolute magic. Zion is located in the southwest corner of Utah, close to the Arizona & Nevada border along State Route 9 and near the town of Springdale. 

zion national park  landscape

How to get to Zion National Park

By plane:

If you’ll be flying to your Zion elopement, you’ll need to rent a car to get you to the park, as there aren’t any airports closer than an hour from the park.

The nearest international airport to Zion National Park is Harry Reid (formerly McCarran) International Airport in Las Vegas, about a 3-hour drive away. 

However, I’d recommend flying into St. George Regional Airport, which is located about 1 hour from Zion National Park. It’ll most likely be more expensive and time consuming, since you’ll need to take an extra flight from a larger airport, but it’ll get you much closer to Zion and your drive will be way shorter!

bride and groom holding flowers

By car

If you’d rather take a road trip to Zion National Park & be able to explore freely in your own car, do itttt – and take full advantage! The roads that you’ll take, both driving to Zion and driving around Zion, provide so many breathtaking views that you have to dedicate time to enjoying. I’d recommend giving yourselves plenty of time to enjoy the drive, rather than trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible – book some Airbnb’s along the way and turn your road trip into a whole adventure in itself! Then, you can always make the drive home after your elopement a bit faster if you need to, with less stops, since you’ve already gotten to enjoy all of the incredible scenery.

zion national park landscape

Zion National Park hours

Zion National Park is open year-round, so you can technically elope in the park at any time of year – the only parts of the park that have specific open hours are the visitor centers & park stores.

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

Why Elope in Zion National Park?

There are TONS of reasons to elope in Zion National Park, as you’ll find out as you continue reading this article – but here are a few of the top ones to start off:

  • The desert landscapes are incredible, with massive river-filled canyons, expansive valley views, slot canyons, beautiful natural color palettes, & more
  • It’s within driving distance of more incredible destinations (Bryce Canyon National Park & the Glen Canyon Recreation Area are both about 1.5 hours away)
  • There are tons of amazing lodging options nearby
  • Incredible opportunities for outdoor adventure, including hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, rappelling, and even kayaking/paddle boarding nearby
  • Epic sunrises + sunsets in the warm-weather months
  • There’s no waiting period for Utah marriage licenses

If you know you want to elope in a beautiful desert landscape but haven’t officially decided on Utah yet, consider Arizona! I’ve got an Arizona Elopement Guide that you can check out to learn all about eloping in AZ, complete with all the best elopement locations, the best places to stay, and more.

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

FAQ’s About Eloping in Zion National Park

Can I get married in Zion National Park?

Yes, you can legally get married in Zion National Park, as long as you obtain the necessary permits and get your Utah marriage license! Keep reading for more details on Zion wedding permits + Utah marriage licenses.

Do I need a ticket/pass to get into Zion National Park?

You will need a recreational use pass to enter Zion National Park – either a 7-day pass or a valid annual pass.

Are dogs allowed in Zion National Park?

Unfortunately, dogs aren’t permitted on any trails or wilderness areas in Zion National Park, except for the Pa’rus Trail that begins at the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

How do you travel around Zion National Park?

You can travel around Zion National Park by car, by foot, by bike, or by shuttle/bus. I definitely recommend making use of the Zion Canyon Shuttle System, which offers shuttles that will take you through different areas of the park for free! The shuttles run daily from March through November, and you can find up-to-date schedules here.

bride and groom hugging zion national park

What is the Best Time of Year to Elope in Zion National Park?

Although the best time of year to elope in Zion completely depends on what you want your unique elopement experience to look like, I recommend eloping in Zion in the spring or fall for the best, most mild weather, and to avoid the summer crowds! Below are the pros & cons of eloping in Zion during each season.

Eloping in Zion in the spring

Pros:

  • Park facilities are open
  • Shuttles are running
  • Fewer crowds than summer
  • Milder temperatures for hiking

Cons:

  • Certain trails may be closed due to river flooding, rockslides, or leftover snow from winter
  • Rainy weather

Eloping in Zion in the summer

Pros:

  • Longer days + more light
  • Beautiful sunrises + sunsets
  • Park facilities are open
  • Shuttles are running
  • All trails are usually open
  • Best time for camping

Cons:

  • Heaviest crowds + lots of hikers on trails
  • Travel + accommodations are usually more expensive
  • Thunderstorms + extreme heat are common

Eloping in Zion in the fall

Pros:

  • Park facilities are open
  • Shuttles are running
  • Fewer crowds than summer
  • Milder temperatures for hiking
  • Most trails are open

Cons:

  • Temperatures are chilly in the mornings + evenings

Eloping in Zion in the winter

Pros:

  • Fewest crowds + foot traffic
  • Cheapest travel + accommodations
  • Private vehicles are allowed on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive

Cons:

  • Park facilities are closed
  • Shuttles aren’t running
  • Snow + colder temperatures prevent many outdoor activities
  • Trail + park access is limited
bride and groom kissing zion national park

Zion National Park Wedding Permits

Zion National Park Entry Pass

Before we get into wedding-specific permit info, you will need a recreational use pass to enter Zion since it’s a national park! There are a few options to consider, depending on how long you’ll be visiting Zion for + how often you’ll visit throughout the year:

  • Weekly Pass: $35; valid for 7 days for 1 vehicle
  • Annual Pass: $70; valid for 1 year for admission into Zion

These passes can be obtained in-person at Zion entrance stations.

You can also purchase an annual America the Beautiful pass, which grants admission into all federal recreation sites (including national parks) for one whole year, for $80!

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

Zion National Park Special Use Permit

To have your wedding or elopement in Zion National Park, you will need to get a Special Use Permit, regardless of the size of your group. 

Where can I elope in Zion?

There are a very limited number of locations you can have your wedding in Zion National Park, listed below:

  • Zion Canyon Area:
    • Temple of Sinawa
    • Menu Falls
    • Zion Lodge Lawn
    • Nature Center North Lawn
    • South Campground Amphitheater
  • Kolob Canyon Area:
    • Timber Creek Overlook

Can you get married at Angels Landing in Zion?

Unfortunately, you cannot get married at Angels Landing in Zion National Park, as it’s not one of the permitted park wedding locations.

How many guests can you have at a Zion National Park wedding?

Zion National Park won’t approve wedding permits for groups larger than 100 people, but some of the designated wedding locations have even smaller group restrictions.

Below are the maximum guest counts allowed at each of the designated wedding locations in Zion National Park:

  • Zion Canyon Area:
    • Temple of Sinawa:  35
    • Menu Falls: 10
    • Zion Lodge Lawn: 75
    • Nature Center North Lawn: 50
    • South Campground Amphitheater: 100
  • Kolob Canyon Area:
    • Timber Creek Overlook: 20 (and 4 vehicles)

How much does it cost to get married in Zion National Park?

The application fee for a Zion Special Use Wedding Permit costs $100, and your wedding may be subject to various service fees, or an additional monitoring fee of $50/hour depending on the location & complexity of your ceremony.

How do you apply for a Zion National Park Special Use Permit?

Follow these steps to get your Zion National Park wedding permit:

  1. Complete this application form
  2. Submit your application & $100 payment at least 3 weeks prior to your requested date email your application to zion_commercialservices@nps.gov & pay via this link
  3. Wait to hear from the park about the status of your application & the necessary steps to secure your final permit
bride and groom hugging zion national park

Utah Marriage License + Laws

In addition to getting your Zion Special Use Permit, you’ll also need to get your Utah marriage license to get married in Zion National Park!

Below is a list of the basic Utah marriage laws that you need to be aware of when planning your legal Utah elopement ceremony:

  • Minimum age: 15 (with consent from a legal guardian)
  • Witnesses required: 2 over the age of 18
  • Waiting period: None
  • License is valid for: 30 days
  • Blood test required: No
  • Utah residency required: No

The fee for a Utah marriage license varies by county.

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

To apply for your Utah marriage license, you’ll both need to visit a Utah county clerk’s office in-person with valid picture ID such as a passport, birth certificate, or driver’s license. You’ll apply in-person, and once you get your license, you can use it immediately – there’s no waiting period! Be sure to have your legal ceremony take place within 30 days, with 2 witnesses present over the age of 18, or else you’ll have to go through the process again & get a new, valid license.

bride and groom holding each other zion national park

10 Best Places to Elope in Zion National Park

Onto the big question of the day: WHERE should you elope in Zion National Park?

Here are the 10 best Zion elopement locations, including designated ceremony spots within the park, trails that are great for portraits, and a few locations that aren’t technically a part of the national park but are super close & accessible from Zion!

1. Zion Overlook

Note: Zion Overlook is NOT one of the approved Zion wedding locations. This is a great location at which to take elopement portraits, not to have your ceremony.

2. Observation Point

Note: Observation Point is NOT one of the approved Zion wedding locations. This is a great location at which to take elopement portraits, not to have your ceremony.

3. Temple of Sinawava

4. Menu Falls

5. Zion Lodge Lawn

6. Timber Creek Overlook

7. Anasazi Plateau

Anasazi Plateau is actually BLM Land and isn’t a part of Zion, but is located in the nearby town of Springdale!

8. Snow Canyon State Park

Snow Canyon State Park is obviously not part of Zion National Park – it’s about an hour away and super accessible if you want to visit both Zion & Snow Canyon during your trip!

9. Sand Hollow State Park

Once again, Sand Hollow State Park isn’t part of Zion, but it’s very close & easy to drive to from Zion, just 50 minutes away.

10. Slot canyons

Note: Various slot canyons are NOT on the approved list of Zion wedding locations. These canyons are great locations at which to take elopement portraits, not to have your ceremony.

Not positive yet that Zion National Park is the Utah elopement location for you? Don’t worry, there are SO many more epic places in Utah – check out my full guide to the 23 Best Places to Elope in Utah in 2023 for all of my favorite destinations!

bride and groom holding flowers zion national park

8 Fun Things to Do in Zion National Park

When I tell you to take advantage of your time in the breathtaking landscape that is Zion National Park, I mean it!! One of the BEST ways to make your Zion elopement the experience of a lifetime is to find fun + memorable activities to do with each other, and with any family/friends you invite to come along. Here are 8 super fun things to do in Zion National Park, no matter the level of adventure/thrill you’re looking for (or not looking for)! 

1. Hike the iconic Angels Landing (and get your Angels Landing hike permit)

2. Experience the Zion landscape on horseback

3. Enjoy aerial views of Zion from a helicopter

4. Go on a mountain biking adventure through the trails

5. Take a scenic Jeep tour

6. Pack a picnic to enjoy after your ceremony

7. Go stargazing once it gets dark

8. Kayak in Sand Hollow State Park nearby

bride and groom standing together zion national park

What to Pack for A Zion National Park Elopement

Eloping in a national park means you’re eloping out in the great outdoors, where it’s essential to be prepared and plan carefully for your adventure + anything that could go wrong or unexpectedly. In addition to your elopement attire (dress, tops, bottoms, accessories) and your ceremony items (vow books, marriage certificate), here’s a quick list of items you won’t want to forget to bring along with you for your Zion National Park elopement!

  • Water (multiple bottles – especially if you’re eloping in the hot summer)
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Proper footwear
  • Hiking backpack
  • Headlamp
  • Hiking poles (depending on what hike(s) you’ll be taking)
  • Clothing layers (rain jacket, sweater, etc.) – you’d be surprised at how chilly the desert can get at night!
  • Downloaded offline road + trail maps
bride and groom holding each other zion national park

Best Lodging Near Zion National Park

Now I know I’ve already given you a TON of reasons that Zion is an incredible place to elope, but I’ve got another big one: the lodging options are out of this world. Seriously – the area surrounding Zion National Park has some of the most amazing lodging you could ask for, with so many incredible options that allow you to experience all the stunning landscapes of Zion as soon as you get out of bed!

Here are some of the best places to stay near Zion National Park, whether you want to glamp in an upscale, luxury safari-inspired tent in the desert, hit the hay in a cozy resort just minutes from the park entrance, or stay in a tiny home with a private hot tub. No matter what you choose, you’ll be able to have not only an amazing adventure elopement ceremony in the national park, but also a freaking epic place to come back to at the end of the day!

Zion glamping:

Zion lodges:

Zion Airbnbs:

bride and groom holding each other zion national park

Meet Your Zion National Park Elopement Photographer

Now that you’ve put SO much dang work into planning your dream adventure elopement in Zion, you’ll probably want somebody to document it for you to remember for the rest of your lives! That’s where I come in – I’m Katie, a Zion elopement photographer who is so freaking in love with Zion & everything about it. I’m obsessed with the desert, the insane landscapes, the epic opportunities for outdoor exploration, and the many nearby destinations that you can visit in addition to Zion. You can learn more about me + my approach to elopement photography on my website, and take a look at my Zion elopement package below to find out what I offer!

Zion Elopement Packages + Pricing

  • 4 hours – 2 days of elopement photography coverage anywhere in Utah
  • Your own personal elopement guide & consultant
    • Unique and personalized location scouting
    • vendor recommendations
    • permit and marriage license assistance
    • hand-crafted elopement timeline
    • Created just-for-you activity list
    • Unlimited guides and resources
    • 100+ page How to Elope Guidebook
  • Optional complimentary officiant service
  • Digital online gallery with full resolution image and printing rights
  • Sneak peak images within 1 week
  • Photographer travel fees covered anywhere in Utah

Starting at $6,500

bride and groom holding hands zion national park

Zion National Park Elopement Vendors

Finally, here are some incredible Utah elopement vendors that you can hire to help bring your dream elopement experience to life!

Zion elopement rentals: St. George Party Rentals

Zion elopement florists: The Potted Pansy, Mille Fleur Design

Zion elopement hair & makeup: Brandt Beauty, Lexi Harker Beauty


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