If romantic, boho, martian vibes are your thing, then eloping in Utah is FOR YOU, my friend. There is literally not another place in the US that can match Utah in its vast desert landscapes, full of otherworldly colors and shapes that will leave your jaw on the freaking floor. That’s why I believe it’s without a doubt one of the BEST places to have an adventure elopement in the entire country, and why you should consider having a Utah elopement! This desert dream world does require a bit of planning when it comes to choosing the best location, as there are so many to choose from, so I’ve gathered a list of my top 6 favorite Utah elopement locations to help you out.
For each location, I’ll be covering what the scenery + vibe is like, what permits you’ll need, and the best time of year to elope there. And full disclosure: I haven’t been to all of the places on this list (yet!), so not all of the sections will have photos of that precise location—but nevertheless, every photo WILL give you tons and tons of breathtaking desert elopement inspiration. I’m also a total pro at location-scouting & getting to know new places, so I’ll be ready to explore any of these with ya whenever you are 😉
We’ll start off strong with two locations in one of my all-time favorite parts of Utah, Moab!! First up is Arches National Park, which is located just north of Moab and is bordered by the Colorado River. This is one of the most insane places you will EVER get to see in your lifetime, boasting massive stunning rock formations, varying shades of red and orange that glow under the sunlight, and over 2,000 natural stone arches (the most iconic part of the park, of course). It’s a red-rock paradise that’ll truly make you feel like you’ve somehow gotten on a spaceship and traveled all the way to Mars😅
Spring is hands down the best time of year to elope in Utah, so that’s going to be my answer for most (if not all) of the locations on this list! Because this is the most beautiful time of year, with the best weather, it’s also the most crowded time of year—so plan to schedule your elopement around the crowds. In the spring, you can expect temperatures to fall between 58-70 degrees (aka heaven!), wildflowers to be freshly blooming, and waterfalls to be gushing + at their peak.
As far as what time of day to elope, I’d recommend eloping at Arches National Park at sunrise or sunset for the most dramatic, beautiful photos. The sun just hits different against the bright reds and oranges, and sunrise is usually when there will be the least crowds!
In order to have your wedding or elopement inside of Arches National Park, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit, which you can apply for up to one year in advance. They request that you apply a minimum of four weeks from your desired date, but you should definitely apply as early as possible to make sure they have plenty of time to process your request! Waiting till the last minute may also mean that the location & date you want are already booked by another group.
Here’s how to get your Arches National Park wedding permit:
The permit doesn’t cover your entrance into the park, so keep in mind that you and everyone in your group will have to pay the standard entrance fees, as well as make a timed entry reservation if necessary.
Because Arches National Park has become such a popular destination for elopements and weddings in recent years (for good reason!), they’ve got slightly stricter rules in place than some other parks have when it comes to ceremonies in the park. You’ll need to stick to a list of 6 specified ceremony locations, each of which as a different maximum group size:
If none of these locations fit the vibe you’re going for, you can reach out to the park office and ask about a different location, but there’s no guarantee they’ll approve it. It’s on a case-by-case basis, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Another one of Moab’s natural wonders is Canyonlands National Park, which is about 30 minutes southwest of Arches National Park and is equally as spectacular. With seemingly never ending canyons, uniquely-shaped buttes, colorful eroded landscapes, and mesas galore, Canyonlands is an amazing park for any kind of couple; whether you want to hike into the backcountry or drive up to a panoramic viewpoint in your car, there’s options for everyone!
A really cool part about Canyonlands is that its landscapes are carved by the Colorado River and the Green River, which separate the park into four unique districts: Island in the Sky (which is closest to Moab), The Needles, The Maze, and the actual rivers themselves. Island in the Sky is probably the most iconic district, with insane views overlooking the desert that are easy to access via drive OR hike, but The Needles & The Maze are just as epic if you’re down for a bit more of a remote adventure!
You already know that spring is the best time to elope at Canyonlands National Park, and I’d recommend visiting early in the morning if you can to beat the crowds + get cooler temperatures that are great for hiking. However, sunset is also freaking spectacular, because you get to watch the sun slowly go down over the vast desert landscapes and paint the sky a gorgeous array of colors—there just may be more crowds enjoying it with you.
You can apply for your Canyonlands National Park Special Use Permit no less than four weeks & no more than one year in advance, just like Arches, but I’d still recommend getting on top of it as early as you can! It’s also helpful to do some research on the busiest weekends in the park so you can avoid massive crowds, but in general, weekdays will be the best time to elope if you want a little more privacy.
Here’s how to get your Canyonlands National Park wedding permit (spoiler alert—the process is the same for both of Moab’s national parks):
Make sure you also budget for the standard park entrance fees for you, your guests, and your vendors!
Similar to Arches National Park, Canyonlands has a specified list of approved wedding locations that you can hold your ceremony at, but others will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Here are the locations where you can hold your wedding ceremony in Canyonlands National Park (all of which are located at Island in the Sky or The Needles), along with the maximum group size allowed at each one:
Loving the idea of eloping in the Moab area?! Make sure you read through my Complete Guide to a Moab Elopement after this!
How cool would it be to get married at Utah’s very first national park?! I’m convinced that Zion is one of the most breathtaking places on the planet thanks to its giant sandstone cliffs, its gorgeous color scheme of pinks, reds, and oranges, and its expansive canyons that make you feel so freaking small. Just IMAGINE you and your babe saying your vows along one of the many iconic trails that Zion has to offer, with these magical southern Utah landscapes serving as your backdrop—I can think of literally no better way to kick off your life as a married couple😍 You can even visit Zion’s famous Emerald Pools, which are these gorgeous bodies of water that the Virgin River flows into, with waterfalls and dreamy hanging gardens. 10/10 would recommend.
Weekends are the busiest time of the week at Zion (obviously), so try to elope on a weekday in the spring—and bonus points if you’re down for an early start to elope at sunrise! When you elope at Zion in the spring, you’ll find gorgeous wildflowers covering the park, cascading waterfalls (like the ones at those Emerald Pools I was talking about), lots of wildlife, and perfect daytime temperatures for hiking + exploring without getting too hot. You’d be surprised at how cool the desert can get at night, even on a hot day, so prepare for chillier evenings if you want to be out exploring at night!
The permitting process for weddings at Zion National Park is a little different than Moab’s national parks, and they don’t have quite as much info available on the park website, but don’t worry—I’ve got the most important stuff laid out for ya right here. You’ll need to get a Special Use Permit if you want to get married at Zion (shocker!), which you must apply for at least three weeks in advance of the date you want to elope. If you’re planning for a date a bit further out, then definitely apply earlier on in your planning process!
Follow these steps to get your Zion National Park wedding permit:
You may need to pay additional monitoring fees if the park requires you to have a member of the park staff present, but that’s typically only necessary for larger groups.
Zion has an approved list of wedding locations where you can host your ceremony, and no other areas in the park are permitted. Keep in mind that permits won’t be approved for any locations with groups over 100 people, so having a small wedding is your best bet at Zion! Some sites have different restrictions than others, and each one has a max group size that’s allowed. Here are the locations where you can have your wedding ceremony at Zion National Park, plus the number of people allowed there:
Okay now I know I’ve said that basically every location on this list has otherworldly views, but if there is ANY place that literally feels like a whole other planet, it’s Bryce Canyon without a doubt. Ever heard of hoodoos?! It’s such a funny-sounding term, but it’s the name of those weird-looking, spire-shaped rock formations that cover Bryce Canyon! These crazy rocks & their gorgeous crimson color are absolutely iconic and draw visitors to Bryce Canyon from EVERYWHERE; they seriously feel like they were just dropped down to Earth from a wildly beautiful planet we don’t know about. Whether you wanna take in the insane views from a peaceful overlook accessible by car, you want to go horseback riding through the canyons, or you want to hike all around the park, you will never forget your time at Bryce Canyon and the unique, colorful scenery that surrounds you everywhere you look.
As far as hiking goes, the best time to visit Bryce Canyon is typically in the morning before temperatures heat up too much. But if you visit in the spring, you’ll have more mild temperatures throughout the day & cooler mornings/evenings, so you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to scheduling your ceremony and adventures! Sunrise at Bryce Canyon is absolutely unforgettable, with the golden glow of the rising sun shining down on the crimson-colored rocks and colorful canyons, but nighttime is just as magical under the clear, dark, and star-filled sky. Stargazing in any of these Utah desert destinations is simply a MUST!
Here are the steps to getting your permit:
Unfortunately Bryce Canyon is pretty limited when it comes to permitted wedding locations, as there are only two spots in the entire park where ceremonies are allowed: Sunset Point, overlooking the main amphitheater, or the Silent City at Sunset Point (see both on a map here). But don’t let that get you down—you can still take portraits in other parts of the park as long as you stay on trails! The max number of guests allowed at either of these locations is 30, and no probs, chairs, or setups are allowed.
By now, you know that Utah is famous for its out-of-this-world red and orange landscapes, but if you’re looking for something a little different, check out the Bonneville Salt Flats. Spanning 300,000 acres of the western Utah desert, the Salt Flats are an iconic spot for photoshoots of all kinds, and you’ve probablyyyy seen them on your Instagram feed at some point. It’s technically a densely packed “salt pan,” AKA the remnants of the dried-up lake, which make for SUCH a unique and epic landscape! The contrast of the bright white salt against vast, clear blue skies is dreamy AF and looks freaking spectacular for elopements. I’ll never get tired of the blank canvas the Salt Flats provide—you can really make anything look good here, from boho neutral color schemes to bright and bold palettes🔥
The Salt Flats are open all year-round, so you can elope here any time! If you want to take advantage of the expansive, open scenery and get as much light as possible, definitely plan your elopement when it’s dry during the summer months. As magical as sunshine on the Salt Flats is, though, rainy days here are equally as gorgeous in their own right; a layer of water will remain on top of the flats when it rains, and it creates an unbelievable reflection of the mountains that surround the flats. No matter what the weather is like on your elopement day, cross your fingers for a colorful sunset, because the combination of these wild views + a painted sky will be one of the most jaw-dropping experiences of your life!
It costs $0 to visit the Salt Flats, so no need to worry about paying entrance fees—but you will need a permit to get married there! There’s limited information available online about the permitting process, so you’ll want to reach out to the Bureau of Land Management Salt Lake Field Office via email to inquire about getting a permit.
You can get married anywhere on the Salt Flats and because it’s such a huge location, you’ll be able to easily find privacy for your ceremony!
Last but not least on this list is Antelope Island State Park, which is a totally different kind of location than most of the others I’ve shown you; instead of vibrant red rocks, here you’ll find vast grasslands filled with primitive campsites and a variety of wildlife. The island is the largest of ten islands within the Great Salt Lake, located about a 2-hour drive from Salt Lake City—so you could totally take a day trip here for some extra portraits if you’re getting married at the Salt Flats. With a variety of recreational opportunities including biking, hiking, and swimming in the salty lake, this location is a huge draw for summer visitors and eloping couples alike, as well as packs of wild roaming buffalo and millions of unique bird species! So you might run into some non-humans here as well (or see them from afar)😉
Just like the rest of these destinations, spring is definitely the most desirable time to elope at Antelope Island! The crowds are MUCH more manageable this time of year than during the summer, and with such a vast & spread-out landscape, it’s not hard to find private spots to hold your ceremony. Temperatures in the spring range between 58-70 degrees, and this is when the greenery is at its most lush, as well as most wildflowers at their peak bloom!
To get married at Antelope Island State Park, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit as well as pay the regular day-use fee. Here’s how to get your permit!
There are four designated elopement and wedding ceremony locations at Antelope Island State Park:
Each location is unique and beautiful in its own way! Because Fielding Garr Ranch is a historic site, it’s much more monitored and protected than the others: vehicles are only allowed in designated parking areas, no decorations are allowed, and there are additional site rental fees you’ll need to pay. However, this is a unique location in that 10-12 picnic tables are available, so there is room for a larger group!
Okay soooo do you feel like eloping in Utah yet?! I’m telling you, I love the mountains and the forests of the PNW, but the Utah deserts are just a whole other level of epic. You truly can’t go wrong getting married at ANY of these locations and if you just can’t decide, I’ll be totally happy to help you out as your Utah elopement photographer! You can tell me allll about your vision for your dream day in the desert and we’ll go through your options + pick the one that best fits the vibe you’re going for. So if you’re interested in getting the planning process started for your elopement in Utah, I’d love to connect 😉 Don’t hesitate to reach out for more info, and be sure to check out my Utah elopement packages and pricing too!
If you’re not quite set on Utah as your elopement location, there are soooo many other incredible places to elope in the western part of the US—here are elopement guides for my fave PNW locations!