Man and women holding hands during desert elopement

Top 5 National Parks to Elope At


HEY - I'm Annette

An Arizona based Wedding, Elopement & Couple's Photographer. I am here for the wild, messy and imperfect moments. Let me help you create an experience that will last a lifetime.


May 4, 2022

I could not be more excited to share my top 5 national parks to elope at! Travelling has always been a huge passion of mine, and that’s why I love helping my couples plan their adventurous elopements so much. If you’re trying to figure out where the heck to elope and need some ideas, you’re most definitely in the right place. Keep reading to learn all about my top 5 national parks to elope at! 

Zion National Park

Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is an STUNNING place to elope. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, so here’s some information you need to know if you’re planning your elopement here. 

How to get there

If you’re travelling by plane, my recommendation is to either fly into the Las Vegas International Airport (300 miles away) or even better, the Salt Lake City International Airport (170 miles away). If you’re already located in SLC, there’s also a few regional airports you can choose from! Here’s the link to check their flight schedules – 

St. George Airport

Cedar City Airport

Where to stay

If you want the full experience and are planning on camping out for your elopement, I’ve got some great news for you. Zion has 3 different campgrounds to choose from, but I highly recommend making a reservation to ensure your spot!

Lava Point Campground – Located 1 hour away from Zion

South Campground – Located in Zion

Watchman Campground – Located in Zion

If camping isn’t really your thing, I’ve still got you covered! Here are a few Airbnb’s that are definitely worth checking out, all located in Zion’s surrounding cities. 

Idle Wild Tiny House – Located in Apple Valley, UT

The Boundary Cabin – Located in Kane County, UT

The Kolob Camper – Located in New Harmony, UT

Fees, permits, and passes

In order to get married at Zion National Park, you must obtain a Special Use Permit. The application fee is $100 and you have to submit it at LEAST three weeks before your elopement to even be considered! If you want my advice, I would recommend applying as soon as you’ve set a date for your big day. Here are all the details you need! 

Mt. Rainier

If you want to elope while enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Mt. Rainier should definitely be at the top of your list. Not only is Washington such a pretty state, but it’s also a fantastic place to honeymoon if you don’t want to spend too much time and money on travelling for your post-elopement getaway. 

How to get there

The closest airport to Mt. Rainer is definitely the SeaTac International Airport (85 miles away) – so I would highly recommend flying into there if you can. Although if you want more of a drive, you could always fly into the Portland International Airport (130 miles away) and take your time enjoying the scenery! 

Where to stay

There are so many options to choose from when staying at or near Mt. Rainier. There’s quite a few backcountry camping sites to choose from, but keep in mind you’ll need a wilderness permit in order to stay there. On the other hand, the three drive in campgrounds located near the park are:

Cougar Rock Campground

Ohanapecosh Campground

White River Campground

And the two on-site hotels for Mt. Rainier are: 

National Park Inn

Paradise Inn

Fees, permits, and passes

When it comes to eloping at Mt. Rainier, you’ll need a Special Use Permit, in addition to the standard park entrance fee ($30 per vehicle or $15 per person). And if you’re planning on camping on-site, you’ll also need to make sure you make a camping reservation through

man and women smiling at each other on wedding day

Joshua Tree

Looking to head to California for a warm, desert elopement? I’m all here for it! Joshua Tree offers such unique scenery and beautiful views that are perfect for any adventurous couple. Not to mention, SoCal has SO much to offer in terms of stays, activities, and even honeymoon spots. Let’s get into it!

How to get there

The closest airport to Joshua Tree is definitely the Palm Springs airport, so if you’re planning on flying, I highly recommend you try and land there. However, if you’re located in LA, San Diego, Las Vegas, or Arizona, JT is only a few hours away! It’s important to note that if you’re using a GPS, please don’t solely rely on those directions. They can direct you on roads that your vehicle may not be so fond of! There’s three entrances to choose from, the South, West, and North. If you’re planning your visit, be sure to decide which entrance you’ll be driving into and obtain the necessary directions so that you’re not caught in a bind. 

Where to stay

While there aren’t any hotels located in Joshua Tree, there are SO many campgrounds to choose from! And let me tell you, experiencing Joshua Tree under the stars is an experience that you’ll never forget. So if you and your boo are into that, I would highly recommend it! If not, there’s lots of Airbnb’s to choose from, with a few linked down below. 

The Joshua Tree Geodome

Western Hills Estate Cabin

Luna Joshua Tree

Fees, permits, and passes

In order to visit Joshua Tree at any time, you’ll need to pick up a Park Entrance Pass, which conveniently you can get online! You can also get one the day of at North and West park entrances, as well as numerous other spots nearby. And as I’m sure you can guess… you’ll need to obtain a Special Use Permit in order to tie the knot at JT. You can visit this link and scroll down to “Special Use Permits” to find the downloadable application PDF.  

White Sands National Park

Okay you guys, White Sands is truly one of the most unique places to get married. No wonder it’s on my list of top 5 national parks to elope at! Located in the beautiful state of New Mexico, I have no doubt you’ll regret choosing this location to marry the love of your life. If you’re planning getting married at White Sands, please make sure you do extensive research on how to hold a rule-abiding wedding. There are lots of things to take into consideration! 

How to get there

The closest airport to White Sands is in El Paso, TX, which is approximately 85 miles from the park. If you’re coming from there, there’s two different ways to drive into the park – 


Through Las Cruces – 1.5 hour drive 


Through Alamogordo – 1.5 hour drive 


Be sure to fill up your gas tank in either of these towns before driving into the park! 

Where to stay

There isn’t any lodging or campgrounds located at White Sands, but there are plenty of options in Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Similarly, if you’re looking to camp, there are two public campgrounds located within 40 miles of the park – 


Oliver Lee State Park 


Aguirre Springs Recreation Area


There aren’t many Airbnb options located near White Sands, so here are some hotel options to choose from – 


Tavares Inn – Located in Alamogordo 


Hampton Inn – Located in Alamogordo 


Fairfield Inn and Suites – Located in Alamogordo 


Fees, permits, and passes

The first thing you’ll need to get done is submit your Special Use Permit request at LEAST 30 days prior to your wedding date. If you can submit it sooner, I highly recommend doing that. There is a designated Group Use Area that you can reserve, and keep in mind that’s the only area of the park that won’t be open to the public during your event! When it comes to entrance fees, guests attending the wedding ceremony will not be charged the standard entrance fee. On the other hand, if you’re also holding your reception at the park, they will be required to pay the fee if they plan on attending. 


Being a classic, breathtaking experience, you can’t go wrong with eloping at Yellowstone National Park. Between the greenery, waterfalls, and peaceful atmosphere, you and your partner will be in awe spending the most important day of your lives here. And I can’t wait to be there to photograph it! 

How to get there

If you’re planning on flying, these are the three airports that are available all year round – 


Cody and Jackson – Located in Wyoming


Bozeman and Billings Airports – Located in Montana 


Idaho Falls – Located in Idaho


Yellowstone has 5 different park entrances, with multiple being closed during the wintertime due to weather conditions. So before you go, be sure to do your research to see what your options are for the time you’re going! 

Where to stay

When it comes to staying at Yellowstone, you have no shortage of options! There are 9 different hotels/cabins to choose from, twelve different campgrounds, and numerous backcountry campsites. Be sure to book your reservations well in advance because lodging fills up super quick! This link will take you to the lodging availability. 

Fees, permits, and passes

Not to sound like a broken record over here, but you’ll need to apply for a Special Use Permit if you and your boo want to get married at Yellowstone. When submitting your application, you’ll have to pay a nonrefundable fee of $75, so keep that one in mind! You can submit your application 2-4 weeks prior to your event, but again, as soon as your date is set I recommend applying. 


Well those are my top 5 national parks to elope at! If you’re in the market for an elopement photographer for your special day, I would love to chat with you and answer any questions you might have. To get in touch with me, fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you ASAP! In the meantime, I would love for you to check out this blog post. 


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HEY - I'm Annette!

An Arizona based Wedding, Elopement & Couple's Photographer. I am here for the wild, messy and imperfect moments. Let me help you create an experience that will last a lifetime.


Annette Ambrose

Weddings, Elopements, & COUPLES