How to Elope in Arches National Park, Utah
The other-worldly red rock playground that is Arches National Park has captivated millions of people around the world. The slickrock and gravity-defying arches make for a most beautiful backdrop, one that’s sure to make your wedding day even more stunning. Most of the National Parks allow elopements and ceremonies to take place within their boundaries, but many of them have rules/suggestions when it comes to getting married in their specific park.
To elope in Arches National Park, a special use permit must be secured first. The permit itself is $185, and the application for the permit can be found here.
The permit must be received at least ten days before the requested elopement date, but some locations/events may require up to four weeks for approval. The rangers are typically easy to get ahold of to ask questions about the permits, approved ceremony locations, approved props/decor, etc. In Arches, there are nine preapproved ceremony sites: La Sal Mountains viewpoint, The Windows Section, Sand Dune Arch, Delicate Arch, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Park Avenue, and Devils Garden Campground Area. Since these areas are designated and the only allowed places in the park to get married, there’s a chance that some of them are booked well in advance, so the earlier you’re able to turn in your permit, the better. Some people choose to forgo the permit, simply winging it or risking it, but I strongly advise applying for the permit. You certainly wouldn’t want to be fined or asked to leave on your wedding day because of a permit that wasn’t acquired.
Some of the common restrictions in Arches National Park are the types of props/decor that can be used, typically dogs aren’t allowed, throwing rice/birdseed/other non-native seeds aren’t permitted, among others. The use of alcohol, playing of instruments, and amplified sound are also on the restricted list. These are in place to protect the park and it’s flora and fauna, as well as the experience of the other park guests, and these are great questions to ask a Park Ranger when you ask about your permit!
Some of the approved ceremony locations require hiking, and a few of them are extremely popular (Delicate Arch is arguably the most famous feature in the park). I suggest planning your ceremony time for either sunrise or sunset. This will give you the most flattering light of the day, with the least amount of foot traffic from other visitors. However, if you choose Delicate Arch as your ceremony site, sunset will be a very popular time for other park guests, so a sunrise ceremony may be more desirable. Chat with your photographer about what time and location would make the most sense to you. When it comes to Arches National Park, I typically suggest a sunrise/early morning ceremony so you have lots of time for traveling around the park to take photos, and then you’ll be able to enjoy the sunset afterwards. Midday gets to be quite warm, especially during the summer months, and it may not be comfortable to explore the park in wedding attire during that time.
Here are a few things to be sure to bring with you as well:
Hiking shoes, as well as the shoes you’ll be wearing for your ceremony
Sweater/jacket – the mornings and evenings in Arches tend to be cool, especially if you’re eloping outside the summer season
Water/snacks, maybe some bubbly?
Any easy, cute props, like a rug/blanket to stand on
Headlamp or flashlight if you are shooting at sunset and need to hike down in the dark
If there is a chance of rain, bring a jacket and/or umbrella. KLEM Studios is all for embracing the weather and running around in the rain–it can be so dreamy! Just be sure to have a jacket or blanket along to warm up afterwards
Have a few locations in mind to take photos after the ceremony (your photographer can help you with this as well)
An Arches National Park elopement provides vast, jaw-dropping venue for one of the best days of your lives, filled with gorgeous scenery and amazing photo opportunities. It’s perfect for the adventurous couple that wants to start their forever with an unbeatable view. There are so many more tips and tidbits that I have for couples looking to elope in Arches, from lodging/campground options to hike suggestions to restaurants. I would be happy to share them with you; feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Are you currently planning your elopement, in Arches or otherwise? KLEM Studios has special elopement packages set up for the wanderlust, deeply in-love couples that want their wedding day photographed in an authentic, meaningful way. Click here to inquire about our options.