Tucked in the red rocks of Utah, Capitol Reef National Park is a magical place – with cliffs, canyons, rocky formations and beautiful views, it’s the perfect elopement location for adventurous couples! Planning an intimate wedding at Capitol Reef is unbelievably exciting, but you’ll need a little guidance along the way – so this guide will tell you everything you need to elope in Capitol Reef National Park.Capitol Reef National Park Wedding Locations & Places to Elope
Capitol Reef National Park was once referred to as the “land of the sleeping rainbow,” because of the contrast between vibrant multicolored rocks, green riverbanks, and the blue sky. There are plenty of incredible elopement locations throughout the park, and choosing just one can be hard!
One thing to keep in mind is that the park only allows ceremonies around picnic areas, campgrounds, or other front-country areas, which typically means that you need to be able to reach the location by car. But, you can always go on a hike and take photos afterwards, and you can get more information about approved locations when you apply for your wedding permit!
Here are some of the best places to elope, and some of the best places to go in Capitol Reef National Park!
The Surprise Canyon Route is the perfect trail for couples who want to hike without doing anything too strenuous. The hike is 2.2 miles long, through a deep canyon in the Waterpocket Fold area of the Park. Waterpocket Fold is the most remote area of Capitol Reef, making this a great place for an elopement!
This hike is a little more strenuous, with steep switchbacks in the beginning. Afterwards, it becomes more moderate, taking you through beautiful views of Chimney Rock – a natural rocky spire that towers over the road – and around Mummy Cliff. There are countless viewpoints and overlooks along the trail, with breathtaking views!
For an easily accessible overlook, you can tie the knot at Sunset Point, with dramatic views of the rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park. As the name suggests, this place is gorgeous at sunset! The sun lights up the red rocks, and it’s an incredible backdrop for a ceremony.
You can elope in Capitol Reef National Park any time of year, but the weather does change a lot with the seasons!
Summers get pretty hot, but not quite as toasty as other parts of Utah – the weather at Capitol Reef usually stays under 100 degrees, so you can definitely have some outdoor adventures if you look for trails with shade.
When the weather starts to cool down, fall can be one of the best times to tie the knot at Capitol Reef! The daytime temperatures are more mild and comfortable, so this is a great time for hiking, biking, and more. There are some groves of fruit trees in the park, and they peak in the fall! Since summer is the most popular time to visit, eloping in the fall will also be a good way to avoid crowds.
Winters are quiet in the park, so it can be a unique time for a wedding, as you’ll have the park mostly to yourself! The weather is pretty cold, and the area gets moderate snowfall, so you can see the desert with a dusting of snow over the red rocks. You’ll need to bundle up, but it’ll be a one of a kind elopement day!
In the spring, the weather is kind of unpredictable, and this is the rainiest season. But, the rain storms are mild, and usually don’t last long! The showers also mean that flowers start blooming, so you can see the landscape colored by desert flowers. Closer to the end of spring can be an amazing time to elope at Capitol Reef National Park, as the weather gets warm but the summer crowds haven’t arrived yet!
To elope in the park, you’ll need to get a Capitol Reef wedding permit. A Special Use Permit is required for all ceremonies, and you can find the application on NPS.gov. There’s a $100 application fee to go with it, and you can apply up to a year in advance, and no later than 7 days before the ceremony. But, I definitely don’t recommend waiting that long – apply as early as possible to give the park time to process your application!
After your application is approved, you’ll get your permit – make sure to have it on you during your elopement day, in case a park ranger asks to see it.
Though you have a permit for your wedding, you will still need to pay the entrance fee to get into the park! The fee is $20 per car, and it can be paid at the entrance to the park, or you can get a pass online. It can also be a good idea to look into the America the Beautiful Pass, if you visit national parks often. That one costs $80, and you can go to any national park in the country for a year!
During your elopement in Capitol Reef National Park, you’ll need a place to stay. I definitely recommend getting there a few days before the wedding date and staying at least a few days after, to give you time to settle in and relax. Combine your wedding day with your honeymoon, and spend some time exploring after the knot is tied too!
Here are a few places to stay in and around Capitol Reef National Park.
If you want to get outside, camping is a great way to do that, and can be a fun adventure for your elopement day. Capitol Reef National Park has one developed campground – the Fruita Campground – right next to a river, with picnic tables and firepits at each campsite. There are also two primitive campgrounds, which don’t require a fee or reservations, but they are first come first serve.
For a step up from tent camping, you can find glamping accommodations just outside the park – like the Escalante Yurts!
Another option for places to stay is one of the lodges or hotels close to the park. The town of Torrey is on the park’s western border, and has scenic places to stay like the Capitol Reef Resort and the Red Sands Hotel. Escalante is a little further away, but it’s a great place for hiking and exploring slot canyons – and you can stay at the Canyon Country Lodge!
Airbnb is always a great place to look for accommodations, and you can find private places to stay that serve as a home base for getting ready, and any post-tying-the-knot festivities. Near Capitol Reef National Park, you can stay in a desert A-frame, a unique shipping container, and more!
Your love story isn’t ordinary, and the day you get married shouldn’t be either. Eloping is all about tying the knot your way, whether that’s with a hike, a 4×4 ride through the desert, climbing the red rocks, and anything else you can dream up. And as an elopement photographer, it’s my job to make that dream a reality, and help you create the wedding day of your dreams!
If you’re ready to elope, or want to learn more about Capitol Reef elopement packages, contact me!