how to elope in arches national park

With over 1.5 million visitors each year (and growing!), Arches National Park has become one of the most popular parks to visit in the US. And for so many great reasons! But that’s not all: it’s also quickly gaining popularity for couples looking to elope somewhere scenic and dramatically different from almost anywhere else.

Located just minutes from the town of Moab, Utah, this National Park has a lot to offer couples wanting to get married outdoors. Check out the details below to learn how to elope in Arches, as well as some tips and insight on the planning process, where to stay, and what else you can do during your elopement adventure here!

*As always, please contact the National Park directly for the most up-to-date information on pricing, permits, and reservations.

Reasons to Elope at Arches National Park in Moab, UT

Although we absolutely love what Arches NP offers eloping couples, it’s not for everyone. Here are some ways to tell if eloping here is right for you:

  • You both love unique geological features, like red rocks, archways, and canyon walls.
  • You are dreaming of a warm, dry climate for your vow ceremony.
  • You love hiking and exploring the desert.
  • You want to include some off-road, ATV, or all-wheel-drive adventures in your elopement celebration.
  • You either don’t mind or prefer the idea of a weekday and/or sunrise ceremony to avoid crowds of people.

Planning an Arches National Park Wedding: Step-by-Step

1. Talk with the Arches National Parks office for a wedding ceremony permit.

Like most National Parks in the US, Arches requires that you make a reservation in advance to hold your wedding ceremony there, even if you plan to have something small and intimate. The permit is $185, and allows you to say your vows in front of some pretty beautiful backdrops throughout the park.

However, there are some basic rules you’ll need to follow:

  • Non-native items (like bird seed, rice, flower petals, alcohol, etc.) are prohibited.
  • The National Park reviews the use of folding chairs on a case-by-case basis, so you’ll need to ask in advance about this if you’ll want guests to sit on rental chairs during the ceremony.
  • Tents, musical instruments, and amplified sound are also not allowed.
  • You may take up an area directly under or next to an arch for your ceremony for a maximum of 10 minutes at a time when other visitors are present.

You can review all the other rules, requirements, and permit information on the Weddings page of the National Park’s website.

2. Chat with an elopement photographer who knows the area well.

Even if you aren’t yet 100% set on a date or know for sure you want to elope in Arches, chatting with a photographer and/or videographer team (like ours!) early on in the process can be a huge help. We help couples all across the US plan their elopement day, and guide them through the planning process from day one, with assistance for navigating the permit requirements, finding other wedding vendors, and location scouting in advance of your big day.

We already know the park well and have scouted out nearly all of the pre-approved ceremony sites in Arches National Park. We’d love to help you plan an epic adventure in Moab for your elopement!

3. Consider the ceremony location options inside Arches.

Although the park itself is beautiful all-around, not all ceremony sites are made equal. We have a few sample images below for locations we do recommend snagging for your wedding ceremony permit reservation, and a few notes on the others and why they aren’t ones we’d recommend using at all below. Please also note that the total guest count allowed at each site does include yourselves and vendors who will be present during the ceremony, such as your officiant, photographer, and/or videographer.

north and south window arches elopement national park

The Windows: North and South Window Arches

One of the first few major arch areas inside the park is called the Windows. The North Window and South Window Arches are right next together, and the trail to get there isn’t strenuous or long at all from the main parking lot.

Guest Count Limit: 25 people (although we recommend something closer to 10-15 to feel more comfortable here)

Best time of day: late afternoon / sunset

Accessibility: 5-10 minute walk on unpaved/dirt pathways, but not difficult

double arch elopement photographer moab

Double Arch

The Double Arch is located in the Windows section of the park, but has it’s own pathway and parking area separate from the North and South Windows. This one is definitely a favorite of ours, since there’s a neat little area near the arch with large stones for some guests to sit on, and we love the symbolism of “two becoming one” of the double arch itself.

Guest Count Limit: 25 people

Best time of day: late afternoon / sunset

Accessibility: the path starts as a paved sidewalk, but does turn to sand/dirt before the ceremony area. Only 5 minutes of walking on flat terrain.

pine tree arch moab elopement photographer

Pine Tree Arch

The trail to Pine Tree arch is a little bit more of a walk than the ones above, but with plenty of space to have up to 25 people with you, and a beautiful arch that faces east, it’s definitely near the top of our list for places to elope here.

Guest Count Limit: 25 people

Best time of day: late afternoon

Accessibility: a dirt and rock trail with about 200 feet of elevation gain and less than one mile roundtrip from the parking lot.

landscape arch utah elopement photographer

Landscape Arch

Landscape Arch has a really unique look to it – and honestly, maybe this one needs to be named “delicate” arch instead of the current Delicate Arch. Although scientists don’t know for sure how long it will stand, parts of this arch have been breaking off over the last few centuries, so it’s quite possible that it may not be an arch for much longer.

And a fun fact: it’s the largest arch on the planet, at about 290 feet in length (for comparison, football fields are 360 feet wide when you include the end zones). Between its great size and its delicate appearance, we love this arch for backdrops of elopements, especially if you get to capture some great memories before it breaks someday!

Guest Count Limit: 10 people (although no more than 5-6 people may be best, since this area isn’t large at all)

Best time of day: sunrise

Accessibility: requires an easy to moderate 1.5 mile roundtrip hike

park avenue arches np

Park Avenue

This section offers a beautiful backdrop between some tall rock formations in a “hidden” little valley here. Definitely a favorite of ours!

Guest Count Limit: 25 people

Best time of day: early morning or late afternoon

Accessibility: short, paved sidewalk to viewpoint

la sal mountains viewpoint arches np

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint

For larger groups, this is probably our top choice for elopement and wedding ceremonies. From the parking lot, it’s a flat, easy walk onto a large rock face with wide open views of the La Sal Mountains in the east, as well as red rock formations to the northwest.

Guest Count Limit: 50 people

Best time of day: sunrise for the red rocks as your backdrop, sunset for the mountain views

Accessibility: flat/easy walk, but may be a little too rocky for wheelchairs (however, there is a paved sidewalk right next to the overlook)

panorama point arches national park elopement

Panorama Point

For larger groups and/or celebrations with family members who need handicap access, this is the best option. The views here are more of an expanse across the desert landscape and canyons far away, but despite a lack of “grand” views compared to the other locations, this spot has plenty of stone benches for all your guests to sit on during the ceremony.

Guest Count Limit: 50 people

Best time of day: sunrise or sunset (very exposed to sunlight here, so as early or as late in the day as possible will be best for lighting)

Accessibility: very accessible, all paved sidewalks and stone benches right next to the parking lot

delicate arch elopement locations arches np

Delicate Arch

By far the most iconic, popular arch of Western America, Delicate Arch is a beautiful rock formation for elopements. However, it is extremely busy, making it not ideal for anyone wanting a more private/intimate ceremony nearly any time of year.

What we don’t recommend at all: the Delicate Arch viewpoints. The views from this area are too far away from the actual arch to get it as a decent backdrop for your wedding ceremony, and won’t photograph well at all.

Guest Count Limit: 10 people

Best time of day: the colors of the arch are much better at sunset, but sunrise (especially during winter and/or on weekdays) is much better to avoid crowds if you want a more intimate/private ceremony

Accessibility: requires a 3 mile roundtrip hike, with about 600 feet of elevation gain and full exposure to the sun (very hot in summer)

Sand Dune Arch

This is one of the only arches in the park we haven’t had a chance to visit yet, but it seems like another popular choice for elopement ceremonies!

Guest Count Limit: 25 people, but 10-15 people may fit more easily here

Best time of day: early morning or late afternoon

Accessibility: a very short, flat, and easy walk from the parking lot only 0.3 miles in length roundtrip

Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater

We also don’t recommend this amphitheater at all, either. Although the area can seat up to 80 people here, the backdrop of the “ceremony” area has a permanently installed large white projector screen – not an ideal setup. This is more commonly used for ranger education programs, but isn’t nearly as “romantic” for a formal ceremony. You can even check out pictures of the amphitheater on the NPS website to see what we’re talking about.

However, the campground surrounding this amphitheater is just plain awesome. If you (and/or your guests) want to stay at the National Park overnight during your elopement trip, you’ll have some amazing views of the park right from your campsite! And you can have a short walk from this campground to the trailhead for two other ceremony sites we do recommend: Pine Tree Arch and Landscape Arch.

4. Choose a season and date.

If you’re dreaming of eloping to Arches National Park, be sure to remember how extremely hot this place can be during summer. The average highs between June and August can often be around 95-100 degrees with very few cloudy days to help keep you cool.

Hedge seasons like spring and fall are much better, but also still very popular times of the year for visitors. Winter can be chilly and foggy, but also much less crowded.

Overall, you’ll have the best luck avoiding other park visitors by eloping on a weekday morning!

4. Get everything booked!

Once you’ve chatted with the Park Service, your vendors, and have narrowed down to your top one or two ceremony locations, it’s time to get everything officially on the calendar!

canyonlands 4wd roads

Plan Other Activities for Your Elopement Adventure

Moab has so many amazing opportunities for adventure lovers of all kinds, and the great thing about eloping means you can make one epic weekend out of it! Here are some great ideas to inspire you:

  1. Go for a 4×4 drive! Whether you drive your own Jeep, 4Runner, or another vehicle with high clearance or you sign up for an off road tour, there are a variety of 4WD roads in Moab and the surrounding areas. Some of the highest rated 4WD/AWD roads in this region include Hell’s Revenge, Shafer Trail (inside Canyonlands NP), Klondike Bluffs, and Geyser Pass.
  2. Rock climb. Moab has some of the best rock climbing in the US, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. You can climb some areas in Arches NP, or in the nearby areas of Castle Valley, Day Canyon, or Mill Creek.
  3. Think outside the box with other adventure experiences like skydiving, riding in a hot air balloon, taking a helicopter tour, or cruising down the Colorado River in a jetboat.
  4. Visit one of the other nearby parks, such as Canyonlands National Park (which has three different entrances/areas to explore!), Dead Horse Point State Park, or make it a road trip and stop by some of the other national parks in Utah, like Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, or Zion (also one of our favorite places in the world!).
  5. Watch the sunrise and/or sunset on your elopement day. There’s hardly a “bad” spot to watch the sunrise or sunset in this region. You can either have a sunrise breakfast picnic overlooking one of the national parks, or go for a more traditional dinner at a place like Sunset Grill.

Sample Elopement Timelines to Give You Ideas

Sometimes it can be hard to imagine exactly how much time you’ll need with your photographer (or photo/video team) on the day of. Although we always customize timelines for each unique elopement experience, we’ve put together a couple sample timelines below to give you a better sense of what’s doable:

4 Hour Timeline

6 am – Getting ready / prep photos of you two at your Airbnb

6:30 – Drive to sunrise photo location inside Arches NP

7 – Get dressed, have an intimate “first look” moment as the sun comes up

7:30 – Drive to ceremony location

8 – Say your vows under an arch

8:30 – 9 – Explore the area with a small hike

9 – Read letters from your family members together

9:30 – Finish the morning with a breakfast picnic

10 Hour Timeline

4:30 am – Getting ready photos at your rental place or campground

5 – Drive to Arches NP

6 – Meet at Devils Garden trailhead

6:15 – Hike to Landscape Arch

7 – First look under Landscape Arch, followed by a vow reading

8 – Hike back, making time to stop by Pine Arch on the way

9 – Drive out to La Sal Mountain Viewpoint, followed by a stroll through Park Avenue

9:30 – break time to relax

5pm – Start the celebration at your Airbnb or campground with your family

5:30 – Cocktails and appetizers

6:30 – Dinner starts

7 – Toasts from your close friends / family members

7:30 – First dance by the campfire

8 – Open time for celebrating together under the string lights

9 – Drive to a spot nearby for night sky photos before wrapping up

Where to Stay Overnight

Airbnb / VRBO Rentals in Moab

Please keep in mind that not all Airbnb / VRBO rentals allow events, so you’ll have to contact each owner directly to ask about celebrating at their property. But at a minimum, these places below make for great rentals even if it’s just the two of you enjoying the weekend together:

Panoramic Vista Studio

Private room in bed and breakfast

Perfect for just the two of you

2 guests, 1 bedroom, 1 bed, 1 bath

Entire Home with Great Moab Views

Both rock/canyon and mountain views

Great for you and a few friends/family members

6 guests, 3 bedrooms, 5 beds, 2.5 baths

Glamping Tiny House

Amazing views from a tiny home

6 guests, 1 bedroom, 4 beds, 1 bath

Entire House Rental in Moab

Perfect for something affordable with several guests + outdoor dinner space

10 guests, 3 bedrooms, 5 beds, 2.5 baths

Large Desert Home

Lots of space for several guests, plus a hot tub with great views

10 guests, 4 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2.5 baths

Luxury Desert Home

Amazing views, hot tub, fire pit, outdoor space for celebrating

12 guests, 3 bedrooms, 5 beds, 3.5 baths

Pet-Friendly Cabin

Log cabin with views of the La Sal Mountains

6 guests, 2 bedrooms, 3 beds, 1 bath

Luxurious Cabin in the Mountains

Lots of space and amazing views

8 guests, 3 bedrooms, 4 beds, 2 baths

RV and Tent Campgrounds in Moab

Our photo and video team members love to travel with our campervans and RVs, but several of these places also offer spots for tents, too!

BLM Campgrounds – These are first come first serve only and can fill up quickly.

Devils Garden Campground – Located inside Arches NP and has amazing views

Willow Flat Campground – Located inside Canyonlands NP, no reservations

Dead Horse Point State Park – Highly recommend reservations in advance

Moab KOA

Moab Rim Campark

Moab Valley

Archview RV Resort + Campground

moab elopement photographer utah

Hire an Elopement Photo + Video Team for Your Moab Elopement!

Skyewater Photo + Film is a photography and videography team that specializes in destination weddings and adventure elopements in Colorado + worldwide. Whether you’re looking for a meaningful wedding video or an adventurous elopement photographer, contact Skyewater Photo + Film for your big day!

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