It’s no wonder a lot of couples turn to national parks when thinking about elopement locations. There are SO many incredible national parks across the US, it’s hard to narrow your options down to just one! Plus, national parks definitely rank pretty high on the ‘coolest places to elope’ list. With so many incredible options, how do couples narrow it down to just one? Well, I’m here to give you some tips and info on my favorite national parks to elope in. Ready to explore?
While national parks are the obvious elopement choice for my more adventurous couples, I don’t recommend ruling them out even if you count yourselves in the urban group. My list of the five best national parks to elope in definitely has a little something for every taste, vibe, and budget.
Yosemite National Park, California’s most popular national park, is an incredible place to elope about 150 miles from Sacramento. With so many different locations and settings, Yosemite truly has something for everyone. Yosemite requires an elopement permit, $150, which you can submit between 1 year and 21 days prior to your wedding. Elopement locations are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Here are some of my favorite areas of Yosemite for elopements:
It is important to note that Yosemite has a strict ‘no pets’ policy!
Yosemite has quite a variety of lodging options, from budget spots to elegant extravagance, there is something for every couple’s budget! I always love checking out Airbnb options as well, which provide more unique accommodations. Looking for inspiration? Check out my post featuring a Yosemite elopement.
Big Sur, with its gorgeous coastline and incredible forests, can sometimes get overlooked by elopement couples. But honestly, it might be my favorite on this list! Even the drive toBig Sur, just off Highway 1 between Carmel and San Luis Obispo, offers incredible vantage points. Similar to Yosemite, Big Sur also has a ton of location options. You can check this page to see what the permit requirements are for your chosen spot! As far as dates, Big Sur’s more scenic areas are pretty popular on weekends, so Monday-Thursday will be your best options. The Big Sur area is a bit spread out, and there are quite a few different venues to choose from, both public and private, but here are some of my favorites split into location category:
Sequoia is definitely the first place I think of when I think about the majestic redwood forests! Famous for the bigger-than-a-car trees and exquisite forest setting, Sequoia is for all the couples going for that natural vibe. Sequoia National Park is conveniently located about 1.5 hours east of Fresno. When you’re trying to decide what season to visit, remember that the highways may close any time due to weather storms or adverse road conditions. Don’t risk your elopement getting cancelled for a snow storm! Sequoia National park has a handful of lodge and cabin-style accommodations, but spots fill up fast so be sure to book way in advance! Here are a few of the most photo-worthy spots in Sequoia for your elopement:
Like Big Sur, I definitely recommend choosing a weekday for your elopement. On weekends, the road to the Giant Forest area closes at 8 am, with shuttle-only access the remainder of the day. So, make sure to start super early if you choose a weekend date!
Joshua Tree, only about 1 hour away from Palm Springs in Southern California, is famous for its Seussian-looking trees (called Joshua trees, go figure) and rocky desert landscape. All wedding and elopement ceremonies at Joshua Tree require a $120 permit. Your photographer will also need a permit (don’t forget this part, because the fine is $500)! Joshua Tree is incredibly eco-conscious, so most wedding decor, including dried flowers, candles, and bubbles, are not permitted.
Joshua Tree gets extremely hot during the summer months, so the best time to elope at Joshua Tree is sunrise or sunset during the fall, winter, and spring. Choosing a time closer to sunrise or sunset usually means less crowds, and less photo-bombers in your gorgeous photos! For accommodation, I definitely recommend browsing Airbnb! There are some amazing homes, usually decorated in boho and hippie styles, available! Here’s a few beautiful Joshua Tree spots for your elopement:
If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Joshua Tree elopement, check this out!
Further north, about 55 miles up from San Francisco, is Point Reyes. Stunning, dramatic scenery and endless breathtaking views are just a few of my favorite things about this national park! I think of Point Reyes as a ‘budget Ireland’ because it has the same rolling green hills, steep cliffs, and stunning blue waters! Similar to Joshua Tree, Point Reyes seriously practices ‘No Trace Left Behind’, so keep that in mind when planning your elopement accessories!
With it being further north, the beach can get chilly when a breeze picks up. Probably the smallest of the parks on this list, every part of Point Reyes is photo-ready, and the golden light that illuminates sunset is second-to-none. Accommodations can range from a small coastal cabin to large mansions, or stay in nearby San Francisco for a city feel. Point Reyes is gorgeous at all times of year, but with the sea breeze, the summer months are very pleasant!
Since I’m located in Fresno, I’m able to travel to all of these national parks pretty easily! To inquire about your dates, fill out my contact form here. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!