One of the most underrated elopement destinations, but one of Utah’s coolest National Parks. Lace up your boots and walk amongst the world’s highest concentration of hoodoos – Bryce Canyon National Park is our latest pick for a super unique elopement location.
What makes Bryce Canyon National Park a Great Elopement Location?
We love Bryce Canyon as an elopement location for adventurous couples looking to explore something that feels otherworldly and unique. The way the light hits the already intensely orange hoodoos in breath-taking at sunrise. Bryce Canyon also has one of the darkest skies in the country, making it perfect for stargazing or taking starry nighttime portraits. You can experience quieter trails, and views that you can’t get anywhere in the world. It’s worth taking a detour here on your adventures, even if your elopement is happening at one of the other parks in southern Utah. We’ll break down all you need to know about choosing Bryce Canyon as your elopement destination.
How to Elope in Utah
First things first, let’s talk legalities. There are a few things you’ll need in order to make it official in the great state of Utah.
How to Get a Marriage License in Utah
You’ll both need to be present to get your Utah marriage license. The fee is $40-$50, and there’s no waiting period, which means you can get married as soon as you receive your license (woohoo!!). Be aware that the license is only valid for 30 days, so if they don’t receive it back by then you’ll need to apply for a new one.
Do We Need an Officiant to Elope in Utah?
In short, yes! There are only a few states that allow self-solemnizing ceremonies. You will need to either hire an officiant, or have a friend or family member do it to keep things personal! There are some great officiants in Utah who specialize in elopements and don’t mind traveling or hiking a bit to get to your ceremony location.
Will We Need Witnesses?
Yes, you’ll need two witnesses for your ceremony. If you planned on eloping just the two of you, don’t stress! If you’re working with us, we’re always a team of two, or any other vendors you bring along can act as your witnesses. You can also recruit fellow adventurers on the trail – many people would be more than happy to do so, as long as they are over 18.
Bryce Canyon Special Use Permit
And finally, you’ll need to acquire a special use permit to be married within Bryce Canyon National Park.
The coast of the permit is $100, and can take between two to four weeks to process. Admission fees are waived for the two of you and your officiant on your elopement date. (Regular admission is $35 per private vehicle)
Some important details regarding ceremony permits within Bryce Canyon:
- There are two designated ceremony locations.
- There are a maximum of 30 guests allowed, included your officiant and vendors.
- No music, chairs, props, “thrown” items, balloons or decorations are allowed.
- You and your guests should follow Leave No Trace guidelines.
Bryce Canyon Ceremony and Portrait Locations
Wedding ceremonies are permitted at two locations by Sunset point – the main Amphitheater overlook or the Silent City overlook.
While the ceremony itself must take place at one of these designated locations, there are tons of spots around the park to explore and use for unique portrait opportunities. You can experience some of the most striking views from Sunset and Sunrise points, and wander down amongst the hoodoos on one of the trails that meander through the canyon. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Queen’s Garden Trail,. It’s an easy 3 mile loop that takes you below the rim and into the hoodoos. There are also some really cool trails that actually start down below the hoodoos and are easier if you aren’t looking for anything too strenuous.
Timing wise, Bryce Canyon is beautiful at first light. We recommend taking in sunrise from one of the overlooks, and then heading down into the canyon while the light is still warm and magical. It can get very bright and harsh in the late morning and mid-day, so definitely time your hike with golden hour to really maximize what the landscape has to offer.
Best Time of Year to Elope in Bryce Canyon National Park
We’ve spent time in Bryce Canyon in both winter and spring, and can confidently suggest visiting in the late spring and summer.
It can get extraordinarily cold in Bryce during the wintertime. The trails also jump between being very snowy or very muddy, but it is fun seeing the contrast of the snow against the orange hoodoos. You can still venture down into the amphitheater, but you’ll want to have some type of ice spikes for your boots and prepare to get that orange mud all over.
During the summer time, the weather is nice and mild. Bryce isn’t as heavily visited as Zion, which is less than two hours away. So you should be able to enjoy your time here without managing the levels of crowds happening over there at the same time. In May, the mornings were cool and the trails were very dry, making the whole experience below the rim very comfortable!
Where to Stay
Stay at the iconic Bryce Canyon Lodge for beautiful views of the hoodoos and easy access to all of your adventuring. This is the only hotel lodging within the park, which makes it the best option if you’re hoping to watch the sunrise (Something I highly recommend!). They also have a gift shop and dining room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
There are also two beautiful campgrounds within the park with easy access to all of the best views.
Alternatively, Bryce Canyon City is a little town just outside of the park. It’s small, and mostly comprised of Ruby’s Inn and some surrounding amenities, but we love this as the last stopover before reaching the park! They have a great general store and there are some cute shops to check out across the street.
Activities to Include on your Elopement Day
Bryce Canyon has so much more to offer than just the amphitheater views and hoodoos. These are just a few of the activities worth checking out while staying near Bryce Canyon for your elopement!
Look for wildlife.
Bryce Canyon and the surrounding area is home to a large variety of wildlife, some very unique to Southern Utah. Endangered Utah prairie dogs can be spotted along the scenic drive through the park, especially on a nice sunny day. Larger animals like pronghorn, mule deer and rocky mountain elk can be seen as well.
Head into the canyon on horseback.
From April 1st-October 31st, you can head down right into the amphitheater on a two or three hour guided trail ride, for only $100 per person too!
Take a scenic bicycle ride together.
We were amazed to discover the beautiful paved shared-use path that connects the hoodoos in Red Canyon all the way to Inspiration Point – That’s 18 miles of amazingly scenic, perfectly maintained bike trail that also passes through Bryce Canyon City and accesses the Bryce Canyon Shuttle Service. Bryce Canyon’s free shuttle service has space for a few bicycles up front and can take you to all of the iconic viewpoints, visitor centers, and back to town when you’re ready.
Go off-roading in the nearby Dixie National Forest.
Surrounding the national park are miles and miles of epic ATV trails on Dixie National Forest and other public lands. These are super scenic trails that take you along routes you wouldn’t otherwise get to see; among hoodoos, rock spires, and dense forests. There are ATV rental companies located in Panguitch, Bryce Canyon City, Tropic, and beyond.
Within driving distance of Bryce Canyon, you can also visit Zion National Park. Fair warning though, Zion sees three times as many annual visitors as Bryce, so plan to visit in the off season. For some less crowded options during peak season, also check out these local destinations.
Bryce Canyon Elopement Photography Packages
We love Bryce Canyon for elopements for its totally unique landscape and because it tends to fly under the radar of the masses. This makes it a great stop for having a more unique elopement experience. Our recommendation is to turn your elopement into your honeymoon by making this one stop on an epic road trip around Utah’s other National Parks and natural landmarks. We take all the hassle out of planning your own adventure elopement, by walking with you every step of the planning process. Reach out today to get started on building your own perfect adventure.