Behind the Scenes of Elopement Location Scouting
Zion National Park is home to some truly iconic hikes – people come from all over the country to conquer trails like Angels Landing and take in epic views at the Canyon Overlook trail. We spent a few days in Zion National Park specifically to scout out these hikes and gauge what the experience would be like for eloping couples. The Canyon Overlook Trail is super popular and one of the most accessible. It’s an easy way to guarantee those epic sunset portraits without a long hike back in the dark. Angels Landing is on the other end of the spectrum, strenuous and steep, but possibly the most popular hike in the entire park. The whole trail is mind-blowingly beautiful with an epic reward. We wanted to break down the experience at each, to show you one way we search for the perfect trail for every couple.
Some Things to Ask Yourself When Choosing Your Own Elopement Location
What kind of environment would we like to experience?
Would we enjoy an easy walk or a proper challenge to get there?
What kind of activities can we do near our elopement location?
How accessible is our elopement location if we bring guests?
How private/busy is our elopement location?
What will the weather be like on our elopement date?
Whether you’re planning to elope in Zion National Park or anywhere else in the world, don’t forget to consider all of these factors when deciding on where to say your vows. Every time we explore a new location, these are the factors we’re taking note of so we can accurately recommend the PERFECT trails for our couples based on their own unique preferences. So with all of that in mind, here’s a breakdown of two vastly different Zion hiking experiences.
Sunset on the Canyon Overlook Trail
Distance: 1mi Elevation Gain: 442 Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
The Canyon Overlook trail is a fun little hike with a beautiful payoff. It’s only one mile roundtrip with little elevation gain so there’s no reason not to take some time to check out one of the best views in the park. We really like that once you get started on the trail, the view of the road behind you and the valley both disappear and you find yourself immersed amongst the rocks. We found ourselves getting super amped up wondering if the next turn would open up into the big overlook.
And then it finally did open up. The hype instantly lives up to reality here as you hit the canyon overlook. We found that there actually was plenty of space to spread out and take photographs, but you may have to wait your turn for the highest rocks with the clearest view. We were able to find some quiet spots and honestly, no view is a bad one. Definitely head here an hour or so before sunset. The light can be harsh in Zion before golden hour but there are many shaded nooks to take intimate photographs in before you actually get to the main overlook, at which point you’ll want to enjoy watching the sun set below the canyon cliffs. Ceremonies themselves are not always permitted at the Canyon Overlook trail, but it’s the perfect place for those iconic Zion elopement portraits.
Scout’s Lookout trail to Angels Landing
Distance: 5mi Elevation Gain: 1,630 Difficulty: Hard
Angels Landing via the Scout’s Lookout trail is a worthwhile challenge. Note that this is an out and back trail so even though it’s 5 miles total, that 1630 ft gain is steep. We tackled this climb during a weekday morning/afternoon. Angels Landing is one of those bucket list hikes so even then there were quite a few people out and about. I suggest getting started as early as possible to stay cool and enjoy a little more space to yourself. The trail starts with a steady climb from the valley, and then really starts to kick in with a set of steep switchbacks called Walter’s Wiggles. Take your time with it! The views are stunning the entire climb up so there’s no reason to push yourself too quickly if you aren’t used to this much elevation gain. We love hiking and working hard for epic views, but we aren’t superhuman and it’s important to go at your preferred pace.
The park had a scheduled controlled burn at one of the campgrounds the morning we were there. We kept stopping to watch the smoke roll in from the far end of the valley. For most of the climb, you’re ascending the valley walls so you have a pretty sweeping view of things. Only when you’re getting close to the top does the trail take you back into the rock walls and block your view. This granted us a boost of motivation when tackling the last handful of switchbacks. We sensed we were so close to the top but didn’t quite know when it would open up. “Just one more” kept running through my head because at that point, our legs were ready for a break.
Reaching Scout’s Lookout and the View of Angels Landing
Okay, full disclosure. We made it to Scout’s Lookout but we had some wobbly legs this time around and did not attempt the final stretch to Angels Landing. That last half mile stretch follows a very narrow ridge, with anchor-supported chains aiding you up alongside the sheer cliff. I’ve heard from many that the final climb turned out to be a lot less difficult than at first glance. And that it all comes down to facing your fears and watching your footing. It was clear, warm, and calm weather when we were there. Hikers of all skill levels were eager to get up there.
Part of me regrets not going for it, but in the moment, you need to trust what your body is telling you. Mine said, “Sit down, eat your well-earned hiking snacks, and explore the rest of the area”. So that’s what we did. It’s okay if you don’t make it as far as you planned. I want to stress that in the context of elopements as well. You don’t need to climb to the top to have that rewarding, epic experience.
In fact, we walked up a hill in another direction and stumbled upon our favorite views of the entire hike. It was my favorite from our entire experience in Zion, and there was no one else at the spot with us. We watched other brave climbers start their climb up Angels Landing, and enjoyed having our little nook all to ourselves. That’s kind of the nice thing about having such iconic trails elsewhere in the park…our favorite view doesn’t appear on any of the Zion Top Ten lists…so there wasn’t a crowd waiting their turn to see it. Part of the fun of these location scouting trips is stumbling upon these spots hidden in plain sight.
A Little More on Eloping in Zion National Park
There is the part where I tell you all about how amazing Zion National Park is for elopements. That’s because it’s true. You’ve got breathtaking views, unique plants, wildlife, and accessibility. This is perfect for any couple hoping to bring some friends or family to celebrate with them! There’s a lot of cute stuff in Springdale just outside of the park. Plus, if you’re flying in, Las Vegas is an easy 2.5 hours away.
Where to Stay at Zion National Park
One thing to note… These locations are heavily trafficked and iconic, so we were happy to provide a little insight on the exact locations. For less trafficked and especially vulnerable spots, we usually leave the specific trails out of our posts to keep them as protected as possible. Those hidden gems are the places we love sharing directly with the couples we know will love and appreciate it the most.