How to Elope in a National Park
National Parks are some of the most breathtaking lands in the United States, with their stunning views and so many parks to pick from, eloping in a National Park might be one of the most epic places to say I do! With 58 National Parks scattered throughout this beautiful country, picking which one you want to elope at might be the trickiest part of your elopement day!
In this guide I will walk you through all of the legal stuff that you need in order to make your elopement dream a reality! Permits, permits, permits! Almost all of the National Parks allow wedding ceremonies to take place within the park, however, a "special use" permit is required with an upfront fee between $100-$300 (look into the specific park you want to elope at for that parks exact fee).
Do I still need a permit if it's just the two of us and our photographer? Yes! The main reason being, if a ranger were to stop and ask for the permit, it would be a huge bummer if you couldn't elope that day because you didn't have it! PS: Bring your permit with you when you elope!
I've never been stopped personally but I have heard some horror stories of couples who said to heck with the permit, we'll chance it, got stopped, and their photographer had to delete all of their images AND they had to pay a fine! Yikes!
Another reason to get a permit is to support our National Parks! They provide such an amazing service and an opportunity to enjoy America's most beautiful places. And that seems like a pretty good reason to support them! How much time does it take to get a permit? Every National Park is a little different in this area. For example, Rocky Mountain National Park (my home National park!) weddings or ceremonies may be scheduled up to one year in advance and no later than 7 days prior to your event. Nevertheless, it's vital that you prepare in advance so that way you have everything ready to go by your desired elopement date. A last minute request might be accommodated, but there are no guarantees. Who purchases the permit? Typically the couple gets the permit. Restrictions Definitely check with your specific National Park, but there are some restrictions. Some of those restrictions include the number of people you can have, props/rentals restrictions, dogs are typically not allowed in National Parks, no fire or sparklers, and more. You can find specific do's and don'ts if when you contact a park ranger!
PS: Each park has their own set of regulations, get out www.nps.org to find your parks specific regulations. Planning If you've been dreaming of hiking to your favorite location in your favorite National Park, be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy yourselves along the way! You can choose to hike in your gown or change when we get to the location. Sunset or sunrise? It's up to you! Keep in mind the crowds.
I typically encourage couples to elope during the week for a few reasons, but the main one being the crowds in the National Parks are not very big at all! Especially in their busy seasons.
Take Glacier National Park, for example. This particular park's busy season is May-September with it's busiest months being July and August because the weather is perfect and the wildflowers are in full bloom. 3 million people visited GNP last year. That is a ton of people! Eloping during the weekday means less crowds and easier on our environment (think about all those cars hauling up Going to the Sun Road!)
If you want to elope on a weekend, consider an early morning or evening time to avoid those crowds!
You can also elope in the parks off season (keep in mind, some locations may be restricted)! Things to pack Water, water, and more water!!! Especially if you are new to high altitude (Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the highest parks in the nation and sits between 7,000-14,000ft) water is so important for a million reasons, but one is to avoid high altitude sickness Bouquet (I'll show you how to pack it!) Hiking boots or hiking shoes Wedding dress (if you're not hiking in it) Extra layers (jackets, tights, socks, etc.) Snacks Bouquet (check the parks regulations on this) Headlamps/flashlights Backpack Make-up (for touch ups, if you choose to wear makeup) First Aid Kit (I always have one, but it's not a bad idea to pack your own!) "We Eloped" signs, if you want! Maybe some champagne to celebrate! Let's go! Choosing to elope in a National Park can be an absolutely beautiful and adventurous way to promise forever to the love of your life! I can't wait to tag along with you guys, documenting your love for one another! If you're feeling like you want something a little more intimate, something a little more unique, a little more adventurous let's chat.
Click here and let's plan your adventurous elopement or intimate wedding! I am so excited to photograph your wedding!
PS: Click here to get all of the Rocky Mountain National Park elopement information!
Bouquet: Harper Florals