Want to see my recent elopement shoot at Bryce Canyon? Click here!
When you decide to elope, the world becomes your oyster. Actually, it already was your oyster, and now you’ve chosen to explore it – together! You can truly chose to celebrate your commitment to each other anywhere on this earth, just the two of you proclaiming your love for one another in an intimate, private, unforgettable adventure. There are so many reasons to elope- I won’t even get into it here – but I do know that couples who chose to elope do so with conviction that this is your day, and it will be uniquely yours. I wrote this guide because I LOVE dramatic landscapes and I want to encourage more folks to enjoy them by choosing to elope in our National Parks. Bryce Canyon is hands-down the most beautiful place I’ve visited on this continent, and that’s saying something! And I’d say that even if it didn’t hold a special place in my heart – it’s where my husband proposed. The main attraction is the spectacular Bryce Amphitheater, where spires of red, white, and orange rock form hundreds of knobby structures called hoodoos, some up to 200 ft high. Exploring down the popular Queen’s Garden trail into the amphitheater is truly like being on another planet. The air is cooler, a red cast falls on everything and the clay-like rocks crunch beneath your feet. This adventurous loop is the most incredible at sunrise, and the photos almost don’t do it justice- you have to experience it for yourself while holding hands with your beloved. Just on the edge is one designated ceremony site that looks over the vast canyon below.
One of my favorite areas in the park, and one of the least-visited, is a waterfall on a small river set in an incredible desert valley, with towering red rocks on either side. This hike is less than half a mile with very little elevation gain, and the views are incredible. While I usually love to photograph at sunrise and sunset, this area’s position in the canyon makes it a great spot during the day. Imagine exploring this stunning rock canyon beside the whispering stream, and choosing a spot that speaks to you both and saying your vows to each other with the waterfall at your backs. Eat a picnic lunch together on a rock and explore the nearby grotto – a shaded overhang so cold, there are often icicles. Return to your campsite for a campfire and smores and cuddle up together under the stars.
The clear skies of the park make for incredible stargazing after your elopement. The park is amazing in the daylight, but at night it is just as magical. This dark -sky area (magnitude of 7.4, for you astro nerds) allows our eyes to see well over 7,000 stars after your eyes adjust, compared to a mere 2,000 in areas with more light pollution. As I shot this night sky at the Bryce Amphitheater, I was able to observe a pair of Ring Tailed Cats. Native to the desert southwest but seldom seen, Ring Tailed Cats are actually members of the raccoon family, are they are somehow even cuter than their trashcan-diving urban friends. It was such a special encounter!
Insanely cool, right? There are many different vistas to enjoy the views, with inspiration point and Bryce point being obvious favorites. The southernmost point of the park is also the highest at over 9,000 feet, and on a clear day the visibility is around 90 miles, you can see beyond four corners and into Arizona. The Bristlecone loop at the very edge of the park is a great place to explore in the shade. The closest town of Bryce is quaint and equipped with just the basics of what you’ll need before exploring the park, and is about 4.5 hours drive east of Las Vegas; 3.5 hours south from Provo, Utah; west 4.5 hours from Moab and 1.5 hours northwest of Zion National Park. As Bryce Canyon is therefore quite remote; it’s best to plan several days to fully enjoy and explore the park’s many features. This natural arch is along the road beyond the amphitheater and is a must-see.
A park permit is required to elope in Bryce Canyon national park. The cost can vary slightly based on the exact scope of your plan, but generally plan on between $150-$300. Those fees are used towards the park staff’s time administrating the permit application and coordinating with you. Wedding or Elopement ceremonies are allowed at Sunset point and in other spots by special request. More info here, and yes I can help you out with getting the permit that’s just right for you! Expect to apply for your permit 1 to 6 months before your planned elopement for processing. For couples choosing to elope in Bryce Canyon, the seclusion and spectacular scenery of the area is a big draw, so choosing a less traveled spot within the amphitheater or in many of the other beautiful spots within the park is a great idea. When approving permits, park rangers want to confirm that your vows won’t have any impact on the park’s resources or the ability of other visitors to see the sights. Keeping this in mind, all Leave No Trace rules apply, and in addition, no amplified music, confetti of any kind, or arches/large props are permitted – but in this location, trust me, nothing is needed to make it a beautiful place to elope.
May – October is the busiest and warmest season to elope in Bryce Canyon, with July being the hottest, but also the most crowded month. In the summer, a free shuttle runs throughout the park during peak hours to reduce congestion, so when planning your Bryce Canyon elopement, consider planning for a weekday ceremony in the early morning or sunset – this will greatly increase your chances of being approved for your permit and having the stunning landscape to yourselves. Bryce Canyon is a high elevation desert climate, so temperatures are actually considerably cooler than you’d expect in a traditional flat desert landscape. There are some places to camp inside and outside the park, or two hotels in Bryce that book up quickly. In winter after snowfall, an incredible contrast of blue and white tones blanket the dramatic orange canyon, bringing out the contour of every bump and steep drop off. Consider a winter elopement at Bryce canyon for a once in a lifetime experience with a very unique flair.
With such stunning landscape and tons of amazing location options, there’s no reason NOT to plan your elopement at Bryce Canyon National Park. Hopefully these images have inspired you to consider Bryce – If you’d like to get started planning your Bryce Canyon Elopement with incredible photography, the first step is to inquire and start the conversation. I would love to help guide you into having the adventure elopement of your dreams at Bryce Canyon – and photograph the intimate wedding you’re already planning!.