I’m back with yet another destination elopement guide! This time I’m taking you to see the largest trees on earth in Sequoia, and a baby grand to Yosemite’s grand piano of a valley called King’s Canyon. These adjacent national parks are part of a huge network of national park & national forest lands over the Sierra mountains of south-central California, just west of Death Valley. I honestly didn’t know how cool these locations would be until I visited them, so I’m extra thrilled to bring these sights to your eyeballs, and maybe bring you there to elope! Most come here to see the trees because the giant sequoias are the largest in the world by volume. They are truly awe-inspiring. It’s hard to describe the feeling of standing at the base of these ancient giants. The only word my husband and I seemed to agree on to describe the size was “stupid” as in “this tree is stupidly big.” and “It’s stupid how big this one is.” Maybe that doesn’t make sense until you’ve seen the trees yourself. 😉
**NOTE – some of these locations are currently closed due to COVID19 and all elopements are currently restricted to 6 people or fewer with 6′ distancing between non-households**
How to Elope in Sequoia National Park
For this guide, I’m going to omit the six developed amphitheaters in favor of highlighting the more natural areas of Sequoia. You can’t get married right at the base of any of the largest trees, but you can get married between them in some of the designated wedding sites. Or venture into nearby national forest! To get married in the park the permit will cost you just $175, and you can note other locations in the park where you’d like to stop for photos – so best to talk with your photographer before you apply! Leave No Trace principles apply – while you can bring a few chairs if needed, most other decorations are not permitted (or needed!). Here’s my guide to the elopement locations in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
How to Elope at Hospital Rock – This location is very close to the entrance, before you take the windiest road known to mankind into the heart of Sequoia National Park. A man made stone overlook juts out over the rushing river below. This location is extremely petite and would allow room for just the two of you to say your vows. A balancing rock formation at the same location draws a steady flow of visitors – including bears (at least, this is where I saw my first California bear!) Just up the summer-only dirt road from here, another elopement location can be found in the buckeye campground. A Paradise Creek elopement in Sequoia National Park would be exceptional for an intimate ceremony of just a handful of your best people.
How to Elope at Big Trees Trail: This flat loop walk circles a round green meadow sprinkled with giant sequoias. Find a spot along the boardwalk for an incredibly memorable Sequoia National Park Elopement. This is one of my favorite short walks in the park! The nearby Hazelwood Nature trail is a more adventurous place to elope among the giant trees – there’s a tunnel tree you can walk through, and fallen trees which add a lot of interest to this forested walk.
How to Elope at Giant Forest Museum Plaza: This is the least private elopement location I’ve ever seen in a national park. It is just adjacent to a paved plaza that serves as a trailhead and shuttle nexus for many of the park’s most popular areas. Not to mention the Giant Forest museum is right there. For a couple that doesn’t mind an early morning wakeup call, this location would be wonderful at sunrise as it is right at the base of a large cedar. Bathrooms are close by and it is accessible.
How to Elope at Beetle Rock: Beetle rock is an expansive, gently sloping white rock elopement location just a stone’s throw from the Giant Forest Museum parking lot. On a clear day, the views over the mountain ranges are impressive and some of the best “big views” in the park. Because Beetle Rock is so large, it’d be easy to find a spot away from crowds here, and sunset would be an especially beautiful time to elope at Beetle Rock in Sequoia National Park. For similar views but much more privacy, take the nearby hike to Sunset Rock, where you can elope in relative solitude.
How to Elope at Panoramic Point: Of all the places to elope in Sequoia National Park, PICK THIS ONE!! A one lane road not for the faint of heart winds up the mountain through wildflower meadows bursting with lupines. A short but steep hike that is moderately wheelchair accessible if the person pushing is a bodybuilder – it’s straight up, y’all – takes you to Panoramic point. The view here is out of this world though, and once at the top I didn’t want to leave. It’s the kind of peaceful forest seclusion, with a grand view of the Sierras that could keep you wrapped up for hours just to soak in all its glory. Not to mention the birdsong!
Moro Rock: California Condors were recently spotted here as they return to the wild after coming back from near extinction. If it’s good enough for Condors, it’s good enough for us humans! This incredible hike weaves up a bare rock face with sheer drop offs down to the valley below. The 360 degree view from the top is well worth the climb. While you can’t say your vows here, it’s one of the best photo locations in all of the Sierras. Sunrise here would be magical AF and if you elope in Sequoia, I will insist we come on this adventurous hike together. So don’t even ask if we can skip it. We can’t. Nearby hanging rock is also spectacular. You literally cannot go wrong if you love mountains and forests – choose to elope in sequoia national park!
How to Elope at Crescent Meadow, Halstead Meadow, and Wolverton/Long Meadow: Elopement ceremonies can take place on trail anywhere on the edges of these sweeping green meadows, giving you the chance to pick a spot that feels just right for you at whichever time of day you end up choosing. My favorite of the three is Crescent meadow, for its proximity to Moro Rock, the Tunnel Tree, and nearby Eagle view, plus a few adorable log cabins scattered through the woods. It’s also the furthest away from any road noise. For the child-at-heart couple, you can ski / sled at Wolverton/Long meadow, so consider eloping here if you desire a winter mountain elopement in California.
Lost grove is a stop off along the General’s Highway. You can marry each other between the towering trees in this forested location right off the road. If you want to get married at the base of a tree, best go outside of the national parks to the national forest lands – more on this later.
How to Elope in King’s Canyon National Park
You’ve probably never even heard of this national park, which is a national shame – it’s incredible! Zumwaldt Meadow at the very end of the road gives you that Yosemite feeling but without the traffic! Not only is the drive to this site out of this world jam packed with scenery and viewpoints, the meadow itself is peaceful and honestly? It’s full of bears. I hope you like bears! The huge mountain views make it my #1 spot in both the parks. Muir Rock, which is nearby at Road’s End, is a great location to elope in Kings Canyon as well – it overlooks the rushing waters of the crystal clear Roaring River. Grizzly Creek falls and Roaring river falls are not to be missed along your route.
Mineral King and Sequoia National Forest Elopements – There are tons of areas just outside the national park boundaries that would make incredible mountain elopement locations without all the restrictions of the official national parks. This also means far fewer crowds and more freedom to pick the spot you want. Please get in touch with me if you are interested in eloping in Sequoia national forest, as I’d love to show you around my favorite areas and swimming holes!
You can find the application and more info on how to elope in Sequoia & Kings Canyon national parks here on their site, and they ask you to apply at least 60 to 90 days in advance to ensure enough time for processing. Some general notes about these two national parks: One, the roads are extremely windy. If you’re the kind who gets a little sick on windy roads, I would suggest packing some dramamine. There isn’t a straight road in the entire park. Second, according to the park’s guide maps, there are a lot of “short hikes” and “short walks” which are sometimes a mile or two long or more. Their scale seems to be off, so you’ve been warned. On our last night in the park, we went to see Big Stump just as the sun was setting. It was very dark in the forest but because it was listed as a “short walk” we hadn’t even brought our flashlights. As we continued to descend the trail in the dark, we kept thinking, it’s gotta be just a little further.. where is this freaking stump?? The irony of trying to find a location where a Giant Sequoia wasn’t was not lost on us. After seeing so many bears on our trip, we began to get a little concerned as the trail went on and on and on. Then we came to a split in the trail – not listed on the map – and a meadow. Just as we started down one path, I saw a huge black animal in the meadow. We froze and stared at the animal in the darkness, and just as we determined it must be the hump of a fallen tree, it lurched forward and we just about died of fright. It was a huge cow. Still not sure how or why it was there, but we didn’t stick around to find the large stump after that – we just ran the f out of there! Okay, the real truth here is to always bring a flashlight and your bear spray, but also just know the trails in these parks are not as well marked as other parks! I hope you enjoyed reading my guide to eloping in Sequoia & King’s Canyon National parks, and please get in touch if you are ready to start planning with me! Here I am with the largest tree on earth; below that on a fallen tree outside the park boundaries.
Sample timeline for a Sequoia National Park Elopement:
6:00AM Sunrise hike to Moro Rock & First Look at the top!
7:00AM Hike down, head to meadow picnic area
8:00AM Cook banana pancakes together on a camp stove
9:00AM Set up hammocks on the edge of a meadow & nap
11:00AM Drive into King’s Canyon, stop at waterfalls for picnic lunch
2:00 Explore Zumwaldt Meadow & swing bridge together
4:00 Closest friends gather at Panoramic Point
4:30 Afternoon Ceremony at Panoramic Point vista
5:00 Everyone contributes to creating a time capsule for the couple
5:15 Champagne Toasts
5:45 Everyone gathers back at campground for a cookout & campfire