Hickman Bridge natural arch in Capitol Reef National Park by elopement photographer Lucy Schultz.

Capitol Reef Elopement Photographer

Hi, I’m Lucy – your Capitol Reef Elopement Photographer! In this guide I’m going to detail why I love and recommend Capitol Reef National Park. If you’re planning to see Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks, DO NOT SKIP visiting Capitol Reef! This park is jam packed with empty trails, epic landscapes, and colorful highlights of the desert. You can easily make this the backdrop to your unique elopement, especially if you crave privacy, neat rocks, and great hikes.

Where is Capitol Reef?

Capital Reef National Park is located in south-central Utah, South of i-70 between Bryce Canyon National Park and Arches/Canyonlands NPs. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City, the closest major airport. Like many national parks, Cap Reef is surrounded by wild lands that are just as incredible. When getting to this park, don’t omit side trips like Goblin Valley, Kodachrome Basin, and Escalante National Monument.

Why choose Capitol Reef? What is there to see?

Because- it’s incredible! Think of the majestic domes and towering canyon walls of Zion, but without the crowds. This park holds some of the best desert in the country. Colorful rocks in every hue: yellow, red, pink, orange, brown, black, white and purple-blue. This park even has several Arches or Natural bridges that you can hike to and get married under! The hiking trails are abundant, with something for every skill level. Want a scenic drive through a canyon, a dramatic sunset view, or to stroll through the greenery of a public orchard where you can pick your own fruits? Check check check! The slot canyons are my personal favorite – I can’t wait to show you around!

When to plan your Capitol Reef Elopement

Summer temperatures reach into the 80’s and 90’s from June to September, with those months also receiving the prolific rainstorms that cause flash floods. April, May and October are great times to visit with dry sunny days and highs in the upper 60’s and low 70s. November to March is a mild winter climate, with some snowfall and temps in the 40s to 50s daily. Always plan to elope on a weekday in a National Park, and this is no exception. You’ll have the least crowds, best parking and the most approval from the park rangers for your ceremony.

How to plan your Capitol Reef Elopement

You will need a few things for your legal marriage here: A Special Use Permit from the Park (often called an S.U.P.), a Utah Marriage license, and a Capitol Reef elopement photographer & officiant! I am the glue that makes all your plans stick together and work out right. Everything else is optional, and the park provides the incredible landscape you won’t soon forget. When the National Park is your venue, you won’t need the fluff of a traditional wedding, like confetti, litter, decorations, a dancefloor, props, or a DJ. I’ll break down a step by step to do list for planning your elopement for you!

Steps to Planning an Elopement at Capitol Reef

  1. Choose a season or date range to elope. Start getting excited!
  2. Book a photographer & planner who will help you with executing your dream plan
  3. Apply for your park S.U.P. permit, and book accommodation/rental car/flights if needed
  4. Obtain your elopement garments and letters from friends and family to read
  5. Pick up your Utah marriage license, print your S.U.P permit, and elope!

Getting a Utah Marriage License

Getting a Utah Marriage license is a required step no matter where you elope in this state. Unless you’re already legally married, that is! Luckily, it’s not too hard to get one. You can apply for your $70 Marriage license at any Utah County courthouse, not just the one Cap Reef is located in. Some courthouses even offer online appointments! The closest courthouse is Wayne County, just 30 miles west of Torrey, which is the gateway town to Capitol Reef.

Getting Your Elopement SUP at Capitol Reef

This is one of the easiest parks in Utah to get approval for an elopement or microwedding! In fact, the permit process is one of the easiest of all the National Parks. Less gubment bureaucracy is always a good thing, am I right?? So here is the scoop: You can apply to have your ceremony anywhere within the park if you have 20 or fewer people in attendance. Apply a minimum of 4 weeks in advance. Be ready to pay $100 for the permit – that’s the cheapest wedding “venue” I’ve ever seen! You can apply here. As always, you should Leave No Trace, even when getting married.

Where to elope in Capitol Reef National Park?

So.. what do you put on your permit for the location if you’ve never even visited the park before? That’s where I come in. Since I’ve been there, I can advise you on the right ceremony site for you. Depending on your group size, hiking preference, time of year and desired scenery, I’ll match you up with some recommendations. I’ll provide you with detailed photos of each spot and my custom map. This map is like a virtual tour of the entire park and lands outside of it, so you’ll be able to narrow down locations until you find the perfect one.

Do I need an officiant for my Capitol Reef Elopement?

Yes, you will need an officiant to elope at Capitol Reef. But, one of the great advantages of having me as your Capitol Reef Elopement Photographer is that I’m ordained, and can legally perform your ceremony at the same time as photographing it. It’s no biggie! You’ll save a chunk of cash this way. But if you do want a separate officiant, you can! Here are some options:

Officiant Options:
– Hire a professional officiant ($500 to $1800)
– Elect for me to officiate and create your ceremony for $0
– Bring a friend who gets ordained
– Get legally married in your home area and have a non-legally binding ceremony.

What to do at Capitol Reef

There’s a historic pie shop in Fruita, which is located inside the park, where you should absolutely eat a fresh fruit pie. You can walk up a small creek to a tiny waterfall at Sulphur Creek. Hiking is a popular option, and there are a few canyons that don’t require any uphill, making it easy for anyone to get out there. Take the park’s scenic drive south from the visitor’s center to see plenty of great sights. Or, adventure northwest of the park offroad to see the colorful hills and Cathedrals to the north. Don’t forget this is a dark sky park – so it has some of the best stargazing in the whole country.

Sample Capitol Reef Elopement Timeline

7:00 Sunrise First Look at Panorama Point
8:00 Read letters from loved ones
9:00 Fresh fruit pie for breakfast
10:00 Hike up a canyon to a viewpoint
11:00 Have your elopement ceremony with only the birds as witnesses
12:30 Family Cookout at a picnic shelter or get Indian Pizza and ice cream in Torrey
2:00 Afternoon hike together to Hickman Arch
4:30 Dip your tired feet in Sulphur Creek

Optional Second Day:
Sleep in and get brunch
Go offroading to the colorful hills at Cathedral Valley
Pack a charcuterie picnic
Pitch a tent or hammock and have a nap
Cook your favorite camp dinner
Watch the stars come out

How much does it cost to elope at Capitol Reef

After your $70 Utah Marriage License and $100 Special Use Permit, all other costs are optional and vary based on your preferences. Choose a few elements that are super important to you and put your money there. Let everything else be gravy. Nobody will notice if your flowers are silk or wood. A boring rental car will still get you from A to B. Basic accommodation will give you more $ back in your pocket to spend on experiences and memories. Be sure to read my tips on how to save money on your elopement too. I’ll break down a sample budget with estimated costs below.

Sample Capitol Reef Elopement Budget

$70 Utah Marriage License
$100 Special Use Permit
$500 to $4000 Wedding outfits
$5000 to $8000 Capitol Reef Elopement Photographer
$600 to $3000 Accommodation (depending on your level of boujie)
$0 to $1500 Officiant
$0 to $1500 Flowers, Hair & Makeup
$400 Rental car + gas
$500 to $1500 Food for yourselves
= $7,500 to $20,000 total

My Capitol Reef Elopement Photography Packages

I offer Capitol Reef elopement photography packages that include all planning and photographs afterwards. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees.

2 Day Capitol Reef elopement photography – $7900

1.5 Days of Capitol Reef elopement photography – $5900

1 Full day Capitol Reef adventure elopement photography – $4900

Up to 4 hours elopement in Capitol Reef National Park – $4200

Can I bring my dog to Capitol Reef?

No, you can’t bring pets into Capitol Reef National Park. If you want to include your dog in your elopement in Utah, check out my guide to Utah Elopement Locations. Some state parks, national monuments and national forests will be better suited to your plan. I’d be happy to recommend some!

Where to stay at Capitol Reef

The best places to stay when you elope at Capitol Reef are all on the Park’s west side near the town of Torrey. The closer you are to the park, the better! There are a few lodges and hotels just a few miles from the park’s main entrance, and those can be great options! But, don’t overlook a unique airbnb when you come to stay. Getting an incredible place to anchor your elopement in awesomeness is an easy way to make this trip feel even more special. Here is my list of favorite Airbnbs near Capitol Reef. These cabins, A-Frames, southwest haciendas, tiny homes, domes and even covered wagons are available and waiting for YOU! If you’re into camping, snag a campsite within the park for an immersive experience.

About your Capitol Reef Elopement Photographer

I’m a nomadic and colorful elopement photographer with an obsession for deserts, hiking, and my cats. My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Capitol Reef is perhaps my favorite desert National Park. Maybe I’ll see you there!

I would love to be your Capitol Reef elopement photographer & location guide. I’ll help you plan and then execute the adventure elopement of your dreams. I offer half day, full-day, 1.5 day and 2 day elopement photography in Capitol Reef National Park. See my pricing and package details here. I would love to chat with you and help see if an elopement with me is what you’ve been dreaming of. The first step is to inquire and start the conversation! Let’s have an adventure!

Ready to start your Capitol Reef Elopement? Contact me!

Check out my other desert Elopement Guides:
– Zion Elopement Guide
– Valley of Fire Elopement Guide
– Grand Canyon Elopement Guide
– Bryce Canyon Elopement Guide
– Snow Canyon State Park Elopement Park
– Moab Elopement Guide
– Horseshoe Bend Elopement Guide
– Saguaro National Park Elopement Guide
– White Sands Elopement Guide
– Death Valley National Park Elopement Guide
– Joshua Tree National Park Elopement Guide

One Comment

  1. What a spectacular park to elope in – you make it sound like a dream come true.

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