How To Elope at Arches National Park

Topics I will go over:

  • How to get a permit
  • Which arches you can get married at (includes guest limit)
  • Park regulations
  • What all is prohibited
  • What not to do
  • What to bring

Arches National Park is a breathtaking spot to exchange vows if you’re considering eloping at the park. Arches National Park offers numerous spots within the park to elope, miles of scenic views at each spot, and has great flexibility for different times of the day that are the best to elope. Arches National Park is home to some incredible features such as: salt dissolution structures, balanced rocks, dune fields, canyons, and more. Golden hour and sunrise are the best times of the day for photos (in my opinion) due to softer sun shadows, features of the national park are more flattering and sharp, and the warmer colors are more prominent during those times of the day.

Golden hour elopement at Arches National Park in Utah.

Here are some things to keep in mind when thinking about eloping at Arches National Park:

  • You will need a permit
  • Prepare for very short guest list
  • Understand you will not be able to have any of the arch locations to yourself
  • You will need to begin preparing or at least researching AT LEAST 10-12 months in advance
  • Try to avoid weekends and holidays when picking your date
  • You will be limited on the amount of items you can bring for your set up
  • You must follow ALL park guidelines and regulations

How to get a permit

Keep in mind that the purpose of permits are to protect the park’s natural features and resources and to ensure safe interaction and minimize conflict between you and your guests with other park visitors.

The national park requires a 4 week minimum to process all basic permit requests. You should never wait until the last minute to try to get a permit. If your event is more complex it may take more than 4 weeks for the park to process your permit request. Always allow more time than you think you need.

In order to apply for a permit, the park requires that whoever is actually getting married must apply for the permit themselves. Third parties such as photographers or wedding planners are not allowed to apply for you. Luckily for you, this is an easy process as long as you allow yourself enough time to prepare!

You can schedule your elopement up to 12 months in advance and please do keep in mind lots of people are already thinking ahead like you, so I suggest having a back-up date in mind JUST IN CASE something were to happen.

You can apply for a permit at this link: https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/weddings.htm

The total price of a wedding permit is $185.00 

  • There is a non-refundable application fee that costs $55
  • Administrative and management fees cost $130

Not included in the above fees are park entrance fees as well. You can view the park entrance fees on the Arches National Park website at this link: https://www.nps.gov/arch/planyourvisit/fees.htm

Arch locations allowed

Arches National Park allows you to elope only at specific locations in the park including La Sal Mountains Viewpoint, The Windows Selection (North Window, South Window, Turret Arch, or Double Arch), Sand Dune Arch, Delicate Arch, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Park Avenue, Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater, and Panorama Point.

Below is a list of each of the allowed locations and the maximum number of guests allowed:

  • La Sal Mountains Viewpoint allows 50 people
  • The Windows Section arches allow 25 people
  • Sand Dune Arch allows 25 people
  • Delicate Arch allows 10 people
  • Delicate Arch Viewpoint allows 25 people
  • Pine Tree Arch allows 25 people
  • Landscape Arch allows 10 people
  • Park Avenue allows 15 people
  • Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater allows 80 people
  • Panorama Point allows 50 people

Park regulations

The national park is happy to accommodate your wedding, however you MUST follow their regulations. The national park’s regulations are listed below:

  • You are responsible for the park site cleanup.
  • You may not occupy more than half of the parking lot or pull-out area. You are not allowed to disturb the free traffic flow for all of the other park visitors.
  • If you are wanting to get married at another park location that is not on the list above, you must submit a request and a full compliance review will take place.
  • The park will evaluate whether or not you can use folding chairs at the park site.
  • You may not exceed occupying the area located by any of the arches for more than 10 minutes while other park visitors are present. You must take a 10 minute break to allow other park visitors time to capture their own photos until you resume with yours.
  • You are only allowed to participate in wedding activities at maintained areas of the park (including slick rock and dry washes) and must be in compliance with all of the park regulations.

What all is prohibited?

The following activities are prohibited for weddings in the national park:

  • Using amplified sound or playing musical instruments
  • Putting up tents, caterers, tables, etc.
  • Releasing butterflies, doves or any wildlife at any point
  • The use of rice, birdseed or any non-native plant seed
  • Conducting a wedding on any cultural resource site
  • Consuming alcohol

What not to do

You don’t want to wait until the last minute to plan your elopement at Arches National Park. You need to make sure you allow enough time for the park to approve your permit and to make sure you can book the vendors you need in advance with plenty of time to plan and get things organized. Usually when you book an elopement photographer, they will do most of the planning for you. When you book me as your elopement photographer I organize together everything you need to know about eloping at the national parks, provide vendor recommendations, make sure you are properly educated on the park regulations, and assist you with anything you need throughout the process.

Here is a suggested list of what not to do when planning your elopement at Arches:

  • don’t wait until the last minute to start planning
  • don’t plan on hiking to a location underprepared
  • don’t invite any guests who will struggle to walk to the arch site you choose
  • don’t rush hiring your vendors
  • don’t forget to make your marriage legal
  • don’t forget to charge all phones, bring extra water and snacks, and locate the restrooms beforehand

What to bring

You don’t need to pack too much for your elopement, but I definitely recommend making sure you are equipped with the right materials on hand to ensure a stress free and prepared wedding day!

Here is a list with helpful things to bring:

  • your wedding dress (duhhh!)
  • the groom’s suit
  • comfy shoes to walk in
  • water bottles and snacks
  • your wedding rings
  • your vows
  • your bouquet
  • your marriage license and some pens
  • your photographer (of course!!)
  • seasonal items as needed (warm jacket, wool socks, etc.)
  • rain ponchos (just in case)
  • any jewelry you want to put on (watches, earrings, etc.)
  • wrinkle spray
  • flashlights and extra batteries
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray
  • map of the trail and park
  • battery back for cell phones
  • first aid kit
  • waterproof bags
  • any decor you’re bringing (carpet, candlesticks, etc.)
  • any sentimental items
  • towel
  • deodorant and tissues

Now keep in mind you might not need all of these things, but it is definitely recommended to make sure you are very prepared. When I photograph couples’ elopements I always bring a giant bag filled with most of the items on the list that way you don’t have to worry about remembering those things yourself!

Planning your elopement at Arches National Park?

My name is Kaylie and I am an adventure elopement and wedding photographer serving couples in Arizona, Utah, California, and beyond! If you’re considering planning your dream elopement at Arches National Park, I would love to help! I offer every couple I work with an abundance of planning resources to ensure you feel confident & prepared for your dream elopement!

I also want to give a shoutout to the amazing vendors that helped make this special day happen!

Utah Florist: Salt and Sagebrush Floral Design | Madison Osborn

Wedding Dress: Raw and Golden Rentals

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The article was written by me, Kaylie! I am a wedding & elopement photographer encouraging you to embrace the details that make your love story unique, to make sure you get a personable experience, & to be your helping hand and friend throughout the entire process! Specializing in nostalgic & candid images serving couples in Arizona & beyond!

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