Welcome to the How To Elope in Yosemite: The Complete Guide! Yosemite National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It also happens to be one of my favorite places in the world, hands down. So much so, that I spent a summer working and living in the park for 5 months a few years back! There’s nothing quite like having such a picturesque and epic place as your backyard. Lucky for you and me, I spent most of that time exploring and really learning the lay of the land. Which just means when the time comes to take some epic photos out there, I fricken gotchu.
While you’re here, check out one of my favorite Yosemite engagement sessions as featured in Junebug Weddings!
If you’re planning to elope in Yosemite then HECK YES! I’m so excited for you! I want you to have the best elopement EVER so I wanted to put together some helpful information in the form of this “How to Elope in Yosemite: The Complete Guide” to help you plan your big day. Check out the guide below!
HOW TO ELOPE IN YOSEMITE:
THE COMPLETE GUIDE
WHAT I’M GOING TO COVER:
click to jump to section
- What’s the best time of year?
- Location, location, location!
- Necessary permits.
- Time of day.
- Where to stay.
- Things to consider.
- Elopement pricing
1. What’s the best time of year?
Everyone always plans their trip to Yosemite for sometime in the summer, and rightly so! It’s absolutely incredible that time of the year. But that also means you’ll be sharing the landscape with a multitude of other humans who had the exact same idea. Well, no worries. I’m here to share with you some suggestions on what the best time of year would be!
Months: April and May
Late Spring is one of the absolute best times to visit Yosemite; once the snow melts Glacier Point Road and Tioga Road open back up which means we have more locations accessible to us! The waterfalls are also fueled by snowmelt which means they are extra large and extravagant this time of year. If you’re looking for a waterfall, this is your best bet.
Months: June through August
Summer is the busiest time to visit! But there’s a good reason for it, it’s warm and beautiful out and you can easily go out for a hike or swim in the rivers or lakes around this time. People’s schedules tend to work best for this time of year but if you’re planning a summer elopement I highly recommend choosing a midweek date to try and avoid the crowds.
Months: September and October
Autumn is another personal favorite of mine! The air turns crisp and the leaves start turning orange, it’s such a beautiful sight to behold! You never know what’s going to happen in the mountains this time of year, I saw snow fall right at the start of October while I was there!
Months: November through March
Seeing the Valley transformed into a beautiful snowy landscape is truly a sight to behold. The amount of snow you can expect really depends on how good of a Winter they’re anticipating, I’ve seen snow fall as early as October and likewise visited in November or February and without a single snowflake in sight. You really never know what you’re going to get! One thing to consider though is once Winter hits the roads up to Glacier Point and Tuolumne Meadows shut down and are not accessible. But don’t fret, the Yosemite Valley itself still has a ton of picturesque locations to choose from if a Winter elopement is your dream!
2. What’s the best spot?
With so many beautiful spots to choose from it’s hard to make a decision! But here are the Top 4 Places to Elope in Yosemite;
Taft Point has to be one of the absolute best places to elope in Yosemite and you can see why below. The lighting at sunset here is absolutely impeccable, it’s facing West so you get that beautiful golden hour glow while looking down sheer cliffs into the Valley. This isn’t for the faint of heart though, you are standing at roughly 7,500′ of elevation so it’s very high up there. The hike itself out to Taft Point isn’t too strenuous though, in spite of it being so high up in elevation. It’s only a 2.2 mile hike out and back.
The main hub for Yosemite, the Valley has so much to offer! If you’re looking for a Winter elopement in Yosemite then Yosemite Valley is all you’ll have access to. But there’s still so many locations to choose from; Lower Yosemite Falls, Swinging Bridge Picnic Area, Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan Meadows, Tunnel View, and so much more!
Whereas I always say that Taft Point is the go-to spot for sunset, I like to think that Glacier Point is the must-see for sunrise if you’re looking for that picturesque golden hour glow. That being said, it’s also truly a sight to behold at sunset for some gorgeous, soft purples and blues. Glacier Point is easily accessible and an hour drive from within Yosemite Valley. It’s one of the few spots that’s also got handicap access with stunning cliffside views.
You can’t visit the Sierra Nevada mountains without stopping by and seeing some of the Giant Sequoias! The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Wawona is home to the largest grove of giant sequoias in Yosemite.
3. Get your permits!
Special use permit: Make sure you follow the rules and get your permit well ahead of time! You can schedule your wedding or ceremony up to one year in advance and more than 21 days prior to your event. You can find the full information regarding policies and the permit application directly on the National Park Service website here.
Photography permit: Don’t forget the photography permit if you’re hiring a professional photographer (which you absolutely should) for $200. Find out more info at the link above!
Entrance fees: The cost is $35 per vehicle for a 7 day pass into the National Park or $80 for a one year park pass with entrance to all US National Parks and Federal Recreation Areas. I don’t know about you, but I always like to have the annual pass handy.
4. Timing is everything.
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, timing is crucial to get the dreamiest light in one of the most picturesque places in the world. Some places really thrive on the time of day; Taft Point is a must-see for sunset to really see the whole valley glow! Glacier Point looks amazing in either sunset or sunrise. You’ll want to plan for either an hour before sunset or an hour before sunrise depending on your location for the optimal lighting.
5. Where to stay.
There’s a couple of options with where to stay for your Yosemite Elopement;
If you’re really into roughing it and staying in a tent then look no further than some camping options within Yosemite!
You can find a wide range of lodging within the National Park in the form of simple tent cabins in Curry Village to luxury rooms at the Ahwahnee Hotel, all within the Yosemite Valley!
If you’re looking for more of a glamping experience then you should look into AutoCamp! Offering modern luxury with iconic Airstream trailers, this idea also lends itself for some amazing getting ready photos together from the comfort of your own Airstream!
AirBnb only has a few spots within the Park you can also find some more scattered through Yosemite West or at the South Gate Entrance in Oakhurst. That’s if you don’t mind doing a bit of driving to access to main areas within the park.
6. Hire your vendors (including the photographer)!
After getting everything prepared for such an important day in your life, you’ll want to hire some amazing vendors to really tie it all together. Besides getting your outfit together, get yourself some florals and have a makeup artist do your makeup to really feel glam. Most importantly, make sure you hire an amazing photographer to capture all the details! After all the hard work you put into having this day come together, you’ll want to have photos to commemorate the day and be able to look back on for years to come. This is all about preserving your legacy, after all. Scroll on down to check out my elopement pricing and to reach out!
TIP! I’m actually ordained! If you’re wanting something like a simple civil ceremony with no pictures of the actual event, then of course I can help you with that. But if you want to have the whole shebang and photos to boot then you can hire an officiant so you can legally get married IN Yosemite National Park.
If you’re thinking about eloping in Yosemite, I would be so thrilled to help capture your big day! I offer a customized build-your-own collection style when it comes to elopements to best capture your day, but here’s what you can expect;
My elopement package starts at $3000 for up to three hours of coverage including travel and lodging for Yosemite. This includes; a complimentary consultation, custom timeline building for your perfect day, location scouting, fully edited high resolution images delivered via an online downloadable gallery, social media sharing, prints available for purchase directly from your gallery, and a print release. Additional hours are available for $300/hr.
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then let’s get the conversation going!
A Real Yosemite Elopement
Check out Alexi & Jeremy’s real Yosemite Elopement below!
Check out more Yosemite sessions below!