Are you dreaming of a magical Yosemite National Park elopement? If so, this guide is exactly what you’re looking for!
We will cover everything you need to know to help you make your elopement planning process as smooth as possible.
From budgeting and legal requirements to the best locations and accommodation, as frequent travelers and elopement experts, we’ve got you covered. Plus, we’ll give you some fun ideas for things to do in Yosemite once the big day is over.
How To Plan Your Yosemite Elopement
Every love story is special, but there’s something truly magical about eloping in Yosemite. With its enchanting waterfalls, glowing granite cliffs, and towering sequoias, this national park is truly a sight to behold
If you’re starting to plan out your Yosemite elopement, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Step #1: Determine your budget: costs + considerations
Yosemite is one of the most popular places in the world to elope, and for good reason. The breathtaking scenery and intimate setting provide the perfect backdrop for your special day.
However, planning a Yosemite elopement can be a bit daunting, especially when it comes to budgeting; it can get expensive! On average, couples tend to spend between $10,500 – 15,000 for a Yosemite elopement.
Within your budget, you’ll need to factor in the cost of travel (airfare if you’re flying into California), accommodation, food, and any other incidentals.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to save money without sacrificing the quality of your ceremony.
Yosemite is home to some of the best camping in the country, so if you’re on a tight budget, consider camping instead of staying in a hotel.
There are also many free activities in Yosemite, such as hiking and stargazing. With a little planning, you can have an unforgettable Yosemite elopement without breaking the bank.
Step #2: Find a location – best places to elope in Yosemite
With its breathtaking landscapes and endless opportunities for adventure, Yosemite is the perfect place to start a new life together. Here are four of the best locations in Yosemite for an unforgettable elopement ceremony:
📍 Yosemite Valley:
The valley’s towering cliffs, rushing waterfalls, and abundant wildlife create a stunning backdrop for any wedding ceremony.
You’ll be glad to hear Yosemite Valley is very easy to reach. It’s just under a 5 hour drive from San Francisco, making it a convenient location for couples who live in the city.
Yosemite Valley also offers a wide range of amenities for couples getting married. There are several hotels and restaurants in the area, as well as a variety of ceremony and reception locations to choose from.
📍 Glacier Point:
This lookout point offers incredible views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. It’s the perfect spot for couples who want to exchange their vows surrounded by natural beauty.
Glacier Point is also easily accessible. There is a shuttle that runs from Yosemite Village to Glacier Point, making it easy for couples to get there without having to hike for hours.
Another bonus, Glacier Point is relatively uncrowded, so couples can exchange their vows without feeling like they’re being watched by a bunch of strangers.
📍 Tuolumne Meadows:
These beautiful high-altitude meadows are located in Yosemite’s backcountry, surrounded by granite peaks that provide a stunning backdrop for photos.
Tuolumne Meadows are relatively undeveloped, so you’ll feel like you’re miles away from civilization. This is the perfect location for couples who want an intimate ceremony.
And for the more active couples – there are also numerous hike and bike trails nearby, which makes it easy to extend your ceremony into a mini-adventure.
📍 Mariposa Grove:
The grove is home to over 500 giant sequoias (some over 3,000 years old). The giant trees are an awe-inspiring sight and provide a beautiful backdrop for an elopement ceremony.
Mariposa Grove is a peaceful setting, perfect for saying “I do” in tranquillity. And it’s located just a short drive from Yosemite Valley, making it easy to reach for your elopement ceremony.
Just outside of the grove, you can access numerous hiking trails and rocky cliffs offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. More photo ops on your big day.
Step #3: Set a date – best time of year for a Yosemite elopement
With its soaring mountains, rushing waterfalls, and sprawling meadows, Yosemite is a truly magical place to exchange vows. But when is the best time of year to elope?
The answer depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re hoping to avoid the crowds, early spring or late fall may be the best time for you. However, if you’re dreaming of a winter wonderland wedding, Yosemite can be especially magical during the winter months.
We personally recommend eloping during the fall. This is when the leaves are changing color and the air is crisp and cool. Yosemite Valley is especially beautiful during this time of year.
But if you have your hearts set on a summer romantic getaway, just bear in mind that there will be crowds of tourists and accommodation prices will be higher.
Step #4: Find a Yosemite elopement photographer + videographer
To ensure lasting memories and to make sure your big day is extra special, you’re going to want an elopement photographer or videographer.
These experienced professionals know how to capture the beauty of Yosemite in all its glory, whether you’re getting married at Yosemite Valley or Glacier Point.
Be sure to hire a local vendor, so they know how to navigate the logistics of getting married in Yosemite, from obtaining the necessary permits to finding the best locations for photos.
If you need help finding a talented, local photographer or videographer for your Yosemite elopement, you can reach us at: [email protected]
Step #5: Get your permits – legally eloping in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the world for eloping couples. But before you start planning your dream elopement, there’s one important question you need to answer: do I need a permit?
The answer is yes.
Yosemite requires all couples who wish to marry (or renew their vows) in the park to obtain a special use permit at least two weeks in advance.
This permit costs $150 and allows a maximum of 10 people at the ceremony. You can find more information about the permit on the National Park Service website.
However, the process is relatively simple and well worth the effort for those who want to exchange vows amidst Yosemite’s natural beauty.
Lastly, you will need an officiant to ensure your marriage is legal. While you can always ask a friend or family member to officiate your ceremony, Yosemite National Park also offers a list of officiants on its website.
Make sure you’re completely comfortable with your officiant and they have a deep understanding of the type of wedding you want, so your dream ceremony can come true.
So if you’re dreaming of a Yosemite elopement, be sure to apply for a permit and find the perfect officiant. Then your adventure can begin.
Step #6: Book your stay – where to stay during your Yosemite elopement
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the world for couples looking to elope.
And when it comes to accommodation, you’ll be sure to find the perfect place for your romantic getaway, regardless of your budget. Here are our three favorite options:
✔️ North Pines Campground
Nestled within towering pines along the banks of a rushing river, and surrounded by granite cliff walls, North Pines Campground offers a beautiful setting and a woodsy feel.
Conveniently located near Curry Village at the far end of Yosemite Valley, you can walk to many nearby hiking trails directly from this campground.
With only 81 sites, North Pines Campground is usually quiet with plenty of privacy. Try to book one of the riverside sites for a more scenic stay.
Note: This campground opens in April and closes in early November.
✔️ Yosemite Valley Lodge
This 3-star lodge is centrally located in Yosemite Valley, making it easy to explore some of the park’s most iconic sights like Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan.
The lodge offers a variety of accommodations, from standard rooms to suites with fireplaces and private balconies. Yosemite Valley Lodge also has a number of great amenities, including restaurants, a gift shop, and a swimming pool.
Plus, the lodge is just a short walk from Yosemite Village, where you can find Ranger-led programs, horseback riding, and more.
✔️ Tenaya Lodge
This luxury resort is one of the best places to stay in Yosemite if you’re looking for a romantic getaway. You will be guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
Located just minutes from the park entrance, Tenaya Lodge offers stunning views of Yosemite Valley, as well as a variety of amenities and activities to keep guests entertained.
From horseback riding and hiking to wine tastings and spa treatments, there is something for everyone at Tenaya Lodge.
Plus, the lodge also offers a variety of wedding and elopement packages, making it the perfect place to start your life together.
Yosemite Elopement Packages
Planning your dream elopement can be so exciting and stressful at the same time. This is why many couples go down the elopement package route to have everything taken care of by professional wedding planners.
If you need help finding the perfect elopement package to fit your budget and ceremony style, shoot us an email at: [email protected]
Additional Things To Do In Yosemite
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States due to its breathtaking scenery and rich history.
The park boasts a wide variety of outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking to hike through Yosemite’s towering sequoias or catch a glimpse of Yosemite Falls, there’s an activity for everyone in this national park.
Here are three of the best things to do in Yosemite:
➡️ Hike to Half Dome
One of Yosemite’s most iconic landmarks, hiking to the summit of Half Dome is an unforgettable experience. With outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Yosemite Valley, and the High Sierra.
Be warned that this hike is very challenging. You need a high level of fitness to complete this hike. The trail is between 14 – 16 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 4,800 feet.
But the views from the top are well worth the effort. Just be sure to secure a permit in advance, as only a limited number of hikers are allowed on the trail each day.
➡️ Drive through Yosemite Valley
If you want a more leisurely activity, but still want to take in the beautiful scenery, then consider a scenic drive through Yosemite Valley.
The valley is seven miles long and has towering cliffs on either side. And it provides an up-close look at some of the park’s most iconic landmarks, including El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point.
While there are plenty of ways to explore Yosemite, there’s something special about taking your time and savoring the views from behind the wheel. Why not stop off for a romantic picnic?
➡️ Horse riding
What could be more romantic than riding off into the sunset in true Western fashion?
Horseback riding is a great way to see Yosemite’s backcountry, and there are many companies that offer guided tours. There are miles of trails to explore, and you’ll get to see the park from a whole new perspective.
Riders of all experience levels are welcome, and no special permits are required. So saddle up and explore Yosemite’s wilderness on horseback for an unforgettable adventure.
Conclusion: Yosemite Elopement Guide 2022
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular destinations in the United States for couples who want to get married.
In fact, elopements have become so popular that the park now offers a special elopement permit. Yosemite is also one of the most popular honeymoon destinations.
Whether you want to hike to the top of Half Dome or simply enjoy a romantic picnic in Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park is the perfect place to start your life together.