Eloping in Yosemite National Park The Ultimate Guide

Eloping in Yosemite National Park is an AMAZING idea. Yosemite is one of California’s most famous national parks. It’s easy to see why when you visit. With views of Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and others, in addition to groves of giant Sequoias, Yosemite is the perfect place to elope in California.

If you’re thinking about eloping in Yosemite but don’t know where to start this ultimate guide to eloping in Yosemite is for you. After living and working in Yosemite for over a year I have all the insider information. I leave no detail untouched by including information on Yosemite elopement locations, permit information, timeline examples, and more!

In this Guide, I’ll Cover:

Basics of Eloping in Yosemite

How to get to Yosemite:

There are a few airports that are close depending on your travel plans. The closest airport is the Fresno International airport which is 1.5 hrs away from Wawona and 2.5 hours away from Yosemite Valley.  The Sacramento international airport is the second closest airport at 3.5 hours from Yosemite valley. If you want to fly in from San Francisco it is a 4-hour drive to the valley.

I would highly recommend renting a car for your trip. It will give you the freedom to move as you please and not be limited by the schedules of others. Once you are in the park, there is a shuttle in Wawona during the summer and a shuttle in the valley year-round. As of 2022, there is no shuttle bus in Tuolumne.

Where to stay in Yosemite:

Yosemite has a variety of lodging options within and surrounding the park that you can choose from for your Yosemite Elopement.

If you would like hotels within the park there are 3 options. The Ahwahnee is a National Historic Landmark hotel. This hotel is located in Yosemite Valley and is surrounded by gorgeous views. It is also known for having good food. The Yosemite Valley Lodge is very close to everything including a 10-minute walk to Lower Yosemite Falls. It’s a nice hotel with everything you could possibly need for a stay in the park. If you want something with a cute Victorian vibe the Wawona Hotel is the hotel for you. Founded in 1856 this charming hotel is situated near the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.

If glamping is more your speed Yosemite has both Curry Villiage & Housekeeping Camp. Both of these lodging areas are glorified tents and or cabins with the ability to feel like camping without the stress of actually setting up the tents.

If you like camping, then Yosemite has many campgrounds that sell out super fast. I’d recommend booking your campsite at least 6 months before your elopement. You can learn how to reserve your spot and see the camping calendar for all the campsites here.

In addition to the lodging in the park, there are some great AirBnb’s and other hotels around in the area to check out. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Yosemite Cabin

Yosemite’s Chateau East 

AutoCamp

Eloping in Yosemite: Best seasons

When eloping in Yosemite, I wouldn’t recommend getting married on the weekend. Even if you do a sunrise ceremony you’d still have to contend with people in your pictures and traffic. I’d recommend getting married at sunrise on a weekday in either spring or fall to avoid the crowds.

Spring


Spring is one of my favorite seasons for eloping in Yosemite. As the snow melts the waterfalls start roaring. With temperatures rising but not yet scorching, you can enjoy a comfortable celebration surrounded by nature.For couples seeking a tranquil yet enchanting elopement, April to May presents the perfect opportunity to exchange vows in Yosemite.

Summer

During summer, Yosemite sees its peak influx of visitors due to open facilities and school vacations. However, I advise against planning your wedding in the valley during this busy season.

For a more enjoyable summer experience, consider eloping in Tuolumne Meadows, located north of the valley at a higher elevation. The cooler temperatures and fewer crowds make it a preferable alternative. Here, you can still enjoy breathtaking views of iconic landmarks like Half Dome, along with the added charm of alpine lakes and mountain vistas not found in the valley. Opting for Tuolumne Meadows ensures a more serene and memorable elopement experience amidst Yosemite’s natural splendor.

Fall

Fall, particularly September and October, emerges as the optimal season for eloping in Yosemite. The mild weather sets the stage for breathtaking landscapes adorned with colorful foliage. With fewer crowds owing to school schedules, you’ll enjoy a more serene and intimate experience, devoid of the usual congestion and traffic. It’s a straightforward choice for couples seeking a Yosemite elopement that combines natural beauty with practicality.

Winter

Winter in Yosemite presents a unique opportunity for couples seeking privacy and adventure while eloping in Yosemite. While some iconic spots like Tuolumne, Half Dome, Glacier, and Taft Point may be off-limits due to snow, adventurous couples can still access these breathtaking vistas by snowshoeing, skiing, or hiking. Badger Pass Ski Area also offers thrilling opportunities for skiing and snowboarding, providing an adventurous twist to your winter elopement experience in Yosemite’s serene snow-covered landscape. Whether you’re seeking tranquility or adrenaline-filled activities, winter in Yosemite offers an unforgettable backdrop for your elopement adventure.

Eloping in Yosemite: Where to Elope

Yosemite has pre-approved ceremony sites for weddings and elopements that are on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have less than 11 people attending your elopement (this includes your photographer and officiant), you are not limited to the following locations. Keep in mind that some of these locations can only be reserved during certain months. To see season availability and view all locations within the park, check out this list.

Lower Yosemite Falls

Max Capacity: 50 people

Season Availability: Open Year-Round. Falls flow from November to July. Falls dry up in July/August. Peak Flow is April/May.

You are not allowed to have your ceremony at the base of the falls but there is a designated spot with a great view of the falls. Yosemite Falls is one of the most iconic waterfalls in the park which means it is also one of the most popular hikes. Make sure to plan for that accordingly. I recommend having a sunrise wedding to avoid the crowds. No parking available so you can either walk from the Lodge or take the Valley shuttle to Stop #6. 

Cathedral Beach Picnic Area

Max Capacity: 50 People

Season Availability: Open the Tuesday after Memorial Day to October 31st

This beach is a pretty little beach tucked away with great views of El Capitan. There is water to play in, pit toilets, and picnic tables to use as needed. It is easy to get to via the shuttle bus (Stop #10) or driving via the El Capitan loop.

Glacier Point Amphitheater

Max Capacity: 50 People

Season Availability: The Tuesday after Memorial Day to September 30th. Weddings are not scheduled in July or August.

Taft Point

Max Capacity: 11 People

Season Availability: The Tuesday after Memorial Day to September 30th

Important: The road up to Taft Point will be closed in 2022. The only way to reach it is via the Four Mile Trail, a long and strenuous 9.6-mile hike.

Yosemite Chapel

Max Capacity: As of 2022 there are only allowed 50 guests. 

Season Availability: Open Year-Round

To learn more about getting married in the Yosemite Chapel click HERE

Other Notable Yosemite Elopement Locations

Eloping in Yosemite: Permits

Now that you’ve chosen your ceremony location, it’s time to work on the logistical stuff. Yosemite requires a wedding permit to get married in the park. You can download the application here. The cost of a wedding permit is $150, you can apply for it up to a year before your intended wedding date, and must be sent at least 21 days before your wedding date.

Once you’ve filled out the application, you can send a check and the application to the address listed on the website.

If your event requires monitoring (usually weddings with 30-50 guests), you may need to pay an additional $50 an hour for monitoring.

Once your permit is approved, you will receive a copy that you will then need to sign and mail back. Once this is complete, the park will send you an official permit you will need to take with you into the park.

Eloping in Yosemite: Restrictions

Restrictions are no fun but they are there to help protect the environment and keep it looking gorgeous. None of these restrictions should keep you from having the wedding of your dreams.

  • No permits are granted for holiday weekends or holidays.
  • No pets are allowed.
  • No amplified music.
  • You cannot turn away other visitors or in any way block off your location to attempt privacy.
  • You must avoid stepping on any plant life.
  • You cannot get married under a sequoia.
  • You cannot “release” anything – butterflies, seeds, rice, or confetti-like things.
  • No balloons, signs, or decor.
  • No seating is allowed, with the exception of those with special needs.
  • No drones.
  • No formal receptions within the park.

Eloping in Yosemite: Elopement Packages

I’m Kat, an elopement photographer based in Yosemite National Park, and offer wedding/elopement packages for California, U.S., and destination elopements. To view all my packages, click here.

Yosemite Elopement Package:
  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in California
  • A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • Personalized elopement location recommendations
    • Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
    • Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
    • 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
    • Customized elopement timelines
    • Optional complimentary officiant services
  • Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
  • Travel fees to anywhere in California are already included
  • Starting at $3,000

Choosing the right photographer for your elopement:

Headshot-4

I’m more than just your photographer.

As someone who lives in Yosemite National Park, I know the ins and the outs of the park. I will help you plan the perfect elopement that you will look back on with happy tears. 

Are you ready to plan the elopement of your dreams? I’m excited to get to know you more and create magic together! 
Inquire now!!

Are you ready for a Yosemite Elopement??

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