If you love to travel and you want to check off a bunch of locations from your wish list at once–Utah is the place.
The great state of Utah is a one-stop shop for some of the most unique landscapes in the WORLD! Utah offers landscape diversity from red deserts, to cascading mountains, blue lakes, waterfalls, and salt flats including the biggest salt lake in North America! You seriously won’t find red deserts like the ones Moab offers anywhere else!
An added bonus is the fact that all of these amazing locations are super accessible and not too far from one another. The mountains are so close to Salt Lake City that it’s easy to stay in the city and drive 20 minutes to the mountains. From the Salt Lake City International Airport it’s only two hours to either the sand dunes or the salt flats. With many beautiful places so close together in the state, the possibilities for magic are endless.
Based on where Utah is located, it’s also a central spot to access other surrounding states like Wyoming, Colorado, and Idaho. This allows you to explore other national parks close by like Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Grand Teton National Park or Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, and other parks in Idaho.
Utah is a hidden gem that offers so many options for adventurous elopements found all in a single location. It’s also not hard to access these locations since most don’t require big hikes to reach those stunning views. These are just some of the many reasons why my family now calls Utah home (after moving from California) and why I recommend it as a perfect location for adventure elopements!
With all of this Utah love that I have to share, here are my best tips and Utah elopement location recommendations to get you started on your own Utah wedding planning!
For starters, you’re going to be amongst some of the most awe-inspiring red rocks. Truly, there’s really nothing comparable on the entire planet to the red desert that you will find there. Utah offers unique and diverse landscapes: tall arches, cascading canyons that change color with the sunlight, clear starry nights, beautiful views of the Colorado River, and so much more.
It depends mostly on two important factors: the weather and the terrain. In planning out your Utah wedding the season is everything. Summer can be almost unbearable with temperatures up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit! The best seasons to search out your Utah wedding venue in nature are usually late spring and early fall.
No matter the season, I recommend planning for an all-day adventure! It is the best way to spend the day driving from park to park and exploring all parts of the desert. There are even secret backcountry spots that not many know about that require off-roading. These opportunities provide privacy away from heavily-visited tourist spots. With an all-day adventure, you’ll have time for activities and so many different adventures!
One location I highly recommend visiting is the Homestead Crater, these hot springs offer scuba diving, swimming, and snorkeling!
The winter is a particularly tough season overall due to the drops in temperature. It gets very cold with temperatures sometimes down to nine degrees Fahrenheit! Moab and Zion both get snowfall which adds a beautiful contrast between the white snow and the red rock. You just have to be prepared for the cold!
One location that varies the most according to season is the Bonneville Salt Flats. In the winter, it’s normal for the flats to flood completely. In my opinion, these are even better than the dry salt flats!
It creates a different kind of beauty with its reflections and placid water. You must come prepared with durable waterproof boots in order to walk through the water when flooded because it is absolutely wet and freezing!
Capturing this couple in the freezing flats taught me this the hard way! It snowed on us a bit during our time together, but the sunset revealed the most beautiful colors in the sky over the open expanse of water!
My go-to selection when visiting Utah during springtime is Zion National Park. Part of Utah’s collection of national parks called The Mighty 5 (Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, & Capitol Reef) Zion is a favorite (closely following Arches!). This park has lots of amazing hikes and incredible views!
Best during the spring and fall, but it’s only during specific summer weeks (also a busy season) that you can explore The Narrows due to flash floods. Keep in mind that obtaining a Zion wedding permit has lots of limitations for group size and is restricted to specific ceremony spaces.
Both of these elopements took place in winter and it was very cold but so worth it! Because of the season, we were the only ones at both of these spots, one that’s normally crowded and the other which is super secret! On both occasions, we had the most perfectly clear, crisp morning air accompanied by the sun coming up over a spectacular view.
Nicknamed the “Yosemite of the desert”, it boasts the largest red rock cliffs in the world, alongside a canyon with rivers, narrows, and cliffside views.
Due to its popularity, it gets very crowded, so there’s almost no parking during busy seasons, and it takes time to shuttle around the park.
The best time to visit is in the spring and fall when the weather isn’t super hot or cold. Sunrise is best to avoid crowds. The park allows wedding ceremonies at Sunset Point in two locations: overlooking the Main Amphitheater and/or the Silent City at Sunset Point.
Can get crowded on the most popular trails and permits are hard to obtain.
Red rocks and stalagmite-type rock formations.
It’s far from major cities so camping is best during the spring and fall avoiding the extreme heat of the summer. Limited to certain spaces for weddings, no backcountry permits are approved but campsites, and other open country spots are permitted.
Not a very busy park, beautiful scenery with the cascading red rock desert, canyons, plateaus, and mesas.
The salt flats are such a weird phenomenon but an incredible setting to create some magic! From watching the world around you go from orange, to blue, to purple as the sun sets, it is extraordinarily unique in character and unlike any other place you can get married.
It can get hot in the summer, and flooded in the winter.
The greatest feature of a sunrise Utah mountain elopement is that usually no one else is present when it’s that early in the morning. At these Utah mountain weddings it was quiet, and the air was crisp for the hot and summer days. There are lots of aspen trees on the road and the sun rises with a pink and purple glow over the mountains!
Cascading mountains, tall pine trees, rivers, waterfalls, wildflowers, meadows, and mountain views that are best in late spring, summer, and early fall. There are lots of hidden gems and trails that include hiking and off-roading. Exploring through these spots for elopements and weddings on mountains never gets old!
White, flat ground with salt hexagon designs against the summer, blue skies. The contrast of the white with the blue is incredible with the addition of mountains in the background. It is such a clean and beautiful setting for a ceremony or picnic dinner. It’s totally worth the easy two-hour drive from Salt Lake City. You can drive on the salt flats themselves, so there’s lots of parking making it easy for a group to join.
The cool thing about Utah is you don’t have to drive a long distance to get to some stunning mountains. Utah is a fantastic place to have easy access to the mountains, especially for those early morning wake-up calls. The mountains of Provo Canyon (Deer Creek Overlook off Alpine Road) are only a short drive from major towns like Orem and Provo. Further out are Utah’s other major mountain ranges: the Wasatch Range (over 2 hours outside of Salt Lake City) and Uinta Mountains (about 5 hours outside of Salt Lake City).
Limits to less than 15 guests for this adventuring out in nature experience.
Best in spring, early summer, and fall. Sunrise will give you the most golden landscape watching the red rocks and cliffs turn from purple, to pink, to blue, and then orange. The same is true of sunset followed by the most beautiful star views on a clear evening! For state and national parks, guests are limited to 15 or less. Moab wedding venues like Under Canvas Moab can host upwards of 50 guests.
Arches National Park is the most unique national park you’ll ever experience with its incredible red rock arches. Moab itself has miles and miles of different canyons and red rock cliffside views. Off-roading and hiking presents some beautiful back-country elopement experiences that are so much fun!
Imagine the Little Sahara Sand Dunes (Little Sahara Recreation Area) like this: frolicking in the sand as the sun sets with golden light. To add to this vision you can even bring horses with you like this couple did! The sand dunes truly never disappoint and the couple’s elopement was absolutely a stunning evening. The dunes are epic, clean, and so much fun to run in–especially with your bare feet!
The dunes work even off-season when they are covered in snow and turn into something completely unexpected. Utah never ceases to surprise me with its beauty, and I especially loved being out in the dunes in winter for this special day!
As a Utah wedding photographer, I’ll just never get over the variety of landscapes according to each season. Its elopement days like the ones pictured throughout that make me feel so lucky to live there and help so many couples explore the beauty of Utah.
I’m ordained and can officiate your elopement! You will just need to obtain a marriage license from anywhere in Utah and I’ll sign it and send it in to the clerk’s office.
Making sure we have the correct permits is really important. There are many national and state parks in this area which are so fun to explore! When figuring out how to get married in Utah, you need to make sure that we have the right permissions to do so. Working with Utah wedding photographers like me who know the area is essential!
Some florals are limited or restricted based on the desert environment while dried flowers are allowed. All of this is listed in the permit application.
"We loved everything about Dani! Dani is beyond talented. Her attention to detail is amazing. Her use of lighting is timeless and her attitude is full of energy. Our friends and family keep speaking about how stunning the photos are from the big day. We loved Dani’s use of non posed photos. They came out more authetic and genuine and we couldn’t be more happier. Everything about these photos speaks fairytale dream come true. Thank you so much."
"Dani is such a people person, I had no hesitation in booking her because she has such a gracious presence about her on all platforms. She does such a good job at giving you direction but not making you feel forced or awkward about it. She's genuinely there to be a friend, she was so kind to both me and my husband and I may be a little bit biased but honestly I don't think I would ever book another photographer besides her if I needed photos taken."
"Dani was more than we expected! She was so happy and very calm on our wedding day. Her passion for photography did not go unnoticed! She even came to the rehearsal to scope it out and stayed longer than she was supposed to take pictures. She got me a few pictures by the next morning which made me even more excited to see all our photos. She was always on time and took all the photos that I wanted to be taken. I highly recommend Dani and will definitely use her in the future!"