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Moab has become one of the most desired adventure elopement locations in Utah, thanks to its otherworldly landscapes, endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, and its warm climate. I adore Utah and Moab is one of my personal favorite desert elopement locations to recommend to eloping couples, so I wanted to put together this comprehensive guide to how to elope in Moab with everything you need to know about Moab elopements from A to Z. I’ll be walking you through the best locations to elope, how to get the proper permits, the best places to stay, fun activities to do, and so much more!
Table of Contents:
- Why Elope in Moab?
- How to Travel To & Get Around Moab
- Best Time of Year to Elope in Moab
- Top 6 Best Places to Elope in Moab
- How to Get Your Moab Elopement Permits
- How to Get Your Moab Marriage License
- How to Leave No Trace With Your Moab Elopement
- Where to Stay for Your Moab Elopement
- 10 Moab Adventure Elopement Activities + Ideas
- Moab Elopement Packing List
- What to Wear for Your Moab Elopement
- Final Tips for Your Moab Elopement
- Moab Elopement Photographer
- Ultimate Utah Elopement Guide
Why Elope in Moab?
First off, why elope in Moab?
It’s pretty simple: the scenery is absolutely out of this world. Literally – it feels like you’re on another planet when you’re exploring the red sands of the Moab desert. Utah as a whole has some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, and Moab is a dream come true for desert lovers + outdoor enthusiasts. Moab has two national parks as well as a state park, and plenty of other stunning land managed by the BLM that you can explore year-round, since the weather in Utah is beautiful throughout all four seasons. It does get chiilly in the winter, but the landscapes are just as gorgeous and ready for you to explore!
How to Travel To & Get Around Moab
If you’re traveling into Moab from out of state, I recommend flying directly into Canyonlands Regional Airport in Moab. However, flying into this regional airport can get pretty expensive depending on where you’re flying inform, so your other best option is to fly into Salt Lake City, rent a car, and drive to Moab (which takes just under 4 hours). If you decide to go with this option and you rent a car, consider renting a Jeep or another high-clearance vehicle – this will make traveling around the desert on unpaved roads significantly easier (and safer)!
Renting a car also gives you way more freedom to explore wherever you want, whenever you want, which is especially great in Moab, where the national & state parks are fairly close to one another. The entrance to Arches National Park is only 5 miles north of Moab, and from there you can get to Dead Horse Point State Park in about 30 minutes. Continue south for another 10 miles and you’ll be at Canyonlands National Park!
Best Time of Year to Elope in Moab
When it comes to choosing the best time of year to elope in Moab, it totally depends on what your priorities are and what you’re envisioning your big day to look like. Some of the most important factors to consider are crowds, weather, travel/accommodation costs, permit costs, and the locations you want to visit.
Peak tourist seasons in Moab are typically spring (March-May) and fall (September-October), as these are when temperatures are most comfortable & are great for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, climbing, canyoneering, etc. Summer is the hottest time of year in Moab, so visitors tend to avoid the area a bit more thanks to the extremely hot and dry climate that isn’t ideal for spending long periods of time outside! Winter is a great time to visit Moab because this season typically sees the least crowds & the cheapest travel costs, if you’re down for chillier weather (highs between December-February usually range between 45-55°F. Keep in mind that Moab can also get pretty windy in the spring, especially between March and June, with wind guests sometimes getting up to 80mph!
- If your priority is comfortable temperatures, you want to have plenty of opportunities to explore outside, and you’re okay with crowds: elope in Moab in the spring (March-May) or fall (September-October).
- If you want to avoid crowds as much as possible, have a low-effort elopement, and are okay not doing a ton of outdoor adventure: elope in Moab in the summer (June-August).
- If you want to avoid crowds, have lower travel costs, and are okay with chillier temperatures: elope in Moab in the winter (December-February).
Top 6 Best Places to Elope in Moab
I’ll be honest, picking your Moab elopement location will probably be the hardest part of the entire planning process. There’s a reason (well, many reasons!) people come from all over to experience the jaw-dropping desert terrain, and there is no shortage whatsoever of epic spots to visit. 71% of Utah is public land, with BLM specifically managing 22.8 million acres – so you’ve got pretty much endless options to choose from.
To help you out, I’ve narrowed down 6 of my favorite places to elope in Moab, and I’m positive that (at least) one of these locations will be the perfect dream come true for your special day in the desert!
1. Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of the most iconic parks in the entire state of Utah – and for good reason. This desert wonderland offers some of the most spectacular scenery you will ever come across, and with the plentiful opportunities for adventure (hiking, climbing, you name it), it’s a true dream come true for outdoor lovers! Saying your vows or snapping portraits in your elopement attire beneath the dramatic red-rock arches is an experience you will never, ever forget. Plus, this area has some of the best stargazing around – so if you’re dreaming of capturing some epic shots of you and your love under the desert stars, you will not be disappointed (as long as you visit when the skies are clear – but don’t worry, I’ll help you with this while we’re planning!).
To enter Arches National Park, you can pay a $30 vehicle fee that grants you entry into the park for 7 consecutive days, or you can opt for one of the annual pass options: the $55 Southeast Utah Parks Pass or the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. You’ll also need to pay a $2 timed entry ticket fee per vehicle if you enter the park between 7am-4pm, which you can do in advance via Recreation.gov.
To get married in Arches National Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit. Weddings in the park can be scheduled up to a year in advance and no later than four weeks in advance – I recommend applying as early as you can to ensure you get the date & location of your choice.
Here are the elopement locations in Arches National Park where ceremonies are permitted, along with the maximum group size allowed at each location:
- La Sal Mountains Viewpoint (50)
- The Windows Section (25)
- Sand Dune Arch (25)
- Pine Tree Arch (25)
- Park Avenue (15)
- Devils Garden Campground Amphitheater (80)
- Panorama Point (50)
Keep in mind that even though these locations are specifically permitted for ceremonies, it doesn’t mean you’ll have the area all to yourselves! Expect to see other park visitors around you, and be as respectful as possible by avoiding playing music/making loud noises, bringing large decorations, or obstructing certain areas from public access.
Fill out this form & pay your $185 application fee via Pay.gov to begin the application process for your Arches National Park elopement permit!
2. Canyonlands National Park
Located about an hour (depending on where you visit) from Arches National Park is yet another stunning national park in Moab: Canyonlands! This national park is best known for its dramatic, towering rock formations, panoramic overlooks, and vast canyons that will remind you just how small you really are. Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s largest national park, wth over 300,000 stunning acres of land divided into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the Green & Colorado Rivers.
To enter Canyonlands National Park, you have the same options as Arches National Park: you can pay a $30 vehicle fee that grants you entry into the park for 7 consecutive days, or you can opt for one of the annual pass options: the $55 Southeast Utah Parks Pass or the $80 America the Beautiful Pass. Unlike Arches, you won’t need any sort of timed reservation!
To elope in Canyonlands National Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit. Weddings can be scheduled in Canyonlands National Park up to one year and no later than four weeks in advance, so once that one-year date hits, you should apply as soon as you can. The more time that the park has to process your application and communicate permit details with you, the better.
Here’s where you can get married in Canyonlands National Park, along with the maximum group size allowed at each location:
- Grand View Point (25)
- Green River Overlook (25)
- Mesa Arch (25)
- Shafer Canyon Overlook (10)
- Pothole Point (10)
- Needles Group Campsites:
The application fee for a Canyonlands National Park elopement permit is $185, and you may need to pay additional permit processing fees or monitoring fees, depending on the details of your elopement. Send this completed application form as well as confirmation of your application payment via Pay.gov to firstname.lastname@example.org to begin the process of getting your permit!
3. Dead Horse Point State Park
Although I love my national parks, Dead Horse Point State Park has to be one of my favorite Moab elopement locations. If you’re looking for vast canyons, desert woodlands, and jaw-dropping views of the Colorado River (plus easy access to the two national parks), this is the place for you! Eloping at Dead Horse Point State Park can look however you want it to: let it be wild with endless adventure + exploration around the park, or keep it laid-back and low-effort by simply enjoying the scenic overlooks without a long hike. No matter how much adventure you’re looking for, the breathtaking panoramic views of the dramatic pinnacles, buttes, and deep ravines will take your breath away + leave you with an unforgettable elopement experience.
To visit Dead Horse Point State park, you’ll need to pay a day-use fee of $20/vehicle, which will grant you access into the park for 2 consecutive days. And to elope in the park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit, which costs $60 to apply for in addition to a $20/vehicle charge on the day of your wedding. You may also need to pay a $50/hr fee for ranger monitoring if the park deems that it’s necessary! Weddings are permitted in the park at any time fo year, any time of day – so you can elope whenever you want as long as you have the proper permit.
Here are the permitted elopement ceremony sites at Dead Horse Point State Park, as well as how many guests you can have at each location:
- La Sal Site (25)
- Cliff Side Site (20)
- West Bench Site (50)
- Point Bench Site (5)
- Shade Shelter Site (100)
4. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is one of the most iconic tribal parks in Utah, located on the Utah/Arizona border. It’s pretty much a picture of what Mars looks like, with seemingly neverending red sand, massive sandstone buttes, and otherworldly crimson mesas + colorful rock formations. Fun fact, this 17-mile Valley Drive loop is actually a super popular film location for Western movies and is by far one of the most photographed locations on Earth. Whether you simply want to drive through the valley to take in the scenery from your car or you say your vows atop the epic desert landscape, Monument Valley is simply a must-visit for couples eloping in Moab! It’s an awesome easy-to-access, low-effort elopement location.
It costs $8 per person, per day to enter Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, and a Special Use Permit is required for weddings. There’s a $300 processing fee for weddings that involve 4 or more people, as well as additional land usage fees + potential monitoring fees. You’ll need to contact the Navajo Parks & Recreation department for further details about getting a Monument Valley Special Use Permit!
5. Manti-La Sal National Forest
If you want to really escape into the Utah wilderness for your adventure elopement, consider eloping in the Manti-La Sal National Forest. It’s absolutely massive, encompassing almost 1.5 million acres of land stretching from central to southeastern Utah, and even into Colorado! The forest is divided into 3 regions: the Manti Division, the La Sal Division at Moab, and the La Sal Division at Monitcello, all providing epic mountain backdrops and excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, camping, hunting, and off-roading. This national forest is a fantastic place for couples who truly want to escape modern life and enjoy the many adventurous opportunities that Utah has to offer – and be surrounded by absolutely stunning views, of course!
You do not need a pass to enter the Manti-La Sal National Forest, and you will not need a
a Special Use Event Permit unless you’re having over 75 people. Your photographer, and any other vendors charging for on-site services, however, will need to get a permit! I recommend getting in touch with the ranger district in the area you’re looking to elope to make sure you follow the permitting rules – you can find contact info here.
6. The Red Earth Venue
Finally, I wanted to include a shoutout to a Moab wedding venue that I highly recommend for larger weddings, receptions, and groups with mobility limitations: The Red Earth Venue! Located in the heart of Moab, this desert wedding venue is absolutely glorious, surrounded by dramatic red rock cliffs, picturesque scenery, and, of course, plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure in the Utah desert. If you want to get hitched out in the middle of the desert but want to invite a larger group, or have a bigger party with your loved ones after you have a private ceremony, this venue is a phenomenal option because you get all the rugged, wild aspects of the desert – plus the bonuses of a stunning venue. No matter which one of the ceremony/reception sites you opt for (the Desert Platform Site is absolutely insane!), you and your guests will have an unforgettable experience here!
How to Get Your Moab Elopement Permits
Getting the proper permits for your elopement is the best way to ensure you respect the land you’re visiting, the other visitors around you, and the rules that are put in place to protect that land for the future.
Moab National Park Elopement Permits
To tie the knot in any of Moab’s National Parks, you’ll need a park-specific Special Use Permit. Each park’s rules and regulations for this permit are slightly different, so go ahead & refer to the sections above for info on getting a permit from each park!
Moab State Park Elopement Permits
To get married at a state park in Utah, you will need a Special Use Permit. There’s a required $10 application fee as well as a permit fee that varies by park (starting at $50), and you’ll need to apply for the permit at least 30 days in advance of your elopement.
Follow these steps to obtain your Utah State Park elopement permit:
- Fill out this application form
- Send your completed application to the appropriate park office (find the correct contact information here)
- Follow your park contact’s instructions to pay your permit fees
Moab BLM Land Elopement Permits
To get married on BLM land in Moab, you’ll need to obtain a Special Recreation Permit through the BLM. You must apply for this permit at least 180 days prior to your elopement!
Here’s how to get your Special Recreation Permit to elope on BLM land:
- Contact the local BLM Field Office in the area you want to elope to confirm that your desired location is on public BLM land (find contact info on this page)
- Fill out this application form
- Wait for approval from the BLM (typically within 30 days from receipt of your application)
- Provide any necessary documentation the BLM requests
How to Get Your Moab Marriage License
To get legally married in Moab, you’ll need to comply with Utah’s marriage laws and licensing processes. You can apply for your marriage license in-person at any county clerk’s office (including the Grand County County Clerk in Moab), and then you can use your license anywhere in Utah. Since you have to apply in-person, be sure to factor time for that into your travel plans!
Once you have your Utah marriage license, there is no waiting period – so you can technically tie the knot as soon as you’d like! Your license will only be valid for 32 days, however, so make sure you don’t wait too long. If you don’t have your marriage solmenized within those 32 days, your license will expire & you’ll need to get a new one.
You’ll need at least 2 witnesses over the age of 18 to sign your marriage license, and your ceremony can be officiated by a minister, priest, county clerk, mayor, rabbi, or any other licensed officiant. Find out more about legally getting married in Utah here!
How to Leave No Trace With Your Moab Elopement
It’s incredibly important to follow the Leave No Trace principles no matter where you explore the great outdoors, but it’s especially crucial in areas like Moab that have unique ecological factors that you need to take into account. Many of the plant communities in the southeastern Utah desert are dependent on what’s called cryptobiotic soil crust, which is essentially dirt that’s alive! This soil made up of a variety of life forms (including moss, lichen, & fungi) can take hundreds of years to form, and is an extremely fragile surface that’s very easily damaged. And once they are damaged, they take just as long to grow back. This soil is super susceptible to flooding, dust storms, and erosion – meaning we have to pay careful attention to where we walk when exploring southeastern Utah.
If you’re unfamiliar with the LNT principles, they’re essentially a set of principles that clearly + easily lay out how to minimize your impact when outdoors – AKA how to leave as little of a trace as possible. When you plan ahead for your elopement and do your due diligence to learn about the ecology of the land you’re visiting, you’ll be able to keep your impact to a minimum and leave the landscapes just as beautiful as you found them.
I’ve got a degree in environmental sustainability, so it’s important for me to make sure I educate my couples on safe, sustainable ways to elope as much as I can – and for you to have a good understanding of your impact on the environment, as well! If you’d like to find out more about how you can have an eco-friendly elopement, take a look at my Sustainable Elopement Planning Guide.
Where to Stay for Your Moab Elopement
Moab has some of the coolest places to stay for eloping couples, whether you’re looking for a luxurious glamping experience out in the rugged desert, an Airbnb in the woodlands, or a primitive campsite beneath the stars. I’ve compiled a list of all the best options for your Moab elopement, ranging from fancy resorts, to classic desert lodges, to rustic backcountry spots! If you’re inviting any guests, I definitely recommend finding accommodations that you can all stay at so that you can enjoy as much quality time together as possible. Renting out an entire property is also a crazy cool way to enjoy a private celebration with all the people you love!
One quick tip: a lot of spots you’ll visit in Moab won’t have any cell service, so it may be important for you to find a place to stay that has Wi-Fi if you need to be able to connect with loved ones at some point during your trip. If you’d rather be totally unplugged and escape for a few days, don’t worry – there are plenty of glamping sites that offer the perfect opportunity for that, too!
Best Moab Glamping
- Under Canvas Moab
- Under Canvas MoabWandercamp
- Glamping Canyonlands
- Crooked Bindi Ranch
- Moenkopi Yurts
Best Moab Airbnbs
Best Moab Hotels, Resorts, & Lodges
Best Moab Camping
- Arches National Park:
- Canyonlands National Park:
- Dead Horse Point State Park:
- Monument Valley:
- Manti-La Sal National Forest:
10 Moab Adventure Elopement Activities + Ideas
There are endless opportunities for outdoor exploration around Moab, whether you want to keep it low-effort and ride a horse through the desert, you want to go off-roading, or you’re looking for a bit more of a thrill with an activity like skydiving! While you could literally spend months enjoying all of the epic adventures Moab has to offer, I recommend picking out a couple of your top, dream activities to incorporate into your elopement timeline and making sure you have realistic expectations of how long everything will take.
Here are the top 10 Moab activities + ideas that I recommend choosing from for your adventure elopement!
4. Base jumping
If you’d like some help planning your Moab elopement timeline + incorporating activities into your day, take a look at my recent blog, “How Long Is An Elopement? Elopement Timeline Tips” for all my best advice.
Moab Elopement Packing List
To make sure you don’t forget anything important when it comes time to get ready for you Moab elopement, I’ve created a simple Moab elopement packing list for you to use below! Packing carefully will ensure you have the most safe, well-prepared, and exciting elopement possible.
Here’s what to bring to your Moab elopement:
- Proper hiking shoes for the desert
- Trekking poles
- Veil/other dress accessories (detachable sleeves, cape, etc.)
- Jewelry (bracelets, earrings, necklaces, etc.)
- Wedding rings/bands
- Shoes for your ceremony (if you’re wearing a different pair)
- Layers to keep warm
- Light jackets
- A change of clothes (just in case)
- Moisture-wicking hiking attire
- Hiking socks
- Vow books
- Marriage license (and a pen to sign it)
- Makeup for touch-ups
- Hair brush/pins
- Cordless hair straightener
- Just-in-case items:
- Safety pins
- Stain remover
- Fashion tape
- Mini sewing kit
- Lint roller
- First-Aid kit
- Bug spray
- Offline maps/trail routes
- Plenty of water
- Doggie bags + water and food bowls (if you’re bringing your pup along)
- Quick-dry towels
What to Wear for Your Moab Elopement
It’s important to be intentional about what you wear for your Moab elopement, since you will be in a super dry, desert landscape, and you want to make sure you feel as comfortable & confident as possible.
If you want to wear a dress for your Moab elopement, make sure you choose one that you can easily move around in! I recommend opting or an A-line gown or one with a similar silhouette so that you can easily climb up into Jeeps, onto rocks, etc. Choosing lightweight materials is also a great idea if you’re eloping during the warmer seasons, to try and keep sweat to a minimum – materials like chiffon, organza, and georgette are great options. Having minimal layers to your dress will also make it easier to move around in, and you should be prepared to get your dress a little dirty – don’t expect to come away with a pristine, white gown when you’re eloping in a red sand desert!
If you want to wear a suit for your Moab elopement, consider khaki, gray, or blue colors to make sure you really *pop* against the deep reds & oranges of the desert. Avoid wearing too many warm tones that could make you blend in with the landscape, and keep your layers to a minimum if you want to sweat as little as possible in the heat!
No matter what your outfit looks like, wearing shoes with good grip is key: between the uneven ground and the many fence-less cliff edges, you want to be able to depend on your shoes to get you where you need to go, safely. Along with safety, you should pick shoes based on comfort and breathability to make sure you’ll be ready to wear them all day.
Finally, you should bring layers with you just in case: between the chilly temperatures at night and the blustery winds, you never know when you’ll need some warmth! You’d be surprised at how drastically the temps can drop once the sun sets, so you don’t want to be left to finish your hike or go stargazing in your tank top.
For more elopement outfit tips, check out my guide to What to Wear When You Elope.
Moab Elopement Photographer
Yes, I may be based in Seattle, but my love for the desert & adventuring with my couples knows no bounds. I’m incredibly passionate about delivering an unforgettable experience to every one of my couples, and would absolutely love to guide you through the phenomenal deserts of Moab for your special day. To find more about what I offer, take a look at my Moab elopement packages + pricing, and reach out to me here if you’re ready to start this exciting journey together!
More Utah Elopement Info + Planning Tips
If you’ve found yourself totally in love with Moab, then you should consider checking out the rest of what Utah has to offer in case another region fits your dream elopement vision better! I’ve got a full Utah Elopement Guide that I recommend reading through for more info on other parts of the state that make for great elopement locations.
Be sure to take a look at the rest of my blog for more elopement inspiration and resources!