Where to elope if you love red rock formations
The desert may not offer a lot of greenery, but it does make up for it with its colorful sunsets and gorgeous red rock formations. If you’ve never been up close and personal with a landscape featuring this vibrant geological feature, just know that it’s an experience worth traveling for. Even as a photographer, I don’t believe any photos will ever be able to replace the experience of exploring red rocks in person, although they are a perfect way to hold onto memories of the adventure. Choosing a red rock wedding location will guarantee a unique and memorable backdrop for your wedding or elopement. So where can you find this wonder of nature? There are a plethora of options located in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and other areas of the United States. Continue reading for some of the best red rock locations in the US.
The best and most beautiful red rock wedding locations:
1: Sedona, Arizona – See a Sedona elopement here!
Sedona is an obvious choice for the top of this list. Perhaps one of the most famous destinations to see red rock formations, Sedona is truly as magical of a wedding destination as everyone makes it out to be. Here you can find hiking trails for every level of expertise, with breath-taking views everywhere you turn. Sedona has classic desert landscapes, lush forests, and even rivers and swimming holes to cool off in during a summer day in Arizona. In winter, the red rock mountains are contrasted with a light dusting of snow. Sedona has a plethora of locations that are perfect for a small wedding or adventure elopement.
When to visit Sedona: Because it is such a popular destination, I recommend going on a weekday or during off-season months like January-March or September-November. Adequate parking for the rush of tourism has proved to be the biggest challenge in Sedona, but there are plenty of private areas to hold a small wedding ceremony, no matter when you go.
How to elope in Sedona: A great benefit of Sedona is that it is not a National Park, so the requirements to get married there are much more relaxed. While the Coconino National Forest is subject to make changes to their rules at any time, based on my latest information you do not need any type of permit to elope in Sedona, unless you hav
e a gathering of more than 25 people. Some areas, such as Crescent Moon Ranch, require a reservation to use the land. Most areas are free to use and the options are plentiful.
2: Page, Arizona – See an engagement session here!
North of Sedona, you’ll find plenty more fiery red rock formations like Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, and Antelope Canyon at the Arizona/Utah state line. Just outside of Grand Canyon National Park, these landmarks are worth a trip of their own. Looking out over the top of Horseshoe Bend, you’ll have a view of the Colorado River deep below. You can explore the channels created by red rock cliffs in Lake Powell by boat, or explore the caverns and slots of Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons.
When to visit Page: Weekdays are still your best bet for the exceedingly popular slot canyons and Horseshoe Bend, but if you are wanting to explore Lake Powell by water, May-November are a great time to do that.
How to elope in Page: Special Use Permits are required for anything including a professional photographer here. You can find information about these from the National Park Service. A lot of elopement locations are also on reservation land, so for these locations you will need permits from Navajo Nation instead. For more information, read my article on eloping in Antelope Canyon here.
3: Zion National Park – See an elopement here!
As of 2020, Zion has quickly risen in visitation numbers to become one of the most popular national parks. The best part of Zion is the hiking options – many of the hikes, such as Angel’s Landing, lead to high viewpoints looking out into and over the red rock canyons. These mountaintop view points will add an extra element of exhilaration to your elopement day, and a picturesque backdrop. Seriously – the views look like a painting.
When to visit Zion: Weekdays are a must for National Park elopements. Weekends will have much higher levels of crowds and traffic. Avoid summer at all costs. Both the crowds and the temperatures are at their highest points during summer months. A hike in the morning darkness for a sunrise elopement is going to be your best bet at privacy here.
How to elope in Zion: Any wedding, no matter the size, will need a Special Use Permit from Zion National Park. You can apply for the $100 permit through the National Parks Service. You will need to apply at least three weeks before you want to have your wedding in Zion. I recommend starting this process at least 8 weeks before to be safe.