How to Elope in Yosemite

January 11, 2024

1) Why is Yosemite a Popular destination for Elopements?

Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic national parks in the world. With iconic granite cliffs and domes, waterfalls, and meadows, the national park holds a lot of history, especially for those who love climbing and backpacking. Yosemite is easily one of the most epic, majestic places in the world. I myself live in Bishop CA and stare at the beautiful sierra peaks every day, and my mind is STILL blown when I enter Yosemite. That’s why I wrote this blog about how to elope in Yosemite.

If you’d like to see one of my all time Sunrise Elopements in Tuolumne Meadows (the east side of Yosemite National Park), read about it here. Sunrise Elopement in Tuolumne Meadows.

2) Permits, Logistics, Lodging

To elope in Yosemite or Tuolumne Meadows, a Special Use Permit is required. This can be obtained from the National Park Service. Lodging options range from rustic campgrounds to the Ahwahnee Hotel. Plan well in advance because things book up very fast. In fact, often people need to stay outside of the park as there is no lodging available.

View this webpage for details about weddings in Yosemite National Park, and getting a permit: Special Use Permit for Weddings

3) Some Specific Ceremony sites in Yosemite

Scenic spots for Elopements:

  • Glacier Point: Known for its panoramic views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. This is the most popular spot for elopements, and therefore the most crowded!
  • Taft Point: Another popular spot with stunning views of El Capitan.
  • Sentinel Dome: Provides a 360-degree view of the park, perfect for sunrise ceremonies.
  • Yosemite Valley: The heart of the park, surrounded by iconic landmarks like El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls.
  • Tuolumne Meadows: For a more secluded and natural setting, Tuolumne Meadows offers endless granite domes, Tenaya Lake, and quiet meadows.

Venues for elopements and micro weddings:

  • Evergreen Lodge
  • Tenaya Lodge
  • Yosemite Valley Chapel
  • Ahwahnee Hotel

For more information, check out this link on Yosemite’s website: Yosemite Ceremony Locations

4) Best Season to Elope in Yosemite

The best time to plan a Yosemite elopement is late spring through early fall. These months offer the most stable weather conditions and access to all areas of the park.

  • Make sure Tioga Pass is open (Often end of May, but sometimes not until July depending on snow pack)
  • Mosquitos (Most likely the first 2 months of summer)
  • Wildfires (Most likely end of summer, September and October)

5) Leave No Trace in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a crowded place. People love to visit, for obvious reasons! Unfortunately, that creates a lot more impact, and there are a lot of rules in place to protect the park. Here are some ways to Leave No Trace:

  • Read this page on Yosemite’s website: LEAVE NO TRACE
  • Bring a wag bag, or use the official toilets
  • Pack out anything you bring
  • Do not set up installations for your ceremony, like arches, etc.
  • Meadows can be very delicate. The rules here are a little fuzzy, but it is better to avoid walking on them if possible, especially in spring and early summer while they are growing. In late fall, they are usually dying on their own and it is less of an issue. (* notice a couple of photos here on the meadow. We only walked where there was already an obvious trail, and it was October (late fall).

5) Why I love Yosemite for Elopements

Yosemite simply holds a special magic that is not comparable to any other place in the world. The reason it is crowded is because of this. I will always suggest a quieter place somewhere in Tuolumne, so that you can have the iconic beauty along with a little more privacy. But if you are stoked on something as popular as Glacier Point, we will make it happen!

There are plenty of activities for you and your guests to enjoy. Endless hiking, rock climbing, photography, guided tours, and more.

6) Some of my favorite Yosemite locations

Soda Springs / Tuolumne Meadows Footbridge

Olmstead Point

Lembert Dome

Forests (everywhere you go!)