Eeeee, you’re thinking of eloping in Moab! I cannot tell you how much of an awesome idea this is. I’m hopelessly biased (I freaking love Moab) but it’s super easy to see why. Moab is an absolutely stunning place for an elopement; it’s a staggering southwest setting and is absolutely bursting with adventure and color; dramatic red rocks, bright blue sky, winding desert river, narrow paths and dirt roads cutting through the desert like veins, distant mountains sitting on the horizon (and capped with snow in the winter!) . Quite simply; it’s stunning. It’s an amazing spot, and though I’m hopelessly biased, I will say it’s one of my top favorite locations for an elopement.
Moab is the biggest city in Utah’s Grand County and sits just south of the Colorado River. It’s home to two of Utah’s 5 National Parks, Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park. It’s also home to Dead Horse State Park and huge swaths of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. All of this to say- this place rules. For those with an adventurous spirit or those who just want to be adventure adjacent, this is your place. Home to rock climbing, white water rafting, river floating, ATVing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, BASE jumping and canyoneering… adventure thrives here.
Moab has a lot to offer – it’s a popular place and as such there’s loads of hotels (raged from the budget to the fancy), restaurants, spas, and shops. It makes a great home base for a small wedding or elopement; you have access to gorgeous scenery while also having access to more creature comforts if that’s what strikes your fancy.
Time of day as well as time of year are key components for planning your Moab elopement. In general, the sunlight can be pretty harsh on a clear day in Moab, and there isn’t a ton of shade. And the light at sunrise and sunset is truly spectacular- so I always suggest centering your day around one (or both) of those time frames. Sunrise can be pretty ideal, especially in warmer months, because it really helps minimize crowds in the more popular spots.
Summer in Moab is pretty hot- this can be thwarted by planning your elopement around sunrise and sunset- but even so June, July and August are wicked warm outside sunrise and sunset. A lot of folks wind up splitting their hours during summer (half their hours in the morning and half their hours at sunset) and really loving this setup. This allows for more locations, optimizing the best temperatures (and best light), and minimizing potential for crowds.
Summers in Moab are very, VERY hot (think upper 90’s and into the 100’s). Even sunset temps can be pretty scorching, so if you’re wanting to elope in the summer, sunrise is the way to go. And- BONUS!- that will also mean way less crowds.
On the other hand winter can get somewhat chilly but if you’re VERY lucky you can even get snow. I personally love winter Moab elopements- they may be cold but it’s the quietest season in Moab (which means less crowds!). It’s possible to visit places that are usually swarmed with other folks. But be aware- special use permits are not granted on holidays, so it’s best to avoid holiday elopements if you have your heart set on a Moab elopement!
Shoulder season reigns in Moab; September-November and March-May are my favorite times to elope in Moab because of the mild temps. Definitely avoid Jeep Week (the week prior to Easter) as it is the busiest week in Moab out of the year. And while it is still busy in spring and fall, it is absolutely possible to find spots where you can have privacy (I love treasure hunting for these spots) but be ready for traffic and lots of fellow adventurers!
No matter the time of year I *always* recommend having your elopement on a weekday. You have the best chance of having a more private and intimate experience, especially if you are drawn to a more popular Moab ceremony location.
Even as a an elopement photographer who freaking loves the area so much, I struggle to pick a favorite spot. One thing to prep for: more than likely you *will* need a permit. Both Arches and Canyonlands require a permit for a ceremony, and BLM land also requires very specialized permits. Think of it as your venue price- but instead of paying thousands of dollars for a hall or country club, you pay a couple hundred to help support our National Parks and public land. The permit process super depends on where you wind up selecting for your location- but don’t worry! I’m familiar with the process and can totally walk you through the steps!)
There are some really stunning spots with spectacular views both for sunset and sunrise. Some have super easy access (less than half a mile flat hike) and some either require a 4×4 vehicle to get to. There’s a perfect fit for everyone, whether you are a hardcore adventurer or consider more yourself adventure adjacent.
Canyonlands National Park is such a great spot if you want to elope in Moab. I love the La Salle mountains on the horizon and the way the canyons below snake through the cracked earth like the deserts veins. Canyonlands is epic and sprawling and huge and I love it. It’s on the west side of Moab and, fun fact, much bigger than Arches National Park but also gets way less visitation per year, which means, and this is key!-less crowds (yay!).
Island in the Sky
Current rules around ceremonies can be found here. It is important note that ceremony length is limited to 10 minutes and it is possible you will be monitored by a ranger to make sure you abide by that length of time.
The first thing you need to know about eloping on BLM land is that your photographer *must* have a permit. If your photographer says anything differently, they are wrong. The permitting process is extensive and thorough- and I am one of those photographers who has such a permit. It opens up so many awesome doors to off the beaten path locations near and around Moab. If you are wanting a more rugged adventure or little to no crowds, then a location on BLM land might be a perfect fit.
Arches is the smaller of the two National Parks outside of Moab, but is jam packed with amazing locations to explore. Arches is great because you can really get amongst it- you can walk right up and into sooo many of the arches 🙂 And they look SO GREAT at sunrise and sunset. Pro Tip: If you are eloping during busy season (spring) and have your heart set on Arches- sunrise is a *great* option.
**2023 Update about Arches National Park: Arches has a timed entry system for part of the year. This means that from April 3-Oct 3, visitors to Arches will need three things; a timed entry ticket, a photo ID, and a park entrance ticket. Timed Entry Tickets are not be required for folks with special use permits (ie: elopements, elopement guests, and vendors). Tickets are released in three month blocks:
There will be a few tickets available for purchase one day prior to entry at 6 pm MDT through Recreation.gov, though I would not recommend relying on those- they will likely sell out very quickly.
So what does this mean for your elopement? This is a net good thing. Arches was getting very very crowded and this is a good thing for the park and visitors (even folks getting married). It does mean that planning ahead will be essential for visiting Arches whether for fun or for an event like an elopement.
La Sal Mountains Viewpoint
The Windows Section
Sand Dune Arch
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Pine Tree Arch
Devils Garden Campground Amphitheter
Canyonlands and Arches are permitted by the same office, so the rules are very similar. More info can be found here. Ceremony length is limited to 10 minutes and it’s very common for rangers to be present to monitor your ceremony.
Dead Horse State Park is a great spot for elopements- you get absolutely KILLER views of the goosenecks in the Colorado River. There are 8 overlooks- some facing east and some facing west so you are able to get amazing views no matter time of day. Another fun thing about Dead Horse is that your dogs are allowed (as long as they are leashed)- so if you want your fur baby to be a part of your day, this is a great option.
While Moab and luxury are not necessarily synonymous, the Sorrel River Ranch is a great resort if you want to balance your adventure with some high class pampering. It’s in a gorgeous spot (and has a spa!).
Under Canvas is one of my favorite lodging options, anywhere. There are locations all over the western US, and the one in Moab is so incredibly beautiful. Under Canvas Moab is glamping at it’s finest! It has lots of amenities of a typical hotel, but you get to stay in a stylish and well appointed canvas tent. It’s also a great option venue option if you want to have friends and family present for your ceremony and celebration, but also want to have some time just the two of you in a nearby park.
Or you can always airbnb it at a cool airbnb like this one or this one. Airbnb’s are a great base because you have access to a kitchen and have a living space to chill- but often if you’re in Moab you’ll be out adventuring anyway!
Moab is a teeny desert town so there are a few logistics to consider when you plan on your travels. There *is* an airport, but car rentals are slim (basically… you get a jeep) and it’s pretty expensive to fly into Moab. The closest major airport is Salt Lake City (this is what most folks wind up doing) but you can also fly into Grand Junction CO.
It’s important you know that your elopement day is not just an all day photo shot. Your experience is super important to me, and if you’re making the rad choice to elope in Moab you have so much adventure right at your fingertips.
If you’re stuck trying to decide or brainstorm what you want to do on your elopement day, think about these questions: What activities do you like to do as a couple? What things do you do together on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? Are there things you’ve always wanted or dreamed of doing, but just have never got around to? How can you integrate what you already love to do during your Moab elopement day? Simply, what just sounds like freaking *fun*?
I also love offering ideas to help brainstorm, here are a few options for fun elopement day activities!
And friends, this is not an exhaustive list. Check out this blog post for even more ways to make your elopement special and unique.
I’m based in the southwest I’m in Southern Utah super, super often (both for elopements and also for fun- I truly do love it there) and cumulative wind up spending about 1-2 months out of the year in Moab. This means there are no hidden costs or travel feels for your Moab elopement- just the base price (listed below) and sales tax. Here’s whats included in all my elopement packages:
Four Hour Package: $5000 | Eight Hour Package: $7000 | Two Day Package (One 8-hr day + 4 hr day): $9500
Wanna see a whole shindig? Are you *also* a visual learner? I get it- there are a gazillion incredible places in this world (and even just in Moab!) that it can be tough to pick just one place to elope. So here ya go: an epic as hell two day elopement to see from beginning to end.
And if you crave more Moab inspiration, here’s a few recent elopements:
Or! Follow along on instagram for more Moab inspiration, southwest adventures, and ridiculous and silly stories:
If you want to hear more about how to elope in a national park, this is the blog post for you! And if you’re looking for some other national park inspiration, check out this yosemite elopement planning guide!
— Ryan + Styhiln
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WOW, what a dream elopement! This is seriously so beautiful, amazing job!
Such a great guide for couples looking to elope in MOAB.
Love the ambiance of that Moab elopement!
Such a fantastic guide! A Moab elopement sounds so dreamy
This guide to eloping near Moab is awesome! I loved the attention you put towards needing the correct permits and even the note on flowers not being allowed in Dead Horse State Park. All really good things to know and be aware of.
This elopement guide is so easy to read and helpful for couples who are considering eloping in Moab! Love it!
This is such a great guide, and I am *obsessed* with that first photo of the couple happy dancing under the arch.
Such an awesome guide! That photo of the couple in the tight spot between the two rocks is just stunning!
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