Why You Should Have a Moab Elopement
If you’re looking for an elopement location with multiple parks, stunning scenery, and almost unlimited opportunities for adventure, Moab is the place to be! With its miles of red rocks and otherworldly rock formations, it’s easy to see why Moab has become a top destination for adventure elopements.
The first thing to know about Moab is that while it’s often referred to as a single location, there is no “Moab” park. When people say Moab, they’re usually talking about a large area surrounding the small town of Moab, Utah, This area is home to multiple National and State parks. Don’t worry, we’ll get into all this in more detail later.
As you can imagine, there’s so much to see and do here that frankly it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s where I come in! As an experienced adventure elopement photographer, I’m here to help you sort through it all and find the perfect locations and activities for your special day.
In this guide, we’ll dive into the very best that the Moab area has to offer. From my favorite elopement locations to where to stay and what to do, I’ll share everything you need to know to plan your perfect Moab elopement.
Where to Elope in Moab
There are a ton of amazing spots for your adventure elopement in Moab, all of which have their own advantages and distinct landscape. Here are some of my favorites:
Arches National Park
This iconic park features over 2,000 exquisite rock formations, many in the form of giant arches. Located just 5 miles from Moab, Arches National park is 100% a must-see destination, and provides a good starting point for exploring the area. The best known of the arches is Delicate Arch, which is the state symbol of Utah. But, there are so many other spots throughout the park that would provide an ideal backdrop for your elopement.
One advantage of eloping at Arches is that there are many areas that are accessible via car or a short walk. So, if accessibility is a concern for you or your guests, this may be the perfect spot for you. If you want more of a hike, there are multiple hiking trails throughout the park of varying length and difficulty (I share some of my faves below!).
Canyonlands National Park
Located just 30 minutes from Arches, Canyonlands National Park is another of the top destinations in the Moab area. Featuring exquisite views of red rock canyons carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers, this largest park in Utah encompasses over 500 square miles. If you’re looking for a hiking adventure, the Needles district provides access to over 70 miles of hiking trails. There are also opportunities for rafting, camping, and biking throughout the park. Note that many of the best spots here require some hiking along cliffs with steep drop-offs, so if you have a fear of heights or need a more accessible location, this may not be the spot for you.
Dead Horse Point State Park
While I know the name doesn’t sound super romantic, Dead Horse Point truly has one of the best views in the world. High on a peninsula overlooking miles of canyons below, this is the perfect location if you want a more accessible view of Colorado River and Canyonlands. Plan to visit at sunrise or sunset to witness the rocks below turning stunning colors as they are bathed in light.
Much of the public land surrounding Moab outside of the National and State Parks is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. There are some fantastic spots here that are just as incredible as the more popular parks, but without the crowds.
A short drive north of Moab, you’ll find the small town of Castle Valley. If you want a break from the tourist crowds in Moab, this is your oasis. There aren’t many amenities in town (this is by design to avoid the overdevelopment that has taken over other nearby areas), but there are some awesome elopement spots in the area. Don’t miss the view of Castle Rock, a sandstone tower that looks like a castle from a distance. You’ll also find opportunities to bike, hike, and horseback ride.
La Sal Mountains
The La Sal Mountains are about 20 miles south of Moab. This is the second highest mountain range in Utah, and features alpine peaks surrounded by pines and aspens. The forest landscape provides an awesome contrast to the rocky vistas of Moab within just a short drive.
Map of the Moab Area
How to Elope in Moab
Okay, so you’ve decided that Moab is the place for your dream elopement. Let me take this opportunity to congratulate you on this AMAZING choice (cue virtual high fives ✋).
So what’s next? Here’s everything you need to know to make it happen:
Getting a Marriage License in Utah
The process for applying for and obtaining a marriage license in Utah is relatively easy. You’ll first need to visit a County Clerk’s office and apply in person. Both of you will need to be present, and you’ll need to be ready with the following docs and info:
- Photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or state ID card will work)
- Social Security Card
- Personal Info, including your name, address, dates and places of birth, and the names and birthplaces of both your parents (including maiden names)
- Application fee. Most counties charge a small fee, which varies by county.
Once you have your marriage license in hand, you’re ready to go ahead and get married! Unlike some other states, Utah has no waiting period from the time you get your marriage license to the wedding day. You have 32 days to get married and return the paperwork back to the county office.
After your ceremony, your marriage license will need to have the following signatures to make it official:
- An officiant authorized to solemnize weddings in the state of Utah. Often this is a minister, rabbi, priest, county clerk, Native American spiritual adviser, or judge.
- 2 witnesses over the age of 18
Once you’ve said your vows and received all necessary signatures, you’re officially married! Do a happy dance, pop some champagne, and don’t forget to make sure your officiant returns your signed marriage license back to the clerk’s office.
Leave No Trace
As a Leave No Trace aware photographer, I always make sure my Amores and I follow all best practices to minimize our impact on the environment. It’s important to be especially mindful in the Moab area, where you have the potentially devastating combination of a fragile ecosystem, ancient natural artifacts, and thousands of visitors each year. Here are some ways we can ensure that this magnificent landscape can be enjoyed by generations to come:
Plan Ahead and Prepare
This is where an experienced adventure elopement photographer can help. We know all the best spots that are off the beaten path, which reduces impact on the more popular sites. We also know which areas are best visited at certain times of the year when impact will be reduced.
Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
This is extremely important in Moab’s fragile desert ecosystem. As this area becomes more popular each year, more of the crucial desert crust is being destroyed. This leads to serious issues with wind and water erosion. Always make sure to stay on established paths and be mindful of each step.
Dispose of Waste Properly
If you carry it in, carry it out! (And, if you’re able, pick up any waste others have left behind along the way.) And yes, this includes human and pet waste (which goes back to #1 – always plan ahead)!
Leave What You Find (and look but don’t touch!)
Moab is full of incredible ancient rock artifacts, ruins, and rock art. While these are certainly stunning to look at and photograph, they should never be touched, removed, or disturbed in any way.
Minimize Campfire Impacts
Due to the high risk of wildfires, campfires are prohibited in many areas in Moab. Where fires are permitted (generally only within certain campgrounds in designated fire rings), be sure to keep fires small and never leave a fire unattended.
Moab is home to an impressive number of wild animals, including kangaroo rats, mule deer, desert cottontails, black bears, desert bighorn sheep, and mountain lions. Always be sure to keep your distance from wildlife and keep all food secured.
Be Considerate of Other Visitors
We all want to be able to enjoy this amazing area. We can respect other visitors by keeping noise to a minimum, keeping our furbabies leashed, and taking care to not damage surroundings.
Do You Need a Permit to Elope in Moab?
It depends! Permit requirements vary depending on the park you are visiting and what you plan to do, which is why having an experienced elopement photographer can really help the process. We can help make sure everything is in place, because the last thing you want to worry about on your wedding day is whether you have the right permit!
Check these links for more on permit requirements for each of the following areas:
What to Do During Your Moab Elopement
Moab is known worldwide as an adventure mecca for a reason. Whatever kind of outdoor activity you are looking for, you can likely find it here. These are a few of my favorite activities for couples to incorporate into their elopement. This is by no means an exhaustive list, though. If you have your heart set on an activity that is not listed here, let me know and we’ll try to make it happen!
- Hike (Here are some of my faves)
- Devil’s Garden (Partition Arch as a sunrise hike is hands down one of my favorite hikes in the world)
- Fisher Tower
- Onion Creek
- Castleton Tower
- Moab Rim
- Grandstaff Trail
- Corona Arch
- Park Avenue
- Mary Jane Canyon
- Kane Creek
- Have a Picnic
- Go Rafting
- Tour the area in a 4×4
- Take a Helicopter or Airplane tour
Sample Moab Elopement Timeline
Each elopement is different, but here’s an idea of what a full-day elopement timeline might look like:
6:00 AM: Sunrise, explore Arches
10:00 AM: Breakfast
11:00 AM – 2:00 PM: Rest
2:00 PM: Take a jeep ride through hard to reach gorgeous places
5:00 PM: Ceremony
6:00 PM: Picnic dinner
7:00 PM: Sunset
8:00 PM: Star photos
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Moab?
When compared to the typical traditional wedding, an adventure elopement is clearly the most cost-effective option. But how much can you expect to save by eloping in Moab?
First, let’s take a look at the average cost of a traditional wedding. According to theknot.com, a traditional wedding with 100 guests (which, in the world of traditional weddings, would be considered a small event!) is estimated to cost between $26,820 – $31,600. Yes, you read that right. And no, it does not include that epic honeymoon trip you’ve been dreaming about!
Now, let’s look at the costs of a typical adventure elopement. Like anything, you can go as big or as small as you want, but this is generally in the range of what my Amores spend:
Travel: $20 – $3,000
Attire: $200 – $2,000
Hair and makeup: $250
Food and drink: $100 – $500
Total for a Moab elopement: $4,920 – $10,600
As you can see, it’s possible to have an incredible adventure AND the wedding day of your dreams for less than 1/3 of what you’d spend on a traditional wedding! Just think of what you could do with that extra money that would be SOOO much more satisfying than an evening spent navigating a banquet hall full of distant relatives.
When you book a Moab elopement package with me, you get way more than just photos of your elopement day (although those will be pretty damn awesome ? ).
As soon as you reach out, I’m ALL IN. I’ll start getting to know you two as a couple so I can help to craft your perfect day. This means that I’ll be available for as many conversations as needed to figure out the best package, location, and activities for your elopement. I’ll help with all the planning, permits, and logistics. I’ll also put you in touch with trusted vendors who can help with all the other details, from hair and makeup to adventure tours.
What you get:
- Starting at 4 Hours of coverage for your elopement package
- Personalized questionnaire to understand exactly how to craft your day.
- Unlimited free consultations to help you craft your perfect day.
- Complimentary Officiating where applicable
- Fully edited hi-res photos available for you to download for free
- TRAVEL FEES ALL INCLUDED. NO EXTRA OR HIDDEN FEES.
- Sneak peek photos
All My Best Tips for Planning Your Moab Wedding – Where to Stay, Logistics, and Vendors
When To Elope in Moab
Spring (from mid-March through May) is the most popular time of year to elope in Moab, and it’s also my favorite. The weather is generally pleasant, and the wildflowers add a nice touch to the desert landscape. While it is technically the rainy season, Moab doesn’t get much rain overall so that shouldn’t be a concern. Springtime does tend to get crowded, so I’d recommend considering a mid-week elopement if you are interested in one of the more popular spots.
Summer used to be a less crowded option, but as the popularity of the area has exploded, so have the summer crowds. It can be very hot (around 100 degrees during the day), so I’d definitely recommend an early morning or sunset elopement during this time of year, and avoiding strenuous outdoor activity midday.
Fall in Moab has similar pleasant temperatures as you’ll find in the spring, but most of the wildflowers and other foliage will have dried up. This is a great time to visit the La Ser Mountains to catch the Aspens and other trees changing vibrant colors.
Winter can be pretty unpredictable in Moab. While the snow can make for some great photos in some of the more accessible spots, some activities may be dangerous due to the ice on the rocks, and should only be attempted by experienced adventurers.
There are many ways to get to Moab, and the best option for you will ultimately come down to where you’re coming from and your budget. Here are a few of the most popular options:
- Canyonlands Regional Airport (CNY) is just 15 minutes from Arches National Park. Flights are offered daily from both Denver and Salt Lake City via Skywest airlines.
- Grand Junction Airport (GJT) (1.5 hour drive from the airport to Moab via rental car or shuttle)
- Salt Lake City (SLC) (4 hour drive from the airport to Moab via rental car)
- Fly into Denver (DEN) (5 hour drive from the airport to Moab)
Regardless of how you arrive, you’ll want access to a car to get around the area. While it’s not necessary to rent a Jeep to see many of the sights, you should consider it if you want to hit some of the areas that are more remote.
Where to Stay in Moab
There are some fabulous AirBnBs in the Moab area. From tiny cabins to luxury homes, you’re likely to find something that fits your budget and vibe. For options outside Moab, consider staying in the Canyon Valley and La Sal National Forest areas which are just a short drive away.
If camping out under the stars is more your style, there are some incredible campgrounds in Moab. Here are some of my the best options:
BLM Camping Along the Colorado River
There are 26 campgrounds in the Moab area maintained by the Bureau of Land Management. Many sites are right along the Colorado River and offer peaceful and stunning views. Most of the sites are first come first served and do not take reservations.
Devil’s Garden Campground at Arches
This is the only campground located right in Arches National Park, allowing easy access for those sunrise photos. Sites here are well-spaced and can be reserved in advance.
Kayenta Campground at Dead Horse Point State Park
This campground at Dead Horse Point has 21 sites, most of which offer plenty of privacy and vary in size to accommodate both tents and RVs. You can reserve sites in advance here.
Needles Campground at Canyonlands
Needles Campground has both individual and group sites in various spots in the Needles area. These sites are a great option if you plan to hike the remote Needles trails, as driving to this site from outside the park can take up to 2 hours. Some sites are reservable, while others are first come first served.
Moenkopi Yurts at Dead Horse Point
For a unique camping experience, consider staying in a yurt! The Moenkopi Yurts are located within Dead Horse Point State Park in a stunning location, and have private access to the Intrepid Trail System. There are 5 distinct yurts in this location, each including an outside area with a grill and beds for up to 6 people.
Where to Eat in Moab
With all the adventuring you’ll be doing, you’re bound to get a little hungry. Here are a few of my favorite spots to grab a bite in the Moab area:
Amazing vegan food with a fun and funky outdoor seating area. Donation based.
Great option right in town for a delicious breakfast or lunch.
A favorite for takeout sandwiches. You can order online and pick up on the way to the trail.
A Moab institution since 1954 featuring burgers, sandwiches, and shakes.
Located inside a luxury hotel, this steakhouse serves upscale meals with a laid-back vibe.
How Do I Find Vendors For My Moab Elopement?
As part of all my Moab elopement packages, I provide a list of trusted vendors in the area.
Meet the Best Moab Photographer for You
Hi there! I’m Adam, and my favorite thing in the world is helping couples just like you plan their perfect elopement. Whether you’re dreaming of a 10 mile hike followed by a 4×4 adventure, or an intimate sunset ceremony by a secluded lake, I’m here for it.
If you’re ready to start planning or just have some questions to decide if a Moab elopement is right for you, I’d love to hear from you.