Full-Day Adventure Engagement in Moab, Utah

LAST UPDATED August 2, 2022

We’re super excited to share that this adventure engagement has been featured on Plans & Presents Wedding Blog.

Couple runs together before sunrise in Arches National Park

Rachelle and Shane’s Moab Adventure Engagement

Sometimes everything just aligns. That applies not only to Rachelle and Shane’s relationship, but to their stunning full-day adventure engagement in Moab, Utah. When we started planning, I realized that we’d be there to catch an incredible and rare natural phenomenon in the area. I knew that this would add an extra element of awesome for this AMAZING couple, so I just had to make it happen.

So many things had to align for Rachelle and Shane to find each other. They were born on opposite sides of the world, Rachelle in the Philippines and Shane in Barbados. Their families had each moved to the US when they were young, and their paths had led them both to enlist in the Air National Guard, where they met during training in Mississippi. They are both still serving in the Air National Guard. At the time, Rachelle was living in Arizona and Shane was in Utah, so they dated long-distance for a while before Rachelle relocated to Utah and they moved in together.

Couple dances under the moon at their engagement in Moab, Utah
Couple sits together at their sunrise in Arches National Park

How to Have a Stunning Sunrise Engagement at Arches National Park 

Our day started at Arches National Park, an almost unbelievably stunning park in eastern Utah. Encompassing nearly 120 square miles, the park features over 2,000 natural sandstone arches as well as other natural formations including bridges, windows, and balancing rocks. Although the park usually sees large crowds, we arrived super early in the morning to an empty parking lot. Rachelle and Shane had driven all through the night from Salt Lake City to get there. We shared some tea to warm ourselves up against the chilly morning air. After they got dressed, we started by playing in the purple sky and ran around the arches for a bit before it was time to get into place for sunrise. 

From my research, I knew that there are only around 8 days per year when the rising sun lines up perfectly with the Turret Arch in the Windows Section of the park, and this day was one of them. When the time came, we set up. There were a couple other landscape photographers in the background taking their photos, and then just us. No other couples, despite how popular this site was. So Rachelle and Shane did their thing, dancing, playing, and having a good time while the sun shone all over them. It was a truly spectacular sight that we all felt so grateful to witness.

Couple dances in the sunlight at their Arches National Park engagement
Couple walks together as sun shines through the Turret Arch in Arches National Park
Couple embraces at sunrise in Arches National Park

Afterwards, I wanted to take them behind all the arches, to explore the areas away from the crowds that had started to arrive. We wanted privacy for the two of them to be themselves and have a good time. So we danced, they jumped on each other’s backs, and took some time to just sit and admire the scenery.

Although Shane had proposed to Rachelle a few months earlier over the Christmas holiday in the Bahamas, this would be their official engagement shoot. We made sure to capture all the moments, including Rachelle’s heart sapphire ring which was complimented perfectly by her gorgeous blue dress and Shane’s dapper blue suit.

Couple walks together under an arch in Arches National Park
Woman watches man from a distance at their Moab adventure engagement
Couple sits together at their Arches National Park engagement
Woman holds onto man's arm, showing off her engagement ring
Couple walks together at their engagement in Arches National Park
Man gives woman a piggyback ride at their Arches National Park engagement
Couple embraces at their Arches National Park Engagement
Woman reaches out hand to show her sapphire engagement ring
Couple shows off woman's ring at their Moab adventure engagement

Tips for Your Arches National Park Engagement or Elopement

  1. Arrive early! Parking lots tend to fill up, especially on the weekends
  2. Explore off the beaten path. The classic locations are famous for a reason – they are incredible! But, if you want a more intimate experience, there are plenty of places away from the crowds to explore. One of my favorites is to head to the back of the Windows, away from the parking lot. From here, the formations almost look like a face, presenting endless opportunities for some unique photos! 
  3. Beat the heat.  If you want some respite from the desert heat, Spring (when this shoot took place) is an ideal time to elope in Utah. While midday will still get hot, mornings and evenings typically have perfect weather. I recommend planning most of your photos for either (or both!) of these times. Save  the afternoon for cooler activities like swimming, napping, or stripping down for an intimate shoot near water (more on this below…). 
  4. Plan ahead. As with many National and State Parks, you may need a permit for your wedding or photoshoot. Requirements and lead time can vary depending on the size and scope of your event, so check here for the most up to date info.
Couple stands on a rock against a blue sky at Arches National Park

Getting Steeeeamy in the Sand in Moab

Next up was the intimate part of the shoot. I did a lot of scouting to find the perfect location that was hidden from the world. Right off of a main road where people constantly stop to explore and take photos, is a hiking trail hidden among the trees. It’s extremely easy to pass by and not even realize it’s there. In the middle of the afternoon we met up, and I hiked us the mile into our location. A huge bowl with towering rock cliffs, and a small little pond in the middle. If you climbed all the way up there was a tiny cave in the rocks. The day was hot but we were in the shade where it was cool.

We made this our Oasis. Rachelle and Shane put on some of their favorite music and took their time getting intimate. Slowly the clothes came off, and as they did we explored the area. We played on the rocks, and in the sand, and in my favorite part – the massive shadow of an enormous tree that covered one side of the cliff walls. They even climbed up as if they were Tarzan and Jane, swinging from the branches. We mixed fun and excitement, with soft slow moments focused on their love. 

Couple embraces during an intimate photo shoot at Arches National Park
Couple walks holding hands along a pond reflecting their image
Couple kisses under the shadow of a tree in Arches National Park
Couple kisses beneath a cliff at Arches National Park
Couple embraces on top of a ledge at Arches National Park

Continuing the Adventure Engagement at Dead Horse Point State Park

From there, they put their clothes back on and we left for Dead Horse Point State Park. This spot high above the valleys of Moab overlooks miles of unique rock formations, and is said to be one of the most photographed vistas in the world (for good reason!). The sun was in the process of setting when we arrived, and the temperatures had already started to cool down. We popped into our spot, and the two of them danced and hung out as the sun set in the west. They took in the views of the massive valleys, mountains, and red rocks before them. It was a simply stunning moment. Once the sun went down we didn’t stop, we took our lanterns and explored the area, shining bright as the stars came out.

Tips for Your Dead Horse Point State Park Engagement or Elopement

  1. Dead Horse Point is less than an hour drive from Arches, so it’s totally manageable to incorporate both into your day.
  2. Sunrise and Sunset are the most popular times, so you’ll want to get there early to find the best spots or have an incredible photographer who knows just where to go 😉
  3. You may need a permit. There are a select few locations within the park that allow weddings, and depending on your plans a permit may be required. Check here for permit info.
  4. Dead Horse Point is dog-friendly, a huge plus if you want to include your fur baby, as some of the other parks in the area (including Arches) do not allow dogs in many areas.
Couple kisses at sunset at their Dead Horse Point engagement
Couple sits together at their Dead Horse Point engagement
Couple watches the sunset lit by lanterns at Dead Horse Point
Couple watches the sunset lit by lanterns at Dead Horse Point

Are You Planning an Engagement or Elopement? Let’s Talk!

Colorado Elopement Photographer stands next to a Jeep

Hi there! I’m Adam. I LOVE helping couples just like you make their engagement and elopement dreams become a reality. If you’re ready to dive in, or just have some questions about the best engagement or elopement package for you, reach out to me for a free consultation

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