If you are new here, HI! I am Dani, the face and brains behind Dani Rawson Photo! I am a destination wedding photographer based in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area. In this blog, I am covering the basics when it comes to eloping in Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite NP holds a special place in my heart.
I remember the first time I drove through the tunnel on the 120 (also known as Big Oak Flat Road) and laid eyes on the beauty of El Capitan and Half Dome. It truly took my breath away.
Yosemite is a place unlike any other, and it’s no wonder you’ve chosen it as the backdrop for your elopement. But before you say “I do” in this natural beauty, there are some key things you should consider.
5 Things to Know When Eloping in Yosemite National Park
ONE | Time of Year Matters
Yosemite’s peak season runs from May to September.
This gives ya great weather but also brings in loads of visitors. If you don’t mind sharing your special day with curious onlookers and dealing with some traffic, this might be your ideal time. However, if you prefer a quieter experience and more privacy, consider the shoulder seasons—late March to early May and October to November.
You’ll still enjoy decent weather BUT you will experience fewer crowds.
TWO | Choose Your Location Carefully
The location of your elopement is important with a capital “I.”
Yosemite offers a variety of stunning spots, from the iconic chapel in the valley to sweeping views at Taft Point or the grandeur of Washburn Point with Half Dome in the background.
Consider the vibe and views you want, as well as how much foot traffic from other tourists you’re willing to have.
While you can explore multiple locations during your elopement, make sure your legal ceremony spot aligns with the permits issued by the park.
You can find a list of ceremony sites HERE.
THREE | Timing Is Everything
The timing of your elopement can greatly impact your experience.
You might want to consider having your ceremony at sunrise for a more of peaceful and private moment before the park gets crowded. Or, a sunset ceremony can provide the most epic golden hour.
You can even choose a different time slot for your permit and take stunning photos later in the evening. Foot traffic is also something to keep in mind when planning your timing.
Like most national parks, tourists loveeeee Yosemite!
FOUR | Don’t Forget the Permits
The most important part of eloping in Yosemite is making sure that you get the necessary permits before eloping there.
You must have a permit to legally get married in the park, and the process can take 12 to 15 weeks. Listen, I have been doing this for a while, and I am here to tell you to apply as early as possible.
The permit office will also provide guidelines on when and where you can elope, so having a specific date and a rough location in mind, like the valley, will be super freaking helpful.
Find general permit information HERE.
Don’t worry about photography permits; your photographer will handle that.
FIVE | Accommodation Options
Decide whether you want to stay inside or outside the park.
Hotels and campsites in the valley can fill up quickly, sometimes years in advance. Some campsites operate on a lottery system, so booking your accommodation as soon as possible is key to making sure that you have a place to get ready and stay after your elopement.
Personally, I’ve found great deals on Airbnb in Yosemite West, which is within the park.
You can also explore options outside the park, like Autocamp, a crowd favorite, or tons of listings on Airbnb, VRBO, and booking.com.
Eloping in Yosemite National Park is a dream.
Its incredible beauty, diverse locations, and peacefulness make it truly special. And, if you’re looking for a photographer who shares your love for Yosemite, I’d be thrilled to capture your special day amidst its breathtaking scenery.
Let’s make your Yosemite elopement unforgettable!
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