Guide to Yosemite Elopement
If you have been to Yosemite you KNOW why you want to elope here, if you haven’t you probably have seen some amazing pictures that make you slightly jealous. Yosemite is one of the most iconic National Parks in the USA. It’s located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains about 6h from Los Angeles and 4h from Sacramento.
The Park covers an area of 747,956 acres, and almost all of the park is considered a wilderness. Nature enthusiasts' big playground especially if you like hiking.
Big standing granite cliffs is what makes Yosemite such an iconic place but you can find there also impressive waterfalls, amazing trees such as giant sequoias, beautiful lakes or meadows. If you’re a hiker or climber and have an appreciation for beauty, Yosemite is the best park to elope in.
Yosemite boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises where you can see Half Dome lit up in the most beautiful way.
How to Elope in Yosemite?
Just like in any National Park in the USA, if you want to elope in Yosemite or have an intimate wedding, you’ll special use permit. You can apply for one here. First you’ll need to pick your ceremony location from the designated list (depending on number of guests you might have less options), download an application from the link above, fill it out with your desired date and location, mail it in with 150 $ check and wait for an email back. Yosemite is actually one of the easiest parks to get permit for and elope, so if that’s one of your options…just do it!
As of 2023 famous Glacier Rd will open again (late May), which means you can have pictures taken at some of the most iconic spots at sunsets: Glacier Point, Taft Point or Sentinel Dome.
*It’s important to note that Glacier Point Rd and Tioga Rd both close once winter conditions begin and remain closed Nov- May. Also, Yosemite Park doesn't issue permits on major holidays or holiday weekends.
Best Time to Elope in Yosemite
I don't think there is a bad time, as each season brings something amazing. I prefer late spring or fall as they provide less crowds. Fall also boast in beautiful foliage, especially in Yosemite Valley. If you would like to see Yosemite Fall in full power spring will be the time. Summers provide long days, perfect weather but are very busy, this can cause major delays and issues entering the park, getting permits or booking accommodation on a short notice. There is also high chance of smoke depending on a fire season that year. Winters are magical due to beautiful snow covering the area, gorgeous sunsets on Half Dome also few visitors. The famous Glacier Point Rd is closed in a winter. Expect it to be very cold as well, and in case of sever storms roads and park may close with a short to no notice.
Where to Stay in Yosemite
I suggest booking accommodation within the park mainly because Yosemite is such a big park, and driving distances from main entrances are long. If you decide to do so remember to book a place months in advance as it gets very busy. Staying in a park allows you to save time driving, enjoy the park more, and not worry about lines entering the park. If you’re coming from the north entrance at Big Oak Flat, the best option to look for accommodation is Oakhurst about 35 miles from the entry booth. This would be a great and convenient option to book something right outside of the park. If you’re looking to stay within a park here are the options near this entrance.
· The Ahwahnee – the most famous and majestic hotel. Right in the middle of Yosemite Valley, and super convenient to explore the park.
· Yosemite Valley Lodge – located across from Yosemite Falls, is also very convenient, and a little less expensive compared to the Ahwahnee.
· Wawona Hotel – located 40 min or so from the Valley, this historical hotel is quite beautiful from the outside.
There are also many cabins you can rent within the park, if you’re looking for more of a rustic place.
If you’re coming from the south entrance, Mariposa and Lee Vining are the nearest towns but please note driving times from this side are much longer. If you decide to come from the south I highly recommend checking out some local hot spring in the area and the best sandwich you'll ever have. I'll point you in the right directions.
Best Photo Elopement Locations in Yosemite
Taft Point: An epic location you must have seen on social media. Now it’s a popular Yosemite eloping spot for a reason. Before deciding on eloping here make sure to check current road conditions, as this spot has been limited to hiking in 2022 and the road reopened in July 2023.
Glacier Point: What is great about Glacier Point is that you can just pull up, park, and walk to the scenic half-dome canyon view. This is a highly popular site for wedding ceremonies and elopements.
Yosemite Valley Chapel: If you prefer a more traditional setting, the Yosemite Valley Chapel is a beautiful historic chapel surrounded by towering trees. It provides a serene and intimate space for your elopement.
Sentinel Dome: This granite dome rewards hikers with panoramic vistas of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and surrounding peaks. It's a moderately challenging hike but offers a secluded and unforgettable spot for your ceremony.
Mariposa Grove: If you're nature enthusiasts and love giant sequoias, Mariposa Grove is the perfect location. With towering ancient trees, it offers a majestic backdrop and a sense of tranquility.
If you're interested in eloping in California but are not sure of the exact location I suggest you read my blog on How to Elope in Lake Tahoe.