10 Tips for a Yosemite Elopement

Yosemite Elopement special moment. These newlyweds sit and gaze over Yosemite Valley.

If you are considering a Yosemite Elopement, you’ve come to the right place!  We’ve put together 10 tips for a Yosemite Elopement to make your elopement day a breeze.  If you still have some questions at the end, get in touch!

Tips for a Yosemite Elopement - THese newlyweds sit and take in the sunrise over Yosemite Valley.
Sunset over Yosemite Valley,  what a perfect place for a first dace as a married couple!

1. Elope on a Weekday

Weekends are busy! Yosemite sees over 4 million visitors every year.  Weekends can be filled with crowds,  long lines, and terrible traffic jams. These are all things you’re definitely going to want to avoid on your wedding day! 

Weekdays are usually a lot slower, but anything can happen within the busy season (May – September). If you are like us and try to avoid any and all traffic, stick to weekdays and the lesser known spots – there are so many badass spots out there!

2. Pick your Favorite Weather

What’s your favorite season?  We always recommend spring and fall, but there are really great things about every season. Yosemite gets all 4 seasons, and you can sometimes go from summer to fall just by going up in elevation! Spring has all the lush green meadows, wildflowers, and raging waterfalls. Summer is perfect for getting into the high country for those beautiful lakes, gushing rivers, and jaw-dropping mountain peaks.  In the fall,  you can see colorful trees, crisp mornings, and more wildlife starting to return to the valley — you can almost feel the valley breathing and recovering from the busy season.   Winter can be a winter wonderland.  The morning after a snowstorm is so magical!

3. Ditch the Crowds

In addition to choosing a weekday, finding solitude for your Yosemite Elopement can be as easy as lacing up those hiking boots! It doesn’t even have to be far!  We like to suggest about 3 miles to really get to some amazing locations.   Even a 30-minute walk can really open up some amazing elopement locations! Most Yosemite visitors stick to Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point, and some of the shorter trails that are near the road (Taft point, mirror lake, etc).  So trade the fancy shoes for a pair of hiking boots or sneakers and prepare to get your wedding clothes a little dusty!   

4. Get a Wedding Permit Early

You’re going to need a special use permit, or wedding permit, for your Yosemite Elopement.  It’s easy to apply for and is currently $150.  We say get it early because it’s a bit of a slow process.  The National Park Service still processes these using snail mail. The wedding permit policies may be going through some changes and we hope a less dated system is added.  You can find more information about the permit and links to download the form here on this page.

Ready for your Yosemite Elopement??

Sick! Let’s do it! 

5. Have a Backup Plan

Unfortunately, things don’t always go as planned — unless you plan for that! 😂   Bad weather can happen, and it can change quickly in mountains. Most of the time this makes for even better photos than you were expecting!  Moody clouds hang onto the peaks and valleys and if it rains, there is often a fresh coat of green that seems to gleam on all the plant life!

But there are some things that may need a backup plan after all.  Lightning storms and granite domes are totally not a good mix!  Forest fires happen all too often these days as well, and if the smoke is bad it could be pretty harmful to breathe.  A backup plan could turn the day around!  And a brighter thought to consider is that a little smoke in the atmosphere makes for some pretty amazing sunsets!

6. Give Yourself More Time Than You Think You Need

Your elopement day is a special day.  It should be full of excitement and joy, and stress-free and fun! Make sure to have the time to just take it all in. Don’t rush it.  Stop and enjoy the views, check out the wildflowers in the meadows, and maybe even watch some wildlife if you’re lucky enough to see some!

Unexpected delays can happen often. Usually, it’s from a bear or deer jamming up the traffic while it struts its stuff in a meadow. With some luck, you’ll be in the front and get some pics too!

7. Keep it simple – don’t try to cram too much into the day

Keeping things simple can really help achieve the last tip! Trying to pack a ton in only adds stress.  Give yourself the time and opportunity to be spontaneous and explore a bit.  Adding an activity for the day –maybe some hiking, paddleboarding, or even helicopter rides! — can really make a day special. 

8. Check the Yosemite Website

Check-in with the Yosemite National Park website while planning your trip, and the day before your elopement.  Look for the “Alerts in Effect” section at the top of the page. Things can change quickly and this page is updated regularly.  You can also find out information about road conditions here too.  You can also find some more tips for a Yosemite elopement on this site too!

9. Leave No Trace & Don’t feed animals

This might be a no-brainer for some, but we have to say it. Be a steward to your park.  Leave it nicer than you found it. Put simply: stay on established trails, don’t litter (and pick up found litter), don’t feed the animals, and don’t overstuff the garbage cans so they have trash falling out and piling up everywhere.  Pack out your orange peels, banana peels, and similar.   

Also, feeding the animals might be cute but it’s really bad for them and will kill them. They forget how to find their natural food and end up just eating trash and getting sick. Plus, they carry some nasty diseases (ground squirrels can carry the plague!).  

10. Visit the must see locations, but elope somewhere unique

This is probably our favorite tip.  Make sure to visit the must-see locations! But if you want a really unique and special elopement day,  get off the beaten path.  There are so many amazing places and things to see and do in Yosemite.  Consider your photographers, guides, or planners (all that’s us!!) advice and go for something a bit off the beaten path. Instead of a location that gets flooded with a crowd for sunset, you could have a spot all to yourself to share with your new husband or wife! 

Ready to Start Planning Your Elopement Day?

Yosemite is such an amazing place and with all of our years of experience, we would love to help you plan your best day and find the place for your adventure elopement! Tap the button below and we can’t wait to talk with you about it more! 

Couple cheers in a gorgeous sunset over Yosemite Valley.
Best Airbnb in Yosemite - Check out this amazing sunset view from Glacier Point, what a great place for an adventure elopement!
Newlyweds cheer after their Yosemite adventure elopement at Taft Point.
Bride sitting in VW van just after getting hitched in Yosemite!
All boots and Valley Views for this couple.   This couple stands on a ledge and looks over Yosemite Valley
Freshly married couple celebrates in the Yosemite high country. Seeing the high country peaks light up during sunset is one of the many awesome elopement ideas to end a beautiful day!