ELOPE IN YOSEMITE! – A Yosemite Elopement Planning Guide
Yosemite National Park is one of the prettiest places in the world. Located in California, just northeast of Fresno and southeast of Sacramento, it’s about a 4.5 hour drive to the western park entrance (Big Oak Flat) from San Francisco (depending, as always, on traffic). Known for it’s granite mountains, epic views, stunning valley, and the countless waterfalls that decorate every view, it’s a large park with many opportunities for a stunning elopement. There is no place more epic, more awe inspiring, or more beautiful to say your vows and no place more wild and intimate to elope.
Eloping in Yosemite is SUPER EASY and super fun! There are a million gorgeous spots to say your vows, insane views and pretty places to snap photos before or after you’re married, and as many or as few crowds as you’re interested in. You can pick an elopement spot that’s easy to drive to or organize a three night backpacking trip for a solitary elopement in the backcountry: Whatever your dream, your ability, and the time you have, a Yosemite elopement is possible.
Best Time to Elope in Yosemite?
There is no right or wrong time to elope in Yosemite, although depending on the time of year, you’ll have very different opportunities available to you.
Glacier Point and access to the trail to Taft Point changes year to year based on weather. A generally rule is it is opened around mid-April or early-May and closes around mid-November. The actual dates depend on the snow and rain conditions in the Spring and Fall.
You can check the Glacier Point Road conditions on the Yosemite National Park website here. They usually post updated estimated opening dates and closing dates as they know them. You can view historical data for the open and close dates of Glacier Point Road here.
Should I Elope at Sunrise or Sunset in Yosemite?
It really depends on what you want! Sunrise is a lot emptier of crowds, you’ll want to plan around your perfect elopement schedule, and, depending on where you’re planning to elope or take Yosemite elopement photos, sunrise or sunset may be better.
I prefer Taft Point at sunset, when there is golden light streaming into the photo in the right direction for a truly stunning visual. It’s beautiful and the summer sun fading behind you will illuminate all of Yosemite Valley in a really incredible and memorable.
I love Glacier Point at sunset or sunrise. Both are stunning. Sunrise at Glacier Point sees the sun rise behind (ish, depending on the season) Half Dome, sending light morning sunshine through the trees and into your photos. Sunset is equally stunning, with the backdrop of Yosemite Valley lighting up softly behind you and fading in to light pinks and purples.
If you want to capture both sunset and sunrise along the Glacier Point Road (this gives access to both Glacier Point views and the Taft Point trailhead), I generally recommend sunrise at Taft and sunset at Glacier Point. You can get the magic of both places in one day. (Perhaps have your Yosemite elopement at one time of day and portraits or a First Look at the other? There are so many great options.)
Glacier Point (and Taft Point) Closure in 2021
Unfortunately for elopement and photo session planning, Glacier Point Road will be closed to all traffic in 2021 to rehabilitate and improve the road and there will be 30-minute delays in 2022.
Glacier Point and Taft Read more about the closure and get updates on the project here.
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Yosemite?
There’s a $150 photo and permit fee to get married in the park, plus a Yosemite National Park entrance fee ($30 for one vehicle for seven days with in and out privileges, or $80 for a US National Parks Pass that will get you in and out of every single one of our national parks for the entire year). Other than that, everything is up to you! Your wedding budget will be travel costs to Yosemite, a place to stay or camp (I send a list of recommendations for where to stay to every Yosemite client I work with!), your outfits, hair and make up, food, photography and videography, an officiant, etc.