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How to Elope in Yosemite – Full Planning Guide & Packages

Elopements, Planning Resources


couple elope in yosemite at taft point

Yosemite is one of the most incredible places on the planet. From its massive granite cliffs to its iconic waterfalls, it is one of the most stunning places you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Because of its beauty, Yosemite is a very popular place to elope – and rightfully so.

However, it can be a bit tricky to navigate the park and its wedding rules if you’ve never done this before. I am an outdoor elopement photographer and I love Yosemite. I would be honored to document your day in this beautiful location. So I have put together this guide with everything you need to know to plan your elopement trip to Yosemite!

Table of Contents

How to get to Yosemite

How to elope in Yosemite
Permit Information
Elopement Locations
Yosemite Officiants

Best time of year to elope in Yosemite

Elopement day activities

Where to stay in Yosemite

Where to eat in Yosemite

Some other things to note

Yosemite photographer
Yosemite packages

How to Get to Yosemite

The closest airport to Yosemite National Park is the Fresno-Yosemite airport. If you are coming from far out of state, you may also want to fly into San Francisco, Sacramento, or San Jose for a more direct flight. Depending on where you fly into you’ll have a 1.5-4 hour drive to the park. You can rent a car or there are bus services to Yosemite in the summer.

You may need a reservation to enter to park if you are visiting during peak season. These are the requirements:

  • Saturdays and Sundays in February during the Horsetail Fall event
  • Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from April 13-June 30
  • Everyday from July 1-August 16
  • Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from August 17-October 27

Something to note – Yosemite is huge and there are 5 different entrances to the park. You will have a 45-60 minute drive to Yosemite Valley from the park entrance. I’d recommend taking Highway 140, as it’s the only road open year round and the more scenic route. But if you are staying in Auto Camp or Fish Camp, you’ll want to take the south entrance on CA-41.

Getting around the park

There is a free shuttle inside the park for convenient access around Yosemite Valley. But you need a separate bus ticket to take you up Glacier Road if you don’t have car. If you are interested in public transit and shuttles you can find all the details and links to tickets here.

I would recommend having a car to get yourself around on your elopement day, especially if you are wanting to go to a location on Glacier Road like Glacier Point or Taft Point.

How to Elope in Yosemite

You will need a permit to hold your ceremony in the park, even if it is just the two of you. And it is a bit of a process so this is important!!

Keep in mind that visitors are still allowed use of the park during your ceremony. And unfortunately, pets are not allowed to attend any wedding ceremonies. But they are allowed in certain areas of the park if you want to take photos with them after your ceremony!

Permit Information

We will need two permits to hold your wedding inside Yosemite or any National Park. A wedding permit and photography permit. They both cost $150. I will cover the photography permit, but you will need to obtain your wedding permit by mailing in the application and permit fee.

You can find the permit application and address on where to send it here.

Your wedding date can be scheduled up to a year in advance but at least 21 days before your date.

Wedding permits are not granted on any holiday that falls on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday.

Elopement Locations

Yosemite has 12 designated ceremony sites that are on a first come, first serve basis. However, if your party is fewer than 11 people (including bride, groom, photographer, officiant, and any other vendors) you are not limited to that list.

Here are some of my favorite ceremony locations in the park:

Glacier Point/Glacier Point Amphitheater

Capacity: Max 50 people
Open when Glacier Road is open – June to September/early October

Glacier Point is a world-renowned overlook in Yosemite, sitting directly across from Half Dome. It is one of the busiest locations in the park from sunrise to sunset. Because of this they don’t allow weddings over 11 people during July and August. So if you want to elope here you’ll want to plan for June, September, or maybe early October as long as a storm doesn’t come.

If Glacier Road is closed but you are dying to see this point you can do the strenuous Four Mile Trail hike. It is 9.6 miles round trip.

half dome at glacier point at sunset

Taft Point

Capacity: Max 11 people
Open when Glacier Road is open – June to September/early October

Taft Point is 3500 feet above ground and is one of the best views in the world. You can see El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, and Yosemite Falls from this point.

There is an easy 1 mile to the point. It is not as busy as Glacier Point because of the hike but it is one of the most popular hikes in the park, especially at sunset. However, there is a lot of space at the point for small ceremonies and photos.
Taft Point is located on Glacier Road so it is only accessible by car when the road is open in the summer and fall or via a strenuous 16 mile hike via Four Mile Trail.

taft point at sunset in yosemite national park

Tunnel View

Capacity: Max 11 people
Open year round

This is the most popular spot in the entire park because of its incredible view of Half Dome in the center, El Capitan to the left and Bridalveil Falls on the right. It is also very accessible, as it is just a pull out on the road. Because of this you’ll be lucky to get a parking spot, even at sunrise.

Unless you are visiting the park in the winter or early spring, I would not recommend planning a ceremony here. Maybe just plan on making a stop at this beautiful overlook to snap a couple photos.

tunnel view in yosemite national park

Artist Point

Capacity: Max 11 people
Open year round

If you’re in love with Tunnel View but don’t want to worry about the crowds, there is a nearby trail that gives you almost the same exact view, just a bit higher up! It is a moderate 1 mile hike to the view.

If you’re up for a small hike, this is a great spot for a private elopement with just you and your person.

artist point trail

El Capitan Meadow

Capacity: Max 11 people
Open Year Round

This meadow has the best view of Half Dome from the valley. It is not the most private spot and can be difficult to find a parking spot, but it is a pretty large area.

If you aren’t up for hiking and are visiting Yosemite in the Winter or Spring this would be a beautiful elopement location for you.

el capitan meadow in yosemite national park

Sentinel Dome

Capacity: Max 11 people
Open when Glacier Road is open: June to September/early October

If you are wanting panoramic views of the park without all the people, Sentinel Dome is a great option! There is a 1 mile hike in, but it is fairly easy. There is lots of space at the top, and a view of Half Dome as well.

sentinel dome trail in yosemite national park

Yosemite Falls

Capacity: Max 50 people
Open year round

Imagine getting married in front of one of the tallest waterfalls in America. Talk about breathtaking!

You’re not allowed to have your elopement at the base of the falls but they have a designated spot with a backdrop of the falls. The trail to get to this spot is heavily trafficked so plan accordingly.

Spring and early summer are the best times to elope at this location, as the falls tend to dry up by mid-summer.

yosemite falls in spring

Tenaya Lake Beach

Capacity: Max 50 people
Open when Tioga Road is open: June to September/early October

Tenaya lake is about 45 minutes from the valley. It is great if you are wanting a more private and quiet location.

This spot is easily accessible with lots of parking for you and your guests.

tenaya lake in yosemite national park

Yosemite Officiants

Aside from a permit and a location, you will need an officiant for your ceremony. Here are a few officiants that work with couples in Yosemite regularly.

Donny Alexander
Donny’s ceremony are more spiritual in nature and last about 12-15 minutes. His packages range from $500-900.

Kimberly Vaughan
Kimberly will work with you to write a custom wedding ceremony that is personal to you. Her packages are $725 or a little more with a rehearsal.

Carol Dewey
Carol is a non-denominational minister that will help you create a unique ceremony. Her rate is $395 and an extra $125 for a rehearsal.

Or if you would like to get married by a loved one, anyone can become an ordained minister all online, for free!

What Time of Year Should I Elope in Yosemite?

Yosemite is beautiful year round and you can get married at anytime of the year. Every season brings something a bit different.

Think about your preferences of location, privacy, and temperature when picking a time of year for your elopement.


In my opinion, fall is the best time of year to elope in Yosemite; specifically, September and early October.

PROS: The entire park is open and full of color.
It is not as busy as the summer months.

CONS: The waterfalls are usually dried up by this time of year.
If a storm comes early, roads may close.


Yosemite in the winter is magical and it feels like you have the park to yourselves.

PROS: The park is very quiet and everything is covered in snow. It’s a bit magical.

CONS: Glacier Road and Tioga road are closed, so a lot of locations that are higher up are not accessible.
It is colder – temps range from 30-50 degrees.


If getting married in front of Yosemite Falls is your dream, spring is the time for you.

PROS: The waterfalls are at their peak and if you’re lucky you may spot some wildflowers.
The park is still fairly quiet until April or May.

CONS: Like winter, Glacier and Tioga roads are still closed until May/June, so you will be limited on locations.


Summer is Yosemite’s peak season. The park receives MILLIONS of visitors between June and August.

PROS: The entire park is open in the summer and the weather is at its peak.

CONS: There is a lot of traffic, accommodations book out far in advance, and prices are elevated.

I would recommend staying away from the park during these months and waiting until the crowds start to die down in the Fall. But if you need to elope during the summer, choose a less popular location and consider a sunrise ceremony.

engagement photos in front of half dome

Elopement Day Activities

Yosemite is known for its stunning views and endless hiking trails. It is a great place to elope for couples who either want to see how many trails they can hike in one trip, or couples that just want to relax in our world’s natural beauty.

Here are a variety of activities for your elopement day in Yosemite:

  • Visit the Ansel Adam’s Gallery and admire beautiful photos taken of the park
  • If you are an experienced hiker, hike Half Dome. (You will need a permit)
  • Have a picnic in the Tuolumne or El Capitan meadows
  • Go horseback riding
  • Watch the sun rise over Half Dome at Glacier Point
  • Have a morning coffee date at Coffee Corner in Yosemite Valley
  • HIKE! Some of the most beautiful hikes in the world are in Yosemite. There are trails for any skill level.
  • Rent bikes and take a ride along Yosemite’s paved paths
  • Find an event in Yosemite Mariposa County
  • Take a rafting trip down the Merced River
  • Watch the climbers at El Capitan or attempt it yourself if you’re a climber!
couple getting married in yosemite national park

Where to Stay in Yosemite

There are lots of different lodging options in Yosemite. From resorts and hotels, to camping, to your own personal cabin or airstream – take your pick!


  • The Ahwahnee is a 4 star hotel in Yosemite Valley. It is close to most things in the park and averages $500-600/night. You will want to plan your trip early here, as it does book out pretty far in advance.
  • Yosemite Valley Lodge is 3 star hotel that is central to Yosemite Valley and has everything you’ll need for your stay. It runs about $300/night and books out 6-8 months in advance.
  • Tenaya at Yosemite Lodge is a 4 diamond resort in Fish Camp, CA – located about an hour from Yosemite Valley. They also have explorer cabins with all the perks of the full-service resort, for a more private stay. These stays range from $150-500/night depending on the season.


  • AutoCamp: Autocamp has luxury airstreams, tents and cabins situated a little under an hour from Yosemite Valley. With these cute and modern stays, you get the glamping experience with resort amenities like a bar and pool. And they are dog friendly! Maybe I’m a little biased, but this is where I’ll be staying. These stays range from $250-500/night.
  • Cabins Rentals: You can find cabins rentals of any size ranging from $100-1000/night.
  • Camping sites: There are multiple camping sites in Yosemite Valley, but you will need to plan in advance. Reservations open 4-6 months before your planned arrival date. If you don’t get a reservation you can try a first come, first serve campsite or check for cancellations – but this is risky and can add stress to your elopement trip.


There are many cabins and homes within 1-1.5 hours of Yosemite Valley on Airbnb. Here are some of my favorites:

  • The Winnie A-Frame: If you have ever dreamed of staying in an A-Frame cabin, look no further. This beautiful, modern cabin is surrounded by oak, pine, and manzanita trees, and located 1.5 hours from Yosemite Valley. This one bedroom cabin is perfect for an intimate and private elopement in Yosemite. $250-300/night.
  • Ponderosa Pines Escape: This 3 bedroom home is nestled in the Mariposa countryside. This 1.7 acre property has a 270 degree deck to take in the mountain views, a nearby creek, and a hot tub to end the night in. $150-600/night depending on season.
  • The Nest: This cute one bedroom cabin in Oakhurst is located 1.5 hours from Yosemite Valley and is perfect for just you and your lover. $150-225/night.
  • Aerial Ascent Yosemite: This large 3 bedroom house is great for couples bringing a family or loved ones along for their elopement in Yosemite. It sleeps 10 comfortably and is full of entertainment for kids. You can also enjoy great views from this property, as it is located inside the park, about 40 minutes from Yosemite Valley. $450-1150/night.
engagement photos at taft point

Where to Eat in Yosemite

Yosemite Valley

  • The Ahwahnee Dining Room – A fine dining banquet hall serving breakfast, dinner and a Sunday brunch buffet.
  • Base Camp Eatery – A food court in Yosemite Valley lodge with a variety of options. You can find breakfast, lunch and dinner here.
  • The Mountain Room – An upscale dining experience where you get a view of Yosemite Falls while enjoying a nice steak or seafood dinner.

Yosemite Village

  • Degnan’s Bakery – Open for breakfast and lunch year round. Sandwiches, salads, pizza, coffee, and breakfast items.
  • The Loft at Degnan’s – Pizza, rice bowls, BBQ, salads and drinks available for lunch and dinner all year long.
  • Village Grill – Open seasonally. Enjoy a sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs on this outdoor deck.
  • Village Store – Find a large selection of groceries, ready-to-eat meals, firewood, and more at this general store.

Curry Village

  • Curry Village Pavilion – A food court with a variety of options available year round.
  • Pizza Patio – Grab some pizza and drinks to enjoy on the outdoor deck. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner.
  • Meadow Grill – Outdoor eatery with burgers, sandwiches, and other veggie options. Open seasonally.
engagement photos in yosemite national park

Some Other Things to Note

1. Have a backup plan and location because unexpected events may occur. Most commonly:

  • Smoky Conditions: most common in august and september 
  • Road closures: mainly in winter but can sometimes happen in september/october
  • Floods: often in may

2. Traffic is heavy in the valley and it can be difficult to find parking. Plan lots of extra time into your day to account for this.

3. Cell service is limited and wifi is weak at lodges. Have a map to get around the park and plan ahead with your vendors.

4. There is grocery stores and gas stations inside the park, but plan for elevated prices.

5. Yosemite is Incredible. Your only wish will be that you spent more time there. So slow down and take it in.

Yosemite Photographer

yosemite photographer

Hey there, I’m Bri! All you outdoor lovers – I’m for you.

I specialize in photographing outdoor weddings and elopements. And I strive to create scenic and timeless photos that bring out your true personality. You can see more of my work here.

Yosemite is one of my favorite locations in the world and I would be honored to photograph your elopement in this beautiful place. In addition to taking epic, beautiful photos of you, I will also spill all my tips and knowledge to help you plan!

Yosemite Packages

Half Day Elopement

Up to 4 hours of coverage
Unlimited planning calls & texts
Personalized photography experience
Professionally edited online gallery
48 hour sneak peek photos
Travel included – no additional fees!
Yosemite photography permit

$4200 + tax

Full Day Elopement

Up to 8 hours of coverage
Unlimited planning calls & texts
Personalized photography experience
Professionally edited online gallery
48 hour sneak peek photos
Travel included – no additional fees!
Yosemite photography permit

$5500 + tax

To get more information on my photo packages or book your Yosemite elopement day with me – send me an inquiry!