Moab Elopement Guide
Moab is an incredible place for an elopement – and I might be super biased, but can you blame me? The southwestern city is the perfect combo of small town charm and big outdoor adventures, and with its location smack dab between two national parks, the unique red rock landscape and incredible scenery make it an incredible place to get married! Especially if you and your boo are looking for an adventurous wedding experience like no other.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get married in Moab, Utah – so if you’re ready to start planning an epic, once in a lifetime Moab elopement, read on!
Here’s what you’ll find in this Moab Elopement Guide:
- Getting to Moab, Utah
- Tips for Eloping in Moab
- The Best Time for a Moab Elopement
- Best Places to Elope in Moab
- Getting Legally Married in Moab
- Places to Stay in Moab
- The Best Restaurants in Moab
- Moab Elopement Vendors
- Moab Elopement Packages – Are You Ready to Get Married in Moab?
How Do You Get to Moab?
First things first, to elope in Moab, you’ve got to figure out how to get there! There are a few options if you’re outside of driving distance and need to hop on a plane.
Canyonlands Field Airport (CNY) is just 18 miles north of Moab, but it is a tiny airport with limited options – so you may opt to fly into the closest major airport instead, which is the Salt Lake City International Airport. While it is a 4 hour drive from SLC to Moab, if you like road trips, there’s plenty to see along the way!
There is also an in-between airport – in Grand Junction, Colorado, the Walker Field Airport is a little bigger than CNY, offering more flights each day, and serving more airlines. At a little less than two hours from Moab, it’s the closest option for most airlines!
Tips for Eloping in Moab
Any elopement comes with some added challenges that you wouldn’t have at a traditional wedding – but these are just part of the adventure! Here are some tips to remember for planning your Moab elopement.
Learn About Leave No Trace in Moab
You may have heard of Leave No Trace (LNT) already – but if not, don’t stress! The outdoors are more fragile than we realize, and humans can inadvertently have a big negative impact on the places we visit. So LNT is a set of 7 principles to help us navigate the outdoors:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts.
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
These are important to remember any time you go out in nature, but each place you visit will also have specific LNT guidelines based on the unique landscape.
In Moab, one unique thing to know about LNT is that the desert has something called cryptobiotic soil. It can often look like rock and sand – which we often think of as a durable surface that’s fine to walk on – but is actually full of delicate moss, lichen, and fungi that maintains the health of the ecosystem. These are important for retaining moisture and preventing erosion in the desert, and it can take thousands of years to grow back – which is why it’s super important to avoid stepping on it. You’ll see signs that say “don’t bust the crust” all over the place to help you remember!
Another Leave No Trace tip for Moab is to pack out and dispose of everything. If you’re an outdoorsy couple who spends a lot of time camping, you know it’s pretty standard to bury your #2. But in the desert around Moab, there are two reasons why you should avoid this. One, the area is highly trafficked so waste can become an issue. And two, the soil is dry and sandy, and doesn’t break down materials as well – so if you end up camping or spending a lot of time in the backcountry, pack it out!
Prepare for Crowds in Moab
When you get married in Moab, it’s important to know that it’s a popular destination for tourists! We’ll talk about the best season to elope in Moab in the next section, but no matter when you elope, there are some things you can do to get some privacy on your elopement day.
First, elope on a weekday – weekends are more crowded no matter where you are, so as long as you avoid holidays and three day weekends, eloping on a Monday through Thursday is your best bet for finding a private place to say your vows.
After you set a date for your Moab elopement, you’ll also need to decide on a time for your ceremony! If you elope at sunrise, you’ll be rewarded with the magical red glow of the desert, and best of all, you’re likely to get the place to yourself.
But my favorite way to avoid crowds on your elopement day is to find a location that’s a little off the beaten path! I love the national parks, but they’re often packed with visitors – but luckily, there’s plenty of places around Moab that are lesser known, and I can help you find them.
Moab is close to two national parks – Canyonlands and Arches. If you plan to visit either of them, be aware that there are entrance fees, even with a wedding permit (which you’ll need as well). You can always purchase passes at the entrance of any national park, and admission to both of these parks is $30 per car – and this will be good for a week, so you can come back after your elopement day and explore some more.
However, if you want to visit both parks, you can save some money! There is a Southeast Utah Parks Pass, which will get you into Canyonalands and Arches for an entire year – this costs $55, saving you a little bit of cash if you plan to visit both while you’re in Moab.
If you visit national parks often, consider getting an America the Beautiful pass! This one is good for a year, and will let you enter any national park in the country – for $80, it’s much more budget friendly than paying entrance fees every time if you plan to visit at least three parks within the next 12 months. You can get these at any park entrance, or online!
The Best Time for a Moab Elopement
Weather will be a big consideration when you set a date for your Moab elopement – below is a graph of weather averages for the year.
Summer Elopements in Moab
The weather in Moab gets pretty extreme in the summer – being outside in near 100 degree temperatures is no joke! If you elope during the summer, be prepared with lots of water. Planning to explore early in the morning or late in the evening can be a good way to avoid the scorching midday heat! Or, elope near the Colorado River so that you can cool down throughout the day.
Fall Elopements in Moab
Fall is one of the best times to get married in Moab – the temperatures cool down, and it’s less crowded than the spring. There is the occasional thunderstorm in fall, so be prepared with some rain jackets, and bring layers, as mornings and evenings can get chilly.
Winter Elopements in Moab
This is the least busy time in Moab – so if you elope in the winter, you’ll likely get some solitude! But, the desert gets pretty cold, especially overnight. You’ll need layers and possibly some traction if you hike in the ice, but the snow dusted scenery can be amazing!
Spring Elopements in Moab
Because good weather means crowds, spring is the most popular time to visit Moab. While this is a great time to elope, be prepared for more people around! The weather is great for hiking, though it can change pretty significantly throughout the day, so wear layers that you can take off as it warms up.
The Best Places to Elope in Moab
The best thing about eloping is that the “Moab wedding venues” are actually gorgeous outdoor spots! Instead of being in a traditional venue, you get to tie the knot surrounded by the incredible desert landscapes. Here are the best places to elope in Moab!
Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is a dramatic desert landscape made up of canyons carved by the Colorado River. You’ll find panoramic overlooks on flat-topped mesas, tall rocky pinnacles, and incredible canyons made up of different colored layers.
To elope at Canyonlands National Park, you will need to get a permit. You can find the application, along with a list of spots where you can have a ceremony in the park here. The permit costs $185, but this money helps ensure that the park stays beautiful! Plus, it’s cheaper than a traditional Moab wedding venue.
Arches National Park
Moab is just south of Arches NAtional Park – named for the more than 2,000 sandstone arches that stand in the park, created by erosion over centuries. It’s a really unique spot, with rocky formations that tower over the desert.
A permit is required here as well, and costs $185. You can find the application, and the locations where you’re able to have your elopement ceremony can be found on NPS.gov.
Dead Horse State Park
Dead Horse State Park features canyon walls, desert woodland, and tons of trails to explore when you elope in Moab. It’s recognized as a Dark Sky Park, which means there’s little light pollution, and you can get a clear view of the stars at night!
A permit to have your elopement ceremony at Dead Horse Point State Park costs less than the national parks, at $60. You can find a list of approved locations here, along with the application!
BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Land is a great option for your Moab elopement! These public lands are less developed than national and state parks, which means most locations are a lot less crowded and you’ll have a much easier time finding lesser known spots to tie the knot. As an added bonus, most of the time, you don’t need a permit to elope on BLM land, as long as your ceremony is small and doesn’t require much setup. Your photographer, however, will require a permit to work on BLM land so be sure to check and make sure they have the appropriate permits. Luckily this is something I keep updated so if you choose to have a BLM elopement you’re good to go!
If you’re dreaming about those popular spots you’ve seen all over Instagram, you can always have your ceremony somewhere off the beaten path, then go to the popular spots for photos!
Getting Legally Married in Moab
To get legally married when you elope in Moab, there’s a little bit of paperwork to do! You’ll need to get a Utah marriage license, and you will need an officiant and two witnesses.
Getting a Marriage License in Moab
You need to obtain your marriage license in the same state you get married in – so for your Moab elopement, you’ll need a Utah license! This can be done at any County Clerk’s office in the state, so if you live in Utah, it’s easiest to go to one close to home. If you’re travelling to Utah for your elopement, the Grand County office is in Moab.
You’ll need to download and print your marriage license application, then both of you will bring it to the County Clerk’s office, along with a photo ID and $40 for the licensing fee. You’ll get your marriage license and can use it right away, but it does expire after 32 days.
An ordained officiant is required to sign your marriage license to make things legal when you get married in Moab. You can find an elopement officiant to join you on your adventure, or have a friend or family member perform your ceremony.
If there’s someone you trust to marry you, they can get ordained for free on ULC.org!
Your marriage license also needs to be signed by two witnesses – if you’re inviting guests to your elopement, they can do this as long as they’re over 18! But if you aren’t inviting anyone, don’t worry – your vendors can sign, or you can find any two people throughout the day.
Where to Stay in Moab, Utah
During your Moab elopement, you’re going to need somewhere to stay! The town of Moab offers tons of accommodations – from hotels close to town to camping out in the desert. Here are a few great places to stay in Moab, Utah.
Camping in Moab
If you and your partner like to spend time outdoors, camping during your elopement can be a fun, unique wedding experience! There are plenty of campgrounds in the parks, but you can also find free camping on BLM land – and this is always more dispersed and private.
If you don’t want to completely rough it, check out some glamping accommodations around Moab! Under Canvas offers tents out in the desert – but with running water and all the amenities you need to feel at home, while enjoying the gorgeous desert views.
Airbnbs in Moab
Of course, you can always search Airbnb to figure out where to stay in Moab. You’ll find cute cabins for two, large desert homes perfect for elopements with guests, and unique stays like this teardrop camper!
Hotels and Lodges in Moab
You can find hotels and lodges near the restaurants and shops of Moab, which make the perfect home base for your adventure! The Red Cliffs Lodge is a beautiful hotel set against the rocky red cliffs, and the Red Moon Lodge is a quiet bed and breakfast, dedicated to sustainable living.
The Best Restaurants in Moab
Everybody’s gotta eat! I love trying out local restaurants, and Moab has plenty of yummy spots for you to try out during your stay.
The Moab Diner has been around since the early 1960s, when it was a drive in burger joint. It’s a nostalgic, old school diner serving all day breakfast – what could be better?
The Moab Brewery is one of the most popular eateries in town – as Moab’s only microbrewery, it’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the local brews!
As the first gourmet food truck in Moab, the folks at Quesadilla Mobilla strive to serve adventurous, outdoorsy communities. Whether you’re a Moab local or just visiting for your elopement, they’ll serve the best quesadillas in town!
Moab Coffee Roasters
For breakfast, lunch, desert, and of course, coffee, visit Moab Coffee Roasters! Their organic beans are roasted on site, and they pride themselves on espresso poured by baristas, not espresso machines.
Moab Elopement Vendors
To ensure that your Moab elopement goes smoothly, hire a team of elopement vendors! This is one of the best investments you can make, as it will take a ton of stress off of you.
Moab Elopement Photographer
There are a lot of vendors you could hire for your elopement, but a photographer is an absolute must! This will be a day you’ll remember forever – and there’s no way to remember each little detail, every moment, big and small, without photos. Along with documenting the day, as a Moab elopement photographer, I help couples plan their elopement from start to finish.
Moab Elopement Hair and Makeup
While you can DIY your hair and makeup, someone who specializes in elopements will be able to ensure that everything stays put while you’re exploring! Lesley Lind and Atomic Salon are two great options for pampering yourself with hair and makeup.
Moab Elopement Florist
Adding floral bouquets, boutonnieres, and other decor to your elopement can be a lot of fun! When you hire a Moab elopement florist, make sure they’re familiar with the LNT rules at your location – some flowers can be invasive species and are not allowed. The Potted Pansy and 3 Leaf Floral are two amazing florists in Moab!
Moab Elopement Planner
Hiring an elopement planner can be a great way to ensure that you don’t have to worry about a thing! Your planner can handle bookings, decor, and making sure that everything goes smoothly. Tellurian Events does planning and florals, and Cultivated Events Co is great with planning and design.
Moab Elopement Packages
If you’re ready to elope in Moab, I’m ready to help you plan it! You deserve a wedding day that reflects who you are, one that you’ll actually enjoy – and one that will truly be your favorite day ever.
As a Moab elopement photographer, I’m here to help you find the perfect place to say your vows, give you all the info you need to get a permit, help you with vendor and lodging recommendations, and anything else you need! Contact me to learn more about Moab elopement packages, and let’s get crackin’!