How to Elope in Yellowstone National Park

Helping couples plan & document epic elopements in the world’s first National Park

Looking to Elope Yellowstone National Park?

You’re in the right place! A land filled with geysers, hot springs, mountains, and wildlife; this stunning landscape is unlike anywhere else in the world, and a perfect destination for couples seeking a truly unique wedding experience.

As Your Yellowstone Elopement Photographer, I’m Here to Guide You Every Step of the Way

Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the whole world! Let me use my knowledge of the park, and expertise as an elopement photographer, to help you plan the perfect elopement day.

Wedding couple sharing a moment.

Why Elope in Yellowstone?

I’m glad you asked!


Yellowstone National Park is one of the most unique landscapes in the world, filled with adventure and natural beauty. Here are a few reasons Yellowstone is the perfect elopement spot:

Geysers in Yellowstone National Park

Amazing Scenery

Home to over 500 active geysers (that’s over half of the world’s geysers!), Yellowstone sits high in the mountains between 7,000 to 9,000 feet above sea level and is filled with mountain views, beautiful valleys, abundant wildlife, and almost 300 waterfalls within the parks 2.2 million acres.

Couple holding hands on their wedding day.

Epic Photos

Yellowstone’s unique landscapes provide a stunning backdrop for elopement photos that will feel out of this world! From vibrant colored hot springs to majestic erupting geysers, to the serene forests, to the beautiful mountain views, there’s so many options for epic images unlike any wedding photos you’ve ever seen before.

A hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

A Unique Experience

Eloping in Yellowstone provides a unique and memorable way for you to celebrate your love amidst awe-inspiring natural beauty, creating a wedding experience that is unlike any other wedding.

Frequently Asked Questions About Eloping in Yellowstone National Park

Can you get married in Yellowstone National Park?

Absolutely! You will need a special permit for your ceremony and you will need to hold it at one of the parks designated locations for weddings, but you can absolutely get married in Yellowstone!

How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Yellowstone?

To elope in Yellowstone, you will need a Special Use Permit which costs $250, as well as an entrance pass to get inside the park, which costs $35. That brings the cost to $285 to elope in Yellowstone!

Where Can you get Married in Yellowstone

There are several designated locations for wedding ceremonies inside Yellowstone National Park with options for 15 people to up to 200! Ceremony locations include Old Faithful, Artists Point, Mammoth Chapel, and the Lamar Valley, but there are lots more options to choose from! More ceremony locations are discussed further on in this guide.

Do You Need a Permit to get Married in Yellowstone?

Yes, as discussed above, you do need a permit to get married in Yellowstone National Park. Click here to find out how to get a permit.

Before we get started, allow me to introduce myself.

Hey there, I’m Tiana, an elopement photographer that specializes in adventurous elopements in the American West.

Yellowstone is possibly my favorite place in the whole world, and I’m lucky to live close enough to visit this incredible place frequently, which is why I wrote this guide to help couples like you learn everything you need to know about how to elope in Yellowstone.

If you’d like a partner to help you plan an epic elopement in or around Yellowstone, I would love to help you plan and document your day!

Elopement photographer Tiana Olivia standing next to a waterfall in Yellowstone National Park.

How to Elope in Yellowstone

  1. Hire a Yellowstone elopement photographer
  2. Choose a ceremony location
  3. Obtain your Yellowstone ceremony permit
  4. Plan your elopement experience
  5. Have an epic elopement in Yellowstone!

This guide is going to walk you through every step of planning your elopement in Yellowstone National Park. It will guide you through the best seasons for eloping in Yellowstone, ceremony locations and regulations, how to obtain your Yellowstone elopement permit, and provide you with inside tips for planning an unforgettable experience in this incredible place!

A buffalo crossing the road in Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone Elopement Permits and Regulations

Wedding Ceremony Regulations

Wedding ceremonies are only allowed in specific areas of the park depending on the size of the wedding and the time of year. Weddings in Yellowstone are limited to 20-30 people in most locations, with one indoor location that allow up to 250 people. Elopements must be small with less than 30 guests and must take place in designated areas and are allowed to last a maximum of 2 hours.

The park does not give exclusive use of any area for elopements, so there may be other visitors present depending on the location and time that you chose for your ceremony.

Your group size, season, and time of day may affect approval of your location when requesting permission. Popular areas of the park like Old Faithful and Canyon have designated locations to prevent overcrowding, but there may still be other visitors nearby.

Yellowstone Wedding Restrictions

There are several restrictions for weddings that take place within Yellowstone’s borders, including:

  • The use of amplified music
  • The release of butterflies, rice, etc.
  • Outside catering
  • Restricting visitors and other guests from moving freely

Designated Wedding Ceremony Locations Include:

Artists Point
Waterfall in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.
Old Faithful
Old Faithful erupting in Yellowstone National Park.
Mammoth Chapel
Mammoth Hot Springs.

More ceremony locations will be discussed further on in this guide

Transportation in Yellowstone

Carpooling is recommended in Yellowstone whenever possible, as parking can be limited during the busy season and during peak times.

Yellowstone Elopement Permits

A non-refundable $250 application fee is required for your event to be reviewed and must be submitted at least 2-4 weeks in advance but not more than a year before your requested date.

For more information visit the Yellowstone National Parks Website.

How to Get a Permit for Your Yellowstone Elopement

Sunrise in the Hayden Valley.

1. Decide on an elopement ceremony location

Choose a location that fits your group size, hiking abilities, and any other special considerations you have for your ceremony.

Couple Holding hands on their wedding day.

2. Submit your permit application

You will need to fill out a permit application with all the information about your elopement along with the $250 application fee. You can find the application here.

A hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.

3. Obtain your permit

and continue planning the rest of your elopement details!

To have the best odds of getting your permit approved, you will want to submit as early as possible. Permits can be submitted up to 12 months in advance.

Entrance Pass

An entrance pass is required for all parties entering the park. You only need one pass per vehicle and everyone within the vehicle is included. Your pass will be good for 7 consecutive days and you can come and go from the park as you need within that timeframe.

The standard vehicle pass is $35 and covers up to 15 people in one vehicle.

Tip: Purchase your ticket online ahead of time and have it printed to use the pre-paid lane to save time when entering the park!

Another option is to buy the America the Beautiful pass for $80, which allows you access to all of America’s National Parks, lands managed by the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and more! This is an annual pass and pays for itself if you plan on visiting 3 or more National Parks in a year.

If you’re a veteran, you can get an American the Beautiful pass for free!

Marriage License Requirements

You will need to obtain a Special Use Permit for your Yellowstone National Park marriage ceremony. You need to obtain your marriage license from state you’ll be getting married in. The majority of Yellowstone is in Wyoming (Park County and Teton County) with smaller portions in Idaho and Montana. Once you’ve decided on your ceremony location, you will need to obtain your marriage license from the appropriate state.

Elopement details in Yellowstone National Park.

How to Get a Marriage License in Wyoming

In order to obtain your marriage license in Wyoming, you and your partner will need to appear in person at the County Clerk’s Office. To apply, you will need a form of picture I.D., which can be a Driver’s License, Passport, Military I.D., or School I.D.

The marriage license cost is $30, which can be paid in cash, check, or credit card (though there is a $1.55 service fee for credit cards).

There is no waiting period, meaning you can get married the same day you receive your license. This license will only be valid in Wyoming and expires one year from the date of being issued.

Officiant

Your officiant must be an ordained minister to legally perform your marriage. This can be a judge, clergy member, or an ordained friend or family member, or even your photographer if they’re ordained.

Witnesses

Wyoming requires you to have at least 2 witnesses attend your ceremony.

Find Your Yellowstone Elopement Photographer

One of the first and most important things to do when planning your elopement is to find your photographer. Most elopement photographers will also assist in your planning process from deciding on the best locations to curating a custom timeline with activities for your day to assisting with obtaining permits.

It’s important that you choose a photographer whose work you love, because the photos you’ll receive will be in the same style, and one who is familiar with the area you are eloping in.

If you are searching for an elopement photographer with an in-depth knowledge of Yellowstone, please reach out to me! Yellowstone is one of my favorite places in the world and I would love to help you plan your perfect adventure elopement!

Choose a Ceremony Location

Yellowstone Elopement Ceremony Locations

Where you have your ceremony will depend on several factors, including the size of your elopement (will you be bringing anyone with you?) and what time of year you want to get married, as some areas of the park close down at certain times of year.

Here are the parks designated ceremony locations and what they offer. Even if you decide to hold your ceremony in one location, keep in mind that you can still take photos elsewhere in the park. The day is yours to explore, and trust me when I say you’re going to want to see everything here!

Sunrise over the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

Canyon

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River sits on the east side of the upper loop of the park. It’s a 20 mile long canyon over more than 1,000 ft. deep with hydrothermal features within its walls. This area offers some of the most inspirational views in the entire park and features 2 waterfalls.

There is access to the canyon and its waterfalls from several locations on both the north and south rim.

For ceremonies, they have a designated platform area with a capacity of up to 40 people. Even if you don’t hold your wedding ceremony here, you won’t want to miss this spot for some epic bridal photos during your trip!

Old Faithful

Known for its consistent eruptions, Old Faithful is the most famous geyser in the world! It’s part of the Upper Geyser Basin, which sits on the west side of the lower loop. This is one of the most popular areas in the park. It has several lodges, restaurants, gift shops, in addition to 150 geysers to explore, all within walking distance.

Ceremonies have a designated location on the east side of Old Faithful Geyser, directly in front of the Old Faithful Lodge. There is a maximum capacity of 40 people for ceremonies held in this location.

Mammoth Chapel

Mammoth and the Historic Fort Yellowstone are the first things you’ll see when coming in through Yellowstone’s North Entrance. The fort includes Mammoth Chapel, built of stone in 1913, the only church in the entire park! It’s perfect for couples looking to have a more traditional ceremony before exploring the park.

Something else to keep in mind is that the Mammoth area is one of the few areas of the park that is accessible year round.

Virginia Cascade Picnic Area

Just off of the Norris Canyon Road going straight through the middle of the park is the Virginia Cascade Dr., a scenic drive along the Gibbon River. This picnic area is designated for elopements with up to 30 people.

A river surrounded by trees.

Lamar Valley

Wedding ceremonies with a limit of 5 people are allowed at pull-outs along the road throughout the Lamar valley. There are 4 additional designated locations close by that allow for groups up to 20 people. The locations are:

  • Trout Lake
  • Barronette Meadows
  • Thunderer Cutoff Trail Head
  • Warm Creek

If you are granted a permit for any of these four locations, the permit will be good for any of the options the day of your elopement to allow for flexibility in case of crowds.

Parkwide Amphitheaters

The last option for ceremonies within Yellowstone’s borders is any of their amphitheaters. These are a great option if you are looking for more privacy for your ceremony or if you are including guests, as there are less restrictions in terms of guest count requirements. However, please keep in mind that you are not allowed to decorate the space in any way.

There are amphitheaters found at he following locations:

  • Canyon Campground
  • Mammoth Campground
  • Madison Campground
  • Grant Village
A vibrant blue and yellow hot spring.

Other Locations

Other locations may be requested when submitting your application, however special requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and there is no guarantee you will end up with the location you are requesting.

Choose a Date for Your Elopement

How to Choose the Perfect Elopement Date

You’ll want to narrow down a date for your elopement next. Remember, you’re not limited to weekends and you have a lot of freedom when choosing a date for an elopement vs. a traditional wedding, so feel free to choose a date that you like!

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on your elopement date:

The Best Time of Year to Elope in Yellowstone

Because Yellowstone sits at a high elevation with most of the park between 6,000 to 7,000 ft., there is a small window in which the weather is at its best. The summer months of July and August are the best time of year to elope in the park, as the snow is all gone, the entire park is accessible, and the weather is at it’s warmest and driest.

June and September can also be a good time to visit Yellowstone if you don’t mind colder weather with a chance of snow. There will be significantly less crowds in these months compared to the peak summer seasons.

As is common at higher elevations, the weather in Yellowstone can be unpredictable, even in the summer months. It’s not uncommon for sudden, drastic changes in the weather. I’ve personally experienced the weather changing from hot and dry to pouring rain and thunder in a matter of minutes in the middle of summer. It’s best to come prepared for any kind of weather, even in the summer.

Weather in Yellowstone:

Spring

The average temperatures in the spring at Yellowstone range from a high of 53 degrees to a low of 10 degrees Fahrenheit and will typically still have snow until late March or early April. This is the time of year when grizzly bears begin to emerge from their dens and migrant births start to arrive. The interior roads are closed for spring plowing.

Summer

Summer is the most popular season in the park. The roads throughout the park are open, the snow has melted, and campgrounds are all open. There is all kinds of wildlife from black bears to bison to elk. This is also when you will find wildflowers and the wolf pups will emerge from their dens. The temperatures range from the low 30’s to the mid 70’s during the day. It’s also the park’s peak season for tourists visiting from all around the world.

Fall

The park begins to close in mid September as temperatures begin to drop. The average temperatures in the Fall are range between 40-60 degrees during the day with the night times dropping to the low 10’s at night. Bears begin to return to the lower elevations and this is a great time for wildlife watching.

Winter

With an average high of 28 degrees and a low of 3 degrees, winter in Yellowstone is a quiet season. The interior roads open to over-snow travel around mid December, and it’s a great time for skiing, snowshoeing, snowshoeing and wildlife watching. Transportation beyond Mammoth must be booked through the park.

Crowds in Yellowstone

July and August are the parks busiest months. The park is a popular destination for travelers from all over the world, bringing in upwards of 4 million visitors each year. The best way to avoid crowds is to avoid popular destinations (such as Old Faithful) during the middle of the day or to hike. On average, hiking at least 3 miles will get you away from most crowds. Yellowstone has tons of beautiful hiking trails for all skill levels!

Wildlife

Home to 67 different mammal species, Yellowstone is known for its wildlife. If wildlife watching or seeing a specific type of animal during your visit is important, you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing your day. Whether you’re hoping to sight a grizzly bear or watch the bison roam the Lamar Valley, you’ll be sure to see some spectacular wildlife during your visit!

Always remember to give wildlife plenty of room. They may not look like it, but those buffalo can outrun you without breaking a sweat.

Learn more about wildlife watching and safety here.

Best Wildlife Watching in the Park:

Fishing Bridge: Grizzly bears

Hayden Valley: Bison, black bears, elk, grizzly bears, and wolves

Mammoth Hot Springs: Bison, black bears, elk, mule deer

Madison: Bison, Elk

North Entrance: Bighorn sheep, bison, elk, pronghorn

Northeast Entrance: Moose

Old Faithful: Bison, elk

South Entrance: Moose

West Thumb: Elk, Moose

A group of elk in a meadow under a vibrant sunset.

Overnight Accommodations

Yellowstone has a total of 9 lodges, inns, cabin accommodations, and hotels within its boundaries, all offering a unique experience.

Canyon Lodge and Cabins: over 400 guest rooms throughout 5 hotel-style lodges with over 100 cabins for a more rustic experience.

Grand Village Lodge: over 300 guest rooms throughout 6 two-story hotel-style lodges.

Lake Hotel and Cabins: a large lodge with hotel-style rooms and cabin accommodations.

Lake Lodge Cabins: 186 rustic cabins.

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel and Cabins: large lodge with hotel-style room and cabin accommodations.

Old Faithful Inn: A rustic lodge with hotel-style accommodations.

Old Faithful Lodge: Cabin accommodations.

Old Faithful Snow Lodge: a large lodge with hotel room-style accommodations and cabins.

Roosevelt Lodge: cabin style accommodations

Camping in Yellowstone

The park has 12 front-country campgrounds with over 2,000 campsites! All campsites must be reserved in advance, with the exception of Mammoth Campground between October 15-April 1st when it is first-come, first-serve. It’s best to make your reservations as early as possible, because they do book up in advance.

Campsites can be reserved through Yellowstone National Park Lodges while others can be reserved through Recreation.gov and range in price from $20-$89 per night.

Yellowstone National Park Campgrounds:

  • Bridge Bay
  • Canyon
  • Fishing Bridge RV Park
  • Grant Village
  • Madison
  • Indian Creek
  • Lewis Lake
  • Mammoth
  • Norris
  • Pebble Creek
  • Slough Creek
  • Tower Fall
Elk grazing in a meadow behind a tent.

Airbnb’s Outside of the Park

There are dozens of cozy Airbnb options just outside of the parks North and West entrances. Here are a couple of options for a cozy, rustic experience:

Check out these Airbnb’s for your Yellowstone elopement

Dining Inside of Yellowstone

The lodges throughout the park are also home to dining options for visitors, ranging from high end restaurants to cafeteria’s.

Summer Dining Options:

The Old Faithful Lodge

Winter Dining Options:

Plan Your Yellowstone Elopement Day

It’s time to start filling in your day! Eloping gives you freedom to celebrate in a personal way and do things that bring you joy, which means you can add any sort of activity you want into your day.

Here are Some Ideas for Activates to Include in Your Yellowstone Elopement:

Looking for more ideas? Checkout this list of 50+ elopement day activities!

Old Faithful erupting at night under a starry sky.

Scheduling Tips for Your Yellowstone Elopement

Whether you plan on a casual day watching the wildlife or want to prioritize taking some epic photos, timing plays a big part in planning your day. Here are some tips to keep in mind when scheduling your day:

Mornings and Evenings are the Best Lighting for Portraits

The prettiest lighting is the first couple of hours after sunrise and the last few hours before sunset. The mid afternoon (between 10am-2pm in particular) is typically very harsh lighting and is best to avoid. Keep that in mind when scheduling photos for your day.

Mornings and Evenings are Also the Best Time for Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife is most active in the early hours and the evening, especially in the summer months. If you want to prioritize watching wildlife during your visit, make sure to dedicate some time around sunrise or sunset.

Geyser Schedules

Every geyser has its own time frame for when it will go off. Some are very predictable, like Old Faithful erupting approximately every 1.5 hours, while others remain a complete mystery until a few minutes before they blow. Be sure to check out the current geyser activity or download the National Parks app before your trip to plan around any geysers you want to see.

Steamboat Geyser letting off steam.
Steamboat Geyser in the Norris Geyser Basin

Leave No Trace

Whether you’re getting married in Yellowstone or it’s surrounding area, it’s important that you follow Leave No Trace principles to protect the wildlife and space that you’re in.

The goal of Leave No Trace  is to protect natural and cultural resources, preserve the beauty of wilderness areas, and ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy and appreciate these outdoor spaces.

It protects the wildlife, you, and preserves the natural landscape for future generations.

Leave No Trace Principals:

Want to learn more about Leave No Trace? Check out my full guide to having a LNT elopement.

Yellowstone Elopement Packages

Want to take the stress out of planning your elopement? I offer elopement packages that include a whole lot more than just photography! Every single one of my packages offer unlimited planning assistance to help you find that perfect location you’re dreaming of, helping research and obtain any required permits for your day, assistance creating a timeline for your day, and more all on top of documenting your adventure!

A couple embracing under the brides veil on their elopement day.

Get Married!

Now that your day is planned, you get to get married in the spectacular scenery of the world’s first National Park. Bet you’re the only couple you know who can say that!

Happy Eloping!


If you’re searching for a photographer and planner to help you make your dream Yellowstone elopement come to life, I would love to hear from you! Take a look at my elopement packages or contact me directly and start planning together!