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Jane and Marc traveled all the way from Australia to get married in Yosemite National Park–the most spectacular natural wonderland of granite cliff faces, steep hikes through towering sequoia trees, thundering waterfalls, and endless overlooks at viewpoints of a valley so picturesque you can hardly believe it is really right there! Their February elopement in California took place at one of the most popular overlooks in Yosemite during the off season–this meant Jane and Marc had the place all to themselves. Keep reading to see images of our favorite national park, and learn how you can have a just-us elopement at one of the most-visited places in Yosemite!
Winter Elopement in Yosemite
The main high-alpine road to Yosemite’s most popular viewpoints closes in the winter. That doesn’t mean you can’t see the valley from above during the off-season, but it means what was once a short drive becomes a significant hike! Jane and Marc powered up the 3,000 feet of elevation gain over four miles to discover we had Yosemite’s famous overlook all to ourselves.
Throughout the hike, we kept commenting on how lucky we were to be witnessing so much beauty all to ourselves–they were new to the park, and it was hard to express just how incredibly unique it was for the trails to be empty, the overlooks to be clear, and the sounds of nature to be all we could hear through the trees. Having seen Yosemite before through the packed summer crowds, this day convinced me winter might actually be the best time to visit.
Without any distractions, we were all totally mesmerized by the magnificence of our surroundings–granite cliffs 3,000 feet tall, incredible waterfalls (some of which were mostly frozen this time of year), giant sequoia trees, redwood groves, and dozens of places to view it all from every angle–there’s no other place on earth quite like Yosemite. It’s a place I’ll try to describe a thousand times and words will never do it justice–unparalleled beauty, you simply need to see it to understand the scale of grandeur.
The whole day was one of my favorite experiences in the park–no crowds, no tourists, and surprisingly incredible for a February wedding! There weren’t even other hikers on this trail that day–just us and the solace of nature!
From the moment we realized we had the whole place to ourselves, the day just kept getting better! Jane and Marc were awestruck upon viewing Yosemite Valley from 3,000 feet up–Half Dome stood in the background as the only other witness to their adventurous union.
After a tearful ceremony, they celebrated their marriage with a champagne pop and stepped back to watch the sunset. This particular evening turned into a magnificent lightshow of bright reds, oranges, and pinks dancing upon the granite rock faces of the valley’s steep cliffs. It was one of the most colorful and incredible sunsets I’ve ever witnessed!
We hiked back down after the sunset–guided back down the steep 4 miles by headlamps and light from the stars.
Elope in Yosemite
If you’re interested in a Yosemite elopement, check out the full guide to planning an elopement in Yosemite! Learn all about the designated ceremony locations, the bonus spots you can elope with a small group, and the step-by-step process for acquiring permits. Getting married in a national park doesn’t have to be more complicated, but it does take a bit of forethought and planning to ensure it’s done right.
Steps to Planning a Yosemite Elopement
- Pick a Date – This is essential to apply for permits!
- Pick a Ceremony Location – If your group is less than 12 people, you have more options!
- Secure Permits & Reservations – Campground & cabins book up fast in Yosemite!
- Have the Best Day Ever!
Choosing a time and location that won’t be overrun with tourists, making sure all the necessary permits are applied for early enough for processing, and planning for the season are all things a knowledgeable photographer can help you with. We love guiding our couples to plan elopements all over the world, but there’s something super special about planning a Yosemite elopement––the 3,000 foot granite cliffs, the waterfalls, and the towering forests make this park a truly idyllic place to say, “I do!” Get married in paradise, and reach out now to begin planning your own elopement in Yosemite!