Zion is one of the most visited National Parks in the U.S. , it had 4.5 million visitors in 2019 alone. Zion is located within three different counties in Utah: Washington county, Kane county, and Iron county. Many weddings and elopements take place in Zion every year. If you want to have a wedding/elopement in Zion, there’s a few things you should know:
- You must have a special use permit to have a ceremony in Zion.
- The application for a special use permit is $100.
- The permit has to be submitted at least 3 weeks prior to the date you would like to be married on.
- Until the special use permit is approved and received, there’s no guarantee for date or location within Zion.
- A permit will not be given to requests for groups larger than 100 people.
- Permits are given for only a few approved locations within Zion.
Locations within Zion
- The locations available to you for your wedding/elopement depend on your group size.
- Keep in mind that all of these approved locations are still public areas of visitation within the park. In other words, there will be uninvited guests around your ceremony area.
- From smallest amount of people an area can hold to largest, these are the approved locations within the park:
- Menu Falls – Max 10 people
- Kolob Canyon – Max 20 people, max 4 cars
- Temple of Sinawava – Max 35 people, chairs permitted
- Nature Center North Lawn – Max 50 people (only available November-Early April), chairs permitted (max 25) only if they do not penetrate the lawn-i.e. straight leg chairs
- Zion Lodge Lawn – Max 75 people, chairs permitted
- South Campground Amphitheater – Max 100 people, chairs permitted
Zion Shuttle Service
- From July 1st to November 29th the shuttle is the only option to get around the park besides walking. To use the shuttle, you must reserve shuttle tickets in advance to arriving to Zion. You can reserve tickets via Zions’ shuttle service for $1 per person.
- While you can drive through Zion, there’s only a few scenic drives available to you. From about March to November most roads are unavailable. It should also be noted that the scenic drive is closed to private vehicles when shuttles are in service. The scenic drive starts at Canyon Junction and goes to the Zion Lodge and Temple of Sinawava.
- But, even when scenic drives are available, parking is limited. There’s a few options you have to get to the park and travel around. One option is to pay for parking in Springdale and use their shuttle. The shuttle takes visitors to the entrance of Zion, but this is a seasonal option. It runs from around July to November. Another option is trying to park at the visitor center and take the in-park shuttle service to get around.
- The shuttle service runs from the visitor center up the scenic drive to parts of the park like the Zion Lodge and trailheads. This includes the Emerald Pools, West Rim Trail, and Temple of Sinawava.
Any wedding decorations need prior approval by Zion
- Chairs needed from March-November can only be folding chairs. You will have to use the shuttle service to get them to your site. There are no exceptions made for delivery services of chairs to any area during shuttle season (Mar-Nov).
- No physical changes can be made to the park or area you are using for your ceremony.
- Throwing of rice, confetti, birdseed or anything similar is not allowed.
- Releasing of any animal or insect (including butterflies) is not allowed.
All other important things you should know:
- Noise cannot exceed speaking volume. In other words, you can’t have speakers at your ceremony.
- The park will not try to accommodate any electricity needs, nor will they allow generators.
- You cannot have catering/any food service.
- Signs, banners, etc. are not allowed.
- Pending on the size and complexity of your wedding; You may need to apply for a commercial photography permit for your photographer
- All guests are charged the standard $35 per car entrance fee. Any Commercial vehicles entering are charged the commercial vehicle fee as well.
But, this all applies if you want to hold a ceremony within Zion. If you’d rather, you can always pick a venue nearby with similar scenery and take photos within Zion later! As well, this could be considered in case Zion is shut down again due to COVID-19.
Wedding Venues Near Zion:
- Cable Mountain Lodge – It’s a 3 minute walk from the entrance of Zion and has a few different options to pick from on the property to host your wedding. And they offer special group rates pending on the time of year.
- Zion Red Rock – This wedding venue has three different venue options to pick from on their large property, The Zion Red Rock Challet, Zion Red Rock Villa, or Zion Red Rock Oasis. All options are 2-15 minutes away from each other. The entire property is about 5-15 minutes away from the park.
- Black Walnut Catering and Events – This company owns many wedding venues and has partnerships with local restaurants in Springdale (the city bordering Zion), including Switchback Grille. This is a potential one stop shop for venue, catering, and decor.
- Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort – This resort has over 4,000 acres of lands bordering Zion, plus it can double as a place for you and your guests to stay while you’re celebrating!
- Zion Mountain Ranch – While this venue doesn’t have much red rock around, it is still a gorgeous option for scenery. Many rolling hills and wide open fields will be your backdrop if you choose this venue!
- Shangri-La Event Center – Located about 30 minutes from Zion, this event center is gorgeous! Red rock and hills all around, plus a small pond, and a beautiful lighting set-up.
- The Bit and Spur – Located a few minutes away from the entrance to Zion, The Bit and Spur is a restaurant that can not only cater but host your event.
- Switchback Grille – A restaurant located in Springdale, a few miles from the entrance to Zion. As well, Switchback Grille can host up to 180 people, they have a wine cellar, and amazing food.
Always check with restaurants that may not advertise weddings! You never know if you’ll be able to work something unique out that ends up being less expensive in the long run, like this wedding taken near Capitol Reef National Park at The Rim Rock Restaurant and Inn.
Along with the many wedding venues in Zion, there are also some amazing wedding vendors located in Utah!
Many wedding vendors in Utah are not only knowledgeable about having weddings in national parks (Utah has 5 national parks and many state parks) but, local Utah wedding vendors are also great because we know all the ins and outs of the local areas. Plus, other vendors that can help you as well! As a photographer and native Utahn , I’m very familiar with any issues you may run into, how to avoid any problems, and some killer locations that an out of state photographer would not know about. Plus, we have a love and passion for our national parks just like you! No matter what, you’re going to have some amazing people helping you.
If nothing else…you can elope!
Having a wedding in a national park can be stressful, but especially a wedding in a national park! Getting a lot of people to a destination is already a bit hard to coordinate, it might be worth considering eloping instead. This way you get some amazing photos with an elopement photographer on site with you, an officiant, and two of your closest friends without having to stress about coordinating a large group of people to all get to one location.