Arizona has quickly become one of my favorite locations to photograph couples, thanks to its diverse landscapes and rad scenery! I love my home in the Pacific Northwest, but the desert is just a whole other kind of magic that just has so much to offer to couples looking to elope. If you’re dreaming up a killer desert elopement & are considering choosing AZ as your destination, here are some of the best places to elope in Arizona!!
Table of Contents
- Why Elope in Arizona?
- Best Places to Elope in Arizona
- Real Arizona Elopement Inspiration
Why Elope in Arizona?
I love the snow-capped, lush green mountains of the PNW, but the mountains and landscape of the Arizona desert are truly out of this world. The desert is fun AF to explore, whether you want to hit up a spot with cacti surrounding you everywhere or you’d rather hike deep into a red & orange slot canyon.
For any couples looking for epic scenery filled with warm colors, insanely cool patterns in nature (hello, red-rock buttes & slot canyons!), and small desert towns to explore, I guarantee you’d LOVE to elope in Arizona!
Quick disclaimer: I have way more locations up my sleeve than are mentioned in this blog post, but I like to keep them secret for my couples since I’ve come to find & explore them on my own! Reach out here and let’s get planning your elopement + talk all the secluded spots we can hit up for your Arizona desert wedding!
The Best Places to Elope in Arizona
The Location + Landscape
If you’ve ever seen photos of those unreal red rocks that look like they’re from another planet, you were probably looking at Sedona!! It’s a desert town near Flagstaff that sits just north of the center of the state, filled with the most incredible & unique desert landscapes everywhere you look. From red-rock buttes towering over the desert to steep canyon walls to even pine forests (yes, forests in the desert!), Sedona truly feels freaking magical as soon as you step foot outside. Honestly, it’s unlike any desert in the country, except for some areas of the Utah desert that it resembles!
If you’re looking to elope with an incredible red & orange desert color palette behind you and tons of hiking trails + opportunities for adventure (one of my favorites is Cathedral Rock) Sedona is definitely the location for you!
One thing to keep in mind is that Sedona has become increasingly popular over the past few years, not only due to more visitors but also because more rental properties have been created in the area. It’s best to find locations that may not be the most popular ones to try and avoid crowds, or to visit them at sunrise/on weekdays when there will be less crowds!
Because a lot of the most popular + beautiful areas in Sedona are a part of Coconino National Forest (including Cathedral Rock), there are some permit rules you’ll need to follow to elope here (depending on the exact location of your ceremony).
If you plan to have 75 people or more attending your Sedona elopement (this includes you two, your guests, and your vendors), you need to get a Red Rock Special Use Permit. The details of the permit will depend on the exact size of your party and the location you pick, but luckily there isn’t a fee for this permit no matter what!
To apply for that Sedona wedding permit (only if you’re having a group of 75+), fill out this application form & email it to Jeff Gilmore at email@example.com. I recommend doing it as far in advance as possible to give you plenty of time to complete the full permit process!
If you’re having a group of less than 75, the Forest Service does ask that you call to give them a little heads up, just so they’re aware of your event.
Where to Stay in Sedona
Sedona has TONS of rad Airbnbs in the area, with views of the desert and outdoor pools, hot tubs, & more. Check out some of the top-rated ones below that would be awesome to stay at for your elopement!
- Sedona Sunset Jewel
- Beautiful Mountain View Private Suite
- Chapel Area Vacation Home
- Stunning Sedona Villa
Hikes in Sedona
Like I mentioned above, Sedona is an incredible area for any couple looking for adventurous hikes and 360-degree views. Below are 5 of the most popular hikes in the Sedona area along with their difficulty levels, and you can find tons more on AllTrails!
- Cathedral Rock Trail - 1.2 miles; hard
- Devil’s Bridge Trail - 2.9 miles; moderate
- Fay Canyon Trail - 2.3 miles; easy
- Bell Rock - 0.8 miles; moderate
- Birthing Cave - 2 miles; moderate
The Location + Landscape
Page is another absolutely insane desert area in Arizona that has become super popular for elopements - and for good reason!! Page sits right on the northern border of Arizona, super close to Utah, which makes it pretty easy to travel to both AZ & UT for your elopement if you wanted to.
There are TONS of nearby spots to hit up in the Page & Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, some of the most popular being Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, & Lake Powell.
If you’ve seen my Instagram feed at all, you’ll definitely recognize Horseshoe Bend - I’ve shot there tons of times and it truly never gets old!! It’s a horseshoe-shaped bend along the Colorado River overlooking epic views of the colorful canyons of Arizona.
Antelope Canyon is one of the most famous slot canyon formations in the world, so you’ve probably seen it in photos too! Unfortunately due to overcrowding, both the lower & upper areas of Antelope Canyon actually aren’t available for photo tours or weddings anymore. But don’t you worry - I’ve explored the Page area so many times that I’ve got other locations I can share with you when you book that we can hit up for a slot canyon wedding!
Lake Powell is another one of the most popular spots in the Page area, surrounded by the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and right on the border of northern Arizona & southern Utah. I’ve also got plenty of spots with views of Lake Powell up my sleeve that make for incredible elopement ceremony locations!
A lot of the beautiful locations in the Page area are a part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, so depending on your party size & desired location, you may need to obtain a Special Use Permit.
The park office asks that you submit your permit application at least 45 business days prior to your event, but again, do it as soon as you can just to be safe! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this contact form to find out if you need a permit, and if you do, here’s how to get it:
- Complete this application form.
- Send your completed application + your $100 non-refundable processing fee by check (made out to the National Park Service) to the address below:
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Special Use Permit
691 Scenic View Drive, P.O. Box 1507
Page, Arizona 86040
OR email it to email@example.com.
- If your permit request is approved, the park office will send you a permit.
- Sign & return this permit to the office for final approval!
Where to Stay in Page
Just like Sedona, Page has tons of cozy Airbnbs in the desert available to you. Here are some of the most popular ones according to the Airbnb site!
- Home Near Horseshoe Bend & Lake Powell
- Santa Fe Style Desert Home
- Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend Casita
- Townhouse Near Lake Powell
Hikes in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
This area has plenty of hiking trails to offer no matter what your ability or fitness level - below are some of the most popular trails to check out!
- Horseshoe Bend Trail: 1.5 miles; easy
- Antelope Canyon Trail: 0.6 miles; easy
- Kachina Bridge Trail: 1.3 miles; moderate
The Location + Landscape
If you’re picturing large saguaro cacti in the background when you think about your elopement, Tucson is probably the place for you! Tucson is home to Saguaro National Park in southern Arizona, which is filled with enormous cacti and incredible wide-open desert views. It’s the perfect location to stay for a week (or more!) with your family & friends so you can explore the desert and all that Tucson has to offer.
To get married in Saguaro National Park, you’ll need - you guessed it - a Special Use Permit! This park is perfect for simple, intimate weddings with a small amount of guests & minimal decorations - what else do you really need besides the incredible desert views behind you?!
You’ll have to pay a $100 application fee as well as a monitoring fee & any other additional fees based on the details of your ceremony. The park allows you to schedule your ceremony date up to 1 year in advance, so you can start planning pretty early on! Just make sure you do not apply for your permit within 4 weeks of your desired date - they need more time than that to process your permit & make sure everything is good to go for ya.
Here’s what’s NOT allowed at ceremonies inside of the park:
- Large pieces of decor such as tables, chairs, & arches
- Amplified sound
- Balloons, signs
Once you’re ready to apply for your permit, here’s how to do so:
- Complete this application form.
- Fill out this contact form to reach the park. They’ll give you instructions on how to submit your application + pay your $100 application fee!
- If your permit request is approved, the park will email you a permit.
- Sign & return the permit to the office for final approval!
Where to Stay in Tucson
One of the most epic places to stay in the Tucson area (and perfect for a Tucson elopement, too) is JTH Tucson, a 5-suite inn bordering the west side of Saguaro National Park. This is truly a one-of-a-kind location that can host all your guests, filled with modern boho decor, unique suites, a pool, stunning views, and more - seriously one of the most dreamy places to stay.
If you’re looking for something smaller or more minimalistic, check out some other sweet Tucson desert Airbnbs below!
- Cozy Hacienda Casita
- Stone Craftsman Home in Saguaro National Park
- Private Casita in the Catalina Foothills
- Newly Built Casita with Mountain Views
Hikes in Tucson
Tucson is another awesome area filled with opportunities for adventure, from walks through the cacti to hiking trails in the mountains. Check out some popular Tucson hikes below!
- Catalina Canyon Loop Trail: 2.3 miles; easy
- Tanque Verde Falls Trail: 1.9 miles; moderate
- Sabino Lake Loop: 2.3 miles; easy
- Hidden Canyon Bowen Loop Trail: 2 miles; moderate
The Location + Landscape
Last but definitely not least, Lost Dutchman State Park is another beautiful location for an Arizona desert wedding if you’re looking for a landscape filled with cacti and mountain ranges in the background! This state park is located in the Sonoran Desert at the base of the Superstition Mountains, just 40 miles outside of Phoenix. Once again, this location has plenty of trails to offer hikers & bikers and would be a beautiful spot for an intimate wedding!
As this is a state park, there are certain rules you’ll need to follow to get married here, and you’ll also need to make a reservation (see this packet for the full deets).
To make your reservation, call the park at (408) 982-4485 to inquire about availability for your date. They’ll help you start a reservation request and will get a wedding contract over to you!
Next, fill out this wedding pre-application form & email it to your park contact.
Finally, you’ll get on the phone with your park contact to determine your final location, group size, and total fees. Then they’ll tell you how to pay your deposit + fees to reserve your date and location!
Where to Stay Near Lost Dutchman State Park
The park is nestled at the base of the Superstition Mountains, and luckily there are tons of stunning desert Airbnbs to stay in & get all the best mountain views. Here are some of the most popular ones that would be awesome for your elopement!
- Cowgirl Casita at Quail Creek
- Gorgeous Superstition Mountain Casita
- Saguaro House Desert Oasis
- Rancho Tranquilo
Hikes in Lost Dutchman State Park
Want to hike through the Sonoran Desert and enjoy the landscape around you? Lost Dutchman has plenty of trails to offer, whether you want to walk, take a more challenging hike, or go biking!
- Jacob’s Crosscut and Siphon Draw Trail: 2.4 miles; easy
- Treasure Loop Trail: 2.3 miles; moderate
- Discovery Trail: 1 mile; easy
- First Water Creek and Weaver Needle Trail: 5.6 miles; easy
Real Arizona Elopement Inspiration
Now that you’ve most likely fallen in love with the Arizona desert, you might want to see more real-life Arizona elopement inspiration - take a look at two of my favorite recent AZ elopements below!
Ready to start planning your own elopement in Arizona? I’d be stoked to work with ya - say hello here!
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