How to Elope in Yosemite in 2022 - Stephan & Adriana

How to Elope in Yosemite in 2022

Hey guys! I don’t normally write these guides for specific years, but there are a couple of things that you should know about if you want to elope in Yosemite in 2022.

What you’ll find:
1. What’s different in 2022
2. What is not changing in 2022
3. Ceremony Locations List
4. Best Times to Elope in Yosemite in 2022
5. Where to Stay in Yosemite
6. Bonus Tips
elope in yosemite in 2022
Photo by Stephan & Adriana – California Elopement Photographers
1. What’s different in 2022?

One BIG change about Yosemite National Park in 2022 is the fact that Glacier Point Road will be closed for the whole year. In a normal year, Glacier Point Road closes once the first snowfall happens in mid-November, and it opens up again in mid-June. Since the closing and opening of the road are subjected to weather behaviors, those dates vary every single year.

But in 2022 the road will not open. Yosemite will be doing some major rehabilitation projects on the road, and believe me, it needs it. It will open up again sometime in 2023 (my guess is that it will be by the end of May, or middle of June), and there will be 30 min delays. You can read more about the project here.

The only way to get to certain locations this year will be by hiking from Yosemite Valley, which can be quite strenuous. But the rewards are immense – an epic view with hardly any people.

Now – should that change your plans to elope in Yosemite? No.

Why? Because Yosemite Valley is open all year round, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. I won’t bore you with words, but instead, I’ll show you pictures so you can see what I’m talking about! Below, you’ll see our last elopement from 2021 that was supposed to take place at Glacier Point Road. Well, the weather had different plans. In 2021 we had an unseasonably cold fall, and the road closed a couple of times throughout the month due to snowstorms. This couple had no choice but to pivot, and can I tell you a secret? They weren’t a single bit upset.

elope in yosemite
Click here to see R&B epic wedding photos + video!
2. What is not changing in 2022?

A lot of things are not changing, like the beauty of the Park, and the fact that you should definitely elope in Yosemite. But the most important thing is – the permit application process.

To get elope in Yosemite, or just to take wedding pictures, or to have any kind of commitment ceremony, you need a PERMIT. The application process remains quite simple:

  1. Pick a ceremony location (you’ll find a list below)
  2. Download the Permit Application online and fill it out
  3. Print the Permit Application
  4. Mail it to the Park along with a $150 check to the National Park Service
  5. Once they receive it, they’ll inform you via email when your wedding day is scheduled

That’s it! Simple, right? Nothing to stress about. Sometimes it can take a while for the Park, to get back to you, and that’s normal. Since 2020, the number of permit applications has increased a ton, and they’ve been extremely busy. Just be patient, kind, and make sure they’ll know how much you appreciate what they do.

PS. we always help our couples with the permit application, to make their lives even more stress-free.

3. Ceremony Locations

It’s important to know that, if your party exceeds 11 people (including yourselves and your vendors, like your photographers, for example), you must pick a pre-approved location. Yosemite has a list of locations that are designated for wedding ceremonies, and when you apply for the permit, you’ll need to pick one of them.

Remember! if you want to elope in Yosemite in 2022, keep in mind that the Glacier Point Road Locations will not be available (not by car, at least).

Yosemite Valley Ceremony Locations

Cascades Picnic Area

  • 30 people maximum
  • open all year-round
  • limited to 8 vehicles
  • bathrooms: yes

Lower Yosemite Falls Paved Trail:

  • 50 people maximum
  • open all year-round except on holiday weekends
  • parking: yes – especially at the lodge area
  • bathrooms: yes

Swinging Bridge Picnic Area

  • 20 people maximum
  • open all year-round
  • parking: yes, but limited, very few spots
  • bathrooms: yes

Cathedral Beach Picnic Area

  • 50 people maximum (monitoring required for groups of 35+)
  • open most of the year – it closes from November through Memorial Day Weekend
  • parking: limited to 6 vehicles
  • bathrooms: yes

Sentinel Beach Picnic Area

  • 100 people maximum (monitoring required for groups of 50+)
  • open most of the year – it closes from November through Memorial Day Weekend
  • parking: limited to 8 vehicles
  • bathrooms: yes

Bridalveil Fall

  • 50 people maximum
  • currently closed for construction – it’s schedule to open again during fall of 2022
  • parking: yes
  • bathrooms: yes

El Cap Meadow

  • 10 people maximum
  • open all year-round, but we must stay within the El Cap viewing area of the meadow
  • parking: yes
  • bathrooms: no
Tuolumne Meadows Ceremony Locations

Important – these locations are located on Tioga Road, and Tioga Rd is not open all year-round. It is usually open after Memorial Day until September 30th. You can check the Opening and Closing Dates throughout the years here.

Tenaya Lake Beach

  • 50 people maximum
  • open along with the road schedule
  • parking lot: yes
  • bathrooms: yes, pit toilets

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Area

  • 25 people maximum
  • open along with the road schedule
  • parking lot: limited, carpooling required
  • bathrooms: at the lodge
Big Oak Flat Area Ceremony Locations

Also located on Tioga Road, so all of these locations are subjected to the opening and closing of the road.

Tuolomne Grove

  • 30 people maximum, but hiking is required (2.5 miles round trip)
  • open along with the road schedule, but there might be snow on the trail during several months
  • parking: yes
  • bathrooms: no

Merced Grove

  • 30 people maximum but hiking is required (3 miles round trip)
  • open along with the road schedule, but there might be snow on the trail during several months
  • parking: yes
  • bathrooms: no
4. What are the best times to elope in Yosemite Valley?

Fall – our favorite! Yosemite is always a treat in the fall. Seeing the whole Valley turn from green to orange, yellow, and red is priceless! It’s also never a super crowded season, apart from holidays (like Thanksgiving) and weekends, Yosemite is always very chill around fall. Best Months for fall weather (and colors): October & the beginning of November.

Spring – another beautiful season, especially in the Valley. Spring is the best time to see the waterfalls in Yosemite. Due to the amount of rain we got in 2021 and the record-breaking amount of snow we got this past winter, I have a feeling that the waterfalls will be amazing in 2022! And if you get lucky, you’ll also get to experience wildflowers all over the Yosemite meadows. Best Months for spring weather: April, May, and the beginning of June.

Summer – definitely THE most crowded time in Yosemite. We generally avoid working in Yosemite in the summer, and that’s usually when we make our trips to Rio, Brazil to see my family. Not only the Park can flood with tourists, but it can also be unpleasantly hot (95 + degrees in the Valley). Best Months for summer weather (if you like the heat, haha): July & August.

Winter – another gorgeous season, and it’s actually Stephan’s favorite! If you can brave the cold weather, let me tell you… Yosemite Valley covered in snow is a winter wonderland! One thing you should be aware of is that if there is a severe snowstorm, the Park will close all roads. It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen. Best Months for winter weather: December, January & February.

Yosemite Valley Fall Engagement Session
5. Where to Stay in Yosemite in 2022

Yosemite is a huge park, so if driving isn’t your favorite thing in the world, I would recommend staying inside the Park. Staying inside the gates of Yosemite National Park can be pricey, especially during busy seasons, but if that’s within your budget, then it’s worth it!

Hotels & Airbnbs Inside Yosemite National Park

  • The Ahwahnee – the most famous and most majestic hotel. Right in the middle of Yosemite Valley, and super convenient to explore the park.

  • Yosemite Valley Lodge – located accross from Yosemite Falls, also very convenient, and a little less expensive compared to the Ahwahnee.

  • Wawona Hotel – located 40 min or so from the Valley, this historical hotel is quite beautiful from the outside.

  • Yosemite West Cabins – Yosemite West is a “neighboorhood” in Yosemite located right before Glacier Point Road. It’s full of beautiful cabins, and you can find most of them on Scenic Wonders Website or on Airbnb.

  • Wawona Cabins – located 40 min or so from the Valley. Most of them are easy to find on Airbnb.

We’ve done a couple of weddings at some of the Yosemite West Cabins, and also met the couples there for getting ready pictures. Our favorite cabins in Yosemite West are:

Hotels & Airbnbs Outside of Yosemite National Park

There are a couple of entrances in Yosemite National Park, but the two main ones are: the south gates, coming from a town called Oakhurst, and the north gates, coming from Mariposa. Oakhurst & Fish Camp were our favorite areas to stay, and no surprise there, that’s exactly where our new home and cabin is located now. It’s more budget-friendly than the places inside the gate, plus you have the convenience of being around gas stations, grocery stores, Starbucks, lots of restaurants, and more. From our cabin (which is above downtown Oakhurst) to the gates it takes 15 to 20 min driving. From the cabin to Yosemite Valley is about 45 min to 1 hour of drive time.

  • Tenaya Lodge: located in Fish Camp, this is one of the most famous hotels around Yosemite. It’s beautiful, and home to a lot of wedding ceremonies and receptions.
  • Okahurst Airbnbs: you’ll find tons of Airbnbs in this town. Spoiler alert – our very own red cabin will be on Airbnb by July of this year (2022)! You’ll also find our favorite cabins and areas to stay inside our Yosemite Elopement Guide that we send to every client of ours.
  • Autocamp: located by Mariposa, on the north entrance side, Autocamp is one of the cuttest places you’ll find around the Park. Their land is full of trendy airstreams, tents, and little cabins.
6. Bonus Tips
  • Weekday, weekday, weekday – have I said it enough? But really, if you CAN, consider eloping in Yosemite on a weekday. This is a worldwide famous National Park (for good reasons), so you can imagine how crowded it can be. For the past 2 years Yosemite implemented a reservation system during busy months, and I would not be opposed it they did that this year, let’s just say that. The Park was quite pleasant.

  • Sunrise – if you don’t have the flexibility to elope on a weekday, consider eloping at sunrise. Starting the day with the sun, then having your ceremony later that morning is a great idea! Most tourists start coming in at 10:00 am ish, so to miss this rush means having a peaceful elopement day!

  • Book your accomodations early – during busy months, accomodations will book quick (especially in July and August), so if you can, book your hotel/Airbnb early and make sure they have a flexible cancelation policy, just in case.
IT’S A WRAP!

I hope this guide on how to elope in Yosemite in 2022 is helpful! We’re super excited for this year, especially to explore more of Yosemite Valley, and hike some new paths! We are based just 15 minutes from the gates of Yosemite and we’re lucky to call this place our backyard. Most of our couples come from out of state and even from outside of the country, so we are always there every step of the way – from permits to planning the timeline, to suggesting local vendors, places to stay, and hikes to explore.

You want to elope in Yosemite in 2022 but still have questions?
Simply get in touch and we’ll answer them!
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This blog post – How to elope in Yosemite in 2022 was written by Adriana. We are Stephan & Adriana, California Elopement & Intimate Wedding Photographers based in the foothills of Yosemite National Park.
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  1. Deanne Stott says:

    Hi do you have suggestions for photographers?

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