One of the most underrated places to elope in Utah: Dead Horse State Park. Featuring dramatic overlooks and high deserts. Here’s how and why you should elope in Dead Horse State Park!
First Things First: What You Need to Know to Elope at Dead Horse State Park
Location, Location, Location!
Dead Horse State Park consists of 5,362 acres of the immense desert landscape of canyons and striking overlooks with miles and miles of trails. Located just 4 hours southeast of Salt Lake City and 45 minutes west of Moab, Utah, Dead Horse State Park is easily accessible and offers just a little more privacy than its neighboring Arches National Park. One of the coolest things about Dead Horse State Park? It has remained one of the last refuges for dark skies.
This area of Utah in particular is considered a designated Dark Sky Area. So don’t forget to bring your headlamps and tack on a few more hours to incorporate epic star pictures in your Dead Horse State Park elopement! Can you think of a more epic way to end your elopement?! Yeah, we can’t either!
Our favorite hiking spots in Dead Horse State Park:
- Dead Horse Rim Loop Trail
- Big Horn Overlook Trail
- Colorado River Overlook Trail
- Great Pyramid Loop Trail
Some fun activities to include in your DHSP elopement:
- Have a picnic
- Mountain biking
- Hot air balloon rides
- Rock climbing
- Horseback riding
A Few Things to Know Before You Get Married in Dead Horse State Park
Rules and Regulations
The wedding party size maximum for a wedding at Dead Horse State Park is 100 people and the spots for a group that size are limited. For smaller wedding parties (50 people or less), there are several sites to choose from. All sites are open to the public as well, there are no sites that are exclusive for weddings. Things to consider:
- Most sites do not have wheelchair accessibility, except under the shade shelter at Dead Horse Point.
- Live or cut flowers are not allowed to be brought into the Park. Plan to use artificial flowers for your ceremony. Here’s our FAVORITE faux flower shop! They look so real, you would never be able to tell that they were fake!
- Seeds, confetti, rice, or any other type of object are not allowed to be thrown within the Park.
- Only domestic dogs are allowed at the wedding locations and all park regulations for dogs apply during all times.
- Drone use is prohibited between March and October. November through February, they may be used by a special use permit holder. A permit may be secured through a Park Ranger. The pilot will need to be properly licensed.
- Trails must be used to access the wedding location.
- Cars must be parked in the agreed-upon parking area(s).
- All fees must be paid in advance of the wedding or immediately following.
- Amplified music, lighting, and decorations are not allowed in the Park.
We highly recommend that our couples choose to elope during the week (Monday-Thursday). Choosing to do this could lead to a more private elopement because this area tends to get really busy on the weekends. You also might want to consider eloping during the off-season. Did we mention that you can bring your dog here?! We LOVE when couples bring their fur babies to their elopement!
When is the Best time to Elope in Dead Horse State Park?
The best time to elope in Dead Horse State Park (in our opinion) is in the spring (March-May) and fall(September-November) months. The summer months (June-August) are very hot and the winter months (December-February) are very cold and you can expect some snow. However, if you want to avoid all the crowds you can totally opt for an off-season elopement!
The Legal Stuff
The first step to eloping in Dead Horse State Park is to fill out a special use permit application. Please fill this form out with as much detail as you possibly can then email it to email@example.com. Side note: Dead Horse State Park reserves the right to have a Park Ranger monitor your elopement. This is left to the discretion of the Park manager.
Marriage License Application
You will also need to apply for your marriage license. Any marriage license issued in Utah may be used in any county in the State of Utah. Meaning, if you are flying into Salt Lake City, you can obtain your marriage license there and use it in Grand County where Dead Horse State Park is located. Marriage licenses may only be available with an appointment or they have an online application process, I recommend checking the county’s rules beforehand. You can apply for a marriage license in Salt Lake City here or one in Moab here.
Who Many Perform a Marriage in Utah?
Marriages may be solemnized by the following persons only:
- Ministers, rabbis, or priests of any religious denomination who are in regular communion with any religious society; and 18 years of age or older
- Native American spiritual advisors
- The governor
- The lieutenant governor
- Mayors of municipalities or county executives
- A justice, judge, or commissioner of a court of record
- A judge of a court not of record of the state
- Judges or magistrates of the United States
- The county clerk of any county in the state
- The president of the Senate
- The speaker of the House of Representatives
- A judge or magistrate who holds office in Utah when retired, under rules set by the Supreme Court
Do you want a totally private, just-the-two-of-us elopement? Well, you’re in luck! Bailee is ordained so she can sign as your officiant! Jake can sign as one witness and we could find a fellow adventurer to sign as your second. Or you can incorporate a loved one if you want! You can have them officiate your wedding and sign your marriage license.
How Far in Advance Do I Need to Plan For my Wedding?
Marriage licenses may be used immediately upon purchase but can be used within 30 days from the date of purchase at which time the license expires. Refunds and extensions cannot be granted. I would allow you and your partner a few extra days to get your marriage license.
What Location is the Most Accessible?
There are five locations where you can actually get married in the park. After your ceremony, you can go anywhere you want to take more pictures. The Shade Shelter Site is the only ADA-accessible wedding spot in the park. Here are the five designated ceremony spots in the park.
- Pros: ADA-accessible, chairs permitted, 100 people, limit, shady cover nearby. Cons: A very popular tourist spot
- Pros: More privacy, epic views, 20 people limit. Cons: Uneven surfaces with exposure
Point Bench Site
- Pros: Epic views with easy accessibility. Cons: Uneven surface with 5 people limit
West Bench Site
- Pros: Easily accessible with epic scenery and a 20 person limit. Cons: A popular tourist spot with uneven surfaces
La Sal Site
- Pros: 25 person limit with epic views. Cons: A sloped grade with uneven surfaces.
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Dead Horse State Park?
A Special Use Permit costs $60 ($10 application fee and $50 permit fee). The day of the wedding will cost $15 per vehicle for up to 8 people in each vehicle, or if you bus in your attendees we charge $2 per person. Ranger monitoring is $50/hr if the park manager determines that it is necessary. This is in addition to your marriage license fee.
When is the Earliest or Latest you can Elope in the Park?
Dead Horse State Park allows weddings all year long.
Ready for Your Greatest Adventure Yet?
To give some perspective, Dead Horse State Park receives roughly 500,000 visitors each year compared to its cousin, Arches National Park, which receives about 1.5 million visitors each year. This is why Dead Horse State Park is one of our favorite places to visit when we head south. DHSP offers epic views and a little more privacy. If you’re craving both of those things, consider eloping in Dead Horse State Park!
Jake and I are a little obsessed with Southeastern Utah, so we’ll help you with everything you need to have the most incredible elopement here. We’re not just another photo + video team, we’re adventure elopement specialists. We provide marriage license help, location guides, permit help, vendor referrals, activity guides, and so much more.
Getting excited about your Dead Horse State Park elopement? Yeah, us too! We can’t wait to be a part of your elopement! Click here to get started.
Want some more desert elopement inspiration? Check out this Arches National Park elopement!
Bailee and Jake