I really love helping people plan their elopement. One of the best questions to ask couples is “How adventurous are you?” That question gets a lot of responses. Working to plan elopements everywhere, but Arizona is the place I know best. I can help you in planning an Arizona desert elopement. I love being a part of this group of Arizona Wedding Photographers.
Most people have some idea about their wedding like and I get a lot of questions about planning an Arizona desert elopements but what a lot of people don’t realize is that there are so many different types of weddings you can have with that scenery in mind. But, one question I really have is, how adventurous are you?
So what kind of adventure can you expect when planning your Arizona wedding?
People who aren’t from Arizona might be surprised to the numerous responses to that question. A lot of people believe that the desert is flat with a bunch of saguaro’s sticking out of it. NOT TRUE!
Mountain Hiking Elopements in Arizona
I bet you can’t guess how many mountain ranges there are in Arizona… GUESS!
211~ Yeah, I’m not joking when I say that we really do have it all.
Nope, Arizona isn’t flat. Not even a little bit. This state really surprises people in planning an Arizona desert elopement. This state IS mountains. No one thinks of coming to Arizona to have a mountain wedding but it’s almost impossible NOT to include mountains in your wedding photos.
If there is one place in Arizona that you know, it’s Sedona or Grand Canyon. Arizona wedding photographers are obsessed with Sedona. But for a location that isn’t a national park, Sedona sure is popular. Well duh. I mean, look at one photos and it obvious. There really isn’t anything like it. Magical red mountains, secret caves, oak creek canyon – this is THE place to get married. If adventure is your style, checkout a hot air balloon ride, scenic flight or rent a mountain bike.
These mountains have it all, jagged peaks, wild terrain, saguaro cactus and water! But it get’s pretty toasty in the phoenix area so I would recommend spring or fall. Spring is beautiful for wildflowers for sure. But with so many cacti, this mountain range really fits in for palling and Arizona desert elopement. A lot of people wouldn’t believe you if you told them there was a 196′ waterfall hidden in these mountains. Reavis Falls might be a cool place to take some photos on your wedding day.
About 70 miles from Tucson in the south east part of Arizona is the Dragoon Mountain Range. They are beautiful granite mountains. Climbers know the area as Cochise Stronghold. They are a soft yellow/ green against the blue sky. If you are interested in a little wild west adventure, historic Tombstone is just 15-20 minutes away. But, if you want to explore a super unique colorful town on the border, Bisbee is the place. Bisbee has enough personality for the entire state of Arizona.
Lakes – canoe, SUP or kayak to your wedding
People don’t usually think of water when they think of Arizona, but we have a surprising amount of it! From Lake Powell all the way south to Pena Blanca lake, there are tons of beautiful locations to host your tiny wedding. The list below is ordered from north to south and are my personal favorites. Let me help you in planning an Arizona desert elopement…..with a lake?!
1. Lake Powell
Well if you are a Grand Canyon fan, you will looovee Lake Powell. Lake Powell is essentially Grand Canyon filled in with water. This lake didn’t even exist until the dam was built in 1964! Some naturalists might still get a little heated talking about the Glen Canyon dam but nobody will deny its majestic beauty. There are a lot of amazing locations you can get married right on the water or with views of the water. This isn’t just a summer destination spot, but houseboating and kayaking is fun too. I photographed this elopement at Alstrom Point in mid-October.
2. Watson Lake
Even thought swimming is not advised in Watson Lake, you can certainly paddle. Though other lakes are larger and offer more recreationally, no other lake in Arizona (or anywhere!) looks like this one! It has such a unique look and feel and offers so much beautiful landscape for wedding photography. If you answered, yes! to the question about adventure, experienced and inexperienced climbers alike will enjoy climbing right by the lake. The Granite Dells and Watson Lake really do offer adventurous folks the perfect venue. There are other amazing things to see and so nearby, eat and sleep in the Prescott area. But my favorite local spots for your wedding weekend would be old town cottonwood, for ammmmazing food and historic Jerome for cool hotels.
3. Bartlett Lake/Horseshoe Lake
This location is great in the summer if you are hoping to swim, paddle and get out on the water for your wedding. The marina there also offers a full restaurant or head into north phoenix for even more dining options. You can camp right on the lake and this might be a great opportunity to include some glamping into your elopement plans. My favorite season here is spring, the wildflowers are in full bloom and bursting with color, here are some photos taken at Barlett Lake.
Pena Blanca Lake
Wayyyyy down south, tucked into the mountains is this gorgeous little lake. I discovered Pena Blanca Lake on some more recent birding trips in Southern Arizona. It is small, quiet and surrounded by mountains. Even on the drive to this lake I couldn’t stop taking photos. There is excellent fishing, if you want to include some fishing into your wedding plans. The walk around the entire lake can be done in a bout one hour, and in your wedding dress. There is a camping area as well but not directly on the lake or with lake views.
Pena Blana an Southern Arizona Adventure Elopement Ideas
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can 4×4 a dirt road from the lake to the little town of Ajo. Ajo might not seem like much, but to me it really was something. Quaint, mysterious with a little hidden magic. Or you may decide to travel down to the historic Ruby Ghost town for some exploration. The near by town of Patagonia has long been a favorite old friend of mine. Patagonia offers more in the way of food and lodging and the best coffee at the most perfect local spot. Its the only one in town and you can’t miss it. Also! nearby in Sonoita, there are tons of wineries and even a meadry to discover.
National Park Weddings- North, South and in the middle of Arizona – Planning an Arizona Desert Elopement
There are actually 22 National Parks in Arizona. Although I know Grand Canyon the most intimately, there are so many other amazing locations that offer wedding permits. Some are mountainous, some have historical significance, some are geologic wonders and in some we wonder about how cactus have arms 😛
Arizona is Hottttt – Best National Parks to get Married in the Winter of Arizona
- Grand Canyon is a less popular location for winter visitors than it is in the summer time. But that makes it one of the bessst locations for a winter wedding. Everything is easier to book in the wintertime and Grand Canyon is absolutely stunning in the winter. It’s been my greatest joy to be able to wake up at the South Rim to afresh blanket of snow. It makes the canyon look like a perfectly iced pink wedding cake. If you answered, yes to adventure, this is the place for you. You can escape the cold and slip away into the temperatures of phoenix easily. The bottom of the canyon is always close to the temperatures in Phoenix Arizona. It’s a vertical mile deep, so you can really “have it all” with a winter wedding at Grand Canyon.
- Tumacácori National Historical Park is one of the most beautiful old missions that I’ve ever seen. The patina and texture of the old church is gorgeous. In the winter it is mild temperature all around. The historic site is surrounded by a big grassy field that is perfect for a picnic wedding. For a weekend wedding in this area of Arizona, I also recommend checking out the Town of Patagonia and Pena Blanca lake. Both of these locations are on the top of my list when planning an Arizona desert elopement.
- Saguaro National Park isn’t all about cactus! There are some very beautiful mountains in the distance and I loved shooting the sunrise getting ready photos and boutonniere pinning at Saguaro National Park. Close to Tucson, you could choose to stay the night there or travel onward to Tombstone or Bisbee for a little more adventure.