Wondering where you should do your formals in Zion National Park? You're in luck! Zion provides numerous amazing vistas and canyons to provide both variety and color to your photo gallery. Some areas are more accessible than others, and lighting can prove quite challenging if you've never been here before. That's why we've included info on our top locations, how to get to them, how long the hike will be, and when is the best time historically for photographs.
Photo by *Forevermore Films
#1. ZION CANYON OVERLOOK
A popular pick due to its more mild trail and grand scenery at the end. Several argue it's the "best view for the least amount of hiking", and we have to admit it really does bring just the right vibe to your romantic experience. Once you see the views, it's not hard to understand why this has become one of the most popular spots in the park.
How do we get to it? The Overlook is in the East Canyon and is accessible by your own vehicle (currently no shuttles). The parking lot is the first right after exiting the tunnel if you're coming from Springdale. From the South Entrance to the parking lot (on a good day) is about 20 minutes and involves a lot of switchbacks.
How long is the hike? The trail itself is about a mile in and mile out. This usually takes another 20-30 minutes, meaning it's a good idea to plan about 50 minutes from the entrance to arriving at the cliff.
When is the best time for photos? Depending on the time of year, sunset is slightly later at Overlook than in some other parts of the park due to the elevation, however, during cooler months you may have the added challenge of the sun changing position. As we hit late fall and on through winter, it often sets earlier behind the peaks given the position of the sun. Typically you'll want to arrive at least an hour before sunset (if not earlier to ensure you don't miss the best lighting). Make sure to select a photographer who knows the times, as you don't want to be too early (and definitely not too late). These photographers are great choices as they'll know the best times to go.
#2. ANGELS LANDING
Photo by Sweetly Photography
Angels Landing is by far the most popular hike in Zion. Its stunning views coupled with the stomach-churning drops on either side makes it the perfect high adventure for wilder couples. In recent years the chain portion of the hike, i.e. Scout Lookout Point to Angels Landing, has become incredibly crowded. Due to safety concerns, the park has implemented a lottery system to make the trail more enjoyable, but that hasn't stopped some couples from performing their 'mock' elopement up there.
How long is the hike? This is much more of a commitment, clocking in at around 3-6 hours to the top (depending on your hiking experience and physical activity). It's much more strenuous than other hikes in the park and includes a number of switchbacks, as well as chains and dizzyingly high/narrow humps to cross. Only recommended for the sure-footed couple.
When is the best time for photos? Sitting as one of the higher points, the sun will stay up for longer than most areas-- however due to the long route it takes to reach the top (and that the route closes after sunset), it's best to coordinate the details with a photographer who's done it. Your best hope is to go on a cloudy day.
If that's not an option, opt for leaving a little earlier than you planned to give yourself enough wiggle room for timing the light.
#3. OBSERVATION POINT
Photo by Adventure & Vow
This one gets a little tricky. In 2019 a rockfall caused a closure on the trail into Observation Point (oddly enough, the staff of Zion Brides was actually there that day-- standing ON Observation Point). So the trail from Weeping Rock is currently closed indefinitely. However there is a back way in that some photographers know.
How do we get to it? Due to Weeping Rock being closed as of 2022, this requires some 'back road' knowledge of Observation Point. There is a parking lot and most of the trail is flat going into it, but finding the parking lot has been tricky for most hoping to still access this hike's amazing views.
How long is the hike? The back route is much shorter and should be expected to take roughly 2.5 hours to reach the vista.
When is the best time for photos? Similar to Angels Landing, you mostly hope for overcast. Otherwise expect to be at the vista around 40 minutes before sunset to give yourself enough time.
#4. COURT OF THE PATRIARCHS
Unlike the other locations on the list, this one requires no real hiking at all. It's literally just as you step off the shuttle. You'll see it from the window and walk right into it as you disembark. Within moments, you'll be standing within the shadow of the peaks.
How do we get to it? It's one of the first shuttle stops going into the canyon.
How long is the hike? No real hiking, just walking down the path from the shuttle stop.
When is the best time for photos? You'll want to hit this at least an hour before sunset as you'll be down in the canyon for much of it.
#5. WATCHMAN TRAIL
One of the popular trails in Zion, also one of the very few that's accessible right from the South Entrance area of Zion without any vehicles. You can literally get out of your car (or walk from Springdale) and head to the trail on foot. It's still a bit of a hike and has numerous elevation changes, but is totally worth the journey!
How do we get to it? This is accessible right from the Visitors Center. You cross the street heading towards the park, past the shuttles, until you reach a trail marked "Watchman".
How long is the hike? You can expect to take about 2 hours to summit Watchman. While you can certainly decide how much of the trail you want to traverse, beautiful views surround you at every turn. Some even opt to take pictures along the trail with the Zion cliffs in the background if you're short on time or light.
When is the best time for photos? Mornings give you a great glow on the rocks, meaning you'll want to start an hour before sunrise. Sunset is about the same-- an hour before should give you the time you need for nice glowy rocks in the background. However as with all the trails above, it's always the best idea to work with your photographer to nail the best times for light.
Wherever you decide to have your formals in Zion, you couldn't possibly pick a more stunning location. With a variety of canyons and peaks, you're sure to have an incredible gallery when it's all over! For those wondering about getting married in Zion National Park, these locations are not allowed for weddings. However, if you'd like to have a ceremony (including an officiant), Temple of Sinawava is your option (and one you won't regret either). Beyond that, we wish you a safe and amazing time in one of the most gorgeous locations in Southern Utah.
Questions? Leave them in the comments!
DRONES: As a heads up if you've been talking about getting some epic drone shots, sorry-- no drones are allowed in the park. The only legal way is to gain special permission through the park, but we've never personally heard of anyone being approved (even those that COULD obtain it pay large premiums for the permit). Without it, couples should have their vendors avoid any use of drones as it can result in hefty fines and cause any involved to be banned from the park. The policy is mostly for the safety of other guests and wildlife as they don't want drones falling on roads, trails or people. However some videographers may opt to get drone footage of Zion from outside the park boundaries which is legal. Just be sure to follow the rules to avoid any issues so you can enjoy your mini destination elopement.