The Ultimate Guide on How to Elope in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park elopement in the fall picturing a couple on a mountaintop at sunset

Elope In Shenandoah

If you’re considering eloping on the East Coast, I always recommend Shenandoah as one of the top location options. This blog is my guide on all the logistics of eloping in this beautiful East Coast gem. If you are wondering how to elope in Shenandoah National Park, you are in the right place! Shenandoah calls for epic mountain views, scenic drives, wildlife, a variety of hikes to choose from, meadows, and many options for lodging to plan your perfect and intentional wedding day. If you are considering an elopement at Shenandoah, take your time a read through this comprehensive guide.

Hiking elopement in Shenandoah National Park in the fall. How to Elope in Shenandoah National Park. Photography by Rock & Wander Photo Co.

Where is Shenandoah National Park?

Shenandoah National Park is located in Virginia, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. About 2 hours North of Richmond and 1 ½ West of Washington DC, Shenandoah is in the Northern part of the state and is home to some of the most beautiful views the East Coast has to offer. (The Blue Ridge Mountains are a mountain chain that run from Pennsylvania to Georgia, and are known for giving off a blue color when seen from a distance.) Skyline Drive is the road that runs 105 miles through the park North to South. It begins in Front Royal and ends in Waynesboro and is home to many beautiful overlooks. Whether you are taking a drive to admire the surrounding beauty or decide to explore and hike into the backcountry, Shenandoah has so much to offer.

Closest Major Cities/Towns:

There are 4 main entrances to Shenandoah National Park, depending on which direction you are coming from will determine which entrance you will arrive at. Below are some driving times from close major cities.

  • Driving Time From Washington DC: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Driving Time From Richmond: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Driving Time From Charlottesville: 28 minutes

How to Get to Shenandoah National Park

Closest Major Airports:

  • Washington Dulles International (IAD): Driving Time- 1 hour
  • Reagan National (DCA): Driving Time- 1 hour 13 minutes
  • Charlottesville-Albermarle (CHO): Driving Time- 31 minutes

How to Drive to Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park has 4 entrances:

-Front Royal Entrance Station 

-Thornton Gap Entrance Station

-Swift Run Gap Entrance Station

-Rockfish Gap Entrance Station

Depending on which direction you will be coming from will determine what entrance you will go through. Before heading to the park it is always important to check the Shenandoah National Park Website for any road closures or updates.

When driving into the park be prepared for winding roads, a potential for wildlife and fog, and some epic views. The speed limit is max 35 miles per hour, and I like to suggest getting to the park while it is still daylight to get familiar with your surroundings. 

Why Should You Elope in Shenandoah National Park?

If you are looking to elope on the East Coast, Shenandoah National Park is up there with the top elopement locations. Here’s why:

-It has beautiful views of the Blue Ridge mountains

-A peaceful aura surrounded by nature

-Tons of options for hikes and lodging 

-Amazing views for minimal effort

-Wildlife and wildflowers

-Beautiful sunrises and sunsets

Shenandoah elopement featuring a couple at blue hour dancing and holding hands
Sam & Jay- Little Stony Man Elopement (Fall 2023)

Shenandoah National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits

One of the best things about getting married or eloping in Shenandoah National Park is that you do not need a permit for your ceremony if it is 15 people or less (including your photographer and officiant) as long as you do not have any set up, chairs, or decor and it is a simple stand up ceremony. 

If you plan on having any type of set up or more than 15 people you will need to apply for a special use permit. Also to note, that if you plan on having any type of set up of if you plan on having more than 30 people then your ceremony will only take place in a park amphitheater or through an arrangement with their authorized Concessionaire, Delaware North at Shenandoah (DNC). This is something also to keep in mind during the planning process.

More details and information on permits can be found at the link below:

Shenandoah Wedding & Ceremony Permit Information

Obtaining a marriage license in Virginia is fairly an easy process. Virginia is a no wait state, so the day you apply and obtain your marriage license, you are able to get married that same day. You will need to visit one of the Virginia Clerk of Circuit courts both in person with valid ID, social security numbers, and full names of both parents to get your marriage license. The fee is roughly around $30.

Once you obtain your marriage license, after the ceremony both newlyweds and your officiant will sign the back of it (no witnesses are required) and this will be mailed back to the Clerk of Court. If coming in from out of town, I always like to suggest to my couple’s to come a few days prior to get all of the legal paperwork taken care of so that you can truly be present and focus on the celebration of your love on your elopement or wedding day. More information on marriage licensing can be found at the link below.

Marriage License

Entry Fees & Passes

There is an entrance fee to get into Shenandoah National Park. It is $30 per vehicle for a 7 consecutive day pass. Or if you are an avid National Park goer, there is the option for the annual America The Beautiful pass which runs for $85. More information on this can be found at the link below:

Shenandoah Entrance Fees & Passes

Looking for your Shenandoah National Park Elopement Photographer?

Elopement photographer at Grand Teton National Park standing in front of the Teton Range

Shenandoah National Park is very special to me as it is my local National Park. I’ll never forget my first trip. The way the green rolling mountains spread across the horizon and all the hues of blue. Driving down Skyline drive with all the neat walls and abundance of overlooks. I truly was in awe. I visit the park frequently and am very familiar with trails, the landscape and all the best locations for your Shenandoah elopement. As your photographer, I help you with the planning process, all the logistics, and capture your day with authentic imagery. I am an adventurer at heart and truly love exploring this beautiful landscape with my couple’s and helping them bring their dream wedding day to a reality.

If you are looking for your elopement photographer or someone to help you plan and navigate all the logistics of how to elope in Shenandoah, information on my elopement packages can be found at the link below: Elopement Experience

I hope this guide helped you with learning more about planning your Shenandoah wedding or elopement! If you have any additional questions, feel free to reach out to me at the following link! I am here to help. Connect with me

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