As a seasoned Yosemite wedding photographer, I am often asked, “is Glacier Point Road open?” While the road was closed for much of 2022, it is scheduled to be opening in the Spring of 2023, which means this is the perfect time to book a Glacier Point elopement or a Glacier Point wedding.
A Brief History Of Glacier Point Road
Back in the late 19th century, Glacier Point Road was a wagon road, and the initial paved road was completed in 1936. In addition to providing the only access to Glacier Point (aside from some strenuous hikes), this bustling road also leads to Badger Pass Ski Area and the Bridalveil Creek Campground.
The National Park Service closed the road in early 2022 for much-needed improvements, as some access will reopen in the spring of 2023. While there still will be some delays in place, this can be a great time to plan a late spring, summer or early autumn wedding or elopement at Glacier Point.
Why Book A Glacier Point Elopement Or Wedding?
If you love Yosemite National Park, you know that Glacier Point affords spectacular views of Yosemite Valley, and perhaps the best views of Half Dome as well as Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls and much more. It is one of the best spots for wedding and elopement photography in the park.
From Glacier Point, you also can access Taft Point, which is a relatively easy two-mile hike, round-trip. Taft Point affords amazing views of El Capitan and I’ve shot many wedding and elopement sessions at this scenic viewpoint. Here’s a little peek to give you an idea of what to expect if you opt for Taft Point pictures.
From Glacier Point Road, you also can access Sentinel Dome, which affords views of the Merced River canyon, the Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and, often, views of Mt. Diablo more than 175 miles away. Sentinel Dome is a fairly easy two-mile, round-trip hike.
Both Sentinel Dome and Taft Point tend to be a bit less crowded than Glacier Point, which is why some of my couples prefer these two spots. However, Glacier Point is very easily accessible, and I have never had issues capturing amazing shots at Glacier Point, even during peak tourist season.
Of course, if you are up for a bigger adventure, we can entirely bypass Glacier Point Road and hike up to Glacier Point via the Four Mile Trail or even the Panorama or Pohono trails. The Four-Mile Trail would be the shortest option at 9.6 miles roundtrip, the others are about 17- and 26 miles roundtrip, respectively.
While that option isn’t for everyone, and these can be tough hikes, I am usually up for any adventure, and I love creating a special experience for each of my clients. I have skied, snowshoed, hiked and kayaked with couples to find the best locations for their wedding or elopement photography.
So, if you want something a bit off the beaten path, I have years of experience exploring Yosemite and I’m willing to create a photography adventure you will remember for a lifetime.
Yosemite Wedding Venues
While we can take your actual wedding photography in many locations throughout the park, there is a more limited selection of spots where one can host a wedding. Traditional weddings as well as elopement ceremonies will require permits and these run about $150.
Weddings and special events cannot be scheduled on holidays or holiday weekends. For outdoor locations, seating and decorations are not allowed and rice, birdseed, flowers, confetti and other items may not be thrown anywhere inside the park.
The Glacier Point Amphitheater has been available for weddings in the past, and while we are looking forward to Glacier Point Road opening, it’s still unclear as to whether or not the amphitheater will be open for weddings in 2023. If it does open for weddings, this venue is open for just a few limited months of the year, due to possible weather conditions. But again, we can just do the photography here and you can plan a ceremony at another location.
Bridalveil Falls is a popular spot for weddings, but the trail leading to the falls is scheduled to be closed at least until July 2023, and this date could be extended if the rehabilitation project takes longer than expected.
Yosemite Chapel is a lovely spot for traditional weddings, and the chapel can hold up to about 120 guests. If you do opt for this location, be aware that you must arrive dressed and ready for the wedding, as you cannot prepare on-site. If you choose to use the chapel’s officiant, you also must attend a compulsory Marriage Enrichment Seminar, but you can bring your own officiant if preferred and skip this requirement.
If you wish to host a reception, your options inside the park are limited. The Ahwahnee Hotel traditionally has been a popular spot for receptions, but they are not accepting reservations in 2023 as they are upgrading the hotel. This may change as we head further into 2023, so if you wish to host a reception at this lovely historic hotel, check their website from time to time for updates.
Outside of the park, there are many lovely spots for wedding receptions. For instance, the Redwoods in Yosemite, which is located in nearby Wawona, is an option to consider. Narrow Gauge Inn in Wawona is another possible site for a wedding ceremony and reception and there are other options in towns such as Mariposa and Oakhurst.
Yosemite Elopement Venues
Eloping in Yosemite is always a fantastic idea, and what could be more romantic than a special day, just the two of you, surrounded by some of Mother Nature’s finest work? With a Yosemite elopement, the sky is pretty much the limit, and you also skip all the hassle, stress and expense of planning a traditional wedding.
With an elopement, we can hold the ceremony just about anywhere and there are plenty of amazing spots to consider throughout the year. Glacier Point is a perfect spot for an elopement, of course, but we also can select ceremony locations along the river, in a meadow, near a waterfall or perhaps in a wooded location, whatever your hearts desire.
I have spent thousands of hours exploring this wondrous park, and I can find the perfect location for any couple. No matter what type of experience you imagine, I will craft an adventure elopement photography session that you will remember for a lifetime, a perfect jumping-off point for your new life together.
Let’s Start Planning Your Adventure!
If you’ve dreamed of a Glacier Point elopement or wedding and have been wondering if Glacier point road is open, we can start planning for late spring and summer Glacier Point photography. Contact me at any time to start planning your adventure wedding or adventure elopement photography, and whether we end up on Glacier Point or elsewhere in Yosemite, I promise that the final result will be photography and an experience that you will cherish for a lifetime.