Looking for an east coast elopement destination with beautiful forests and scenic mountain views? Shenandoah National Park may be the perfect place for you! With just over 300 square miles of nature to explore, Shenandoah is full of infinite possibilities for couples looking to elope. Below you’ll find information about SNP that may make picking your elopement location a little bit easier!
The main road that meanders through Shenandoah is called Skyline Drive, and it is the access point for most of the hikes in the park. There are dozens, if not hundreds of trails dotting Skyline Dr, and they all provide unique photo opportunities and landscapes. Below you will find a few elopement location options throughout the park, as well as places to stay and places to celebrate after the big day.
Just a heads up, you will need a permit from the Shenandoah Parks Department for an elopement or micro wedding with more than 15 people. You should also know that SNP can be very strict with their wedding requirements, but it’s all for a good reason: protecting and preserving the wildlife and natural beauty of Virginia. If you have any questions about what is and isn’t allowed during your elopement, shoot me a message!
- Upper Hawksbill Trail
Great views, a relatively easy hike, and dogs are allowed? What more could you ask for? Upper Hawksbill is one of the most popular trails in the park, so if this is the trail for you, it would be best to aim for a sunrise or early morning elopement.
- Rose River Trail
If you were hoping for a destination deep in the forest with rushing water and a waterfall rather than a sweeping view, Rose River is calling your name! There is a beautiful bridge along the trail that makes for a great photo op. There are multiple waterfalls to choose from along the trail as well. This trail is the most beautiful in the spring and summer, but frozen waterfalls in winter could make for some cool photos!
- Old Rag Trail
This is the ultimate trail for experienced adventurers. Old Rag can’t be accessed by Skyline Dr, it’s an extremely strenuous hike and can take up to 6 hours without stops, and it includes multiple rock scrambles and uneven terrain, so it is definitely not for the faint of heart. But the views and photo opportunities are so worth it! Plus, you’d be getting married on a trail named Old Rag, and that’s kind of hilarious.
- Stony Man Trail (via the Appalachian Trail)
This trail is a great option if you’re bringing family along because it’s a short (1.5 miles) and pretty easy hike. In the spring, the trail is full of beautiful wildflowers, and in the fall you’ll get an incredible view of Shenandoah’s changing colors. The hike ends with some craggy rock landings that make for a perfect ceremony location!
Places to Stay
When choosing your accommodation within the park, make sure you keep park entrances and drive time in mind! Research which entrance you plan on using, how far your elopement destination is from your lodging, and how you plan on getting there.
- If you were hoping to stay somewhere within the park, there are three options: Skyland, Big Meadows Lodge, and Lewis Mountain Cabins. You could also camp at one of the dozens of campsites throughout the park.
- If you choose to stay near the park but not inside of it, you’ll find you have many more options to choose from. Here are a handful of the many inns, cabins, and hotels in the Shenandoah Valley.
- Hotel Laurance: a boutique-style hotel less than 20 minutes from the Thornton Gap park entrance. The hotel has 12 rooms, a library, and most rooms have full kitchens.
- The Iris Inn: A hotel on 19 acres of land, the Iris is known for its spectacular views and romantic touches. Spend the day of your elopement hiking through Shenandoah, and spend the night celebrating here!
- Massanutten Resort: This place is massive, so it’s a great place to stay if you have multiple guests coming along with you. There’s a golf course, mini amusement park, and multiple restaurants, so there is something for everyone!
- Airbnb: you can always find a ton of great accommodations on Airbnb. A quick search results in quaint cottages, farmhouses, and cabins, all within 30 minutes drive of the park.
Places to Eat (and Drink)
- The Valley Cork: the ideal choice if you’re in the mood for charcuterie boards and wine pairings. Located in Luray, Virginia, just 20 minutes from the west side of Shenandoah.
- Three Blacksmiths: A restaurant that prides itself on serving, simple, local food and an intimate experience, this is a great place to have a romantic, celebratory meal!
- Hawksbill Brewing: If you’re looking for a no-fuss, no-frills, cheap celebration, a brewery is a great option. Hawksbill is named after the popular trail listed above, and their brews definitely live up to their namesake!
- DIY It: There is always the option of picking up some snacks and a bottle of champagne on the way to your elopement, or going back to your Airbnb and cooking up your favorite meal after. You could even hire a chef for the night! The beauty of eloping is that you get to do things your way. There is no pressure to have a fancy reception or expensive dinner if you don’t want to!
Interested in planning an elopement in Shenandoah National Park? I would love to guide you through the process! As an experienced elopement photographer and east coast native, I can help you plan everything, from choosing which season to elope in (each season brings its own set of challenges, trust me!) to creating your detailed itinerary for the big day. Contact me here or email me at email@example.com if you have any questions!