If the UT/AZ desert has your jaw on the floor too, YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE! The incredible slot canyons, the clear night skies, the vast Lake Powell wilderness, and the secret pockets of beautiful desert are just a handful of reasons why this area makes the best elopement destination! Before we dive too deep- there are some things you need to know about this incredible part of the world & the options you have as you choose to adventure out here 🙂 In this blog we’ll cover potential locations, accessibility, & basic permit information.
WAIT. Why are you even listening to me? Let me share some credentials!
Hi I’m Jessie, your small-town, adventure enthusiast! I’m so glad you’re here!
What started as a fun way to connect with people while spending time outdoors has now become my obsession + full-time career. I’ve had the chance to photograph weddings and elopements all across the country, from the desert landscapes of Zion NP to the sandy beaches of Oahu, & some incredible places in between! I grew up on a farm in a tiny desert town called Kanab, UT. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, and so many other beautiful landmarks are my backyard! The adventures I’m about to share with you are childhood camping sites, Sunday family drives, & high school prom date hikes. I feel extremely lucky to know this area like the back of my hand & there’s no place on Earth I love more than Southern Utah. This truly is home.
First… we need a map!
Here’s the dirt- literally. The exact area we are looking at in this blog is the desert located between Page, Arizona & Kanab, Utah. Hotels, Airbnb’s, venues, restaurants, & anything else you may want to plan for during your travels will most likely be located in these two towns. Check out this map to get a good idea of how much wilderness we’re talking about here!
I’m ready if you’re ready! Let’s dive into everything you should consider before we explore this area.
ATV & OFF-ROADING OPTIONS
Looking to end up in the absolute middle of nowhere? These locations will definitely spark your interest! These epic desert spots are rated by hardest to easiest to access with an off-road vehicle 🙂
Lake Powell Cliffs ***
On the “difficult to access” scale, this location gets all 3 ***! As beautiful as it is, the drive to this location is just as strenuous. It isn’t possible to explore without a high clearance 4WD vehicle. Little to no hiking required for these views!
Remote Sandstone Destination ***
This location is out of this world. Located deep in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness area, you need to put 1/2 a day aside to get to these views! The sandy road you’ll take to this adventure is DEEP, and only a 4WD vehicle stands a chance of making it here. After your drive, you can just expect a short hike to these views! This is one of those locations you could spend hours exploring.
Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon **
Talk about a bucket list location! Buckskin Gulch is located in the Paria Canyon Wilderness & is both an off-road expedition & a hike. Prepare for an easy/moderate off-road experience depending on what the weather has done with the road. If it’s rained at all, the road turns to clay & is inaccessible! Once you arrive at the trailhead, plan for a 3-4 mile hike round trip up a dry wash to get to the slots. I cannot stress this enough: STAY OUT OF THE CANYONS DURING MONSOON SEASON. Flash floods are a real issue in southern Utah & this is one of those things you just don’t risk “for the ‘Gram”.
The Wave **
A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity & something you would truly never forget. The Wave is accessible by permit only & is both an off-road expedition & a hike. This epic place is located in the Coyote Buttes North Wilderness area. Prepare for an easy/moderate off-road experience depending on what the weather has done with the road. If it’s rained at all, the road turns to clay & is inaccessible! Once you arrive at the trailhead, plan for a 6 mile hike round trip minimum, first up a dry wash & then across an unmarked sandstone trail. Win a chance to hike this killer location only by applying for The Wave Lottery.
White Slots *
My favorite hidden gem in all of southern Utah! This location is an easy off-road trip to the trailhead & an easy hike to the entrance. There are some incredible treasures & cool locations in the same canyon as this landmark, so plan to knock out many different vibes at this destination 🙂
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped onto another planet when you park & step out at the trailhead for this location! Located between Kanab UT & Page AZ, this is an easy to access off-road adventure.
Gray Moon Buttes*
Have you ever seen desert like this?? If you’re looking to avoid red rock & vibrant color, this is a great location to choose! This is a relatively easy off-road adventure that doesn’t take much to get to. It’s also incredible for starry night photos!
HIKING & EASY ACCESS LOCATIONS
The following locations don’t require anything with 4 wheels- just two good legs!
Lone Rock Beach | Lake Powell
Located inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area & everyone’s favorite location- for a good reason! This site is not only a killer photo op… it’s also great for camping, boating, and swimming. You do have to pay the park entry fee or show the park ranger your Annual NP Pass. Minimal hiking required. Permits required for actual ceremonies!
Lake Powell Sandstone
This location is located inside the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area & does require a park pass. This incredible spot offers fun textures & sandstone formations, with killer views of the lake water! Minimal hiking required & easily accessible. Permits required for actual ceremonies!
This is one of the easiest accessible “magazine cover views” in the whole desert! After driving through Page AZ & paying a $10 entry fee to the Navajo Nations, enjoy a 2 mile round trip hike to one of the most iconic desert destinations on the planet. This is not a national or state park, so no permit required for ceremony!
This easy-access location is versatile & offers great lighting morning or evening! Expect a 2 mile hike round trip as you explore the base of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.
Whew- WHO IS EXCITED TO EXPLORE THE DESERT AFTER SEEING ALL THESE OPTIONS?! If any of these sparked your interest, or you have a different desert location in mind entirely, I’d love to hear from you! Explore safely & remember to please please please leave no trace 🙂 We want to be able to shoot & explore in places like this for years!