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How to Include Rock Climbing In Your Adventure Elopement

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Wanna know what would make your elopement day ROCK? Rock climbing, of course 😉 Okay sorry for the terrible pun but I had to open it up with that. Hopefully that’ll be the only time I use it in this guide, no promises though. Anywayyyy, welcome to my rock climbing elopement guide!! 🧗You might not have ever heard of the concept of a “rock climbing elopement” but I’m about to introduce you to it, and if you love a little bit of adventure + are a thrill-seeker when it comes to outdoor rec, I think you’re going to looove it. Get ready to blow all of your friends’ minds when they see your insane elopement portraits on top of a giant rock in the middle of an epic landscape!! Now let’s rock and roll 😎 (it had to be done) 

Wtf Is a “Rock Climbing Elopement?”

Never heard the term “rock climbing elopement?” That’s okay, it’s not really an official thing—more like something that we made up in the adventure elopement industry! It’s kinda like a subcategory of adventure elopements: some couples want to adventure in the form of a 4×4 tour through the desert, some wanna ride in a hot air balloon, others want to grab a bag of chalk, hike up their dresses/suits, and scale a massive rock. A rock climbing elopement is essentially just an adventure elopement that includes rock climbing, to some degree—so it’s like a category for the last couple on that list 🙂 

This might mean you’re bouldering in the California desert, or it could mean you’re climbing up cliff faces at Yosemite. Whatever type of rock climbing you enjoy doing together, it’s SUCH a fun way to incorporate some adventure into your elopement, and trust me, the portraits you’ll get out of it are unreal!! Your besties will be so jealous of how badass you are, trading the traditional first dance for a climb in your elopement attire as the sun sets on your big day.

10 Things to Consider When Planning a Rock Climbing Elopement

Now because rock climbing is an outdoor sport that comes with some risks/challenges, there are definitely some practical things you’ll need to consider when planning a rock climbing elopement. Here are 10 factors that you should keep in mind to make sure you have as much fun as possible (and stay safe while doing it)!

1/2. Climb difficulty

The reason I put a “1/2″ for this one is because it could either be the first OR the second step of your planning process! If you’d rather prioritize finding the perfect route, and then picking your location based off of that, then you can do that first. But if you’d rather pick your dream location and THEN find a good climb to do in that area, that’s also totally fine. It’s up to you!

Either way, choosing what climbing difficulty you want to go for is key to making sure you have fun and stay safe + comfortable. Consider how much climbing experience each of you have, as well as what type of climbing you’re experienced with/want to do on your elopement day: bouldering? Sport climbing? Trad climbing? Choose a level of difficulty that you’ll feel totally comfortable with, especially if you’ll be wearing your elopement attire.

Also think about how much effort you’ll want to put in on your elopement day! Sure, you might normally kill it on harder routes when you’re out climbing on a normal day, but how sweaty will you actually be down to get on the day-of? Do you see yourselves being tired by the end of the day and wanting an easy sunset climb? Or would you rather start off the day with a fun challenge as the sun comes up, then relax the rest of the day? Don’t bite off more than you can chew, be realistic about it!

1/2. Location

Location is huge when it comes to planning a rock climbing elopement because you obviously want to choose somewhere that has, well, climbing opportunities! Like I said before, this might come before or after you choose what sort of climb you want to do, depending on whether you value the perfect climb or the perfect location more. Do you want to be in the desert? In the mountains? Washington? Oregon? Utah? So many options!! Lucky for you, I’ve got a list of 10 epic rock climbing elopement locations coming up next, so you won’t have to wait too long to get some ideas.

3. Scenery

Along the same lines as location, you’ll want to think about what scenery you want around you. You’ll be getting some pretty dang epic portraits of the two of you climbing together, so you’ll want to make sure you love the landscapes around you (for both the photos and just the overall vibe/atmosphere of your climb)! Do you want to be surrounded by a vast desert landscape? By snow-capped mountain peaks? Would you rather climb in a desert filled with golden-brown boulders or rich red rocks? What about trees—do you envision dry desert trees (like Joshua trees) or lush green vegetation? 

4. Lighting

This is a big one that you might not think about at first, but as your photographer, I can tell you it’s super important! When we’re dealing with landscapes that have any sort of mountains, hills, huge cliffs, massive rock formations, etc., we want to think about where the sun will be during your climb. Will it be behind you as you climb, setting slowly toward the horizon and casting a gorgeous golden glow in the background? Will it be shining directly on you and forcing you to squint? If we’re in the mountains, what time will the sun set below the highest peaks and when will it get dark? Will it cast wonky shadows on your face/the rock as you climb?

I personally LOVE a good backlit, sunset climb, with the two of you making your way up as the sun gets lower and lower in the sky, creating gorgeous colors around you or at least delivering the magical golden hour vibes. And if we can get the angle right, we can position the sun to be hitting the rock juuust enough to create some dreamy AF sun rays! So when we’re planning your rock climbing elopement, we’ll def be taking lighting + time of day into account and thinking about how the lighting will affect the scenery around you.

Here are my top tips on how to choose the best time of day for your adventure elopement!

5. Weather

Just as with any outdoor adventure elopement, weather will play a big role in how your day goes, and we need to plan for any/all types of weather! The ideal conditions for climbing are typically moderate to warm temperatures, clear skies, minimal wind, and good visibility. So if it ends up raining, hailing, snowing, etc. on your elopement day, you probs won’t be able to get a safe, secure grip when climbing. This is why most of the locations on the list later in this guide are dry places that don’t get a lot of precipitation, and have a lot of sunny days throughout the year! While of course we can cross our fingers for the best case scenario, it’s good to plan for the worst case scenario, too, and come up with backup plans/activities in case you can’t climb like you planned. Make sure to monitor weather conditions as your date gets closer so that you know what to expect!

6. Crowds

This should be something you keep in mind when choosing your elopement location as well as your climb: how crowded will it be? If you visit a popular climbing destination during peak season (e.g. Joshua Tree in the fall), you might have a lot of other climbers around you during your elopement day. To avoid crowds, you can:

  1. Choose a less busy location/area
  2. Choose a less popular route
  3. Elope on a weekday
  4. Elope during non-peak season
  5. Elope at sunrise

7. Photography

This is where I come in!! As your photographer, I want to make sure that the climb you choose will be easy for me to photograph—aka I need to make sure there’s a solid spot where I can stand/sit nearby to get the best angles. Location scouting will be our BFF if either the two of you or I can get to your elopement location a little early and check out the area to find the best photography spots. I want to make sure the lighting is killer, the angle is bomb, and that the landscapes are to-die-for in all of your climbing portraits!

8. Guests

If you’ll be inviting guests to your elopement, what are they gonna do while you climb? Will they climb with you? Will they just hang at the bottom and cheer you on? If you do want to have your guests climb with you, make sure that you a) choose a location with enough space for everyone and b) choose a route that everybody will be able to do + comfortable with.

9. Permits

Some locations require rock climbing permits, so make sure you check ahead of time with your location to see if you’ll need one! 

10. Guides

Finally, consider the option of doing a guided rock climb! If you’re not super experienced or just don’t want to handle everything on your elopement day, see if you can find a certified guide in the area to help you out + take care of all the safety stuff so you don’t have to worry about it.

8 Epic Rock Climbing Elopement Locations

1. Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Joshua Tree has some of the BEST climbing in California that sooo many people travel to experience for themselves. With more than 8,000 climbing routes, 2,000 boulder problems, and a ton of natural gaps you can choose from, there’s no wonder it’s become such a popular, world-class climbing destination! 10/10 recommend, and if you’re new to climbing, you can book a guided climb or even a class to do on your elopement day.

2. Alabama Hills, CA

All the pictures in this blog post were taken in the Alabama Hills! Not only is this such an iconic location in California with the most jaw-dropping views, it also has a bunch of opportunities for climbing, hiking, and mountaineering. And the best part is that conditions are great for climbing almost all year-round!

3. Yosemite National Park, CA

I don’t think I really need to explain why Yosemite is such an epic elopement location (though if you want more deets, you can read my full Yosemite elopement guide here). Besides the iconic views and incredible amount of top-tier trails, Yosemite is also an AMAZING climbing destination for all levels of climbers! Just make sure you’re familiar with all of the park’s climbing guidelines so that you and all the other climbers around you can stay safe 🙂

4. Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth Lakes is a prime destination for fall and summer rock climbing, with all kinds of climbs available on volcanic tuff and granite; it really has something for everyone. A few of the bouldering areas at lower elevations are even open all year-round! No matter where you climb or how difficult of a route you choose, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the mountains + lake and the pictures will be insaneeee.

5. Smith Rock State Park, OR

If you’d rather stay in the PNW than head down to California or Utah, Smith Rock is going to be your top choice for the best climbing in Oregon! There are thousands of climbs across the park, including over a thousand bolted routes, making it one of the best spots for spot climbing in the whole damn COUNTRY. It’s actually known as the birthplace of sport climbing in the U.S., fun fact! The towering walls of smooth stone make for such a great climbing experience, whether you wanna go bouldering, sport climbing, or trad climbing. The options are endless.

6. Leavenworth, WA

Leavenworth is most known for its reputation as a charming, Bavarian-style village in Washington’s Cascade Mountains, but it’s also home to some of the best cragging in the Northwest. Tumwater Canyon and Icicle Creek Valley are two spots nearby that have a huge assortment of routes available, the majority of which are bouldering or crack/slab, but there are some sport climbs too! If you want a longer adventure, you could even head into the Enchantments and the Stuart Range for some alpine granite climbs. 

Wanna learn more about this cutesy little German village and what it has to offer for your elopement? Here’s a Full Leavenworth Elopement Guide!

7. Moab, UT

Did you think I was going to finish this list without mentioning Utah?! Never! Moab is a world-renowned rock climbing destination that also happens to be an INCREDIBLE place to elope. Whether you wanna go crack climbing, follow a bolted route, or go bouldering, Moab is rich with gorgeous sandstone towers that are basically a climber’s playground.

8. Zion National Park, UT

Finally, we’re wrapping it up with one more breathtaking spot in Utah: Zion National Park! With huge, 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs galore, Zion is a crazy famous climbing destination for more experienced climbers. Most routes within the park itself are bolted and somewhat difficult due to the soft nature of the rock, so if you’re looking for an easier climb, you can search outside of the park for more sport climbing and top roping opportunities. Climbing season in Zion is between March-May and September-November to avoid the extreme heat of the summer!

What to Wear for a Rock Climbing Elopement

Let’s talk about what to wear for your rock climbing elopement to make sure you’re comfy and able to move around, while also looking fab at the same time! And if you’re not so into the idea of traditional dresses/suits, you should check out the blog post I wrote with Nontraditional + Gender Nonconforming Wedding Outfit Ideas. It’s a good one!


If you want to wear your dress while you climb, then loose-fitting, flowy dresses are going to be your best friend! Do notttt wear something super tight that restricts your movement because obviously when you climb, you need full range of motion in your arms and legs. If you’ll be climbing in warm weather, you also might want to think about choosing a lightweight material that won’t get super hot/weigh you down, such as chiffon, tulle, organza, lightweight silk, or crepe. 

Want help picking out the perfect dress for your elopement?? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Choosing Your Hiking Elopement Dress!


If you’re wearing a suit or tuxedo on your elopement day, you’ll either want to make sure your pants are loose enough that you’re able to move your legs around in them, OR opt for a more casual look. You could wear a button-up or a linen shirt with trousers, and you’ll probs be a lot more comfy when you’re climbing! Bring a blazer or a sports coat along with you and you can throw that on for your ceremony + portraits, and take it off when it’s time to climb.


Lastly, and maybe most importantly, make sure to wear proper climbing shoes! You might have a pair of hiking boots that you’re wearing for the rest of your elopement, but you’ll definitely need to swap them for climbing shoes when the time comes. And if you want to wear cuter shoes during your ceremony, you might end up bringing three pairs of shoes total lol: one for your ceremony, one for the hike/trails, and one for your climb.

If ya need help finding good hiking shoes, you should read my guide to the Best Hiking Boots for Adventure Elopements.

Rock Climbing Elopement Packing List

Here’s what you’ll want to pack for your rock climbing elopement, besides all of the obvious elopement + outdoorsy items!

Climbing Items

  • Rope
  • Helmet
  • Belay/rappel device
  • Chalk/chalk bag (pro tip: blowing chalk can make for a super fun effect in photos)
  • Route guide/description
  • Rope bag
  • Carabiners
  • Climbing shoes with good grip

Disclaimer: what you need to pack will totally depend on the type of climb you’re doing, whether you’re bringing all of your gear or you’re renting it/having a guide bring it, etc. REI has a full Sport Climbing Checklist if you wanna check that out!

Safety + Misc. Items

  • First Aid kit
  • Water + snacks
  • Offline trail maps
  • Offline road maps
  • GPS
  • Headlamp/flashlight

Rock Climbing Elopement Photographer

You’ll def want a photographer to tag along and capture the two of you looking like badasses, right? 😉 Good thing I’m here!! I’ve photographed a rock climbing elopement before (obviously from the pics in this blog) and let me tell you, it was such a blast. I’m dying to do more! Reach out to me here and let’s plan a rockin’ day for you! (one last pun)

If you loved the adventurous vibes of this guide, here are some more elopement resources I think you’ll love!

15 Epic Outdoor Adventure Elopement Ideas

What is the Best Time of Day for an Adventure Elopement?

How to Create a Stress-Free Elopement Timeline

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