Garrapata State Park Elopement Guide

Garrapata State Park is a park in the north of Big Sur, with two miles of coastline, several hiking trails, and gorgeous views from the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains. It’s a dreamy elopement location, whether you want your backdrop to be redwood groves, mountains, or the rocky coastline of northern California! This Garrapata State Park elopement guide will tell you how to tie the knot in the park, and everything you need to know to plan your unique adventure!

What’s in This Garrapata State Park Elopement Guide

Getting to Garrapata State Park 

Garrapata State Park is easy to get to – some areas of Big Sur are pretty remote, but this park is only about a 15 minute drive from Carmel, and under half an hour from Monterey. And there’s only one highway, so you’ll head south on the 1! The park doesn’t have any parking lots or an official entrance, so you’ll find parking on the side of the road, and park close to the trail or overlook that you choose.

A couple is walking barefoot on the beach at Garrapata State Park, holding hands.

The Best Time for a Garrapata State Park Elopement 

You can elope in Garrapata State Park any time of year, but the area is known for rain and moody weather. 

There’s rarely any snow in the winter, but November through March are very rainy, and because there’s only one main highway going down the coast, mudslides and road closures can make travel difficult. You can definitely still elope, and enjoy fewer people around and cheaper travel costs, as long as you’re prepared for rain and have a Plan B!

Summer is gorgeous, and an incredible time for a Garrapata State Park elopement. The weather is great, but because of this, the park gets busy. 

April and May, once the rainy season has (mostly) ended, and before the busy summer season starts, is a great time to tie the knot and enjoy better weather with fewer crowds. You can also see some wildflowers bloom this time of year!

September and October are also great times to elope in Garrapata State Park, with warm weather and fewer crowds.

No matter what time of year you elope, I always recommend that couples tie the knot on a weekday, because this helps with avoiding crowds! Sunrise is also always a good choice, because even those popular locations (which are usually popular for a reason) are likely to be completely empty, giving you a private place to exchange vows.

The Garrapata State Park Elopement Locations

One of the best things about eloping is that nature is your backdrop! Tying the knot at Garrapata State Park means you get to pick from some of the dreamiest spots, and the park has a few options for elopement locations.

On the Beach

This area is known for its stunning beaches, and if tying the knot by the water is what you’re dreaming of, Garrapata State Beach is sandy and wide, bordered by rugged cliffs. It’s a perfect place for a walk, a picnic, and to find a great spot to exchange vows!

On the Coastal Bluffs

There are also several trails in Garrapata State Park that go along the coastal bluffs, taking you above the water for gorgeous views of the ocean. These trails are surrounded by greenery, and wildflowers in spring and early summer. Soberanes Point is one of the most beautiful spots in the park, and a great place to look out for whales in the water.

In the Redwoods

Along with ocean views, Garrapata State Park has some really magical redwood groves, where you can elope amongst the towering trees. There’s lush greenery to be found in the canyons on the east side of the highway, and when the fog hangs over the trees, it’s a really incredible place to wander.

Garrapata State Park Elopement Permits

One important thing to know when eloping on public land, like a state park, is that special use permits are often required. This depends on the location, but Garrapata State Park does require elopement permits! You’ll need to apply in advance – the park starts accepting applications up to a year ahead of time, so it’s best to send in your application as soon as you have an elopement date and location picked out. For permit information and to get an application, you’ll need to call the park – and the number can be found on the California State Parks website.

Where to Stay When You Elope in Garrapata State Park 

When you tie the knot in Garrapata State Park, there are lots of options for lodging in Big Sur, and also in Carmel.

Lodging in Big Sur

If you want to stay somewhere that’s a little deeper in nature, and more remote, you’ll find some options further south, in Big Sur. Glen Oaks has lots of adorable cabins to choose from, nestled in the redwoods. Ventana Big Sur is another great option, with a resort and spa, as well as some unique glamping tents!

Hotels in Carmel

Carmel-by-the-Sea is just north of Garrapata State Park, and is a charming, scenic coastal town that makes a great home base for your elopement and all the adventures after. L’Auberge Carmel is a historic luxury hotel, offering old-world charm but all the modern amenities. If you want to stay right on the beach La Playa Carmel is perfect, and for a smaller, boutique inn, check out the Cypress Inn!


When you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Garrapata State Park, Airbnb has plenty of options. There are tiny cabins perfect for getting ready for an elopement, bigger rentals in Carmel, and cottages in the redwood trees!

Garrapata State Park Elopement Packages

Garrapata State Park, and the entire coastline here, is an absolutely magical place, and the perfect way to start your marriage! I’m all about couples doing things a little differently, and if your perfect day includes dreamy fog, the sound of crashing waves, and lush cliffs over the water, I’m here to help you plan your Garrapata State Park elopement.

As an elopement photographer, I’m also your planning assistant and guide – crafting a one of a kind adventure! I’ll help you get permits, recommend vendors, places to stay, places to eat, and create a timeline for the day. And I’ll be there with my camera, adventuring alongside you and documenting it all, capturing the feeling of being with the person you love most in a beautiful place.

If you’re ready to elope in Garrapata State Park, contact me!