With lots of changes happening for 2020 couples in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, elopements are looking more and more appealing.
Elopements are defined as small, intimate weddings that may consist of just the couple and their officiant or may include a small number of close friends and family. Typically, elopements happen at a county courthouse or in the case of adventure elopements, a gorgeous and scenic outdoor location. Spring and summer are perfect seasons for Arkansas elopements, as the weather is relatively warm and mild. Plus, elopements are relatively inexpensive- all you need to pay for is your dress and partner’s dress or suit, officiant, flowers, gas money to get to the location, and photographer (if you want one). Plus, an elopement lets you create your wedding on your own terms— you can even wear Chacos, or get married on a mountaintop or special river. You can even add a reception or wedding later if you want!
Shooting for less than 10 guests? If you’re eloping, that’s not a problem! Read on to discover some of Arkansas’ most beautiful elopement locations!
This post was not sponsored in any way by Arkansas State Parks— I would recommend checking out the ASP site for even more information on State Parks!
ELOPE RESPONSIBLY: Don’t forget to reach out to your local park service, officiant or photographer well in advance about permits, as most of these locations require permits for elopements or other gatherings. Please practice Leave No Trace guidelines and don’t go off trail. You can find more information on Leave No Trace Principles here.
All photos are my own! 🙂 You can follow me on instagram at @bostonmountainphoto
Mount Magazine State Park
About two hours from Fayetteville and an hour and a half from Little Rock, Mount Magazine is a stunning location for a small intimate wedding or elopement. Mount Magazine is the highest point in Arkansas, and there are tons of natural bluffs, crags and even a lake featuring picturesque photo opportunities. Mount Magazine also has a gorgeous lodge, cabins and an outdoor amp and pavilions for larger gatherings. You will need a permit to elope at Mount Magazine.
2. Hawksbill Crag
Hawksbill Crag, also called Whittaker Point, is located in Ponca near the Buffalo River. Hawksbill Crag is a gorgeous and iconic Arkansas landmark for a reason- and there are stunning views year round. However, the hike to Hawksbill takes about an hour to the actual crag, and the crag can get super busy on weekends, so as long as you’re aware of that, it’s a great location! I would not recommend Hawksbill Crag if you have elderly guests or children joining you, as the hike can be a bit challenging. You’ll definitely want to bring a day pack for this hike! You will need a permit to elope at Hawksbill.
3. Petit Jean State Park
Petit Jean is situated about an hour north of Conway. Petit Jean has a ton of gorgeous views and also has a rustic lodge, cabins and lots of campground locations (plus yurts, pretty awesome!). Petit Jean has a variety of scenic locations to shoot at, including Stout’s Point (pictured) and a western facing cliff perfect for a sunset elopement. There is also a beautiful overlook (Cedar Falls) that is a two minute walk from the parking lot. All three locations are ADA accessible, and there’s plenty of trails, waterfalls and caves to explore in the area. You will need a permit to elope at Petit Jean.
4. White Rock Recreation Area
White Rock Recreation Area is super rustic and close to both Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith. There are quite a few switchbacks along the dirt road that leads to White Rock, which makes this trip about two hours from Fayetteville and Fort Smith. There are cabins and a small general store as well as a campground with a handful of first come, first served spots— perfect for a rustic camping elopement. The main bluff faces west, and the views are absolutely stunning at sunset and directly afterward. You will need park permission to elope at White Rock.
5. Sam’s Throne Recreation Area
Sam’s Throne is located near Mount Judea, on the Buffalo River. There’s also a primitive campground and stunning views of the Boston Mountains. Sam’s Throne offers 180 degree views of the Boston Mountains and it’s usually pretty deserted, making it a great spot for an evening elopement. The trail takes about 5 minutes to traverse, however it is not ADA accessible. The nearest town with a hotel and restaurant is about 45 minutes away (Jasper, AR), so if you’re looking for scenic views and a middle-of-nowhere vibe, Sam’s Throne is a great location. You will need a permit to elope at Sam’s Throne.
6. Twin Falls, Jasper
Twin Falls (Also called Triple Falls), is located at Camp Orr near Kyle’s Landing on the Buffalo River near Jasper. Twin Falls is a popular tourist location, but it’s still pretty quiet on weekdays. The falls flood during heavy rains, so be aware of that- otherwise it’s a gorgeous spot for an elopement- don’t forget to bring your Chacos! The trail takes about 3 minutes to traverse from the parking lot, and is slightly ADA accessible (flat dirt trail). Twin Falls is on private land, so you will need permission from the Ranger and the BSA WestArk Area Council.
7. Steel Creek Campground
Another Buffalo River Gem! Steel Creek Campground is located in Ponca and has a handful of campgrounds as well as a put-in point for canoes and kayaks. Gorgeous natural bluffline and easy river access await you— it’s one of my favorite spots! Plus the road is paved all the way down, making this one of the most accessible locations on the list. You will need a permit to elope at Steel Creek.
Honorable Mention: St. Catherine’s At Bell Gable
This tiny Scottish chapel is located in Fayetteville, and the grounds are just stunning. If you’re looking for a traditional elopement with an indoor chapel option and gorgeous green grounds, look no further. Plus, they’re pretty reasonably priced.