Top National Parks to Say "I Do" or "I Will" - Page 2

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Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil Fall
About a century ago, wealthy travelers would invest nearly a week to travel from San Francisco to Yosemite. Then, it'd take another week to reach the park's lodges via horseback. Their determination proves that Yosemite is a special setting for a proposal or, perhaps, a wedding. In the park's 1,200 square miles are forests, fields, mountains, valleys, rivers, and streams—and, of course, waterfalls. Bridalveil Fall which, by name alone, deserves to be a member of the wedding party. A favorite for photos and a marvelous backdrop for bride and groom, the fall plunges 620 feet down a sheer cliff, exploding in great froths of water at its base and sending spray far and wide. Ceremonies at its base may only be performed between 8 a.m. and noon between June and September, so shoot for this limited window of opportunity—Bridalveil can provide a most iconic and memorable wedding memory.

Olympic National Park
Ruby Beach
While some people wed wearing rose-colored glasses, couples that wed on the south side of Olympic National Park do so on rose-colored sands. Actually, the hue is hard to see, but the name of Ruby Beach does have a magical ring to it thanks to colored gemstone fragments sprinkled in the sand. The coastal setting is surrounded by a jumble of driftwood trees; boulders and coastal monoliths being slapped by churning waves; and the fringe of Olympic's tangled rain forest wilderness of redcedar, hemlock, spruce, and a soft pad of mosses and bright ferns. For couples accustomed to the area and its weather (which leans toward brisk and misty most days), this Washington State location may be the Pacific Northwest counterpart to the Virgin Island's Trunk Bay.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Marin Headlands
Scattered around the San Francisco Bay Area, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area touches three counties and features an assortment of sites, including beaches, forests, trails, decommissioned military bases, and a lighthouse, so the odds of finding a romantic place to propose are very high—and the odds approach 100 percent in the Marin Headlands. Here overlooks, a lighthouse, and vista points reveal a montage of the Pacifi c Ocean, the Golden Gate Strait, the Golden Gate Bridge, and, in the distance, San Francisco and its iconic skyline. One of the most picturesque settings in America, the headlands can help anyone begin their own classic love story.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove Historic Churches
Prior to the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1934, Cades Cove was the center of the Smoky Mountains community. Even at the dawn of the modern age, residents here still lived a somewhat pioneer lifestyle, but one enjoyed in a spacious and pastoral valley surrounded by low and lovely mountains. The residents were compelled to leave, but they left behind three historic churches—Methodist, Missionary Baptist, and Primitive Baptist. Each is a wonderfully unadorned no-frills house of worship that comes without heat or electricity—each charmingly rustic. Make reservations well in advance (only two weddings are allowed each day at any location), and advise guests to allot extra time. The Cades Cove Loop is a one-way road that becomes quite congested during the park's peak season, so it may take a while for your guests to arrive—and for newlyweds to depart.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site
Formal Gardens
The Hudson River Valley has long been associated with romance, even in the mid-19th century inspiring landscape artists influenced by romanticism. Representative of the gilded-age country place, the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site offers the perfect romantic setting for a wedding. Slightly removed from the baronial 54-room, beaux arts mansion, the Italian-style Formal Gardens are open to small wedding parties of up to 30 guests. Even without access to the house itself, the 3-acre Formal Gardens—terraced and landscaped gardens filled with approximately 6,000 colorful annuals, perennials, and hundreds of rose bushes, and completed with statuary, fountains, and an inky black reflecting pool—add a touch of romance to a ceremony worthy of a Vanderbilt.

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