If you’re dreaming up a Washington or Oregon elopement but aren’t sure where to go, I’ve got you covered!! Today I’m giving you a list of the BEST places to elope in the PNW, from my personal experience as an Oregon elopement photographer + past elopements I’ve photographed!
Here are the best places to elope in Oregon + Washington that I’ll be going through:
I’ll be giving you all the info you’ll need about each location in order to make your decision, including:
Are you ready to see a ton of PNW beauty?!?!
If you know anything about the PNW, you’re probably already familiar with Mount Rainier!! The park is located about 80 miles south of Seattle and 140 miles north of Portland. It’s an accessible drive from most of the larger parts of WA and OR, so it makes for a super awesome spot for a mountain adventure elopement!
For any national park elopement, you’ll want to make sure you do your research ahead of time so you know where exactly you’ll be going! Rainier has a ton of different entrances and sides/areas of the park that offer different opportunities. So make sure you plan ahead of time and know which area(s) of the park you’ll be visiting for your elopement, and plan also for driving time between locations!
And since it IS a mountain (an active volcano actually!!), the weather does have an impact on certain trails and roads. If you’re planning to elope anytime outside of probably July through early October, you’ll need to monitor road statuses through the National Park Service’s website – that way you can plan ahead for possible road closures.
Rainier has TONS of options for elopements, with endlesssss trails, wilderness areas, wildflower paradises, alpine forests, mountain views – you get the picture. It’s basically any mountain-lovers DREAM.
The Paradise side of the mountain is fulllll of wildflowers and lush green forests, while the Sunrise side is a little more barren and open. So depending on what kind of landscape you’re looking for, you’ll need to decide which part of the park to visit.
Like any national park, you’ll need to make sure you get the correct permits/passes for your Rainier wedding or elopement!
For Mount Rainier National Park, you will need a special use permit, which you can find the application link for on this webpage. Make sure you apply as far ahead of time as possible to guarantee you can get your permit for your requested date!!
Lake Crescent is in the foothills of the Olympic Mountains – part of Olympic National Park! It’s about 18 miles west of Port Angeles, 105 miles west of Seattle, and 250 miles north of Portland. There are a few lodge and resort facilities around the lake, as well as camping sites, picnic areas, and firepits if you want to make a lil’ camping trip out of your visit (and have me there to photograph it)!!
Lake Crescent is a gorgeous lake (obviously) surrounded by green trees and mountains – the mountains reflecting in the lake are sooo beautiful!! There are plenty of hiking opportunities, water activities (who wants to go kayaking or paddleboarding on their elopement day??), and is just an hour away from the Hoh Rainforest if you want to go to a couple of different locations.
Since Lake Crescent is a part of Olympic National Park, you’ll need to get the appropriate ONP permits/passes for your elopement here. Here are the directions the National Park Service’s site gives about weddings & how to get the correct Special Use Permit:
“Special use permits are required for events such as weddings, ceremonies, meetings, or gatherings. To apply for a Special Use Permit you can download a Special Use Permit application, but we also recommend that you e-mail us or write to c/o Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Ave, Port Angeles, WA 98362.”
Be sure to apply for your permit at LEAST 4 weeks in advance, but I suggest doing it as early as possible to make sure you’ve got enough time to receive it!
Rialto Beach is also a part of Olympic National Park, and lies on Washington’s beautiful coast!! It’s around 150 miles west of Seattle and 260 miles north of Portland. Definitely, a trek for anybody who lives/is visiting the more central part of OR or WA, but soooo worth the trip!
And for all you Twilight fans – Rialto Beach is actually IN LA PUSH!! You know how much I freaking love Twilight, so this unique beach has an even MORE special place in my heart.
Rialto Beach is such a unique beach – really, all of the beaches in this area are! It’s super moody, the sand is dark, and the way the sun sets over it is totally unbeatable. I know a ton of spots along here to shoot. I also know of a bunch of amazing cabins, restaurants, and Airbnb’s to hit up on your elopement day + trip!! One of the best parts of Rialto Beach is that it’s also surrounded by nearby forest areas + spots with amazing mountain views. So you can really get the best of alllll the PNW worlds.
Check out Karli + Kevin’s Rialto Beach elopement for some real-life inspo!!
Like I mentioned before, Rialto Beach is also a part of Olympic NP, so the Special Use Permit you’ll need is the same as for Lake Crescent! You can find all the deets here!
Okay y’all, the Painted Hills are one of my FAVORITE spots in Oregon. They’re located at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument Park, about 225 miles southeast of Portland and 350 miles south of Seattle. The hills have 5 different trails, a shaded picnic area, and a couple of different lots to park in.
If you’ve ever seen even PHOTOS of the Painted Hills, you’ll know how freaking unbelievable the landscapes are!! The hills are full of the most insane terracotta reds, oranges, golds, blacks, and tans/beiges, and all of the colors vary in tone through different parts of the day. The coolest thing is seeing how the color tones shift at sunrise, sunset, and blue hour!!
If you’re dreaming of a desert elopement at the most unique, awe-inspiring location, the Painted Hills is for you. If you’re lucky you’ll catch an incredible sunset with colors painting the sky over the colored hills!!
Check out this blog post of Adam & Bernardo’s Painted Hills engagement session for a full gallery of inspo!!
Luckily, there aren’t any parking or visitor entrance fees to get into the Painted Hills area! However, you’ll need a Special Use Permit depending on the size of your elopement/wedding here.
Y’all probably already know how much I love Smith Rock State Park because I shoot there a tonnnn!! The park is about 140 miles southeast of Portland and 310 miles south of Seattle. It’s another GORGEOUS desert spot in Oregon (I know, a lot of people who aren’t from the PNW don’t think Oregon has a desert!) that is absolutely perfect for a dreamy, golden desert wedding or elopement.
Smith Rock State Park is open year-round but gets suuuuper hot in the summers, so if you’re not a fan of dry desert heat, a summer elopement at Smith Rock might not be the best fit for you!
This state park has a variety of spots to visit for your elopement, from rocky canyons to hiking trails to the most amazing rock views. The golden fields, orange cliffs, and rock formations look amazing all day, but at golden hour they are to DIE for!! We can explore different trails as the sun goes down after you say your vows in front of the epic rocks behind you.
Check out a couple of my recent blog posts below to see some stunning Smith Rock elopement + engagement session galleries!
To park at Smith Rock, you’ll need to buy a $5 day-use permit at the pay stations in the parking lot. Or, if you’ll be visiting again in the future, it might be worth looking into a year-long permit instead!
The Wallowas are located in Joseph, OR, about 350 miles east of Portland and 380 miles southeast of Seattle. So yes, it’s far, but DANG is it worth it. I love how family and dog-friendly the area is, so you can bring along not only your favorite people but also your favorite 4-legged creatures!! I know TONS of vendors in Oregon who are willing to make the trek out to the Wallowas, so don’t worry about how far it is from civilization. Having these committed vendors will make for an incredible elopement day out in the rural mountains!
The Wallowas have that barren but beautiful desert vibe and the most breathtaking mountain views. The golden grass overlooking the water is to die for and there are SOOO many amazing spots to say your vows up there!! The blues of the mountain landscape on the horizon against the golden tones of the fields and the green desert trees make for such an amazing earthy color scheme.
For Lexi & Dan’s fall Wallowas elopement in 2020, we hiked up to the most epic view of the whole Wallowa lake and then went to Hells Canyon after their vows to explore. Eastern Oregon seriously has so much to offer that most people aren’t aware of – I mean, saying your vows at sunset at Hells Canyon? What more could you ask for?!
As long as your elopement has under 30 total attendees, you won’t need a Group Use Permit to elope in the Wallowas!
Mt. Hood is another well-known national forest and mountain area in the PNW! It’s around 60 miles east of Portland and 225 miles south of Seattle. It stretches across more than 60 miles from the Columbia River Gorge to the Olallie Scenic Area and is filledddd with lush forests, lakes, streams, and beautiful mountain views!
The Mt. Hood wilderness is truly a dream for anybody who loves those classic PNW vibes. It’s got tons of trails and hiking opportunities, campgrounds, mountain biking trails (who wants to go mountain biking on their elopement day?! I’ll follow behind ya!), wildlife, waterfalls, and overall epic views.
You luckily won’t need a permit for your elopement since it will be a group of under 75 people – all good in that arena!
Crater Lake National Park (the only national park in Oregon) is one of the most beautiful places in Oregon and is a MUST visit when you’re in the PNW!! It’s actually the deepest lake in the US, and the blue color of the water is soooo epic to see in person. The lake is about 245 miles south of Portland, and 420 miles south of Seattle. It’s a great place to make a camping/nature-filled trip out of!
Besides the obviously huge, stunning lake in Crater Lake National Park, there are also epic forests filled with huge trees! I love the variety you get at Crater Lake – check out Jess & Sam’s Crater Lake elopement gallery here for a ton of inspiration!
It’s important to be prepared for different types of weather and to monitor road conditions ahead of your elopement day. The weather can be pretty unpredictable, especially closer to the wintertime, and snow can often cause road closures + closed peaks and viewpoints.
To get married at Crater Lake, you’ll need to get a wedding ceremony permit, which you can learn more about here. The NPS website recommends applying at least 8 weeks in advance, but as always, apply as early as possible to give you plenty of time!
Cape Kiwanda is one of my absolute favorite spots in Oregon and one of the spots I shoot at the most often!! It’s located in Pacific City, about 95 miles southwest of Portland and 270 miles southwest of Seattle.
Kiwanda is famous for its vibrant, terracotta/orange, textured rocks everywhere. It’s super easy to access with a parking lot right next to the beach + restaurants/shops nearby, and bathrooms + hoses right in the parking lot! If you hike up the big sandy hill at Kiwanda, you’ll get the most amazing views of the ocean, the epic rocks, and the Oregon coastline!
One of my sweet couples Negin + Jeff eloped at Cape Kiwanda recently and absolutely LOVED it. There are tons of cute Airbnb’s nearby too that make it easy for you to make a vacay out of your elopement day!
Cape Kiwanda is a public beach, you won’t need a permit for your elopement here or any kind of pass to park in the lot!
Finally, I had to include one of my fave PNW elopement combinations: the Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods!!
The Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor is located in Brookings. It is around 315 miles south of Portland + 490 miles south of Seattle. And the Jedediah Smith Redwoods are just nearby, on the edge of the California border/20 minutes south of the Oregon border!
The Samuel H. Boardman Corridor has it ALL. Scenic viewpoints, rocks, and tide pools, plenty of hiking options + trails, and the prettiest secluded beaches! Check out Sarah & Blake’s elopement at this magical coastal destination for some inspo! Aaand one of the best things about this spot is that it’s just north of the California border. So it’s easy for us to visit two different states on your elopement day like Page + Taylor did!
And there are tons of opportunities at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Including camping, cabins, hiking, horseback riding, fishing, biking, & more! Basically, that means you have a ton of fun things accessible on your big day, aside from the EPIC redwood trees that make you feel small AF!
Since the Jedediah Smith Redwoods are a part of the Redwood National Parks, you’ll need a Special Use Permit for your elopement here!