You’ve heard of the Oregon Coast, you’ve heard of Mt. Hood, but have you heard of the Columbia River Gorge?! It’s one of the most beautiful areas in all of Oregon. This blog post is going to give you the top 5 best places for a Columbia River Gorge elopement, because trust me – there are soooo many that it’s hard to choose!
The Columbia River Gorge is the PERFECT location for any of you couples who just can’t decide on one type of scenery – because the gorge has it all!!
It’s been designated the largest National Scenic Area in the country for a reason. From views of the Columbia River to huge waterfalls to basalt cliffs to lush forests to deserts and MORE! The gorge has literally every possible landscape you could imagine.
Whether you drive along the Historic Scenic Byway and stop at random spots along the road, or you plan out an epic multi-day adventure along the gorge & hit up specific spots, you’re going to experience breathtaking views that are pretty freaking hard to beat.
There are also sooo many cute little towns to explore along the gorge, so there’s lots to do and explore when you’re in the area for your elopement!
If you’ll have a group size of over 75 (including you two, your guests, & your vendors), you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit in order to get married along the gorge.
A few things to keep in mind about ALL wedding ceremonies along the gorge, no matter how many are in your group:
If your group is big enough that you need a permit, contact the Forest Service here & ask them for instructions on getting your permit!
Latourell Falls is one of the most easily accessible waterfalls along the gorge. Did I mention it’s freaking stunning?! Y’all, this waterfall has it all: super lush green trees + ferns, dark rocks, and a dreamy + misty stream of water. Honestly I love how it’s just one huge, epic waterfall instead of multiple falls – it makes for such a unique scene!
It’s the closest major waterfall on the gorge to Portland, about 34 miles away, so it’s pretty easy to drive to. And all you have to do to get to the falls is park in the parking lot right off the Historic Columbia River Scenic Byway, walk a couple of minutes down a dirt path, and you’re there!
If you’re looking for a little longer of an adventure, you can take the easy 2.4-mile loop hike around the falls. There are plenty of other spots around the falls that you can explore, including a pretty bridge and all of the green trees!
Latourell Falls is open year-round, but the best times to visit are May through October when temperatures are warmest & you’re less likely to get rained on. Buuut y’all, this waterfall somehow looks even more dreamy in the rain – so don’t worry if it’s cloudy on your elopement day!
I recently photographed a Styled Waterfall Wedding at Latourell Falls with Brady & Noah – you HAVE to check it out for real-life inspiration at this stunning spot!
If you’d rather tie the knot in a more barren, desert area, Rowena Crest Viewpoint is a killer option for ya!
It’s just 75 miles east of Portland, so around a 1.5-hour drive. The viewpoint sits at the top of a high hill that you drive up (careful of the super curvy highway & steep cliff sides), and you get the most AMAZING wide-open views of the gorge.
You also get a cool view of the historic highway down below, because it loops around to create a horseshoe shape and let me tell you – it looks pretty dang epic in photos.
Rowena Crest is a fav spot of mine because not only is it rarely crowded, but you also can get EPIC sunsets. I love the moodiness of the PNW, but sometimes you just want a nice sunset – and this desert spot gives you amazing views of colorful sunsets on clear days! Plus, because of how high the viewpoint is, we get lots of wind – and wind looks super beautiful in photos as it creates lots of natural movement.
Here’s another amazing waterfall option for you waterfall lovers! Wahclella Falls is a beautiful waterfall along Tanner Creek, about a 40-minute drive from Portland. It is super accessible if you want to travel to/from Portland on the same day for your elopement.
Wahclella Falls has a bit of a different look than Latourell Falls, since there’s an upper falls that’s somewhat hidden behind rocks, and also a lower drop that the water pours into. You can also see a second waterfall, East Fork Falls, from further back on the lower trail depending on the season!
I love these falls because they’re also fairly easy & accessible to get to, with an easy, 2.4-mile roundtrip hike that you’ll take. It’s open year-round, but the summer months are definitely when you’ll have the best luck with warmer temperatures!
I’ve got one last waterfall for y’all – Panther Creek Falls, a unique waterfall in Skamania County, about 65 miles from Portland. I say unique because it’s actually not one waterfall, but two!
The hikes to both Upper Panther Creek Falls & Lower Panther Creek Falls are pretty steep & difficult, and recommended only for experienced hikers. So your best bet is to take the easy 0.3-mile walk on the trail to a viewpoint of the falls! The trail is open year-round and is such a beautiful spot to enjoy the peaceful nature of the gorge.
My final fav location is an actual wedding venue called the Griffin House! It sits just 40 minutes from Portland overlooking the most breathtaking views of the gorge – AND you can book accommodations there, too!
The venue can seat up to 175 guests and has 4 beautiful sites you can use: The Griffin House itself, the ceremony lawn overlooking the Columbia River, the welcome terrace, and the reception lawn. You’ll get access to all the rentals they have to offer, including chairs, benches, patio furniture, & string lights, and you can hire any vendors you’d like!
If you’re looking for a wedding venue on the Gorge that offers unreal views + scenery, AND doubles as a place for you & your loved ones to stay, the Griffin House is your place!
One super important thing you can’t forget when you plan your elopement or wedding on the gorge: you have to book a place to stay! Whether you’re traveling in from out of state or you’re local, I highly recommend staying somewhere along the gorge and giving yourselves a few extra days to adventure around the area. There’s SO much beauty to explore that you really can’t experience in just one day for your elopement!
Because the gorge is filled with beautiful forest and landscapes, there are countless cozy cabins and Airbnb’s for you to stay at & really get the full Oregon experience. Check out a few of my personal faves below, and find what best fits your vibe!
A stunning getaway nestled in the woods with a beautiful wood exterior & a warm interior with all the woodsy-cabin vibes!
A literal treehouse built around an old Douglas Fir with a roomy interior & tons of natural light – perfect for any couples looking to stay somewhere secluded, just the two of them!
A freaking beautiful family-style retreat just steps from the Sandy River, with a chic, modern interior + a covered hot tub for evening relaxation. Just imagine hosting all your closest friends + fam here and having the best freaking time out in the woods, cooking on the BBQ, drinking around the fire pit, and ending the night in the hot tub!
This cabin sits on 16 forested acres, so you literally have your own little world to explore! Everything is modern & beautiful yet you still get those woodsy cabin vibes, PLUS a large soaking tub that connects to the master bedroom.
This is the perfect home for those of you looking to host your loved ones at a spot with beautiful mountain views, high ceilings, and plenty of room for some R&R!
Y’all this hotel is freaking stunningggg – an unreal place to stay, whether you want to stay closer to Portland or on the Washington side of the gorge in Bingen! It provides the perfect off-the-beaten-path experience while still being super cozy, modern, and just luxurious enough for adventurers at heart. They’ve got plenty of room styles from hostel-style bunks to cabins, as well as a boutique spa with a warm soaking pool, hot tub, massage services, and more. Talk about a freaking dreamy place to stay on the days surrounding your elopement!
This is another stunning larger property that offers soooo many beautiful ways to enjoy your time on the gorge. The interiors of every accommodation type are filled with warmth, natural light, and Scandinavian architecture mixed with outdoorsy mountain styles. You can book a treehouse or a tiny house, whichever best fits the experience you’re looking for! Plus it’s just a ten-minute drive from downtown White Salmon & the beauty of the gorge is easily accessible!
If you’re also considering the Oregon Coast for your elopement location, check out my guide on How to Elope on the Oregon Coast for all the info you’ll need.
Check out my blog for tons more resources and inspiration to help you plan your Oregon elopement, and when you’re ready to find a photographer to tag along with ya, reach out to me here if you think I’m your gal!
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