The California redwoods are one of the most MAGICAL landscapes you could choose for your elopement!! With the massive trees, the lush greenery, and nearby views of the epic California coastline, it is truly hard to beat the redwoods as an elopement destination. That’s why I’ve created this guide to how to elope in the Redwoods, so you can learn everything you need to know about having a Redwoods elopement. From permits to locations to Airbnb’s & more! Get ready to absolutely fall in LOVE with this iconic piece of California!
The best places to see redwoods in California are the Redwood National & State Parks in northern California! There are other spots where you can find redwoods along the northernmost coast of California, too. But this is the area where you’ll get the most diversity and opportunities to explore well-maintained public lands.
The parks are in northern California riiight below the Oregon border, about 7 hours north of San Francisco and 8 hours south of Portland. Which is why this is the PERFECT secondary location to combine with an Oregon Coast elopement. We can hit up the most beautiful parts of the southern Oregon coast, then drive down to the redwoods!
The closest major airports to the Redwood National & State Parks are the San Francisco (SFO) and Portland (PDX) airports, which are both around 6-8 hour drives to their respective ends of the parks.
The unique Redwood National & State Parks complex encompasses Redwood National Park itself as well as multiple California State Parks. It includes the Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods.
The parks are open day in & day out! You can visit the redwood parks at any time, it’s just the visitor centers that have specific hours (9-5 in the summer, 9-4 in the fall & spring).
It’s completely free to enter any Redwood National Park area, as well as the majority of State Parks. The only place you’ll have to pay a fee is to visit Gold Bluffs Beach & Fern Canyon, or if you want to purchase a day-use pass at a state park.
Yes, you CAN get married in Redwood National & State Parks with the proper permit. See the Special Use Permit section below for further info!
Here are the pre-approved locations where you can get married in the Redwood National & State Parks, along with the max guest capacity of each one:
You are allowed to get married at other locations within the park besides the ones on this list, as long as you submit your permit application for review by the park staff & get your desired location approved beforehand!
It costs $100 to apply for the Special Use Permit needed to get married in the Redwood National & State Parks. Additional fees may be required depending on the specifics of your elopement or wedding such as requests outside of normal conditions or pre-approved locations!
Yep! To legally get married in the Redwood National & State Parks, you’ll need a Special Use Permit. This permit costs $100 to apply for, and will allow you to get married at any of the pre-approved park locations (see below section for full details!). It’ll be a $200 application fee if you’re applying to get married outside of those pre-approved park locations or have any special circumstances!
Now that you know all the official stuff about getting married in the redwoods. Let’s explore what each of the different pre-approved ceremony sites in the parks look like! Again, you ARE allowed to get married at certain locations outside of this list as long as you get approval from the park office!
The Dyerville Giant is probably one of the most iconic spots in the California redwoods. It’s a massive fallen Dyerville Giant tree that once stood at 362 feet tall (!!), and fell in 1991. The scene is now insanely cool, featuring the bottom of this epic tree that makes you feel freaking TINY.
Templeman Grove is one of the prettiest spots within Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, about 2 miles north of the visitor center along Highway 197. There’s a parking area where you can leave your car & easily walk into the stunning redwood grove!
The Nickerson Ranch Trail is a 1.9 mile out-and-back trail near Crescent City! It’s a great option for couples who want a little bit of a hike but nothing too crazy, since it’s moderately challenging and only takes around 40 minutes to complete without stopping. It’s a beautiful path to walk along to be immersed in the massive trees and get a little farther away from visitors who don’t want to hike!
Organ Donor’s Grove is another grove in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. It’s a slightly lesser-known (or at least less-visited) grove compared to others. It’s usually quieter and you won’t run into as many visitors, which is perfect for an elopement, but you also won’t find quite as many large coast redwoods. It’s really easy to access just a couple of minutes from the parking area, so if you’re looking for a small, quiet grove for any part of your elopement, definitely consider this one!
The name pretty much says it all!! This area of massive old-growth redwood trees is located in Prairie Creek State Park off of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, and is one of the more popular locations for visitors. It’s really easy to get from the parking area to these massive trees (including one tree appropriately nicknamed “Big Tree!”) and you can enjoy the trees from the viewing platform, then walk around the nearby forest.
Stout Grove is one of the most scenic redwood groves, directly across the Smith River from the Jedediah Smith Campground. If you’re camping there then this is a great grove to visit easily! You’ll take a loop trail through the flat grove of incredibly scenic redwoods, which look especially magical in the late afternoon when the light starts shining through the canopy. I definitely recommend visiting redwood groves when there will be light shining through in the early morning or soon before sunset, because the gleaming sun rays are truly unreal!! This is a great spot for wedding portraits or just a fun hike, as actual ceremonies aren’t allowed here.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove is unique in that you have to drive uphill to get to the trailhead, rather than down to a lowland area! Since this grove sits at a higher elevation, you’ll often get to experience it in some fog or mist from the clouds above you. Trust that it becomes sooo magical y’all! The trail is only a 1.5-mile long, flat loop. Making it easy to bring family & friends along if you want to. It’s pretty secluded once you get into the forest, but is close enough to a visitor center to be able to park and use the bathroom! Wedding ceremonies aren’t allowed here either unfortunately. So it would be a great place to explore during your time in the redwoods before or after holding your ceremony somewhere else.
If you’re looking for slightly more PNW vibes but also want to experience the redwoods, you can experience that at Fern Canyon! The incredible canyon is covered in ferns that shoot up from a creek and are seriously HEAVENLY. It’s located in Prairie Creek State Park. Which means you’re still super close to a bunch of redwood groves. You can still experience the lusciousness of these PNW-fern vibes through the out-and-back hike or the full canyon loop hike. Wedding ceremonies are also not allowed here!
Merriman Grove is another one of the pre-approved wedding ceremony locations, located within Prairie Creek State Park at the end of the Ah-Pah Trail. This quick 0.4-mile out-and-back trail follows the path of an old logging road and takes you through beautiful redwood uplands along a steep hillside, finishing off at Merriman Grove!
Zig Zag #2 (yes, there’s also a Zig Zag #1!) is a short trail in Prairie Creek State Park, about 3.5 miles north of the park visitor center. It’s the northern bookend of a loop trail that includes Prairie Creek Trail, Zig Zag #1, and West Ridge Trail, or you can opt to take the Zig Zag Trail 1 & 2 Loop that’s 3.5 miles long & moderately challenging! All of these trails are beautiful options for walks through the redwoods and you can choose whichever one fits the level of adventure you’re going for.
Schmidt Grove is another pre-approved location for ceremonies and is freaking perfect for intimate ceremonies! It’s located at the end of Cal-Barrel Road, where there are multiple different spots to pull off for photos & parking, and there’s plenty of room for your intimate group of guests to fit.
The Prairie Creek Amphitheater is a great option if you want an actual designated spot where your guests can sit down during your ceremony! The path to the amphitheater is obviously stunning, but the forest views you get at the amphitheater itself are epic!! Your guests can all enjoy a sit-down ceremony while you tie the knot in front of the massive redwoods, and the amphitheater is also easy to get to.
Lost Man Creek Gate is a luscious spot engulfed in vibrant greenery, about 5 miles north of a visitor center along Highway 101. It has a parking area, picnic tables, and a 10.7-mile-long trail perfect for couples looking to go for a longer, more challenging hike or bike ride!
Berry Glen is another amazing hiking option that connects the Lady Bird Johnson Grove with a viewing area along Highway 101! It’s just 3 miles long and takes you uphill from the Elk Meadow starting point, with some steep sections along the way, so it’s not the easiest trail option that you can find in the redwoods.
As mentioned in the FAQ section above, you will need to get a Special Use Permit to get hitched in the California redwoods! Applying for this permit will cost you $100, or $200 if you’re applying for a location outside of the pre-approved list/have any special requests or circumstances. Additional costs may be put in place if your elopement needs any sort of event monitoring or if you damage the site of your ceremony in any way!
The best time of year to elope in the redwoods really depends on what matters to you – crowds, rain, temperatures, potential trail closures, etc!
Because the Redwood National & State Parks are located so close to the California coast, the temperatures and weather are pretty good all year-round, never getting too hot or cold. The greenery is so so vibrant in the spring, and nothing can beat the autumn colors along the coast!
The winter months are definitely rainier in the redwoods. If you want to elope with the least likelihood of getting rained on, then the late spring/summer months may be best for you. Certain trails and roads also close down in the winter. Make sure you know when you’re able to access the locations you want to visit, and you avoid visiting during times when your route could be blocked off.
If you’re okay with rain and would rather have more mild temperatures + less crowds. Then early spring or late fall would be great times to visit! For those of you who would rather enjoy sunny weather. Especially if you’ll be spending time in the ocean or on the beaches and are okay dealing with more crowds, summer will be amazing. It’s really up to how much you care about rain, crowds, and temperatures. As well as if you’ll be hiking/biking/doing many outdoor activities!
Learn more about camping in the redwoods here!
If you need ANY more inspiration to help you fall in love with the redwoods, I’ve got plenty for ya!! Check out some of my beautiful couples’ redwood weddings & elopements below for all sorts of dreamy redwood goodness!
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