Mount Rainier has got to be one of the most ICONIC places in all of Washington State, with the most incredible views that you’ve probably seen on a postcard at some point! And because of those picturesque views, it’s become a super popular place for couples to elope. That’s why I put together this ultimate guide to how to elope at Mount Rainier, which includes literally everything you’ll need to know if you want to elope at Mount Rainier – from permit info, to ceremony locations, to the best hikes, & more. I hope this guide inspires you to plan your own epic Mount Rainier elopement!!
Mount Rainier National Park is located in west-central Washington, about 2 hours from Seattle, 5 hours from Spokane, and 3.5 hours from Bellingham (entering via the Nisqually Entrance). It’s a really great elopement location if you want to be within driving distance of Seattle – maybe you want to spend a few days in the city and a few days in the mountains for your trip!
While the park is technically open all year, 24/7, peak season is July-August as that’s when the weather is warm, and trails are open + dry. Snow tends to start hitting higher elevations around September and often stays through May, so you’ll want to avoid winter if you want to go hiking at Mount Rainier for your elopement! But if you do visit during the winter, note that vehicle access is only available from the Nisqually Entrance. We’ll talk more about the best time of year to elope here a little later in this guide!
Yep! To visit Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll need to pay either a single vehicle fee of $30, which grants you unlimited entry for 7 straight days, or have a $55 Mount Rainier Annual Pass. I recommend purchasing your pass (no matter which one you get) online in advance to make your entrance into the park as fast + easy as possible! If you have an America the Beautiful Pass ($80), that will also grant you access into the park and you won’t have to get a Mount Rainier-specific pass.
Hell yeah you can!
Where you can get married at Mount Rainier depends on how many guests you have! Keep in mind that the group size includes both of you, all of your guests, and all of your vendors (e.g. your photographer, videographer, officiant).
There are certain predetermined locations that the park allows for wedding ceremonies, but you can also talk with the Permit Coordinator about your desired location(s) and see if they’ll work. In general, below are the locations that are allowed depending on your group size!
If you have 1-12 people: select trails, picnic areas, roadside locations, & campground amphitheaters
If you have 13-24 people: picnic areas, roadside locations, & campground amphitheaters
If you have 25-60 people: roadside locations & campground amphitheaters
If you have 60+ people: campground amphitheaters
Yeah! To get married in Mount Rainier National Park, you need to get a Special Use Permit in addition to paying the regular entrance fee. This permit is required for any wedding ceremony in the park, no matter where you want to have it, and you must apply at least four weeks in advance of your desired date. However, I recommend applying as early as you can to make sure you have plentyyy of time to go through the permitting process.
Here’s how to get a Mount Rainier Special Use Permit for your wedding or elopement:
Because Mount Rainier is SUCH a popular park and gets sooo many visitors every year, it’s super important that you follow the Leave No Trace principles during your time in the area – no matter if you’re eloping or just visiting for a hike. Please check out this guide to How to Leave No Trace With Your Adventure Elopement for my best tips to protect this gorgeous park & leave it just as beautiful for future visitors and couples who want to elope here!
When you elope in Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll need to pay the $30 single vehicle entry fee (or have a $55 Annual Pass), the nonrefundable $175 Special Use Permit application fee, and any additional fees that may apply for your ceremony.
You’ll also need to get a Washington marriage license, of course – the cost varies by county. Check out the full guide I put together to Washington Marriage Laws + Licenses if you need some guidance in getting yours!
Mount Rainier literally has ENDLESS stunning locations + hikes that you could spend weeks exploring. Seriously – there are options for everyone, whether you want a 10-mile trek or a quick 2-mile hike that won’t require much effort. I’ve compiled 5 of the best Mount Rainier elopement locations below – they’re some of the most popular locations in the park, so they do get crowded during peak season. If you want to find a more secluded, less crowded location for your ceremony, I can totally help with that when we plan your big day!
The Paradise area of Mount Rainier is absolutely iconic, best known for its breathtaking wildflower meadows, endless hiking trails, and stunning views of the Tatoosh Range. There are two ways to get to Paradise: via the Nisqually Entrance or the Stevens Canyon Entrance. It was named “Paradise” for a reason – this is the place to visit if you’re looking for those classic mountain views + purple wildflowers that you see on postcards of Washington state! Some of the most popular trails in the Paradise area include the Nisqually Vista Trail, Deadhorse Creek Trail, and Pinnacle Peak, as well as a couple trails that are included further down on this list.
On the other side of the park is Sunrise, home to the park’s highest visitor center and equally stunning views + hiking trails. This part of the park is more dry, barren, and open, and provides a totally different experience! You can get to Sunrise via the White River Entrance, and you should keep in mind that the Sunrise Road is typically open between late June/early July and late September/early October.
Some of the most popular hikes at Sunrise include the Crystal Lakes Trail, Summerland Trail, Glacier Basin Trail, and Sunrise Nature Trail. Tipsoo Lake is another amazing location near the Sunrise side of the park – it gets pretty crowded in the summer, but the views are incredible and it’s super easy to access! This is also where the Naches Peak Loop Trail begins, which is another great and super easy trail that attracts a ton of visitors.
If you want to elope near a waterfall or just want a super easily-accessible location, Myrtle Falls is a great option! Located just a quarter of a mile from the Paradise parking lot, Myrtle Falls is accessible via an entirely paved + flat trail – it’s one of the only wheelchair-friendly trails in the park. The views of the falls with the lush greenery + volcano in the back are breathtaking, and should definitely be a stop on your Mount Rainier itinerary if you’re down to be surrounded by a good amount of other visitors!
If you’re looking for a longer trail that heads out of Paradise, the Skyline Trail is a popular one thanks to its stunning views of Rainier, beautiful waterfalls, and lush green meadows filled with lupine in the summer! The trail is 5.5 miles round trip with 1,450 feet of elevation gain, so it’s a moderately challenging hike – but is so worth it for the epic scenery.
Finally, the Mount Fremont fire lookout offers some of the best views on the Sunrise side of the park! You’ll hike 5.6 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,200 feet to get to the lookout, and from there you’ll have epic views to say your vows in front of.
Want some help planning your Mount Rainier hiking elopement? Read through my Ultimate Guide to Planning a Hiking Elopement to make sure your elopement is as smooth, safe, & enjoyable as possible!
Mount Rainier is SUCH an amazing elopement location for sooo many reasons, including the fact that there are endless adorable Airbnbs in the area. No matter what town you want to stay in close to the park (Packwood, Ashford, etc.), you’ll have no trouble finding cozy, beautifully-designed Airbnbs in the forest.
Picture the two of you waking up on your elopement day and having a cup of coffee out on the spacious deck of your Airbnb, listening to the sounds of the forest and getting excited for what’s to come!! Oh, and if you get an Airbnb with a hot tub + campfire – you’ve got everything you need for a PERFECT evening after your ceremony.
Here are 5 of my personal favorite Airbnbs near Mount Rainier that you can stay at for your elopement, including a few that my past couples have used!
As I mentioned above, the peak season for visiting Mount Rainier is July-August. This is when the weather is warmest, the wildflowers are in bloom, the roads are open, and the trails are free of snow for hiking! However, this is ALSO when the crowds are biggest, as everyoneee wants to visit Mount Rainier during peak wildflower + sunny season – people come from all over to experience the beauty of this park in the summer.
So the best time of year for your elopement really depends on what you’re looking for, and what’s most important to you on your elopement day.
If you want to elope at Mount Rainier & have the warmest weather: you should elope in July or August. Be prepared for lots of other visitors, though – you may want to try and find locations that are a little less popular, which may require more of a hike if you’re down for that.
If you want to elope at Mount Rainier when the wildflowers are at their peak: you should elope between mid-July and mid-August. Again, there will be LOTS of other visitors who want to see the wildflowers just as much as you do, so see if you can find less popular trails, or at least visit on a weekday and/or earlier in the day if you’re able to.
If you want to elope at Mount Rainier with fewer crowds: you should elope in May, June, September, or early October. These months typically have fewer visitors than July-August, but keep in mind that the weather can be a bit more unpredictable. Snow might fall earlier than expected, or may stay later into the spring/summer than usual – so you should make sure you have backup plans in place, or just plan to elope at a lower elevation!
No matter what time of year you choose to elope at Mount Rainier, make sure to keep an eye on current weather as well as park conditions (roads + trails) when you get close to your elopement! You should always have at least one backup location/plan in place in case your original plan falls through due to unexpected weather, road conditions, etc.
P.S. don’t be discouraged if it rains on your elopement day!! I know you probably want to see the sun and get clear skies – but let’s be honest, the PNW isn’t very reliable for that. If it’s cloudy, or rains on your elopement day, the best thing you can do is go with the flow and adapt! Check out Stephanie + Austen’s Intimate Mount Rainier Wedding to see just how beautiful your day can still be even if the weather isn’t ideal. And be patient, too – sometimes Rainier will peek out of the clouds even if it’s not a sunny day!
If you want to see an example of a GORGEOUS Mount Rainier wedding to inspire your big day, head over to Taylor + Jayko’s Mount Rainier Elopement – the Airbnb they had their ceremony at was to DIE for!!
Hey y’all, I’m Dawn! I’m a Mount Rainier elopement photographer who is OBSESSED with this incredible park, and helping couples plan their dream day at this epic location. I offer Mount Rainier elopement packages for every couple’s unique day and would sooo love to explore this amazing national park with you two. Let’s get y’all married – contact me here and I’ll send you a customized pricing guide within 24-48 hours! Can’t wait!
Not quite sure that Mount Rainier is the elopement location for you?? There are PLENTY of other epic locations in the PNW for your big day – and I’ve got guides to most of them! Here are a few of my faves: