How to elope

Where to elope



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How to Plan An Adventure Elopement in Olympic National Park

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If you haven’t been to Olympic National Park yet, you are MISSING OUT! I know I might be biased because I live here in Washington, but I’m convinced it’s one of the most beautiful places in the country. ONP has it alllll: forests, waterfalls, alpine lakes, mountain ranges, sandy beaches, epic coastal views. . . literally every type of PNW landscape you could ever want. That’s why it’s by far one of my fav places for couples to elope! After YEARS of being an Olympic National Park elopement photographer, I wanted to let you in on all the best places to elope in the park, plus a bunch of my best planning tips + important deetz you need to know. Welcome to your one-stop-shop for all things ONP elopements 😉

Where is Olympic National Park?

For those of you who aren’t super familiar with Olympic National Park, it’s located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula (who woulda thought). It’s a BIG park, covering almost a million acres of wilderness that’s home to an insane variety of wildlife, diverse landscapes, and all sorts of cute little towns! Click here if you wanna look at it on a map and see just how huge it is. Some of the larger towns around ONP include Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks (yes, the same Forks from Twilight!), as well as the Quinault Indian Reservation. If you’re a big Twilight fan, you should def give Forks a visit, but you probably won’t find any hot vampires lurking around anywhere, unfortunately 🙁

Getting to Olympic National Park from the Seattle area takes different amounts of time depending on which part of the park you’re going to, since it’s so big. From Seattle to Lake Crescent, it’s about a 3-hour drive; to the Ruby Beach/Kalaloch area, it’s a little more than that. And to the Hoh Rainforest area, it’s about 4 hours. So if you’re coming from Seattle you’ll definitely want to stay a night or two, to really explore as much of the park as you can!

Why Elope at Olympic National Park?

You mean besides the insanely epic, crazy diverse landscapes everywhere you look?! There are SO many reasons why you should elope at Olympic National Park, but here are a few of my personal favorites:

—A lot of the park is accessible year-round: Sooo many of the best outdoor spots in Washington close down seasonally for the winter due to snow, ice, etc.—which sucks for couples who don’t want to elope in the summer! Which is why eloping in Olympic National Park is AMAZING: a majority of the park is accessible and open alllll year round, baby, which means you’re not limited to just a few of the warmest months. Even if you choose to elope in the winter, you’ll still have access to beautiful lakes, lower elevation trails, a magical rainforest, breathtaking spots on the coast, and more! Oh, and the park looks incredible in any type of weather—rain, shine, snow, fog, you name it. It’s legit impossible for this park not to take your breath away. 

—There are miles and miles of beautiful hiking trails: I swear Olympic National Park is every outdoor lover’s DREAM come true; it’s like an adventurous paradise. There are sooo many amazing hiking trails to explore, and you could truly spend weeks enjoying the park and still not be able to see everything. Whether you’re looking for easy trails that don’t really have any elevation gain, or you wanna go on an overnight backpacking trip through the mountains, there are hikes available for everyone!

—There are wheelchair-accessible elopement locations: Speaking of hikes available for everyone, ONP has multiple wheelchair-accessible elopement locations, which is really great for couples who either use wheelchairs themselves, have guests that use wheelchairs, or who just don’t want to go on a crazy hike and would rather walk on a nice, paved path to get to gorgeous views! If you or your guests have mobility restrictions orrrr you simply don’t wanna break a sweat in your elopement attire, ONP has a few really gorgeous ADA-accessible locations, including areas of the iconic Hoh Rainforest and Lake Crescent, both of which I’ll talk more about in a little bit. 

Top 10 Places to Elope in Olympic National Park

1. Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is without a doubt one of the most popular places in Olympic National Park, and for good reason—it’s a stunning lake in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by hills and greenery and even a few waterfalls! There are several hiking trails around the lake, but you can also just walk along the shores of the water for a super easily-accessible elopement location. It’s one of my personal favorite places for intimate elopement ceremonies and portraits out on the dock! 

Love the idea of getting married near a super deep and creepy lake with a bunch of bodies at the bottom? Lol. Promise it’s actually not that creepy haha, just beautiful! I love Lake Crescent so much that I made a whole Lake Crescent Elopement Guide for ya.

2. Hoh Rainforest

If you’ve ever dreamed of getting married somewhere that feels like a real-life fairytale, surrounded by the sounds of birds chirping, otherworldly greenery, and the dreamiest lighting ever, then the Hoh Rainforest will blow you away. It is THE most enchanting place in Olympic National Park by far, boasting the most gorgeous green foliage you’ll ever see. Whether it’s rainy and moody or bright and sunny out, you’ll feel like you’re walking through a little storybook forest, off to find a magical castle in the woods!

3. Ruby Beach/Kalaloch

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach are must-visits when you elope in ONP. Now this isn’t like a beach you’d find in California or Hawaii, it’s a very quintessential PNW beach covered in driftwood, fog, and overcast skies most of the time. And let me tell you, it’s a whole vibe! The giant sea stacks at Ruby Beach are iconic, and the sunsets + golden hour lighting are to dieeee for, no matter what time of year it is. I def recommend also visiting the Tree of Life just north of Kalaloch Lodge—it’s this crazy cool tree with roots exploding out into the rocks despite erosion causing it a ton of damage! It’s an epic spot for portraits, but is also just a really cool sight to see.

4. Rialto Beach

Rialto and Ruby Beach go hand in hand, both breathtaking locations on the peninsula with rugged ocean scenery, massive sea stacks, and coastal forests nearby. One of my favorite spots at Ruby Beach is the famous “Hole-in-the-Wall,” which is this super picturesque sea stack just a two mile walk from the Rialto Beach parking area! I looove taking couples here for portraits, it’s got such dramatic views and it’s a great moderately-challenging hike if you’re looking for a little adventure.

5. Hurricane Ridge

If you’re looking for mountain views instead, and you’re planning to elope in the summer, you’ve gotta check out Hurricane Ridge! It’s by far the most easily-accessible mountain spot in the park, boasting spectacular views of the Olympics, spacious alpine meadows, colorful wildflowers, and insane sunsets if you time it right. Keep in mind that the road up to Hurricane Ridge (aptly named Hurricane Ridge Road) is only open throughout the summer due to snow and winter conditions, so you won’t want to try to elope here during the late fall, winter, or early spring. 

6. Marymere Falls

Marymere Falls is a super cute little waterfall near Lake Crescent! It’s a 1.8 mile round trip hike with only 500 feet of elevation gain, so it’s a pretty easy trek and is great if you’re bringing kids or guests along. You’ll walk through a forest of gorgeous old-growth trees and bright green moss to get to the falls, where you can check out the higher viewpoint on the hillside, or the lower platform directly across from the base of the falls. 

7. Mount Storm King

Want a little longer of a hike into the mountains? The Mount Storm King hike is AMAZING, taking you to an iconic viewpoint of the mountains just above Lake Crescent! It’s a 4 mile round trip trek with 2,065 feet of elevation gain, so I’d say it’s moderate to hard, difficulty-wise—but the work you put in to get up there is so worth it. You should avoid doing this hike if the weather is bad, though, because the climb can be dangerous if it’s rainy; luckily there are a few spots to stop around halfway up with equally beautiful views, if you can’t make it to the top!

8. Merriman Falls

Merriman Falls is another gorg waterfall in ONP that’s SUPER easy to get to. Located near Quinault, all you’ve gotta do to get there is walk 2 minutes along a trail through the trees—and bam, you’re there! The greenery around the falls is breathtaking, and the flow is especially beautiful + intense during the rainy season. You barely have to leave your car to find this waterfall!

9. Madison Falls

And one more waterfall for good measure! Madison Falls is also incredibly easy to get to via a quick paved trail through the trees; you’ll find a wooden railing where you can look down at the creek before continuing to the falls. Even from the parking area, you can get great views of the Elwha River, and there’s a bench by the falls where you can rest + take it all in.

10. Deer Park

Last but not least, the Deer Park area of Olympic National Park is beautifullll to explore. Deer Park Road is an 18-mile-long, narrow, steep road with a few different turnoffs you can take to get scenic views of the eastern Olympics. It’s a much drier part of the Olympics than the west side of the Peninsula, with wayyy less precipitation, so the landscapes are a bit different than other parts of the park!

3 Tips for Finding Your Olympic National Park Elopement Photographer

By the end of this guide, you’re going to have ALL the inside knowledge on how to plan an amazingggg Olympic National Park elopement—so let’s make sure you have somebody to document it all for you, yeah? As an Olympic National Park elopement photographer, I wanted to give you three tips to keep in mind as you search for your perfect photog that’ll ensure you have the best day ever.

1. Make sure they have experience in the park

First, it’s sooo helpful to have a photographer who has a lot of experience in the park itself. Sure, a lot of photographers are really great at location-scouting a few days in advance, but it gives you the upper hand when you work with somebody who already knows their way around! Not only can they help physically guide you through the park on your elopement day; they can also help you plan and share their expertise + first hand experience with you. It’s very different doing research about a location online vs. actually visiting that location—Google might not tell you that X trail gets really muddy at about mile 2 when it rains, or that the parking lot at Y trail always fills up by 9am on weekends. Having somebody with you who’s familiar with the park will help a TON when it comes time to get permits, pick your locations, and plan your timeline!

2. Try to find somebody who can also officiate your ceremony

This isn’t necessary but it’s a HUGE bonus if you can do it: try to find a photographer who can also officiate your ceremony! Having one person photograph and officiate means one less vendor to hire (and pay for), and one less person that has to be present during your ceremony. This is an especially great option if you want as much privacy as possible during your elopement and don’t want a bunch of vendors or guests hanging around. 

P.S. I’m a licensed officiant myself! Two birds with one stone when you hire me to be your Olympic National Park elopement photographer 😉

3. Ask them to help you plan your timeline

Third, you can (and should!) ask your photog to help you plan your timeline. They have way more experience with adventure elopements than you do, and hopefully they’ve been to the park themselves, so they know the ins & outs of visiting. Make sure that you’re not just hiring a photographer who will show up and take photos, but somebody who will really get to know who you two are in your authentic relationship, who will put in the effort to tell your true story, and who will be a professional guide to make your day as seamless and stress-free as possible.

When to Elope in Olympic National Park

What is the best time of year to elope in Olympic National Park?

Like I said at the beginning of this guide, one of the best parts about eloping in Olympic National Park is that a ton of the park is accessible year-round! Which means there’s not really one “best” time to elope, especially since every part of the park is different in terms of views, weather, seasons, etc. 

Here’s a quick glimpse at what each season tends to look like in Olympic National Park:


  • Warmest weather
  • Least chance of rain
  • Possible thunderstorms
  • Coastal fog
  • Possibility of wildfires/smoke


  • Cooler temperatures (especially at night)
  • More rain and wind
  • Snow at high elevations
  • Some campgrounds/roads start to close for the season


  • Coldest temperatures
  • Lots of rain in the forest + on the coast
  • Lots of snow at high elevations
  • Possibility of flooding and storms


  • Mild temperatures
  • Unpredictable weather
  • Possibility of snow and heavy rain at high elevations
  • High elevation trails may still be inaccessible

If you want to elope on the coast (e.g. Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, Kalaloch), you can choose any season! Summer will obviously have the warmest weather for you and the longest days with the most light, but the beaches will likely be more crowded. Winter is a great time to elope on the Olympic Peninsula because there typically aren’t as many visitors.

If you want to elope in the mountains (e.g. Hurricane Ridge), you’ll want to elope in July or August. Roads and trails at higher elevations will close down for the winter, so it’s safest to pick a date during the warmest months when it’s very unlikely that there will be winter weather.

If you want to elope in the rainforest, elope anytime you want! Winter will be the rainiest by far, but honestly the rainforests are magicalllll and SO moody when it’s cloudy + rainy. The way the rain brings out the vibrant greens is just insane!

What is the best time of day to elope in Olympic National Park?

As far as the best time of DAY to elope in Olympic National Park, it really depends on the season, the weather, the location, and what you want the rest of your timeline to look like! There are endless ways to lay out your elopement day—you could have a sunrise ceremony and then explore the rest of the day before heading back to your Airbnb for a nighttime hot tub sesh, or you could do a day hike, then meet up with your fam at Lake Crescent for a sunset ceremony. Tbh there’s not really a right or wrong time of day, so this is something I’ll help you figure out once I know what your vision is for your elopement.

If you wanna dive deeper into this topic, I put together a whole guide to the Best Time of Day For Your Adventure Elopement, where I talk about why lighting is so important, when to have your ceremony, and compare sunrise vs. sunset.

Olympic National Park Wedding & Elopement Permits

It’s permit time! Aka one of the most important parts of planning a wedding or elopement at ANY national park. It can be a little confusing if you’ve never gone through the permit application process before, so lemme break it down for you.

Do you need a permit to elope in Olympic National Park?

Yep! If you want to elope or have a wedding in Olympic National Park, you need to get a Special Use Permit, which you should apply for at least a month in advance of your date.

Where can I elope in Olympic National Park?

Typically if you’re having a small elopement with just a few people, you’re free to elope anywhere in the park where your group fits + you’re able to follow Leave No Trace guidelines (e.g. staying on marked trails/paths). But if you’re unsure about a certain location, I recommend reaching out to the park to double check before you submit a permit application!

How much does it cost to get married in Olympic National Park?

An Olympic National Park Special Use Permit for weddings & elopements costs $50-$100 to apply for, and you may be responsible for additional park monitor fees and/or liability insurance.

Do I need to pay an entrance fee to elope in Olympic National Park?

Yep! Getting a Special Use Permit doesn’t waive the regular park fees for you; you, your guests, and your vendors will still need to have an entrance pass. You can either get a private vehicle pass for $30, an annual park pass for $55, or an America the Beautiful pass for $80.

How do I apply for an Olympic National Park wedding permit?

Confused by all the permit jargon? Don’t worry—I gotchu! Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get your Olympic National Park wedding/elopement permit:

  1. Download and fill out this application
  2. Email your completed application to the park, or mail it to the below address, at LEAST a month prior to your elopement date:

℅ Olympic National Park

600 East Park Ave

Port Angeles, WA 98362

  1. Once you’ve received payment instructions from the park, pay your application processing fee of $50-$100 via credit card (or check made out to the National Park Service)
  2. If your permit request is approved, you’ll receive a permit with your terms and conditions
  3. Sign and return the permit to the park for final approval
  4. Voilà—let’s get you married!

Getting Your Washington State Marriage License

I’ve already given you soooo much info to process in this guide, so instead of dumping more kinda boring info onto you, I’m gonna send you over to my Simple Guide to Getting Your Washington State Marriage License! Whenever you’re ready to learn about getting your marriage license, pop over to that guide and you’ll find a whole breakdown from me that makes the process super simple + easy to understand 🙂

Best Places to Stay for Your Olympic National Park Elopement

Ugh good luck choosing a place to stay, you’ll want to pick all of them haha. There are SO many cozy, unique cabins and homes around Olympic National Park that are literal havens to stay in, from Airbnbs in the rainforest to waterfront cabins. 10/10 recommend finding one that has a hot tub, a nice deck, or a firepit; somewhere you can relax at the end of the night and maybe even go stargazing! Here are some of the most beautiful Airbnbs in the Forks/La Push and Port Angeles areas, plus a few hotels and lodges if you’re looking for a bigger place to stay with guests.

Olympic National Park Airbnbs

Near Forks/La Push:

Near Port Angeles:

Wanna see more of my fav Airbnbs that are amazing for elopements? Here’s a list of 10 Cozy + Cute Airbnb Wedding Venues in Washington State!

Olympic National Park Hotels + Lodges

Olympic National Park Elopement Photographer

That’s my cue!! I’m Bree, an Olympic National Park elopement photographer who is clearly obsessed with this epic park and totally thinks you should elope here 😉 Wanna adventure together and create the most amazing adventure that you can relive forever? Fill out my contact form here and give me all the deetz!!

Want more in-depth guides like this to help you plan your PNW elopement? Check out a few of my faves below:

How to Plan Your North Cascades Adventure Elopement

Ultimate Oregon Coast Elopement Guide for 2024-2025

The Best Places on Mt Rainier for Your Elopement

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