How to elope

Where to elope



Content Day

Ultimate Redwoods Elopement Guide

Table of Contents:

I’m desperately waiting for spring weather here in Seattle and it’s taking too longgg—so let’s head down to the coast of California for some sunshine ☀️Today we’ll be exploring the California Redwoods, aka those wildly beautiful and insanely tall trees you’ve probs seen photos of (or maybe you’ve even seen them in person before)! Why are we talking about trees, you may ask? Because they make for the most epic elopement backdrop, of course 😉 10/10 recommend having a Redwoods elopement and getting married among these iconic trees. Hope you enjoy this guide, where I’m letting you in on how to do exactly that!

Where are the Redwoods?

Well, it depends on what you’re asking, because there are multiple types of redwoods! There’s the Coast redwood, which grows along the southern Oregon Coast down to the northern California coastline. There’s also the Sierra redwood, aka the giant sequoia, which grows natively only in California and is found on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. Coast redwoods are the ones that are suuuuper tall and skinny, and Sierra redwoods are the ones with massive trunks that don’t grow quite as tall. There are tons of amazing spots to see the Sierra redwoods/giant sequoias in California (like Seq uoia & Kings Canyon National Parks) but I’ll be focusing on the Coast redwoods for this guide, since that’s what you’ll find closer to the Pacific Northwest!!

It’s crazy to think that Oregon actually has some Coast redwoods, since we typically assume California is the only place where they grow. You can find beautiful redwood groves along the shores of Highway 101, in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest near Brookings, and can even find some in Portland at the Hoyt Arboretum! Further south in California you can find Coast redwoods all the way from Jedediah Smith State Park, which is just 10 miles from the Oregon border, all the way down to Big Sur. 

(Speaking of which, I have a whole Big Sur Elopement Guide where I go thru all the best spots to elope in the area, including multiple places with Coast redwoods!)

Best Places to Elope in the Redwoods

It would be impossible for me to go through ALL the amazing Redwoods elopement locations you have to choose from, but I did my best to narrow it down to a few for ya!! Here are my favorite places to elope in the California Redwoods!

Redwood National and State Parks

So most of the best Redwoods elopement locations are actually all part of one bigger area, the Redwood National and State Parks complex! This comprises four different parks: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods County Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, & Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The whole area covers almost 140,000 acres along the coast of northern California and preserves 45% of ALL the old-growth coastal redwood forests that remain! This is where you’ll find the endangered coast redwood, which loves the humidity of the northern California coast, and is actually one of the biggest tree species in the world. 

Here’s a little info about each of the four parks within Redwood National and State Parks:

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is one of my favorite places to see the redwoods, since it’s suuuper close to the Oregon border. You can make a whole adventure out of your elopement by spending one day on the southern Oregon Coast, in the Brookings area, then drive just 30 minutes south the next day to be in the California redwoods! It’s only nine miles east of Crescent City on Highway 199, so it’s super accessible. 

This state park covers 10,000 acres managed by both the NPS and California State Parks, and is home to a whopping 7% of all the old-growth redwoods left in the entire world. Wild, right? And the redwood groves here are some of the most scenic in all of California, boasting massive trees that aren’t as tall as some of the redwoods further south, but are often wider! You’ll even find the largest Coast redwood by volume here in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods. All the old growth in this forest is absolutely breathtaking, which means that there are a lot of people who want to visit—there aren’t a ton of trails, so keep in mind that the few trails can get pretty busy.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Want to see both the redwoods and the beach?? Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park will leave your jaw on the FLOOR with its insane forest + coastal beauty. With eight miles of rugged coastline and a lush forest filled with old-growth Coast redwoods, you’ll get the best of everything the Cali coastline has to offer. The reason this forest is so lush is that the parks along the northern California coast get up to 100 inches of rain per year! You’re going to be obsessed with the rocky coast lined with lush, abundant greenery; you can be looking at the ocean one moment and turn around to see dense forests the next. There are multiple trails within the park that are great for hiking and biking, including Damnation Creek Trail and a stretch of California’s Coastal Trail, both of which will guide you through the picturesque landscape for some killer views. This is also a great park to go camping if you wanna stay the night along the coast!

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Located 11 miles south of Del Norte is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which features gorgeous sandy beaches, open meadows, jagged canyons, and, of course, tons of dramatic Coast redwoods. The park has three different scenic drives you can take (perf if you don’t feel like hiking a ton), as well as 75 miles of hiking trails + a 19-mile bike loop. It’s an amazing park to explore if you’ve got some time to check out all the best spots, including the iconic and jaw-droppingly beautiful Fern Canyon Loop Trail, which boasts the most breathtaking collection of moss, lichens, fallen trees, and an entire floor of lush ferns. When you’re tired of the redwoods (which I don’t think could ever happen tbh), you can head out of the forest and onto the coast to check out the deserted beaches and meadows, where you might be joined by a herd of Roosevelt elk if you’re lucky!

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The final park of the Redwoods National and State Parks complex is Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is actually California’s 3rd largest state park. This park is home to the famous Rockefeller Forest, which contains the world’s largest remaining contiguous old-growth forest of Coast redwoods—so cool! It’s such an insane experience hiking through this forest and seeing all the trees that have been around for thousands and thousands of years. For some of the best views in the park, you can take a scenic drive along the picturesque Avenue of the Giants, or check out Founder’s Grove, where you’ll find the iconic fallen Dyerville Giant that makes for the most epic elopement portraits.

Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Monument is located just north of San Francisco, so it’s a great place to see redwoods if you wanna head further south + be near the big city! The trees in Muir Woods range anywhere from 400 to 800 years old, the area often called a “cathedral of redwoods” for the massive height of the trees and the way the light shines so ethereally through the gaps between the branches + the canopy. If you’re looking for an easy trail through the trees you might wanna check out the Lost Trail or the Hillside Trail; if you want a longer trek, you could go for the challenging Dipsea/Ben Johnson/Redwood Creek Loop or the moderately difficult Meander in Marin trail. So many options!! Although this area of California doesn’t get quite as much precipitation as the northern California coast, up to about 48 inches per year high up in the mountain slopes, so this forest won’t be as lush year-round as the ones further north.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Last but not least we’ve got one of my favorite spots in Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park—where you can not only explore a gorgeous stretch of California’s Pacific coast, but also a lush canyon filled with redwoods that are over 2,500 years old! There are two different trails that’ll take you on an amazing adventure through the redwoods and to spots with beautiful, panoramic coastal views: the Ewoldsen Trail and the Tan Bark Trail. Nestled high above the ocean and accessible via Highway 1, the diversity this park has to offer is insane, with ocean scenery that’ll take your breath away. And there’s even a waterfall (McWay Falls) that you can see from up above, though the beach by the falls is off limits for visitors!

When to Elope in the Redwoods

What is the best time of year to have a Redwoods elopement?

Honestly, the redwoods are beautiful and accessible year-round in most parts of California! But if you want to see the trees when they’re at their most lush, spring is the best time to elope (April-May especially): the greenery is vibrant, the weather is pleasant and not too hot, trails are typically in good condition, and it’s usually not as busy in popular places as it gets in the summer. You’ll get the lush, dreamy forest conditions without the heavy rain of winter, but it will get chilly at night and in the mornings, so definitely bring some layers along with you! Summer in the redwoods is obviously gorgeous too, but is the busiest time of year—so prepare to be surrounded by other visitors/hikers who also want to experience the amazing coastal scenery. But seriously, the redwoods are AMAZING throughout every season, so it just depends on what kind of conditions you want for your day + what activities you’ll be doing!

The only thing to keep in mind is extreme conditions, such as wildfires or landslides, which can cause road and trail closures. Big Sur has seen some bad landslides along Highway 1 in 2024 so far thanks to last winter’s rain, so make sure you double check as your elopement gets closer to confirm that your location(s) are accessible!

What is the best time of day to have a Redwoods elopement?

I’d say that you should elope in the redwoods just before sunset, in the late afternoon, and then head to a beachy spot for sunset! This way you get the dreamy pre-sunset lighting shining through the trees, and the forest won’t be too dark yet, and thennn you can head to a nearby beach/ocean viewpoint to watch the sunset + take advantage of golden hour and blue hour. The ultimate elopement experience! You’ll get such an amazing variety in your photos + diversity of landscapes to explore. 

Redwoods Wedding & Elopement Permits

Next, let’s talk about what permits you’ll need if you want to have your wedding or elopement in the redwoods.

Do you need a permit to elope in the redwoods?

It depends on where exactly you want to have your ceremony—but most likely yes! 

If you want to get married in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Redwoods State Park, or Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit through the National Park Service. This permit allows for a ceremony scheduled for 1-3 hours, and has a non-refundable application fee of $100. You can read about the permit conditions + see further info here!

If you want to get married in Humboldt State Park, you will also need a special wedding permit, but you’ll get it via the California State Parks website instead. You can apply for your permit up to 6 months in advance, and no later than 4 weeks in advance! There’s a non-refundable permit application fee of $150, so make sure to budget for that. You can find further details + instructions to apply here!

If you want to get married at Muir Woods, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit through the Golden Gate National Recreation Area website. They accept applications up to a year in advance and no later than 2 weeks in advance, but they recommend applying as early as you can since permits can take several months to be approved + written. The non-refundable application fee for this one is a little cheaper, at $60.

Finally, if you want to get married at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, you’ll need an Elopement Special Event Permit, which is issued for weddings of 10 people or fewer that take place at hike-in locations. You can apply for this permit up to 6 months in advance!

Where can I elope in the redwoods?

Again, it depends on what area/park you want to elope at!


Here’s the list of approved ceremony locations, as well as the maximum group size allowed:

Templeman Grove | 20 participants

Organ Donor’s Grove | 20 participants

River Trail | 8 participants

Crescent Beach Day Use | 20 participants [available Oct 25th – May 1]

Crescent Beach Overlook | 20 participants [available Oct 25th – May 1]

High Bluff Overlook | 20 participants

Merriman Grove | 8 participants

Zig Zag #2 | 10 participants

Schmidt Grove | 20 participants

Prairie Creek Amphitheater | 20 participants [available Oct 25th – May 1]

Lost Man Creek Gate | 20 participants

Berry Glen | 6 participants

Note that permits are NOT issued for a few of the popular places such as Fern Canyon, Stout Grove, and Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail—those spots would be best for portraits rather than ceremonies!


Humboldt doesn’t have sites dedicated to ceremonies or special events; instead, you can just let them know where you’re thinking of hosting your ceremony and they’ll give you restrictions/requirements based on that location! The only places you can’t have your ceremony are Founders Grove, Rockefeller Forest, and California Federation of Womens’ Clubs Grove. 


You can tie the knot at Muir Beach, the Muir Beach Overlook, or in Muir Woods!


The website doesn’t list any specific locations approved for ceremonies, but it notably says that you cannot get married at the waterfall overlook, the waterfall overlook trail, McWay Falls, the Redwood Picnic Area, or the Ewoldsen/Canyon/Waters trails.

Do I need to pay an entrance fee to elope in the redwoods?

Yep, most of the time getting a Special Use Permit won’t waive any regular national or state park entrance fees. So you, your guests, and your vendors will need to pay those separately!

How to Get Your California Marriage License

Fortunately it’s pretty easy to get married in the state of California!! In addition to any required Special Use Permits, you’ll also need a California marriage license to get married in the California redwoods. . . duh. Now if you’re eloping in the OREGON redwoods, then you can check out my Simple Guide to Getting Your Oregon Marriage License instead!

To get married in California, you need to be at least 18 years old and have at least 1 witness present to make your ceremony legal, as well as an officiant. (I can officiate for you!!) Because there is no mandatory waiting period, you can get married as soon as you want once your license is issued to you! Just make sure you use your license within 90 days so it doesn’t expire and you have to go through the application process again. You can apply for your license through any county clerk’s office in California, and they’ll give you all the specifics you need to know about how to submit your application, pay your marriage license fee, and receive your final license.

Redwoods Elopement Photographer

It’s meeee! Clearly I adore the redwoods and adventuring around the southern Oregon + northern California coast with couples; obsessed, actually. If you wanna find a Redwoods elopement photographer who will give you all the best locations, timeline tips, help you plan your activities, and, of course, come document your amazing day, then you’ve found your gal! Get in touch with me here, I’m dying to hear all the details and create some amazing memories together 😉

Here are some more Cali elopement resources I think you’ll love!

Big Sur Elopement | Best Places to Elope in Big Sur

Ultimate Palm Springs Elopement Guide

Ultimate Death Valley National Park Elopement Guide

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow the adventures.