Olympic National Park Elopement Guide
by a Washington State Elopement Photographer
If you plan on getting married in Olympic National Park you do not want to miss this guide we have put together from years of visiting, hiking, climbing and photographing weddings there! Olympic National Park in Washington offers so much variety when it comes to planning an adventure elopement. It is one of the most diverse National Park in the United States. The park itself has mountains, clear lakes, beaches, a rain forest and a variety of wildlife and activities to do. The park offers locations to anyone for any level of adventure. The accessibility to stunning places is unreal. If you are looking to elope somewhere that is super dreamy, easy to get to and filled with beauty and wildlife you have found the right spot. It is one of the top places to elope in Washington and this guide is here to tell you everything you need to know about how to elope in the National Park. This is one of my favorite parks for a multi-day elopement to get to go to all of the different ecosystems and check them out or for backpacking! Check out the check list below to help you in planning in the most basic form and then read the blog for ideas, and more!
When to Elope in Olympic National Park:
June to Early October is the best time to elope here due to colder temperatures the other months. During the busy season of the Summer, I recommend eloping at certain locations at sunrise. For example the Hurricane Ridge area is less busy and has active wild life in the morning. At sunset, the coast is at its peak in beauty. During the summer months you can expect clouds, rain, and temperatures in the 60s. The weather can change drastically throughout the park during the day. If you want to elope in the winter Hurricane Ridge again, is perfect for snowy mountain views and winter activity.
Where can you elope in Olympic National Park?
With one million acres to explore in this national park it can be hard to decide where you may want to elope here or know where to start! The park has some areas that some of the top elopement locations in the United States and others non-as well known spots that are just as beautiful to say I do at. Below are some places maybe you have already seen before that are classic elopement locations!
Ruby Beach Elopement
Ruby beach is a perfect elopement location if you love rocky, moody shore lines. There are huge rocks all along the ocean with a vast shoreline. The walk from the parking lot to the main area is super short, but it is steep. On a clear day in Washington it is one of the most magical places to catch the sunset. Ruby beach is near the HOH, the tree of life and several other beaches. However, it is on the most Southern side of the park so other than that it is not near much else. Ruby beach is just one of the many along the 65 miles of coast line the park has. Some of our other favorite beaches to consider is Rialto, Third beach and more. Note: you can not have a fire on Ruby beach shoreline.
Hurricane Ridge Elopement
Hurricane Ridge is one of the easiest mountain tops to reach in the Olympics as you can simply drive to the top. This elopement location within Olympic National Park is also probably the closest one to a main town with amenities, Port Angeles. Just an 18 mile drive will take you to an amazing mountain view. Once you are there though there are several trails you can choose from elope on, some more private than others, but all of them will have you in a sea of mountain vista views. Here you will find the most friendly dear around, they may even follow you down the trial, but remember to follow LNT and do not feed or approach the deer. Also, along this area you can hike into some alpine lakes or go backpacking!
HOH Rainforest Elopement
Deep into the park you will find the lush HOH Rainforest, which gets 12 feet of rain a year! This is a great location to start off your elopement day(s) in Olympic National Park. Once side of the short rail into the rainforest brings you deep into the woods, ferns and moss and the other side will take you to the river. This location is very family friendly and easy to do. Note however, during season and on weekends you can easily wait 1 hour for parking here, so plan ahead! There are several other areas in the park that also have ferns, moss and lush forests if you like the look of the rainforest, but don’t want to venture out that way.
Lake Crescent Elopement
Lake Crescent is over 600ft deep and is known for its deep blue color. The lake has several came grounds on it and lake houses you can rent, making it a perfect place to stay in the park. It is also a great place to elope in the park! There are several shoreline spots that are family friendly and a lovely place to hold your ceremony with friends and family followed by a picnic. On the same side of the lake as the Lodge is one of the only dog friendly trails that goes across a bridge, through a tunnel and eventually opens up to great views of the lake. Not only is the lake a great place, but from the parking lot at the lake is several iconic elopement locations that offer an easy hike to a water fall and a longer harder hike to an incredible vista view overlooking the mountains and lake. On a clear day from this trail you can also see the ocean, Canada and a beautiful sunset!
Olympic National Forest Elopement Locations
There are several elopement locations that are just as stellar as those in the National Park in the National Forest. The great thing about eloping in a National Forest is that there can be less people, less rules around ceremony locations and more dog friendly. Some of these include Lake Cushman, several hikes that go to peaks leaving from the Lake Cushman area, hidden waterfalls and some epic hikes within the mountain range outside of Port Townsend. There is also some climbing routes located near Lake Cushman if you want to include that on your elopement day.
Things to do on your elopement day in Olympic National Park:
- Camp on the beach, in the forest, by the lake or glamp at a nearby Airbnb stay
- Surf at Rialto Beach
- Have a picnic
- Explore the coast
- Kayak, boat, or paddle board on the lake
- Relax in some hot springs
- Back Pack to hidden lakes
- Hike to an overview
- See a waterfall or two
- Go Fishing
- Go Rock Climbing by a river
- Enjoy a sunset from a mountain peak or on the shore
- Star gaze for the milky way
- Fly a kite on the shore
- Watch for Eagles
- Have a meal in Port Angeles
- Go Whale Watching from Port Angeles
How to get Legally Married in Olympic National Park:
In the state of Washington you will need an officiant and two witnesses to legally become married. We are both ordained and can officiate for you or sign as your officiant as you do a more private ceremony. The other options are to have one of your elopement guests to become ordained on the ULC site and perform your ceremony. Prior to the ceremony you will need to apply for your marriage license, which you can do at at the county government’s auditor’s office or online. There is a three day waiting period to obtain your license so if you plan to apply for your permit in person you will need to be there several days in advance. You must get married within 60 days of obtaining your license, or it becomes invalid. Fees for your marriage license are different per county. After you have held your ceremony and the documents are signed, do not forget to mail them back to the county office!! Since marriage license in Washington are based by county you can visit this goverment site to direct you to the right county for you elopement.
Olympic National Park Wedding Permit
As far as legally getting married within the park you will need to download the special use permit form on the National Park’s website and either mail or email it in after filling out all of the information requested. I recommend doing this at least 3 weeks in advance from your elopement day. Currently the park’s rules are that if you have 5 people or less at your elopement you do not need a permit, but we recommend always double checking with the ranger to make sure things haven’t changed.
If you do plan to get married in Olympic National Park with more than 5 people you can still get married there you just need the permit and need to hold your ceremony in an approved location. Majority of these locations are on the coast or near picnic areas, some of which have great views. Keep in mind the larger your group the more restrictions in location you will have. We suggest not planning to elope in the park with no more than 15 people. We recommend pulling your permit around 60 days in advance or earlier if you can. If you want to elope here, but do not want to take anyone off of your guest list we recommend checking out these small wedding venues in the area to hold your ceremony at and then you two can go on your own adventure in the park
Small Wedding Venues Near Olympic Naitonal Park
- Fern Acres This wedding venue is located near Forks, WA making it a perfect place to have your ceremony, celebrate privately with family and friends then head to Rialto Beach for a fire or hike up Mount Storm King for sunset just you two!
- Off Path Venue If you are looking for something unique, that also includes your stay and is dog friendly, this could be a great option!
- Lake Quinault Lodge This lodge is apart of the park sitting on a lake right in between the National Park and the National forest on the south side making this a great location if you want to go to Ruby Beach or hike to some epic over looks in the forest.
Olympic National Park Elopement Packages
We are a Washington based elopement team, we offer photo, video, assistance planning, day of coordinating and officiating. Our elopement packages start at $5600. Our packages start at a mini elopement which includes 4 hours and goes all the way up to multi-day options. It is important to know that some of the most epic trails to elope on in the park and in the NF are long and driving between locations can take hours, these are things you want to keep in mind when selecting your elopement package. Here are some example timelines for an elopement in Olympic so you can get an idea of how our packages work.
Full Day elopement in Olympic National Park:
Photo/Video arrive for getting ready photos at cabin on the lake.
Everyone leaves for first look at ceremony with family + friends at the Lake.
First look on dock.
Ceremony at the shore followed by family photos + lite picnic.
Couple + team head off for hike to see falls and get to top of the mountain view point.
Private vows, sunset + champagne. Hike back down.
Milky Way photos back at dock, coverage ends once back at parking lot.
Sunrise/Sunset Elopement in Olympic National park:
Meet at Parking Lot at Hurricane Ridge + do a Milky Way Photo.
Start hike to ceremony location.
Arrive, couple gets ready together + shares their vows.
Make morning coffee and sit together to read letters from family.
Hike back to cars for a break.
Meet back up at couples cabin for photos of them cooking their dinner together.
Pack up + head to the beach.
Hike out to rock to watch for Eagles, hike back and pick a log to sit on for dinner with a camp fire.
Sunset Portraits + Hike back.
Multi-Day Elopement in Olympic Naitonal Park:
Meet up with couple + family at dock for a whale watching tour.
Arrive back at dock and head to Airbnb in Port Angeles for a group dinner, toasts + dances.
End for the evening.
Arrive back at cabin for couples getting ready photos in the am.
Head to beach nearby for ceremony + picnic with family (may do some horseshoes + volleyball)
Leave with couple for sunset hike on the mountain for portraits + private vows + sealing a wine box.
Star photo as we hike back towards car.
How to Get to Olympic National Park:
The park has many access points! Because the park is so big how you get there will really be determined by where you are going in the park, we also recommend keeping this in mind when booking your accommodation. The closest airports to fly into is Seattle which is 2.5 hours away and Portland which is 4 hours away. Note from these locations you will need to rent a car and drive to the park, you can not get here or around the park easily with public transit.
You can also get to Port Angeles, which is the largest town near the park via a ferry. From Victoria B.C. it is a 2.5 hour ferry ride making this a great United States Elopement location for Canadians or honeymoon location for after you elope in the park. If you are coming from Seattle and want to cut out some of the drive time you can take the Washington State Ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and drive the rest of the way. The ferry is a super great option if you are coming from Bellingham or another area in the Northern part of the state to take the ferry from Coupeville (on whidbey island) to Port Townsend.
*** Important Note if you plan to take a ferry! You need to make a reservation online in advance to drive on the ferry. They release booking dates 2 months in advance, 2 weeks and 2 days in advance.
Where to Stay in Olympic National Park:
Within the park there are many campgrounds you can stay in that are privately owned or you can stay at a campsite within the park. One of the best campgrounds in the park is Mora, which is located near Rialto Beach and Fairholme Campground, on the rim of Lake Crescent. You can also stay right on the beach via an easy 1.5 mile hike or via backpacking the coast line! You have to have a permit to do so, but this is easily obtained by booking on reservation.gov, but make sure you have a tide chart to make sure your tent does not get swept away in the night! If you want to camp in the park we highly suggest booking those at a minimum of 3 months in advance because they can sell out as early as a 6 months in advance! Private camping in this area is found on Airbnb and Hipcamp, we have several personally favorite camp sites in this area from Hipcamp, one being an alpaca farm in Port Angeles.
If back packing or camping is not your jam check out some of these other stay options in or around the park:
- Lake Crescent Lodge
- Lake Quinault Lodge
- Sol Duc Springs Lodge
- Log Cabin Resort
- Three Rivers Resort – Cabins + Camping (also home of a really great burger and shake!)
- This Coastal Airbnb Cabin, that sometimes allows ceremonies in the yard. Note: this is the same cabin the photo to the left was taken 🙂
- This A-frame with a hot tub.
- This perfect home for a group to stay in, complete with it’s own piano located closer to the lake.
What to pack for your trip to Olympic National Park + Other Helpful Tips:
- All your basic wedding things like outfits, vows, marriage license, rings, etc
- Rain jacket, extra layers for under or over your clothing for the day.
- Your America the Beautiful Pass (this can be purchased upon arrival)
- Service can be very limited so you want to bring a map! Or have the map of the area already downloaded on your phone. One of our favorite map tools to use is Gaia.
- Hiking Boots
- Bug Spray
- Bear Canister if you plan to do any camping
- Cash if you want to pick up any firewood in the area for a camp fire (note you are only allowed to burn local wood in this region)
- Snacks + Water because there are limited amenities once inside of the park.
- WAG bags if we will be in locations not near bathrooms.
Olympic National Park Elopement Photographer
Hey! I am Traci, half of the Adventure and Vow team 🙂 Olympic National Park was the first National Park I went to and it totally swept me away with it’s magic. Since then I have spent almost every birthday of mine there enjoy the coast, forest and mountains. It is a wonderful place to get married and we are here to help you do just that! We are a husband and wife team offering photo, video, assistance in planning and we are both ordained! We live in the Northern part of Washington state, so we know these mountains well and love sharing the PNW wonder with couples on their wedding day!
“My husband and I had been together nearly 10 years before we got engaged. We instantly knew that when we wanted to get married, we wanted something low key, stress free, and just for us.
The idea popped into my head, let’s go to the west coast and elope! (We live on the east coast). I honestly just searched on Google the most beautiful/magical places to elope and the PNW came up. I did some research and I knew this was the place. A place to begin our journey to marriage and a place to make new memories. I saw some of Traci’s photography on Instagram and was completely floored by how amazing her work is. I instantly e-mailed her and I’m so grateful I did, because our experience working with Traci and Bill was nothing short of wonderful.
From the very beginning, they felt like long lost friends. Communication was seamless and the anticipation and excitement up to and on our day was always present. They held our hand through the whole process from beginning to end and left no detail unturned. Their professionalism and preparation are something to admire. Not only did they capture every moment of our day, they took us to dinner the night before our elopement so we could get to know each other. Traci gave us endless recommendations on things to do/see for our trip. Gave us constant updates and reminders. I could go on and on, but to say they go above and beyond for the couples they work with is a complete understatement.
We had never been photographed together and were extremely nervous, but you would never know because Traci and Bill are that good! They were so patient with us and gave us all the guidance we needed. What they do is extremely special…and it takes two genuinely amazing people who are passionate and truly care about their work to create experiences like this for others. They are not only photographers/videographers, they are friends, wedding planners, adventurers, improvisers, problem solvers, always prepared, great at recommendations, active listeners, easy to talk to, and are down for anything!
Bill officiated and put together our ceremony. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was beautiful and felt like it was written just for us. So thankful Traci could be one of our witnesses also, considering it was just us. Even after a long eventful day starting on the mountains and ending at the coast, Traci sent me our sneak peaks that night. I also couldn’t believe how fast we received our entire gallery and our elopement video. Seeing our full elopement story on their blog on their website, was truly special and I am still shocked and in awe. I feel like it was just yesterday, even though we got married back in the beginning of August.
This whole experience was completely out of our comfort zone and was scary at first, but I can not be more grateful/thankful that this is what we decided to do. Once we found Traci and Bill the fear went away and it was probably the easiest/best thing we ever did. I can’t say enough great things about these two, and I will recommend them over and over again to anyone who is looking for a similar experience!
I hope someday we cross paths again. When we travel out west in the future, we know who to contact for an anniversary shoot! <3″ – Jac + Ryan, 2021 Olympic Naitonal Park