If I had to make a list of the world’s most underrated elopement locations, Crater Lake would definitely be towards the top of the list which is surprising considering how gorgeous and versatile this national park is. While you of course have the lake, you’ll also find waterfalls, forests, and wildflowers lining its trails. Surprisingly, Crater Lake only sees around 700,000 people a year which sounds like a lot, but when you compare it to other national parks like Yosemite’s 4 million visitors a year, Crater Lake looks and feels like a ghost town.

Picture standing at the edge of the lake exchanging vows as the sun peeks up from behind the mountains to then celebrate with some portraits in the forest and maybe at a nearby waterfall. To end the night, take a dip in the lake and have an experience you’ll never forget.

This blog post is filled with everything you need to know about how to elope in Crater Lake National Park. I’ve included information like the best places to elope, road closures, permit information, and so much more.

Crater Lake National Park.

4 Best Places to Elope in Crater Lake National Park

Whether you’re looking for the best overview of the lake itself or want to explore other scenery the park has to offer, these are the 4 best places to elope in Crater Lake National Park.

Pro tip: Check out the park’s entire list of locations here!

Discovery Point

If you’re looking for an incredible view of Crater Lake without having to do much hiking, I can’t recommend Discovery Point enough. The entire trail is 2.1 miles long, but you really need to only walk a few hundred feet to get a breathtaking view. This is one of my top choices for ceremonies, especially if you’re bringing a few guests along as there are multiple areas that can accommodate groups, and with lots of different lookout points, it’s easy to find a spot you can snag for yourself.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: No. The entire trail is 2.1 miles long but you don’t have to hike the whole thing to find an incredible location.
  • Crowd level: Fairly popular, plan for sunrise or sunset.
  • 360 degree view: Discovery Point

Garfield Peak

One of my favorite views of the lake can be found at the top of Garfield Peak. This is one of the parks most popular trails, and for good reason. After a steep 1.75 mile climb to the top, you’ll be wowed with an unforgettable panoramic view of the lake and valley below. If you’re up for some adventure or simply want the best view the park has to offer, you need to check out Garfield Peak.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: Yes. The entire trail is 3.5 miles roundtrip and is rated as moderate. It’s steep in most sections.
  • Crowd level: Busy, plan for sunrise or sunset.
  • 360 degree view: Garfield Peak

Watchman Peak

I can’t talk about Crater Lake and not bring up Watchman Peak which is arguably one of the best views in the park for its view of Wizard Island. I don’t love this location for ceremonies with guests only because the top of the trail is quite narrow. However, if you’re up for some portraits, I highly recommend this location.

  • Max capacity: 5
  • Hiking required: Yes. The entire trail is 1.7 miles roundtrip and is rated as moderate.
  • Crowd level: Fairly busy, plan for sunrise or sunset.
  • 360 degree view: Watchman Peak

Plaikni Falls

If you’re looking for something a bit different from the lake or want a second location for portraits, I highly recommend Plaikni Falls! This is one of the many different waterfalls around the Crater Lake area and is fun to explore on a hot summer day. If you visit in August, you may get a glimpse of the beautiful wildflowers that bloom along the trail.

  • Max capacity: 5
  • Hiking required: Yes, 2 miles roundtrip. The trail is very easy with little to no incline.
  • Crowd level: Not super busy, but I’d still plan for sunrise or sunset.
  • 360 degree view: Plaikni Falls

Best Time of Year to Elope in Crater Lake National Park

The best time of year to elope in Crater Lake National Park is July-September. However, each season has its pros and cons which you can read about below. You can also see this helpful graph I put together that shows the average temperature each month in the park.

Summer

The summer season is the perfect time to elope if you want nice weather and snow-free trails. The snow doesn’t melt until late-July, so I usually recommend the month of August to be sure that all locations are accessible and the roads are open. August is an incredible month for wildflowers as well if you’re looking to venture outside the rim of the lake. The only thing to note is that the summer months can be quite busy. Plan your ceremony to be around sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds.

Fall

Fall is an amazing time of year no matter where you go. I recommend the month of September or the beginning of October for cooler weather, minimal crowds, and open roads. Crater Lake starts to get snow in mid-October which triggers road closures in certain areas of the park.

Winter

Winter is by far the longest season is the park. This specific national park gets a whopping 42 feet of snow a year on average! During this season, winter sports in the area are alive and well. While specific entrances and roads of the park are closed for the season, the winter can be a magical time of year to explore. Rent some snowshoes or even take a snowmobile to arrive in style to your ceremony.

Spring

Crater Lake doesn’t really have a spring season. Because the snow doesn’t melt until mid-July, the park quickly shifts from winter into summer. During the traditional spring months of April and May, it’s going to be a lot like winter: snow, snow, and more snow.

How to Get a Permit for Your Crater Lake Elopement

If you want to elope at Crater Lake National Park, you’ll need a special use permit. It’s $50 and unlike most applications, has to be physically submitted via mail. Here’s what to do…

  1. Fill and print out the permit application.
  2. Mail the application and a non-refundable $50 application fee to the address found at the bottom of the page at least 8 weeks before your wedding or elopement.
  3. Once approved, you’ll be mailed back the final permit that you must bring with you on your wedding day.

There isn’t a ton of park staff at Crater Lake which means they’re extremely slow at responding to permit applications. A minimum of 8 weeks is required to apply, but I recommend applying 12 weeks in advance, just to be safe.

You can check out the official permit website here to get more information about their process.

Best Places to Stay at Crater Lake

Crater Lake National Park doesn’t have a ton of options when it comes to lodging. There are a few small towns on the outskirts of the park, but because the park is fairly remote, you may have to drive a bit to find lodging. I always recommend booking sooner than later, as most places on this list book up quick during the summer and fall months.

  • Crater Lake Lodge – Located right next to the visitor center, this is the closest place you can stay to the park. It books up quick though, so grab a spot while you can!
  • Crater Lake Cattle Company Ranch Cabin – A cozy modern cabin super close to the park. It’s also pet friendly and has some of the best stargazing spots!
  • Creekside Beaver Cabin – This gorgeous cabin has floor to ceiling windows and a pond right outside you can use for kayaking and exploring.
  • Crescent Lake Cabin – If an A-frame cabin is calling your name, you need to check this one out! Modern, cozy, and equipped with a wood fire place.
Crater Lake National Park.

Crater Lake National Park Road Closures

One of the biggest hurdles when it comes to planning an elopement in the park are the road closures. There are three entrances into Crater Lake: North Entrance Road, West Rim Drive, and East Rim Drive. From November to May, these entrances close down and are only open to snowmobiles. There is a small section of the park that’s open year-round but is dependent on snow-fall.

Both the North Entrance Road and West Rim Drive open around late-May to June, whereas the East Rim Drive doesn’t open until July.

You can check out a map of what roads are closed during the winter below, along with two charts that show the closing and opening dates of the road from the past few years.

Pro tip: Part of the rim drive closes for 2 days in September for a Ride the Rim event. You can find more information about that here!

Crater Lake Elopement Activities

If you’re planning an elopement at Crater Lake, don’t forget to plan some activities you can do before, on, or after your big day. Here are some of my favorite things to do in the area.

  • Hike the most popular trail at Crater Lake, Garfield Peak
  • Go stargazing after sunset – this park is known for its incredible stargazing!
  • Wake up early and watch the dramatic sunrise
  • Enjoy a cup of coffee with your loved one on the porch before your ceremony
  • Take an epic boat tour of the lake
  • Go on a guided snowshoe tour during the winter
  • Check out the nearby waterfalls
  • Go ziplining at Crater Lake Zipline
  • Travel a bit south and kayak on Upper Klamath Lake
  • Visit a local brewery
  • Polar plunge in Crater Lake (yes, you can swim in the lake!)
  • Visit the Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center and go bird watching

Crater Lake Elopement Packages

There aren’t many places as unique or breathtaking as Crater Lake National Park. If you’re set on eloping in the area, you’ve come to the right place. I’m Brianna. I live just a few hours from Crater Lake and love showing all my couples how incredible this place really is. If you’re trying to find the most private locations for a ceremony, need recommendations for hair and makeup, or want help filling out permit applications, I’m your girl. You can check out my pricing below or head over to my main packages page where you’ll find all my pricing information.

Crater Lake Elopement Package Pricing

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Crater Lake
  • A personalized elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
    • Personalized elopement location recommendations
    • Vendor, lodging, and activity recommendations
    • Assistance and information to help you with permits, licenses, etc.
    • 90+ page elopement planning guide filled with tips and tricks
    • Customized elopement timelines
    • Optional complimentary officiant services
  • Online gallery with full resolution images and printing rights
  • 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
  • Travel fees to anywhere in Oregon are already included
  • Starting at $6,500

Want more elopement inspiration? Check out my Mountain Elopement Guide, Washington State Elopement Guide, or Northern California Elopement Guide.

Don’t forget your FREE elopement guide!

An all-in-one planning guide for all things elopements! Whether you’re hoping to hike through the mountains of Washington or sip a margarita on the beaches of California, this comprehensive elopement guide has everything you need to know about how to plan the perfect elopement.


A girl holding a camera and smiling.

You? You’re the kind of person that gets a lil’ teary eyed looking at an epic view…

That moment when you turn to the person you’re with and ask, “Are you seeing this?” I live for it. Places with trees and mountains and soft breezes that make you say, “I can’t believe this place exists,” I spend pretty much all of my free time searching for and exploring them.

These places have always felt like home to me. And if you’re the kind of person who also feels more at home surrounded by trees than by people? Then we’ll get along really well. The Pacific Northwest is full of secret spots that are too special to share with just anyone. But it would make me happy to share them with you on your wedding day.

If the mountains/beaches/redwood forests are calling your name, go ahead…

(I promise you won’t regret it.)

P.S. I’m Brianna. My mission is to create custom, one-of-a-kind elopement experiences in the Pacific Northwest that allow couples to fully immerse themselves in the highest levels of excitement and wonder on a day designed exclusively for them.

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