If you’ve been dreaming of getting married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, you’re in the right place. Humboldt Redwoods State Park is home to the largest old growth contiguous redwood forest in the world and also home to one of the most iconic roads, Avenue of the Giants. Whether you’re local to the area or visiting for the first time, you’ll be sure to be blown away by everything this corner of the world has to offer.

As a Northern California elopement photographer, I’m constantly baffled at how many couples didn’t even know this place existed and I’m here to change that. This guide has all the information you need to know about how to get married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, from best ceremony sites to permit information, this is the ultimate Humboldt Redwoods State Park wedding and elopement guide.

Looking for information about Redwood National Park? I have a guide for that too! Check that out here!

Why Get Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park?

You have endless options when it comes to choosing the perfect ceremony location, so why should you choose Humboldt Redwoods State Park? We both know it’s beautiful, but those aren’t the only reasons this location should be considered…

It’s Not Crowded

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is truly a hidden gem, especially when you compare it to the famous Redwood National Park. It’s not uncommon to get entire trails or groves to yourself here, especially when you visit during the off-season.

It’s Open Year-Round

If you’re looking for a snow-free location in December, look no further. Humboldt Redwoods State Park, while it can be rainy in the winter, is open and accessible year-round in most locations of the park.

Lots of Location Options for Guests

It can be intimidating planning an outdoor wedding or elopement, especially if you’re bringing guests along for the ride. Luckily, the park has a plethora of outdoor locations that require no hiking whatsoever.

Close to the Coast

One of my favorite things about this park is its proximity to some of Northern California’s most beautiful, remote beaches. As someone who has been up and down the entire coast multiple times, the beaches in the area will always be my favorite.

How to Get Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

I’ll dive into each of these topics throughout the article, but here’s a great overview of all the steps you need to take to plan your wedding in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

  1. Choose your location
  2. Pick the best time of year
  3. Hire any vendors
  4. Book your travel
  5. Get a wedding permit
  6. Get a California marriage license
  7. Pack and prepare
  8. Get married!

5 Best Wedding Locations in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Before we dive into all the best places to get married in the park, it’s important to note that some locations in the park are off-limits for weddings. This includes the following locations:

  • California Federation of Womens’ Clubs Grove
  • Founders Grove
  • Rockefeller Forest

It’s also important to note that any weddings near Drury Chaney Grove/Trail or Grieg French Bell Grove will require a park monitor which is an additional fee. Last time I checked, I believe it was $100 per hour.

That being said, there are still some incredible locations to choose from. Here are the 5 best wedding venues in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Williams Grove

Williams Grove is my personal favorite wedding venue in the park for a few different reasons. First, the grove is large enough to accommodate up to 100 people which is something you won’t find in most other redwood parks. Second, it’s right next to the South Fork Eel River which is a phenomenal spot for portraits. Lastly, it’s right off the Avenue of the Giants Road which is another popular spot for pictures.

  • Max capacity: 100
  • Hiking required: No.
  • Crowd estimate: Fairly popular, though the area is large so it’s easy to find a secluded spot if needed. I recommend planning your ceremony to be around sunrise or sunset.
  • Good to know: This location is only available mid-May to mid-September.

Drury-Chaney Trail

The Drury-Chaney Trail is one of my all-time favorites in the area. It’s definitely second to William’s Grove. This trail will have you feeling like you’ve just stepped into Jurassic Park. The lush green ferns are out of this world and the redwoods, of course, are grand. If you’re open to it, there’s an epic road road across the way that will take you right up against the river. The open landscape near the river is unmatched.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: Yes, an easy 2.1 roundtrip walk, though you don’t need to walk the whole thing.
  • Crowd estimate: Popular, expect people.
  • Good to know: This location requires a park monitor regardless of wedding size, which I believe is $100 per hour. It’s also close to the main highway so expect traffic noice.

Big Trees Day Use Area

Another one of my personal favorite wedding sites is the Big Tree Day Use Area which is home to some of the largest trees in the park. This location is about 10-15 minutes from the main road which means it’s very quiet and peaceful. Similar to Williams Grove, this location is also along a water source, the Bull Creek. There are tons of off-the-beaten-path trails in this area that are worth exploring.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: No, but I do recommend walking along some of the trails for photos.
  • Crowd estimate: Not super popular, though I would still plan for sunrise or sunset in order to avoid crowds.
  • Good to know: This location requires a park monitor regardless of wedding size, which I believe is $100 per hour.

Stephen’s Grove Loop Trail

If you’re looking for a lesser-traveled trail in the park, I highly recommend checking out Stephen’s Grove Loop Trail. This is a small, flat trail just outside of Miranda. Because it’s a bit more south than the other locations, this one tends to get skipped over, but it shouldn’t! This grove is perfect if you’re looking for that mix of large redwoods and ferns. It’s one of my top recommendations, especially for elopements in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: Yes, an easy 0.8 miles roundtrip stroll. There is no elevation gain.
  • Crowd estimate: Not super popular, though I would still plan for sunrise or sunset in order to secure parking.
  • Good to know: The parking lot is small and can only fit around 3-4 cars.

Franklin K. Lane Grove

Last but not least, we have Franklin K. Lane Grove which similar to Stephen’s Loop, is located a bit more south than the main groves in the park which means it’s a bit less popular than the other spots on this list. One of the main appeals of this location is the clover-covered floor which spans across the entire trail. During the winter and spring, there are even some seasonal creeks which is a nice touch. Plus, it’s right across the road from the river.

  • Max capacity: 10
  • Hiking required: Yes, an easy 0.5 mile roundtrip walk.
  • Crowd estimate: Fairly well known, I would expect a few people.
  • Good to know: The trail can get a bit muddy in the winter.

Best Time of Year to Get Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is open year-round which means you can get married here any time of the year. However, some months may be better than others depending on the kind of experience you’re looking for. Generally, the spring and fall season are the two best times of year to visit the park.

April, May, and June

The spring season in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in undoubtedly the best time of year to visit. Temperatures are cool, crowds are practically nonexistent, and the woods are at their peak. This is the time of year where they will be the most lush and green and where the nearby rivers will be the most full.

The only thing to note about the spring season is that it can come with occasional spring showers. The weather this time of year can be a bit unpredictable so it’s important to pack layers for your trip.

July, August, and September

Summer is a great time to visit if you’re looking for cool, dry weather. However, this is also a very popular time to visit. While the park doesn’t see crowds as high as places like Yosemite or Redwood National Park, you still may run into groups of people along the trails and full parking lots.

If you’re hoping to visit the nearby coast, this would be the time of year to do so. In the mornings, the park sees marine layer clouds (fog) which is a magical experience.

October and November

You won’t see much color change during the fall season since redwoods don’t change color. However, similar to spring, this is another incredible time to visit. The temperatures are cool and the summer crowds have headed back home for the season.

Unlike the spring season, fall doesn’t come with much rain which is always a plus. Behind spring, this would be the best time of year to plan your wedding or elopement in Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

December, January, February, and March

The winter is a very underrated time of year to elope in the park. While you may experience rainfall, the mist and fog that comes along with it is a magical experience. This is the park’s shoulder season which means you can easily find empty trails and score some lodging deals. The downside of the winter season is that it can get fairly chilly and some of the trails may be a bit muddy.

How to Get to Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The closest airport to Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the Arcata/Eureka Airport which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes away from the park. However, this airport is pretty small and doesn’t have a ton of flight options.

Most couples fly into the San Francisco International Airport and make the 4 hour and 20 minute drive from there. You can also fly into Sacramento or Redding. Both of those airports have similar travel times but are usually more expensive than San Francisco.

Do You Need a Permit to Get Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park?

Yes. If you want to elope or get married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park you’ll need a permit.

Unfortunately, the park still uses a mail-in permit application process which can be a bit slow. Before we move onto the steps, it’s important to note that the permit must be submitted anytime from 6 months to 4 weeks before your wedding day, not sooner or later.

Here are the steps you need to take in order to get a permit for your wedding:

  1. Before you fill out the application, call the permit coordinator at (707) 572-9626 to confirm a specific date and location. Some locations require an additional fee or a monitor which needs to be paid when you mail in your application.
  2. You will then be sent the permit application via email. You can see what the application looks like here.
  3. Fill it out. Be sure to include the name and contact information of your wedding planner or officiant if applicable.
  4. Submit your signed and completed application with a non-refundable $150 fee (or whatever fee was discussed over the phone). The $150 fee has to be paid by a check payable to “Department of Parks and Recreation” or by a money order.
  5. Mail it to Racheal Marte-Taylor, North Coast Redwoods District, P.O. Box 2006, Eureka, CA 95502.
  6. Once it has been approved, the park will sign it and return the final copy.

For more information, check out the official permit page on their site here.

Pro tip: Your photographer should be extremely familiar with this process. Ask them for help if needed. If you hire a photographer who specializes in elopements in the park (wink, wink), they should know exactly how to fill out the application.

How to Get a Marriage License for Your Humboldt Redwoods State Park Wedding

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is located in Humboldt County. Luckily, you don’t need to get a marriage license in the county you’ll be getting married in. This is especially convenient for couples flying into San Francisco, as the County Clerk’s office is located in Eureka which is about 45 minutes north of the park. If this is the case, I recommend getting your marriage license in San Francisco so you don’t have to drive more than needed.

However, if you’re already in the area, I recommend getting your marriage license in Humboldt County. The process is super easy. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Fill out the online marriage license application.
  2. At the end of the application, you’ll pay for your license.
  3. You’ll then go to the Clerk Recorder’s Office between the hours of 10:30am and 4:00pm Monday-Friday to finish your application and pick up your license. You must appear in-person together. Don’t forget to bring your IDs. No appointment is necessary.

That’s it! For more information about getting a marriage license in Humboldt County, check out their official site here.

Do You Need an Officiant and Witness for Your Humboldt Redwoods State Park Wedding?

Yes, you will need an officiant and one witness per California law.

Pro tip: Don’t want to hire an officiant? I’m ordained and officiate ceremonies as part of my Northern California elopement packages! You can also have a friend or family member officiate your ceremony if they become ordained online for free.

Can I Bring My Dog?

Unfortunately, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is not a dog-friendly location. However, there are a few dog-friendly sites just outside park boundaries if you’re interested in bringing your furry friend along.

Where to Stay for Your Humboldt Redwoods State Park Wedding

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is surrounded by a ton of small towns. Here are some of my personal favorites and recommendations on where to stay if you’re eloping or getting married in the park.

Miranda

Miranda is a charming town of around 500 people. There’s a small grocery store, the cutest cafe, and a great coffee shop. If you’re looking to stay as close to the park as possible, Miranda borders right on the park and is a great option.

BEL Rancho – A charming forest cabin just a few minutes outside of town. This particular Airbnb will have you feeling like you’re staying in a treehouse. Super cozy and private!

Pepperwood Place – A beautiful two bedroom, two bathroom home located within a private gated estate on 5 acres. It’s modern, simple, and located just a few minutes from town.

Caraway Cottage – A super charming red cabin with a gorgeous deck, a large meadow, and even a pond. This is a wildlife lovers paradise!

Garberville

Garberville is one of my personal favorite places to stay. It’s about 30 minutes south of the park but has immense charm. Explore Alderpoint Road which will reward you with grand views of the rolling hills or explore the cute shops and eateries.

Hexagon Cabin – I’ve stayed here and I can tell you without a doubt that it’s my favorite Airbnb I’ve ever stayed in. Not only is the location amazing, but the property is gorgeous. You can take a bath outside with 360 degree views. Talk about a experience to remember!

Caraway Cottage – Stay right on the Benbow Golf Course in this rustic log cabin. It’s within walking distance to the Historic Benbow Inn and a local convenience store.

The Groves at Redway Beach – This gorgeous cabin is located right along the river. Enjoy and afternoon stroll through the redwoods in the backyard and end the night with a sunset toast looking out at the water.

Ferndale

Ferndale is a quaint Victorian village on the north coast of California and one of my favorite places to visit. It’s about 30 minutes north of the park. It’s extremely close to the coast and offers couples a variety of things to do and see in the area.

Ranch School House – An 1800s farm with views that go on for miles. You will be surrounded by beautiful scenery with horses and cattle found out every window of the house. Plus, it’s only 4 miles from the coast.

Ferndale Barndominium – A quaint and rustic guesthouse in the heart of downtown Ferndale. It’s within walking distance of all the shops and one of the best places for “getting ready” photos on your special day.

Buzzard’s Peak – If you’re looking for never-ending views, you need to check out this villa located just outside of Ferndale. Enjoy a pool, sauna, outdoor shower, and a 5 minute walking distance to Russ Park.

Things to Do in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Whether you’ve been to the area hundreds of times or your a first time visitor, here are a list of some of my favorite activities and sites to check out in the area.

  • Visit the Shrine Drive Thru Tree and drive through a redwood.
  • There are 50 remaining albino redwoods in the world. Visit 6 of them in the park.
  • Travel to Ferndale and explore the victorian town.
  • Drive out to the coast to explore some of Northern California’s black sand beaches.
  • Stop at Sips for some organic coffee right before the park entrance.
  • Enjoy a picnic at California Federation of Womens’ Clubs Grove.
  • Drive the famous Avenue of the Giants road.
  • Take a dip in the South Fork Eel Road.

3 Tips for Getting Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

As an elopement photographer in the area, there are a few things I like to tell my couples about before they make the trip, especially if they’re first time visitors!

Bring Dramamine

Especially if you’re making your way out to the coast afterwards. The roads in this area are windy. If you don’t do well with windy roads, I highly recommend packing some dramamine for the drive.

It’s Remote

Don’t expect to find stores like Walmart and Target near the park. You’re going to have to drive quite awhile to get to one. Most of the businesses in the area are local. It’s not a place where you’re going to find hair salons or five star restaurants.

There’s No Cell Service

The park is a bit off-the-grid. While you’ll get cell service in most of the surrounding towns, it’s fairly weak within the park. Prepare ahead by downloading your maps and trail offline.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park Wedding Photographer

I’m Brianna, a Northern California wedding and elopement photographer who specializes in Humboldt Redwoods State Park weddings. Check out my main pricing page here or take a look below to see how I can help make your Humboldt redwoods elopement dreams come true.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park Elopement Packages

  • 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Humboldt Redwoods State Park
  • 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
  • Complimentary album design
  • 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
  • Travel fees to anywhere in California are already included
  • Starting at $6,500

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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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