Olympic National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world for an adventure wedding or elopement. The park is located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest and is the only national park in Washington that’s accessible year-round. Not only this, but Olympic National Park is the most diverse national park in the United States with 3 distinct ecosystems. Lush rainforests, snow-capped mountains, wildflower meadows, rushing waterfalls, and rocky coastlines, are just a few of the many different landscapes you can find within Olympic National Park. Aside from its immense beauty, Olympic is also known for its abundance of wildlife. From deer and mountain goats to whales and salmon, Olympic offers couples so much more than just beautiful landscapes.
If you’re looking to plan an Olympic National Park wedding or elopement, this guide covers everything you need to know. From choosing the best elopement locations and lodging, to securing a Washington marriage license and booking an elopement photography package, I’ve got you covered. As an Olympic National Park elopement photographer, I decided to put together the most complete guide out there about how to elope in Olympic National Park to make the planning process seamless. So whether you’re on the fence or set on eloping in Olympic National Park, you’re in the right place. Let’s dive straight into it!
How to Get to Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is located 2 to 3.5 hours away from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, depending on what side of the park you’re traveling to. Most people stay in Port Angeles for their trip, making it a 2.5 hour drive from the airport. The easiest way to reach the park is to rent a car from the airport and make the drive from there.
For couples who are staying in the area longer and want to explore as much of the Pacific Northwest as possible, I recommend flying into the Portland International Airport and driving up the coastline to Olympic. While it is a longer drive, the scenery is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s a great way to see as much of the park as possible.
10 Best Places to Elope in Olympic National Park
From jagged mountain peaks to vibrant green rainforests, this is a list of the 10 best places to elope in Olympic National Park.
Hurricane Ridge is probably my favorite place in Olympic National Park to visit (and photograph). It’s the most accessible mountain location in the park and requires no hiking to reach, which makes it a great option for guests with disabilities, couples who don’t want to hike, or weddings with small kids. Hurricane Ridge is also known for its large population of deer, numerous hiking trails, and summer stargazing tours. Due to its popularity, a sunrise or sunset ceremony is highly encouraged. Due to its high elevation, Hurricane Ridge gets snow from November-June but is still accessible if you’re hoping for a winter wonderland elopement.
Pro tip: Hire an elopement photographer who is extremely familiar with the area, as they may know of several secret spots with zero crowds (wink, wink)!
Check out an elopement I photographed at Hurricane Ridge here!
Lake Crescent is one of the those locations you just need to see to believe. Most people opt to say their vows on the famous pier located right next to the Lake Crescent Lodge (a place you can actually stay for your elopement). Lake Crescent is quiet, has beautiful views, and is the perfect spot for a wedding no matter the time of day. However, this spot is extremely popular during the summer months. The shoreline gets packed with people sunbathing, paddleboarding, and kayaking (which you can actually rent the day-of your elopement at the shore), so plan your ceremony around sunrise or sunset. There are numerous hiking trails, a stunning hidden forest trail, and other secret ceremony locations I know about all around the shoreline.
Check out an elopement I photographed at Lake Crescent here!
The Hoh Rainforest
I couldn’t make a list of the best places to elope in Olympic National Park and not include the famous Hoh Rainforest. The Hoh Rainforest is the quietest spot in the continental United States. It also just so happens to be the most popular spot in the entire park. This rainforest has everything you think of when thinking about the Pacific Northwest – fog, rain, ferns, and forest. The most popular trail in the forest is called the Hall of Mosses Trail. This specific trail is where most couples decide to exchange their vows, though it tends to be busy until around sunset. Consider a less-traveled trail or road pull-off for more privacy.
Pro tip: I know of several secret rainforests in the park that look just like the Hoh Rainforest without all the people! Prefer to be in the Hoh Rainforest itself? I may know a spot or two.
Check out an elopement I photographed in the Hoh Rainforest here!
Ruby Beach is one of Olympic National Park’s most famous beaches. It’s located right outside of Forks, Washington. Yes, the famous town featured in Twilight! The beach is a super cool and unique place, but it can get quite crowded around mid-morning, and definitely during the afternoon. However, the beach is a mile long, so walking a bit further than most do will grant you more privacy. Ruby Beach is the picturesque beach you think of when thinking of the Pacific Northwest. Fog, driftwood, forest, and rock formations. What more could you need?
Pro tip: Ruby Beach is a dog-friendly location!
Check out an elopement I photographed at Ruby Beach here!
Lake Cushman is an incredibly scenic lake right on the border of Olympic National Park. The lake is close to a few forest hiking trails, waterfalls, and campsites. Like most lakes in the summer, it’s full of people swimming, paddling, and kayaking. However, come during sunset and you’re almost guaranteed to have this entire place to yourself. There’s also an adorable town nearby (Hoodsport) with a population of only 139 people that serves hot dogs and ice cream in the summer. Lake Cushman is a bit further from Olympic National Park’s most popular locations, though a great spot if you’re looking for something closer to Seattle.
See the elopement I photographed pictured below here.
Rialto Beach is located a bit up the road from Ruby Beach and is at the base of the Quillayute River. Rialto is known for its sea stacks, geological formations, and driftwood. There are lots hiking trails all around the beach, the most famous being the hole in the wall trail, a 3.3 mile trail along the coast that can only be accessed during low tide. The trail is known for having some incredible tidepools and other sea life. Rialto Beach a great location to get married at within Olympic National Park, especially if you want to avoid some of the more crowded beaches nearby like Ruby and Kalaloch.
Pro tip: Rialto Beach is a dog-friendly location!
Madison Falls is one of my favorite hidden gems within the park. Not many people know about this waterfall, but it’s those who do know just how special it is. A short paved trail will take you to the base of Madison Falls, a 50-foot waterfall in Olympic. It’s ADA accessible and a great location for guests who can’t walk very far. This area gets fairly crowded during the day, so I recommend getting here early in the morning. Getting to the base of the falls is one of the many perks of this stunning location, as just across the street, you can access the Elwha River, backed by the Olympic mountain range.
Pro tip: Madison Falls is a dog-friendly location!
Is a waterfall elopement in Olympic National Park a must? If so, be sure to check out Marymere Falls. It’s a short 1-mile hike to reach the falls, and along the way are tons of beautiful spots for pictures. While the falls are not overly huge, they still make a great spot for an elopement, especially because you won’t have to yell over all the rushing water! If you’re looking for something more grand, don’t you worry. Olympic National Park is home to 10,000 different waterfalls! Due to its proximity to other sites like Lake Crescent and Mount Storm King, this is one of the busier falls in Olympic, and there isn’t much room near the base, so be sure to plan your ceremony to avoid being here during the peak times of day.
Check out an elopement photographed at Marymere Falls here!
Kalaloch Beach/The Tree of Life
Kalaloch Beach is composed of 4 different beaches, though the first is the most famous, as it’s home to the “Tree of Life,” a tree nestled between two rock formations. The Tree of Life, unfortunately, is predicted to fall sooner than later, so be sure to visit this location before it’s no longer there. However, Kalaloch Beach itself is a gorgeous elopement location just south of Ruby Beach. Despite its proximity to Ruby Beach, Kalaloch has a much different feel to it. It’s much more flat, though has a beautiful forest that meets the sea and a variety of secret overlooks.
Pro tip: Kalaloch Beach is a dog-friendly location!
Mount Storm King
If you’re a couple who loves to hike, consider Mount Storm King as your ceremony location. Mount Storm King a 5.3 mile roundtrip hike. I have to warn you though, it’s pretty difficult. With 2,000 feet of elevation gain in 2 miles, this trail is sure to get your heart racing. However, the view at the end makes this steep hike totally worth it. After hiking uphill through Olympic’s lush green forest, you’ll be rewarded with the most breathtaking view of Lake Crescent and surrounding mountains. The top of the hike is known for its birds, many of which will land on your finger if you let them! Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply just looking for an unforgettable view, Mount Storm King is the perfect location for you.
How to Get a Marriage License for Your Olympic National Park Elopement
In order to get married in Olympic National Park, you’ll need to get a Washington marriage license.
You can get a marriage license in any county. You DO NOT need to get one in the county you’re getting married in. I usually recommend getting your marriage license through a county that allows you to apply for the marriage license via mail, so you don’t have to worry about getting to Washington 3 days before your elopement, as Washington’s marriage licenses has a 3-day waiting period. King County (Seattle), allows mail-in applications as well as Clallam County, which is the county of Port Angeles and closest county to the park.
To get a marriage license through Clallam County, fill out the online application found here. After you fill out the application, you’ll then head to the County Clerk’s office in Port Angeles together with your photo ID and $62 to pick up your license.
If you prefer to get a marriage license through mail, simply fill out the application above and mail it into the office with a $62 money order or cashiers check. Instructions can be found on the application.
To get more information and step-by-step instructions on how to get a marriage license in Washington, check out the official Clallam County government site or my SUPER helpful article that breaks down exactly how to get a marriage license in Washington, step-by-step.
Do I Need an Officiant and Witnesses for My Olympic National Park Wedding?
Yes, you will need an officiant and two witnesses in order to elope in Olympic National Park.
Pro tip: I’m ordained and officiate ceremonies for free as part of my Olympic National Park elopement packages! However, a friend or family member can also officiate your ceremony by becoming ordained online for free through the Universal Life Church!
Pro tip: Hoping to elope just the two of you and not sure about witnesses? Witnesses can be people on the trail, friends back home, or even the park rangers!
How to Get a Wedding Permit for Olympic National Park
If you decide you want to get married in Olympic National Park, you’re going to need what’s called a “special use permit.” This is a permit that allows you to have your ceremony in the park. The permit is $50.
The permit process can be done entirely online. Be sure to submit your permit 4 weeks before your wedding date to allow time for processing. Check out the steps below to find out how to get a permit.
- Fill out the downloadable application here.
- Send in your completed application to OLYM_Permits@nps.gov.
- After the office receives your permit, they will send you a link where you will be able to pay the $50 permit fee online.
- After paying, you will receive the completed permit a few weeks before your wedding. Be sure to print this out and bring it with you on your wedding day.
If you need more information, check out the official park’s website permit page.
Pro tip: If you’re unsure about the permit process, ask your photographer to help. I help each of couples obtain permits, because let’s be honest… paperwork isn’t the most fun part of planning an elopement!
Pro tip: You do NOT need a permit if you have less than 5 people at your elopement (guest count includes vendors like a photographer, officiant, etc.).
How Many Guests Can I Have at My Olympic National Park Elopement?
Each location within Olympic National Park is different. However, most sites within the park only allow up to 30 people for a wedding or elopement. It’s the perfect park if you’re looking at having a smaller guest list.
Can I Bring My Dog?
Yes! Olympic National Park has a variety of different locations where dogs are permitted. However, dogs are generally not allowed at Olympic’s most popular sites like Hurricane Ridge, Lake Crescent, and the Hoh Rainforest. If you’re hoping for more location options, consider looking into the nearby national forest.
If you do decide to bring your furry friend, be sure to practice B.A.R.K. and leave no trace principles. Pets are permitted at the following locations:
- Peabody Creek Trail
- Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek (about .8 miles along the beach)
- The beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch beach area)
- Madison Falls Trail
- Spruce Railroad Trail
- July Creek Loop Trail
Best Time of Year to Elope in Olympic National Park
The best time to visit and get married in Olympic National Park is during the early spring or late fall.
The spring (March-May) is a pretty popular time to visit the park, especially for wildlife enthusiasts. However, if you go at the right time, you can not only skip out on the crowds, but also see all the lush greenery, waterfalls (which are at their peak this time of year), and wildlife Olympic is famous for. The spring is personally one of my favorite times to visit, though you do need to be prepared for any kind of weather (mostly rain) and muddy trails. Higher elevation areas like Hurricane Ridge are still covered in snow.
During the summer (June-August), the park gets very crowded, and it can be difficult to find secluded ceremony sites in popular locations. While it’s definitely possible to get married here in the summer (consider a sunrise or sunset ceremony), just know that you more than likely won’t have a ton of privacy depending on where you decide to elope. However, don’t let this detour you! The summer months have incredible weather, clear hiking trails, and a ton of things to do.
The fall season (September-November) attracts the least amount of visitors (aside from winter). However, this is one of the best times to visit if you love epic landscapes with no crowds (sounds like a win win)! Vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows sweep across the park and turn it into a colorful paradise. Snow starts to fall in higher elevations, and everything in the park quiets down. Prepare for a bit of rain and overcast weather this time of year.
In the winter (December-February), it’s usually wet and rainy, and most attractions within the park are closed. However, this is when the least amount of people visit the park, so if you want to skip the crowds and don’t mind a little rain and snow, winter is the perfect season. You can experience snow-shoeing in the mountains in the morning and then enjoying a sunset beach stroll at night. Plus, there are tons of locations in the park (like the Hoh Rainforest) that can shield you from the rain with their branches. Personally, winter is one of my favorite times to visit.
Where to Stay for Your Olympic National Park Elopement
Olympic National Park itself only has a handful of lodging options. However, the park is conveniently close to nearby towns like Forks, Port Angeles, and Sequim. Below is a list of some of my favorite Airbnbs and lodging options within the park and surrounding towns.
Olympic National Park
The park itself has a few different hotels and camping options for couples looking for something more secluded. Expect to drive a bit to get to the grocery store, but this is the perfect place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
- Kalaloch Lodge – It doesn’t have WiFi, but it does have absolutely incredible views. Choose from a cabin or a room with a private balcony.
- Lake Crescent Lodge – Located right on the lake itself, this historic stay is cozy, warm, and comes with a variety of different amenities like an on-site restaurant and private chairs on the shoreline.
- Log Cabin Resort – One of the best places to stay if you want to feel like you’re truly surrounded by nature.
- Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort – Conveniently close to Lake Crescent, waterfalls, and the ridge. Plus, the views at this place are incredible!
- Lake Quinault Lodge – Wake up to a private balcony overlooking the lake followed by a fresh baked breakfast in the famous Roosevelt Dining Room (yes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ate in the room in 1937)!
Port Angeles is the most popular place to stay when visiting Olympic National Park. It’s a medium-sized city located on the water filled with cute shops and dining options. Port Angeles is very close to places like Hurricane Ridge and Lake Crescent. This is often where most couples stay, as there are a variety of things to do and see around the area, like bookstores and coffee shops.
- The PNW Cottage – A quiet, quaint cottage at the base of the Olympic mountains.
- Strait Blue Cottage – A cozy nostalgic cottage located just blocks away from downtown.
- Creekfront Cabin – The perfect stay for an off-grid experience.
- Hurricane Ridge Retreat – Just minutes away from Hurricane Ridge lies a 1-acre home with a hot tub and immense charm.
- Ocean Lookout Home – A modern home with a stunning ocean view located close to trails and town.
If you’re a small-town lover or Twilight fanatic, Forks is the town for you. With not much offer except a single grocery store and a few gas stations, this is the place I recommend staying if you’re hoping for a ceremony at Ruby Beach or the Hoh Rainforest, as it’s just a short drive away from town.
- Cozy Rainforest Getaway – A simple home right on the river and just minutes from downtown.
- Mount Olympus House – An epic stay for elopements with guests near downtown.
- Serene Tiny Home – A bright and wooded tiny home between Forks and Lake Pleasant.
- Modern PNW Tiny House – Another tiny home completely surrounded by nature.
- Wild Coast Craftsman – A peaceful and modern home located in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula.
Other nearby towns include Sequim and Port Townsend, both of which are East of Port Angeles. These towns offer more upscale lodging options, though they’re a bit further away from the park’s main attractions.
How Much Does It Cost to Elope in Olympic National Park?
Below is a breakdown of what you can expect to spend on your Olympic National Park wedding or elopement. Keep in mind, these numbers are just estimates I took after researching what it would cost for a 4-day trip during the peak travel season of summer (July).
- $730 plane tickets – This greatly depends on where you’ll be flying from. However, most flights into Seattle are fairly affordable.
- $550 rental car
- $550 airbnb in Port Angeles – This depends on your lodging preferences, but this is a good middle point.
- $6,500 elopement photographer – Be sure to hire someone who specializes in the area! It makes a world of a difference when it comes to the planning process.
- $300 bouquet and boutonniere
- $500 hair and makeup
- $400 attire – Includes a rented tux and a simple wedding dress online.
- $62 marriage license in Clallam County
- $50 special use permit
- Total cost = $9,642
At just under $10,000, a wedding in Olympic is less than half of what it would cost for a big wedding (the national average is $28,000).
Things to Do on Your Elopement Day in Olympic National Park
Whether you’re looking for activities to do before, on, or after your elopement, below are some of my best recommendations.
- Bike along the Olympic Discovery Trail
- Explore the Twilight Forever museum
- Walk downtown Port Angeles and stop at the shops
- Dine on some Italian food at Bella Italia
- Go whale watching in Port Angeles
- Have your first dance under the stars
- Enjoy some s’mores around a campfire
- Go kayaking, paddle boarding, or swimming in Lake Crescent
- Visit a lavender farm in Sequim
- Take a wildlife tour around the park
- Go tidepooling at Rialto Beach
- Hike one of the many trails in the park
- Relax in one of the many hot springs
- Visit a bookstore in Port Angeles
Olympic National Park Wedding Vendors
Since the park is in a fairly remote area, most of the wedding vendors are located in Seattle. Below are a few of my favorite vendors I have worked with in the past. I also send detailed recommendations to each of my couples who book with me to help you find the vendor team of your dreams!
Styling and Coordination
Hair and Makeup
Hey, that’s me! I shoot 75% of my elopements in Olympic National Park. If you’re looking for a photographer to help plan and capture your special day in Olympic National Park, you’ve come to the right place. I’m a hands-on elopement photographer and planner who helps couples plan their elopements by creating personalized location lists, offering vendor recommendations, and assisting with things like permits, timelines, and so much more.
Oh, and did I mention that I also have all-inclusive elopement packages that include lodging, plane tickets, rental cars, vendor booking, and so much more?
Olympic National Park Elopement Timeline Examples
One of the main questions I get asked about planning elopements in the park is “how much photo coverage do I need?” The short answer? More than you might think. The long answer? At least 8! The park is ginormous, and if you’re hoping to see as many locations as you can, 8 hours is a great place to start.
Check out some inspiration below to see how much time you need for your elopement!
- 5:00pm – Arrive at the Airbnb for getting ready images
- 6:00pm – First look
- 6:15pm – Head to Hurricane Ridge for the ceremony
- 7:00pm – Arrive and begin the ceremony
- 7:15pm – Family portraits
- 7:30pm – Sunset couples portraits around Hurricane Ridge
- 9:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves
- 1:00pm – Arrive at the Airbnb for getting ready images
- 2:00pm – First look
- 2:15pm – Head to Hurricane Ridge for the ceremony
- 3:00pm – Arrive and begin the ceremony
- 3:15pm – Family portraits
- 3:30pm – Quick couples portraits around Hurricane Ridge
- 4:00pm – Leave for Lake Crescent
- 5:00pm – Couples portraits and picnic at Lake Crescent
- 6:00pm – Travel to a nearby secret forest
- 6:30pm – Quick couples portraits in the forest
- 7:00pm – Leave for the beach
- 8:00pm – Meet family at the beach for toasts and portraits
- 9:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves
Olympic National Park Elopement Tips
#1: Stay after sunset. Olympic National Park is one of the best places to see the stars, especially in higher elevation locations like Hurricane Ridge. In the summer, they even offer guided tours.
#2: Stay a few days. The park is gigantic. Even when I go for days at a time, I still feel like I haven’t seen everything. The park is one of those places you’ll never forget, so take the time to slow down and explore. I recommend a minimum of at least 3 days, though 5 is ideal.
#3: Bring a rain jacket. Even in the summer, it can rain. This area is one of the rainiest places in the country which is why everything is so green. The weather is pretty unpredictable, so bring lots of layers just in case.
#4: Prepare to drive. Like I stated, the park is huge and the main attractions can be about an hour to an hour and a half away from each other. There is also frequent construction, so be sure to leave plenty of time to get from one destination to the next.
#5: There’s limited cell service. While the park isn’t as remote as others, don’t expect to get much cell service. You shouldn’t have a problem getting service in the nearby towns, but be sure to download your maps offline so you can find your way around.
Olympic National Park Elopement Photographer
Now that you’ve read all about Olympic National Park and what it has to offer, I hope I’ve convinced you to elope in the area. I’m Brianna, an Olympic National Park elopement photographer who specializes in photographing and planning elopements around the beautiful Pacific Northwest. To see more details about what’s included in all my elopement packages, check out my pricing page here, or read below!
Olympic National Park Elopement Packages
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Olympic National 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
- 24-48 hour sneak peeks to share with the world
- Travel fees to anywhere in Washington are already included
- Starting at $6,500
Yes, you can elope in Olympic National Park.
Yes, you can get married in the Hoh Rainforest.
Yes, you can get married at Olympic National Park.
Yes, you need a special use permit to elope in Olympic National Park if you have more than 5 people present at your elopement.
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.
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.
(I promise you won’t regret it.)
P.S. I’m Brianna, and I plan, craft, and capture elopements around the Pacific Northwest. 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.