The Pacific Northwest, more commonly referred to as the PNW, is one of the most unique and diverse places in the world. The PNW is home to over 14 different national parks, forests, and monuments. It’s most notably known for is beautiful landscapes, like fog-covered forests, mountains shielded by glaciers, green wildflower meadows, and crystal clear alpine lakes. In my opinion, it’s the best place for adventure elopements, as there is so much to see and do.
As an elopement photographer who specializes in PNW elopements, I created this guide to help you plan your very own elopement in the Pacific Northwest. In this guide, you’ll learn about the best places to elope in the Pacific Northwest, must-know tips, where to stay, and so much more. Let’s dive in.
Where Is the PNW?
While many people have different definitions of what makes up the Pacific Northwest, the image shown here is pretty spot on. The PNW includes Southeast Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, Northern California, and parts of both Montana and Idaho. However, most people (myself included), mainly consider Oregon and Washington to be the Pacific Northwest.
12 Best Places to Elope In the PNW
Your location options are truly endless when it comes to the PNW. As a photographer based in the PNW, these are the 12 best places to elope in the Pacific Northwest.
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park, also known as the “Swiss Alps of America,” is one of the most epic places for a PNW elopement. This is one of the least visited national parks in the United States. Other than its sweeping mountain views, North Cascades is known for their glaciers, alpine lakes, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails (400 to be exact). If you love mountains, this location is guaranteed to take your breath away. Oh, and it’s only 3 hours from Seattle! North Cascades is best visited during the summer and short fall season.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in North Cascades National Park:
If you want more information about the park, check out my free North Cascades National Park Elopement Guide!
Olympic National Park
Okay, I’m a bit biased here (it’s my favorite national park), but Olympic National Park is hands-down the best place for PNW elopements, and here’s why. Olympic is the most diverse national park in the United States. In the park, you’ll find the following: pine forests, lakes, mountains, rivers, hot springs, waterfalls (over 10,000 to be exact), rainforests, beaches, and it doesn’t stop there. The park is huge. You could spend 5 days exploring and still barely scratch the surface of what this incredible location has to offer. It’s a short 3 hour drive from Seattle, and because it’s located along the coast, Olympic can be accessed year-round!
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Olympic National Park:
If you want more information about the park, check out my free Olympic National Park Elopement Guide!
Redwood National Park
When most people think of the Pacific Northwest, they think of lush green forests and rainy weather, and Redwood National Park encompasses this vibe perfectly. Located along the coast of Northern California, Redwood National Park is one of the most peaceful and whimsical places for adventure elopements. The park is remote and there are a million different hidden gem locations around the area. As someone who lives just 3 hours from the park, believe me when I say this is one of the best places to elope in the PNW.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Redwood National Park:
- Schmidt Grove
- Crescent Beach
- Fern Canyon (ceremonies are not permitted here, but it’s a must-see on your trip)
If you want more information about the park, check out my free Redwood National Park Elopement Guide!
Tongass National Forest
The Tongass National Forest is a 16.7 million acre national forest located in Alaska. It’s the largest national forest in the United States! While much of the forest is remote and can only be accessed by plane or boat (a lot of the forest is located on small Alaskan islands), there are still a plethora of hiking trails, lakes, and other must-see sites. There is truly no other experience as intimate as a seaside ceremony on a small private island.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Tongass National Forest:
If you want more information about the forest, check out my free Alaska Elopement Guide!
Mt. Shasta is a true hidden gem and one of my best kept secrets, though I love sharing this location with my couples. Mt. Shasta is located in Northern California and is the 5th tallest mountain in the state. Around Mt. Shasta, you can find lakes, forests, waterfalls, and so much more. This location is just an hour from where I live, so I have a list of incredible off-the-beaten-path locations i love sharing with my couples.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Mt. Shasta:
If you want more information about this location, check out my free mini Mt. Shasta Elopement Guide!
Samuel H. Boardman State Park
Samuel H. Boardman State Park is located in Southern Oregon in a small town called Brookings. Over the past few years, this location has grown in popularity, but for good reason. The scenery here is unreal! Sand dunes, hidden beaches, and cliffside views are just some of the sites to see in this area. This is one of my favorite places to shoot, and hands-down one of the best places to elope in the PNW.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations at Samuel H. Boardman State Park:
If you want more information about the park, check out my free Oregon Elopement Guide!
Columbia River Gorge
If you love waterfalls, Columbia River Gorge is the PNW elopement location for you. Located between the Oregon and Washington border, the Columbia River Gorge has over 90 waterfalls on the Oregon side alone! This is a very popular location during the summer months, as there are hundreds of hiking trails, biking paths, and of course, waterfalls to explore.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Columbia River Gorge:
If you want more information about the Columbia River Gorge, check out my free Oregon Elopement Guide!
Snoqualmie is another one of those hidden gem locations in the PNW. Similar to Mt. Shasta, this area has some incredible mountain views, waterfalls, and lakes. Snoqualmie is a small mountain town a few miles east of Seattle. In the winter, this town transforms into a winter wonderland, with ski resorts and luxurious lodging. In the summer, crowds flock to the area to see some of Washington’s most powerfull waterfalls.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Snoqualmie:
If you want more information about this location, check out my free Washington State Elopement Guide!
Ecola State Park
Ecola State Park is located along the Oregon Coast and one of my all-time favorite PNW elopement locations. In the summer, this park is busy with bonfires on beaches and hikers on hiking trails. However, visit during the off-season and you’ll be amazed at all the beauty this park has to offer. In fact, it’s so “Pacific Northwest” that scenes of Twilight were filmed here! I mean, how much more PNW can you get than that?
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Ecola State Park:
If you want more information about the park, check out my free Oregon Elopement Guide!
Mount Rainier National Park
Last, but certainly not least, we have Mount Rainier National Park. Located in Washington State, Mount Rainier is one of the most-visited national parks in the U.S. Here, you’ll find everything from wildflower meadows and rivers to old-growth forests and mountains. There is truly something for everyone at this national park, which is why it’s on my list of best places to elope in the PNW.
These are some of my favorite elopement locations in Mount Rainier National Park:
If you want more information about the park, check out my free Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Guide!
When Is the Best Time of Year to Elope in the PNW?
While each state is different in terms of weather, this is a solid estimate of the best time of year to elope in the PNW.
The summer is the most popular time to visit the PNW, though I recommend avoiding this time of year. While the weather is pleasant, I can guarantee that the crowds are not. If you do visit in the summer, prepare for high prices, lodging and rental car shortages, and lots of traffic. While planning an elopement during sunrise or sunset can definitely help with the crowds, I recommend choosing a different season. I will say though that the weather this time of year is great, and in July and August, the wildflowers are absolutely incredible.
The fall is hands-down my favorite time to photograph elopements. While the fall season is short in higher-elevated areas, it’s sweet. The colors are stunning, prices are lower, and many of the crowds have subsided. Certain areas see a bit more activity than others (I’m looking at you North Cascades) due to their gorgeous fall colors, but most of the areas are crowd-free and stunning.
Winter in lower-elevation areas like Olympic or Redwood National Park is pure bliss, though it is the Pacific Northwest after all, and you know what that means; rain, rain, and more rain. While I personally love shooting in the rain (hello even lighting and vibrant colors), lots of couples prefer to stay dry during their elopement, in which case I would choose a different season. Higher elevation areas, like North Cascades and Mount Rainier, are usually inaccessible in the winter due to snow.
Spring is very similar to the winter season. However, if you plan it just right, you could potentially see tons of wildlife and peak waterfall flowage. Like the winter though, most high-elevated areas are inaccessible until June or July. Regardless, I still recommend this time, especially on the coast and more populated areas to get a more intimate experience.
Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting the Pacific Northwest
1. It’s rainy. I know, I know. Most people know that the PNW gets a ton of rain, but even in the summer months, it’s a good idea to bring a jacket and pack some extra layers. While most of the time it’s more of a drizzle than a downpour, it definitely can get chilly. Oh, and bring some vitamin D. Even staying in the area for more than a week (especially if you’re used to sun) can really put a damper on your mood.
2. It’s remote. Aside from large cities like Seattle and Portland, the PNW is pretty remote. You’ll find a cute town here and there, but more often than not, you’ll need to do some extra driving. Oh, and don’t expect there to be a ton of dining, hair salons, and other elopement-necessities available, especially in more secluded areas. This is truly a hikers paradise!
3. It’s relaxed. One of the most frequent things I hear from people visiting this area for the first time is “everyone is so chill here,” and it’s true! At least in my opinion, people on the West Coast are very relaxed and tend to go with the flow.
4. Do your research. If you’re deciding to stay in a larger city, do your research! Find out where the locals go and try to avoid overpriced tourists traps (unless of course you really want to). Some of the greatest food I’ve ever had has been in places only the locals know about.
5. It’s very dog friendly. The PNW is a very dog-friendly area, especially in Oregon, so please bring your furry friend along! Please, I’m begging!
6. Stay longer. I truly can’t tell you enough to extend your trip. There is so much to do and see in the PNW that even after a week, you’ll be kicking yourself that you didn’t do more.
Coolest Places to Stay in the PNW
From romance to rad, the PNW has some of the most unique and unforgettable lodging options around. Below are some of my personal favorite places to stay in some of the most popular areas of the PNW.
- Kasiana Island Kayak Cabin – A cozy cabin located on a private cove and only accessible by boat.
- Raven’s Roost – A modern A-Frame with a stunning balcony right on the beach.
- Stone Lantern House – A luxurious, Japanese-influenced home steps away from the beach.
- Scandinavian Cabin – A sleek, modern cabin tucked away in the woods right near the North Cascades.
- Treehouse Eagles – A stunning and unique treehouse with gorgeous views of Canada near Olympic.
- Sol Duc Serenity – A riverfront home with bohemian flare right outside Olympic National Park.
- A-Frame Getaway – A popular A-Frame design located right outside Mt. Hood.
- Hide and Seek Cabin – A vintage cabin tucked away in the woods with modern amenities.
- The Haystack Haus – A quaint and quiet cabin located in famous Cannon Beach, just steps away from the ocean.
- Ocean Road – A gorgeous, luxurious home located on edge of a bluff directly above private Irish Beach.
- Luffenholtz Surfside Cottage – A rustic redwood getaway with sweeping coastal vistas.
- Shasta A-Frame Cabin – A cozy, wooded A-Frame near the mountains and national parks.
PNW Elopement Activities
Whether you’re looking to hike or simply sip a coffee in a nearby bookstore, the Pacific Northwest has options for everyone. Below are some of my favorite elopement activities you can incorporate into your day.
- Go whale watching in Alaska
- Be a tourist in Portland and try out all the famous food spots
- Go hiking through the redwoods in Northern California
- Go kayaking through Washington’s different islands
- Have a bonfire with s’mores in the woods or on the beach
- Check out one of the 1,000s of waterfalls around
- Take a dip in the local hot springs
- Go wine tasting at a vineyard
- Visit an island for your ceremony
- Take a hot air balloon ride
- Go skiing in the winter
- Visit a national park
- Get rained on in a rainforest
- Take a wildlife tour
- Have a picnic on top of a mountain
PNW Elopement Packages
I’m Brianna, a Pacific Northwest elopement photographer who helps capture and plan unforgettable elopements around the West Coast. I believe the day you get married should be the best day of your life, and that the days planning it should be fun and stress-free, which is why I help couples all around the world plan their elopements. To get more information about my elopement packages, check out my elopement packages page here, or take a glimpse below.
- 4 hours – 2 days of elopement coverage anywhere in the PNW
- 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 $6,000
Need more elopement help? Check out my How to Elope Guide, Mountain Elopement Guide, and the 18 Best Places to Elope in Oregon.
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.
AN ELOPEMENT EXPERIENCE LIKE NO OTHER
I’m Brianna, a Pacific Northwest elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.
I help couples all around the world plan unique and unforgettable elopement days by providing personalized location lists, vendor recommendations, permits, guides, and so much more.