Redwood National Park, located in northernmost coastal California, is home to the largest trees on Earth, making it one of the most grand places in the world to elope. While Redwood National Park is known for its giant trees (which are 300 feet tall and live over 2,000 years), it’s also known for its numerous hiking trails, beaches, and off-the-beaten-path locations accessible only by forest roads or foot. Redwood National Park is also extremely remote, making it the perfect honeymoon destination for couples looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This underrated national park is the perfect place to elope, which is why I (a local to Redwood National Park), put together this helpful guide that covers everything you need to know about planning your very own Redwoods elopement or wedding, specifically in Redwood National Park.
Where Is Redwood National Park? How Many Parks Are There?
Redwood National Park, also known as Redwood National and State Parks, is actually composed of 4 different parks: Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Many people may also be familiar with Humboldt Redwoods State Park, another park that’s a bit more inland and South, though still close to the coast. Humboldt Redwoods State Park is technically separate from the others, though I’ll be touching on it throughout this guide as well.
All of the parks are located fairly close to each other. For reference, each park is about 6-7 hours from the San Francisco or Portland Airport. Check out the map below to see where each park is located.
How Do I Get to Redwood National Park?
There are a few major and minor airports you can fly into to reach the park. Below is a list of driving distances from the closest airports to the main park (the main park being Redwood National Park).
- California Redwood Coast-Humboldt County Airport – 30 minutes (offers flights from large cities on the West Coast, though more expensive and usually no nonstop options)
- Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport – 3.5 hours (most recommended to fly into for convenience without sacrificing price)
- Redding Municipal Airport – 4.5 hours (offers direct flights from select places on the West Coast like Seattle and San Francisco)
- Sacramento International Airport – 6 hours (cheaper and more flight options)
- San Francisco International Airport – 6 hours (cheaper and more flight options)
- Portland International Airport – 7 hours (cheaper and more flight options)
Best Places to Elope in Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park has a list of pre-approved ceremony sites. This means that all ceremonies must be held in one of the sites listed below, unless you obtain permission from the park to do it elsewhere (we’ll cover this more in depth in the permit section). Below are all the pre-approved ceremony sites of each park from North to South. See all the approved ceremony locations here.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is the most northern of the 4 parks and is located just 30 minutes away from Brookings, Oregon, a popular coastal town. The park is mainly known for its variety of different hiking trails and close proximity to both the Smith River and the coast. Most couples who have a Redwoods elopement tend to gravitate towards this area due to its variety in landscapes and proximity to town. This is one of my personal favorite areas for elopements.
Max capacity: 20
Templeman Grove is located just a few minutes from highway 101 and requires no hiking to reach. The grove has lots of room for guests and is one of the least-visited locations in the park. This ceremony site is worth checking out if you’re hoping for something super secluded, yet close to town and other popular trails. It’s also right next to the Smith River, another stunning spot for photos.
Organ Donor’s Grove
Max capacity: 20
Another incredible secluded spot for ceremonies is Organ Donor’s Grove. Located at an intersection, this unsuspecting grove is lush with ferns, spacious, and a great site for a Redwoods elopement of any size. However, it is close to a road, so traffic noise is to be expected.
Max capacity: 8
Located along the Smith River lies a 1-mile out-and-back trail called the River Trail. This trail is primarily known for its fallen Redwoods. If you love lush greenery and running water, this is the ceremony site for you. This trail is a bit busier than the two previous sites I mentioned, but still a great place to consider if you like variety in locations.
Del Norte Redwoods State Park
Del Norte Redwoods National Park is one of the least-visited parks, though definitely has some hidden gems. It’s mainly known for its various beaches. Due to heavy rainfall in the area, Del Norte is known for its year-round greenery in the groves and its thick fog on the beaches. If you’re up for a bit of hiking, this park has some of my most favorite hidden gem locations I love sharing with my couples.
Max capacity: 20 (only available October 25th – May 1st)
If you’re a fan of moody, foggy beaches that meet the forest line, Crescent Beach is the ceremony spot for you. It’s 3 miles long, meaning finding a secluded area is practically guaranteed. Oh, and did I mention it’s dog friendly? I personally adore this beach during the winter months. It get get a bit chilly, but I promise it’s well worth the shivers.
Crescent Beach Overlook
Max capacity: 20 (only available October 25th – May 1st)
Crescent Beach Overlook, though can be a bit crowded, is a great Redwoods elopement location if you have guests that don’t want to walk too far along the beach. The platform provides sweeping views of the ocean and forest. Like I said though, this is one of the more popular locations, so plan your ceremony to be on a weekday, preferably around sunrise or sunset.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is the most popular park out the 4. If you’ve heard the names Fern Canyon, James Irvine Trail, or Gold Bluffs Beach, this is where they’re located
Note: Due to high foot traffic, in order to access Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach (some of the park’s most popular spots), from May 1st to September 30th, you will need to reserve a permit online. Ceremonies are also not allowed in Fern Canyon, but portraits are.
High Bluffs Overlook
Max capacity: 20
One of my favorite spots in the park is High Bluffs Overlook. Not only is it not frequently visited, but it has some of the most beautiful scenery you can find along the coast. I personally love this location for portraits, though it’s not the best if you’re scared of heights, as the drop-offs are pretty steep.
Max capacity: 8
Want to get married in Redwood National Park without the Redwoods? Okay, a little silly, but that’s what Merriman Grove is (kind of). The grove is located at the end of the Ah-Pah Trail, a small Redwood tree-lined walk. It’s super lush and green with ferns once you reach the grove itself. Like most locations on this list, Merriman Grove is one of the lesser-traveled ones.
Zig Zag #2
Max capacity: 10
Similar to Merriman Grove, Zig Zag #2 is a 3.5 mile loop that will make you feel like you’re in Jurassic Park. Filled with ferns, moss-covered trees, and running water, this location is nothing short of amazing. It’s extremely underrated and one of the most secluded spots in the park.
Max capacity: 20
Schmidt Grove is located at the end of a long windy dirt road, but don’t let this deter you. This just so happens to be one of my favorite spots in the entire park. There are numerous pull-offs for photos and tons of room for Redwood elopements with guests. The road is subject to close during the rainy season, but you can walk past the gate for ultimate privacy.
Prairie Creek Amphitheater
Max capacity: 20 (only available October 25th – May 1st)
If you’re looking for a more formal setting or a location with seats, the Prairie Creek Amphitheater is the best you’ll find. There’s a stunning path that leads to the amphitheater and tons of privacy. This is one of the most popular locations for intimate weddings, so be sure to plan in advance to snag this location.
Lost Man Creek
Max capacity: 20
Lost Man Creek is a popular biking trail that runs along a nearby creek. While it doesn’t have a ton of thick redwood trees along the trail (there are some by the picnic area), there are many different spaces and lookouts for ceremonies along the shaded trail.
Max capacity: 6
Berry Glen is a small trail that connects to the famous Lady Bird Johnson Grove. It’s littered with old-growth trees, fern meadows, and tons of ceremony sites for smaller groups. Due to the size of the trail, only 6 people are allowed at this location for your Redwoods elopement.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is technically its own park, separate from the main Redwood National Park system, but is just as beautiful as the others. Due to its closer proximity to cities like Sacramento and San Francisco, this park tends to be busier than the others. Humboldt Redwoods State Park also requires a different wedding permit. You can check out their official site for more information about the park and its permit process.
Currently, Humboldt Redwoods State Park does not have specific ceremony sites. Instead, you just let them know where you would like to get married, and they’ll provide restrictions based on that location. The following areas of the park do NOT allow special events or weddings: California Federation of Womens’ Clubs Grove, Founders Grove and Rockefeller Forest, and weddings near Drury Chaney Grove/Trail or Grieg French Bell Grove will require a park monitor, which is an additional fee.
Other Redwoods Elopement Locations
Aside from Redwood National Park itself, there are a variety of different Redwoods elopement locations in California. Below are some of the most popular.
- Muir Woods – A redwood forest on the outskirts of San Francisco. Very popular in the summer and a crowd favorite for weddings. This location tends to have a lot of restrictions though.
- Sequoia National Park – A gorgeous national park near Yosemite with giant trees. While the trees there are technically Sequioas, they’ll still give you the same small feeling of the Redwoods. Due to its proximity to Yosemite, this national park sees lots of crowds.
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – A beautiful state park in Big Sur with Redwood groves, trails, beaches, and waterfalls.
Can I Get Married Anywhere in the Redwoods?
Technically, no. Ceremonies are not allowed at some of the most popular places in Redwood National Park, that being Fern Canyon, the James Irvine Trail, Stout Grove, or the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail. However, you are allowed to take portraits here so long as you practice Leave No Trace guidelines and it’s just the two of you.
If you want to get married at a different location than the pre-approved ceremony sites, you can submit a permit application that will go out for a two-week review with the staff. We’ll talk more about this in the permit section.
If you’re looking at other Redwoods elopement locations aside from those on the official national park list, be sure to reach out specifically to that location’s permit coordinator, as the rules and ceremony locations may be different.
When Is the Best Time of Year to Elope in Redwood National Park?
While Redwood National Park has a pretty even climate year-round, there are certain seasons that may be better for your elopement depending on your needs. The best time of year to elope in the Redwoods, in my experience, is the spring and fall season.
If you’re hoping for an elopement without the crowds, steer clear from the busy summer months. Visiting during the summer months comes with traffic, limited parking, increased lodging prices, and lots of mosquitos (especially in July). Many of the main attractions, such as Fern Canyon, also require you to purchase a reservation during the summer in order to control foot traffic in the area. I usually recommend holding off until the fall if possible. However, if you’re set on a summer date, elope on a weekday during sunrise or sunset. The park is large, so finding a secluded ceremony site is almost guaranteed.
Fall is an incredible time to elope in the park. The weather is nice and cool, the summer crowds have left, and you can score some great deals on lodging and activities. The beaches are also empty and serene due to the cooler weather, and most days, it’s perfectly overcast (great for lighting). This is one of my personal favorite times to visit the park. You won’t find a plethora of fall colors in the park, as the Redwoods don’t change color, though you may catch a glimpse of changing colors from some maples and other trees nearby.
If you don’t mind a little rain, winter is an incredible time to elope in Redwood National Park and in my opinion, the most underrated time to do so. This is my personal favorite time to visit the park. This is the park’s off-season, meaning there are hardly any visitors. You’d be surprised at just how peaceful and quiet the park gets! While you more than likely will experience some rain, most of it falls onto the trees, protecting you from getting soaking wet. Expect locations to yourselves, overcast weather, and lots of wildlife this time of year.
Spring is another amazing time of year to visit Redwood National Park. While you still may experience some rain, there are no crowds, the greenery in the park is lush and at its peak, and the wildlife is abundant. This is another one of my favorite times to visit and my most-recommended season for couples. It truly is magical!
Do I Need a Permit to Elope in Redwood National Park?
Yes, you will need a special use permit to elope in the park. Below are all the steps you need to go through to obtain a permit.
- Choose your ceremony location from the pre-approved ceremony sites listed above.
- Decide what time you want to have your ceremony at (ceremonies are only scheduled for 1-3 hours).
- Fill out the special use permit application.
- Fill out the threatened and endangered species addendum.
- Email both of these forms to the permit coordinator at REDW_Special_Use_Permits@nps.gov.
- Once the forms have been received, you will get an email with a link where you will be able to pay for the permit online. The permit fee is $100 unless you want to elope outside of a pre-approved ceremony site, in which case, the permit would cost $200.
You can see all the forms and steps you need to take on the official park website here.
Note: Permits will not be issued during major holidays due to crowding. Live or dried natural plant/flower material is prohibited as well as props such as arbors, stands, etc. Food and alcohol is also prohibited during ceremonies.
How to Get a Marriage License for Your Redwoods Elopement
You can get a marriage license in any county in California. It does NOT need to be from the county you’ll be getting married in. However, I will leave the steps below for the two main counties in the area if you will be picking up your license once you arrive for your elopement.
Del Norte County Marriage License Steps
Del Norte County is where most people get their marriage license for their Redwoods elopement. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to get one in Del Norte.
- Walk-in or make an appointment at the County Clerk’s Office in Crescent City (981 H St, Crescent City, CA 95531). They issue marriage licenses from 8am-4pm Monday-Friday. You must show up together.
- Once you’re there, you’ll fill out a marriage license application.
- Be sure to bring your ID. You’ll then pay the $61 license fee.
- You’re all set!
Humboldt County Marriage License Steps
If you’ll be closer to Humboldt County, here are the steps you’ll need to take to get a marriage license in the area.
- Fill out the online marriage license application.
- After the application is complete, head to the Clerk Recorder’s Office in Eureka (825 5th Street, 5th Floor, Eureka, CA 95501) between the hours of 10:30am and 4:00pm to pick up your marriage license.
- Be sure to bring your ID. If you didn’t pay the $78 marriage license fee online, you’ll pay it in person.
- You’re all set!
Important Information You Need to Know for Your Redwoods Elopement
#1: The park is remote. Most people don’t realize just how remote the park truly is. Don’t expect to find any fancy restaurants, an abundance of lodging, or big chain stores. Places like Target and Home Goods are hours away. Like I said before, it’s a great place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There are tons of cute ma and pa shops, as well as friendly locals.
#2: Download maps offline. All the parks are known to have iffy service. Always be sure to download your maps offline in case you don’t have any service.
#3: Always bring rain gear. Even if you visit during the middle of the summer, always be sure to bring rain gear, as the weather in the area can be a bit unpredictable. I recommend bringing a blanket or clear umbrellas that can be used as cute props in pictures!
#4: Bring food and gas. There aren’t any restaurants or gas stations within the park, just in the nearby towns. Be sure to fill up and bring some food with you into the park on your elopement day.
#5: The roads are windy, and the main ones are dirt. If you get carsick easily, bring medicine, as the roads are quite windy. In some areas of the park, most of the popular trails are located on dirt roads. A standard sedan will work just fine, but don’t be alarmed if it goes from pavement to dirt.
How Much Does it Cost to Elope in Redwood National Park?
While each couple has different wants for their elopement day, here is a cost breakdown of what you can expect to pay for a Redwoods elopement.
- $700 Plane Tickets – This greatly depends on where you’ll be flying from. Since most airports around the park are smaller, plane tickets may be a bit pricier than usual.
- $400 Rental Car
- $350-$1,000 Two-Night Lodging – This greatly depends on your lodging preferences. There aren’t many places to stay in the park, which makes lodging a bit more expensive than other places. However, if you’re willing to drive a bit, you can find some more affordable options.
- $100-$200 Location Permit – This depends on whether or not you select a pre-approved ceremony site.
- $70-$100 California Marriage License – This depends on the county you get your license from.
- $7,000 Elopement Photographer – This depends on your photographer’s experience. I specialize in elopements around the Pacific Northwest and help my couples with locations, permits, marriage licenses, timelines, vendors, and so much more.
- $400-$600 Hair and Makeup – Due to the remoteness of the park, many vendors will charge a travel fee. I would budget a little more for this vendor.
- $300-$600 Florist
- $0-$500 Officiant – $0 if I or a family member officiate your ceremony, though you can also hire one if it’s within budget.
In total, you can expect to spend anywhere from $9,320 – $11,100 for a Redwoods elopement. Again though, this is just a rough estimate. You can have an elopement cheaper or more expensive than this based on your preferences.
Best Airbnbs Near Redwood National Park
Below are some of the best Airbnbs you can find near Redwood National and State Parks for your elopement. The towns below are also the most popular places to stay for a Redwoods elopement.
Located in Oregon, Brookings is mainly known for Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, an unforgettable place to check out if you have the time. Brookings has a few grocery stores, thrift stores, and dining options. It’s close to Jedediah Smith and Del Norte and is one of my favorite places to stay along the coast.
- Cottage in Brookings – A quaint cottage tucked behind some trees for those looking for a short stay near downtown.
- Pelican Path – A modern, gated home with private beach access.
- Ocean Mist Beach House – The perfect stay for elopements with guests, located right on the cliff with private beach access.
Crescent City Airbnbs
Crescent City is located in California and also lies close to Jedediah Smith and Del Norte, as well as Prairie Creek. Similar to Brookings, you’ll find a few grocery stores like Safeway and Grocery Outlet, as well as local dining and activities. This is where most of my couples stay, as it’s centrally located to almost all the parks.
- The Gasquet Fly In – While technically located in Gasquet, this modern home is located at the bottom of emerald green mountains, has a pool, and even has a runway for sport pilots.
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods Retreat – This private home provides a ton of natural light and has stunning views of the nearby coast.
- Panoramic Ocean Views – Located just steps away from the beach, this giant home not only has a game room, but it can host up to 11 people, perfect for elopements with guests.
Arcata and Eureka Airbnbs
Located close to Prairie Creek and Redwood National Park, Arcata and Eureka are known for their art scene and laidback vibe. These towns have a bit more lodging and shopping options than the other towns, though are a bit further away from some of the parks.
- Vimala Voga Retreat House – Just steps away from the beach lies this artsy home located within a private garden.
- The Forest Oasis – This cottage core inspired home is surrounded by redwood trees and offer deer sighting.
- Yellow Victorian Home – This historic home located near downtown Eureka is any history lovers dream. Plus, it’s great for guests!
Redwood National Park Elopement Packages
I’m Brianna, a Northern California elopement photographer local to Redwood National Park who helps plan and photograph elopements in Northern California. I’m passionate about helping my couples plan the best day ever in beautiful places like Redwood National Park (which did I mention is in my backyard?). Check out my starting prices below or take a peek through my pricing here and see how I can help plan and photograph your one-of-a-kind Redwoods elopement!
Redwood National Park Elopement Package Pricing
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in the Redwoods
- 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, marriage 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, Oregon, or Washington are already included
- Starting at $6,500
Jaw-Dropping Redwoods Elopement Photos
Check out some Redwoods elopement photos below to get inspiration on what your day could look like.
Yes, you can get married in Redwood National Park.
It costs $160-$400 to have a wedding in the redwoods. This comes from the cost of the marriage license and special use permit. However, this does not take into account travel, vendors, attire, and more.
It costs $160-$400 to elope in the redwoods. This comes from the cost of the marriage license and special use permit.
Yes, you can elope in the redwood forest.
It costs $160-$400 to get married in the redwoods.
Yes, you can elope in Redwood National Park.
Yes, you can elope in the redwoods.
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. 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.