One of the most popular places for a nature elopement in Washington state is Mount Rainier National Park! With cascading waterfalls, rushing rivers, fields of wildflowers, and towering mountain peaks, there are plenty of incredible spots for a Mount Rainier elopement. This Mount Rainier National Park elopement guide will walk you through everything you need to know about eloping in the national park- from picking the date to figuring out the permitting for your ceremony!
Here’s what’s in this Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Guide:
- Mount Rainier Elopement Locations
- The Best Time for a Mount Rainier Elopement
- Mount Rainier National Park Wedding Permits
- Getting Legally Married When You Elope at Mount Rainier
- Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Timelines & Things to Do
- Mount Rainier Elopement Packages
Mount Rainier Elopement Locations
Whether you’re looking for a long hike or something easily accessible with just as beautiful of a background, Mount Rainier has plenty of gorgeous places to choose from for your elopement. You can choose to say “I do” on a riverbank or get married surrounded by wildflowers – you’re sure to find a Mount Rainier elopement location that’s perfect for you!
The Best Hikes for a Mount Rainier Elopement
If you’re the adventurous type, Mount Rainier National Park has countless hikes of all lengths that would make the ideal spot for your ceremony – each with its own unique feature. Whether you prefer lengthy hikes to waterfalls or a shorter lakeside stroll, here are a few of the best hikes for a Mount Rainier elopement.
Mount Fremont Lookout
This 5.7-mile out-and-back trail has the best sunrise views of Mount Rainier! Though the trail to the old fire lookout is moderately challenging, it’s extremely worth it – especially at sunrise. The soft hues of the sunrise against the mountains and throughout the valley create a gorgeous backdrop for any elopement! After your ceremony, stop by Frozen Lake on your way back to the trailhead to check out the incredible alpine lake.
Skyline Trail Loop
Skyline Trail Loop is the ultimate “choose your own adventure” trail with lots of trails that branch off to places like Myrtle Falls or the Nisqually Glacier! The main trail is a 6.2-mile loop that takes you to explore glacier views, lots of panoramic vistas, and even Sluiskin Falls. This would be the perfect trail to spend all day exploring all that Mount Rainier has to offer!
Naches Peak Loop
From the parking lot at Tipsoo Lake you’ll find a few different trails you can take but Naches Peak is one of the best! It’s recommended to go clockwise since it’s a little easier and to get the best views while you’re hiking. On the trail, you’ll come across 4 lakes and around the sides of Naches Peak. If the 3.3-mile loop isn’t long enough for you, you can extend your hike up to Dewey Lake for some great views of Mount Rainier!
The Best Easily Accessible Mount Rainier Elopement Locations
You don’t have to hike to enjoy the beauty of Mount Rainier! If you don’t want to go on a hike or just want something a little easier to get to, there are tons of gorgeous locations that you can drive right up to or that are just a short walk from the parking lot! Here are a few of the best easily accessible Mount Rainier elopement locations!
One of the most beautiful places in Mount Rainier is Tipsoo Lake! The lake is surrounded by wildflowers in the summer and is one of the most popular places to stop in the park. The parking lot is just a short walk from the lake, but parking is limited so get there early. It’s only accessible in the summer due to snow road closures, so it’s important to check the conditions before you go! If you’re up for a longer adventure, a lot of great trails start here too!
Reflection Lakes really lives up to its name! Being the most iconic place in Mount Rainier, you can see a beautiful reflection of the mountain against the calm lake. It’s beautiful year-round with wildflowers in the summer, changing leaves in the fall, and snow in the winter – though you’d have to snowshoe to get there after November!
Grove of the Patriarchs
This accessible path is a very short trail that goes through old-growth forests. Only about a one-mile loop, Grove of the Patriarchs has boardwalks and dirt paths, with an incredible suspension bridge over the river that takes you to a grove of ancient forest growth.
The Best Time for a Mount Rainier Elopement
After deciding where you want to elope, it’s important to know what to expect when you plan the date for your elopement. Weather and crowds can look very different from season to season, so knowing what you’re getting into will help you avoid any surprises when your wedding day comes. To help you figure out what the best time for your Mount Rainier elopement is, I’ll tell you a bit about each season and share a few tips on avoiding crowds!
The best time for good weather in Mount Rainier National Park is in summer. The snow has melted by July, the wildflowers are in full bloom by August, and you can access most, if not all, of the trails on the mountain. Summer is a great time to visit Mount Rainier, but it’s also the most popular time so there will be a lot of people around.
In my opinion, the best time for a Mount Rainier elopement is early fall. The leaves changing colors and lingering wildflowers bring tons of color to the mountains and valleys in the park. The reflection of all the colors on the lakes create beautiful backdrops to any elopement! Snow begins to fall in the park starting in October, so if you want to make sure that you’ll be able to reach your dream elopement spot, be sure to plan for early fall. For some fall inspiration, check out this post!
Mount Rainier National Park is covered in snow during the winter – in fact, snow chains are required from November until May! Because a lot of roads close due to snow, you won’t be able to reach every place in the park by car, but if you like snowshoeing, this can be a really exciting time to elope! Be sure to check the road conditions on the morning of your elopement and have a Plan B so you don’t run into any surprises on the day of your wedding!
Another great time to elope in Mount Rainier National Park is the spring, but you can come across some pretty unpredictable weather, so it’s important to be prepared for anything! Because of the unpredictable weather, you can start your day with sunny skies and be stuck in the rain by lunchtime. The snow starts to melt in lower elevation spots by late spring, so the roads start to open back up. The melting snow and spring rain make this the best season for seeing the waterfalls at Mount Rainier National Park!
Avoiding Crowds When You Elope at Mount Rainier National Park
The weather is a big part of deciding when to elope at Mount Rainier National Park, but something that’s just as important to consider is how crowded it can be during each season. When you’re surrounded by tons of people competing for the most Instagrammable spots, it’s hard to be right there in the moment. Good thing I have a few tips for avoiding crowds when you elope at Mount Rainier National Park!
The best way to avoid crowds is to plan your elopement for a shoulder season – this is typically late spring or early fall. When you elope in a shoulder season, you’ll be able to avoid the summer vacationers but still reap the benefits of nice weather in the park.
Both the day of the week and time of day are also important factors in crowd levels wherever you decide to elope. Typically, weekends are way busier than weekdays and you’ll especially want to avoid eloping on a holiday weekend. As for the time of day, sunrise and sunset are both wonderful times to elope since you’ll find fewer people around – plus, the lighting is usually incredible around those times of day!
There are tons of gorgeous places to elope at Mount Rainier National Park, but if you want to avoid the crowds, you should find a lesser-known location for your ceremony. The more popular locations will be crowded most of the time, so we can look for a beautiful, secluded place for you to say your vows!
Mount Rainier National Park Wedding Permit
When you elope at Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll need to get a wedding permit from the National Park Service. The application costs $175 and you should submit it at least 4 weeks before your elopement date to be sure it’ll be processed before your ceremony. Depending on who you want to have at your elopement, you may be restricted in where you can get married. Though the website doesn’t specify the locations, I can help you find the best place for you to say “I do!” and even if the place you want isn’t an approved location, you can always go explore the park after you say your vows.
Getting Legally Married During Your Mount Rainier Elopement
The fun part of eloping is deciding when and where you want to have your ceremony, but it’s not official until you sign your marriage license! Mount Rainier National Park is in Pierce County, but you can get your license anywhere in Washington if you happen to live elsewhere. When you apply for your license, you and your partner will need to head to the county clerk’s office with your IDs and the application fee – this ranges from $33 to $72, depending on what county you apply in, but Pierce County’s fee is $72. Once you apply, there’s a non-negotiable three-day waiting period before you can pick up your license and use it. After you pick up your license, you’ll be able to have your ceremony!
Your marriage license has to be signed by an officiant and two witnesses. Your officiant can be anybody who has been ordained to be an officiant, so you can choose to hire someone or have one of your friends or family members get ordained through the Universal Life Church. Luckily, I’m already ordained and can do all of your legal paperwork for you!
Elopement Timelines and Things to Do When You Elope at Mount Rainier
Choosing to elope means you’re deciding to make your wedding day all about your love – that means that you can make your elopement anything you could ever dream of! Whether you want to go on a long hike, spend the day relaxing just the two of you, or enjoy some time with your family, Mount Rainier National Park has plenty of gorgeous places and exciting things for you to do when you elope! Here are a couple of examples of what a Mount Rainier elopement could look like!
Mount Rainier Elopement With Family
9:00 Your granddad cooks up a wonderful breakfast at the cabin, and you enjoy some time with your family.
10:30 You and your partner sneak away for a little nature walk around the Airbnb, spending some quiet time together.
11:30 You start your hair and makeup, and you and your partner split up to get ready.
1:30 You both get dressed, putting on your elopement attire with your family – who may or may not be shedding a few happy tears
2:00 You do a first look outside the cabin, seeing each other all dressed up for the first time!
2:30 After a few photos, you and your family pile into two cars and drive to your ceremony location at Reflection Lakes
3:30 You arrive at Reflection Lakes, and after taking in the view from the parking lot, you have a quick snack before beginning the ceremony.
4:00 You all take a walk to your ceremony spot with epic views of the mountains, then your mom officiates your ceremony and you exchange your vows.
5:00 You’re married! After lots of hugs and excitement, you take some photos with your family
5:30 You all head back to the parking lot, where you sign your marriage license
6:00 Your family goes back to the Airbnb to get dinner ready, and the two of you explore a little, taking some couples photos as the sun begins to set.
7:30 You drive back to the cabin for dinner and cake!
“Just Us” Hiking Elopement
4:00 You wake up early and have a quick coffee and breakfast together in your cabin
4:30 The two of you get ready for the day together, doing your hair and makeup
5:00 You’re finished with hair and makeup, so you pack the car and take off for the trailhead!
5:30 You arrive at the trailhead for Mount Fremont Lookout, lace up your hiking boots, and start hiking through the forest, taking in the views along the way.
7:30 At the top of the hike, you get dressed in your elopement attire and do your first look
8:00 After you take in the jaw-dropping views of the ridge line, we’ll begin your ceremony and you’ll exchange your vows!
8:00 After your ceremony, we take a few more photos with the hues of the sunrise against Mount Rainier.
8:30 Head back down the trail to enjoy other parts of the trail
9:30 Arrive at Frozen Lake to take some photos and have some cake to celebrate your ceremony!
11:00 Change and pack up your things to head back to the car
12:00 At the car, you’ll sign your marriage license and then head back to your cabin
12:30 Arrive at the cabin to spend the rest of the day together
Mount Rainier Elopement Packages
When you elope, one of the most important things you’ll have to do is find an elopement photographer. As your elopement photographer, I not only want to capture all the moments that make your elopement unique, but I also love helping you plan a day that’s perfect for you! As someone who is always down for an adventure, I’m ready to do whatever you imagine your elopement to be. From giving your personalized recommendations for every part of your elopement – like the best places to stay and things to do – to creating a detailed timeline to help you get through the day, I want to make your elopement the best day ever! Whatever you choose to do on your wedding day, I’ll be excited and ready to join you!
If you want to know more about my Mount Rainier elopement packages or are ready to start planning the elopement of your dreams, get in touch!