Post Summary: Below is all the most important info you’ll need to know to plan your elopement in Olympic National Park, one of the most popular destinations in Washington! Whether you want a landscape with mountains, beaches, forests, or lakes, ONP truly has it all, which makes it the perfect place for a Washington adventure elopement. (And a fun fact for any Twilight fans out there - a lot of Twilight was actually filmed right near the park in Forks!)
By now you've probably realized how freaking RAD Washington is, with its glorious mountains everywhere, rainforests filled with lush greenery, scenery to die for. . . you get it! With three national parks in the state, we've truly got some of the most amazing elopement locations around. So today, I wanted to talk all about one of my favorites, the park on the most west side of Washington: Olympic National Park!
Olympic NP encompasses nearly a million acres on the west side of Washington, a little over 2 hours north of Seattle (depending on the part of the park you're visiting.) It's closest to the towns of Port Angeles and Forks (yes, Forks - where they filmed a lot of the Twilight movies!), and is seriously one of the most diverse parks you may ever visit! Not only does it offer amazing views of the Olympic mountain range (hence the name), you also have access to crystal clear lakes, waterfalls, unique rainforests, & more beautiful views than you could ask for. This is why it's one of the best places to elope in Washington - and I bet you'll agree with me by the time you're done reading this blog post!
First, let's dive into the best spots within the park for your adventure elopement!
The Best Places to Elope in Olympic National Park
It’s so hard to narrow this list down to just a few locations because Olympic NP seriously has SO many freaking gorgeous spots for an elopement. But for now, here are 5 beautiful places for an Olympic National Park wedding that I know you’ll absolutely love!
The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the coolest rainforests you’ll ever see, truly. Full of lush green canopy, vibrant moss, and super unique tree roots, it feels like something right out of a fairytale! It’s located on the west side of the park via the Upper Hoh Road, about a 2-hour drive from Port Angeles and less than an hour from Forks.
Walking through the trees is an incredibly enchanting experience, rain or shine - it DOES rain a lot (hence the name), so be prepared for not-so-clear skies! Whether you want to walk, bike, or hike, you’ve got plenty of options in the Hoh Rain Forest, and it’s the most amazing place for couples dreaming of eloping under the green trees of the PNW.
You may have seen Ruby Beach in photos before - it’s pretty iconic for its unique rock formations/sea stacks, driftwood, moody atmosphere, and incredible sunsets on clear days. Ruby Beach is located on the southwest coast of the park off of Highway 101, and is part of the Kalaloch area. It’s only a 45-minute drive from the Hoh Rain Forest, so you could totally say your vows under the gorgeous trees of the rainforest, then drive to Ruby Beach for an evening picnic & epic sunset portraits along the coast!!
Hurricane Ridge is a super popular spot in the park because of how easy it is to access its epic views of the Olympic Mountain Range. The popular viewpoint sits 17 miles south of Port Angeles along Hurricane Ridge Road, which actually closes down in the winter because of snow - so it’s not somewhere you can go for a winter elopement, sadly. It’s perfect for any couples who want to hit the slopes after their elopement, though!!
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a clear day and you’ll be able to see wayyy out into the mountains from Hurricane Ridge. You can walk around the fields, explore the area, and how fun would it be to have a mountainside picnic here?!
Lake Crescent’s gorgeous blue waters sit about 18 miles west of Port Angeles, in the foothills of the Olympics. This lake is an absolutely breathtaking spot to say your vows at, with the mountains reflecting into the water behind you, and lots of forest area to explore on the shore. There are tons of trails nearby, too, so it would be fairly easy to go on a hike near the lake, and then head to Bovee’s Meadow (a cute spot on the shore) to say your vows with your loved ones surrounding you!
And if you elope here in the summertime, it’s a great spot for all your favorite water activities - you can head out onto the water with your loved ones in kayaks or paddle boards, or just relax on the beach. Talk about a fun way to start off your elopement day (or end it)!
The final beautiful location I wanted to tell you about is Marymere Falls, a stunning waterfall right near Lake Crescent. To get to the falls, you simply take a 1.8-mile roundtrip hike, and you’ll end up at the 90-foot waterfall with plenty of lush greenery & old-growth forest surrounding it. It’s a relatively easy and quick hike to get to such a beautiful spot, whether you want to take couples portraits there or say your actual vows in front of the falls!
How to Get Your Olympic National Park Wedding Permit
To legally get married, you need to apply for a Special Use Permit through the National Park Service, just like at most other NP’s! This permit will allow you to get married at certain locations throughout the park depending on the size of your group & what kind of ceremony you’re wanting to set up.
There’s a $50 non-refundable application fee that you’ll need to pay when you apply, and depending on the details of your elopement there may be additional fees you have to pay. The park office asks that you apply at least 3-4 weeks in advance to allow for plenty of processing time, but I definitely recommend applying as early as possible so you don’t have to stress about getting your permit in time!
As your photographer, I’ll also need to get a separate Still Photography permit, which I’ll help with applying for.
Here’s how to obtain your Special Use Permit:
- Complete this application form
- Mail your completed application along with your $50 non-refundable application fee (through check made out to the National Park Service) to the below address:
Olympic National Park
600 East Park Ave
Port Angeles, WA 98362
- If your permit request is approved, you’ll receive the permit.
- Once you receive the permit, sign & return it to the park for final approval.
Don’t forget you’ll also need to pay the $30 entrance fee per vehicle to enter the park itself, or get the $55 annual pass if you plan on visiting multiple times throughout the year!
If you’re still considering other locations in Washington for your big day, then be sure to check out my full blog post on How to Get Permits for Your Washington State Elopement!
When to Elope in Olympic National Park
One of the biggest factors to take into consideration when planning your elopement is the season + time of year! Washington’s weather can be pretty unpredictable in general, but since Olympic NP is on the coast, it can be even harder to predict no matter the season. Spots right on the coast like Ruby Beach tend to get less rain than spots like the Hoh Rain Forest (it was named that for a reason!), which gets an average of 140 inches of rain every year!
There are definitely pro’s & con’s to eloping in ONP in each season, so here are the top ones to consider when choosing the time of year to elope:
- Vibrant green colors
- Lush canopy + plants
- Mild temperatures
- Sunrise isn’t as early - so no having to start hiking at 2am for a sunrise elopement!
- Perfect conditions for hiking
- Can get cold in the early mornings/evenings
- Rainfall is still fairly likely
- More visitors start to come to the park
- Warmest temperatures of the year
- Least possibility of heavy rain
- More clear days
- Snow is usually melted at higher elevations
- Mild temperatures in the evenings
- Busy season for tourists + visitors
- Super early sunrises
- Stunning fall colors
- Mild temperatures
- Snow can start earlier in the season than expected
- Temperatures can drop quickly
- Rain becomes more unpredictable
- Gorgeous snow-covered mountains & trees
- Less visitors
- Ski season for skiers
- The park is quiet + calm
- Locations at high elevations are closed off (like Hurricane Ridge)
- Roads & trails can be closed off due to heavy rains or snow
- Weather conditions can be pretty unexpected
- Views can be obstructed by clouds
No matter what season you end up eloping in, make sure to keep your eye on the National Park Website to monitor current trail & road conditions! You don’t want last-minute weather changes to negatively affect your day, so it’s best to be prepared!
And if you do end up having not-so-ideal weather on your elopement day, that’s okay!! I’m a pro at dealing with inclement weather, and I know how to make sure you have an amazing experience no matter what conditions we’re given. I’ve got a whole blog post about How to Handle Bad Weather on Your Wedding Day that you can take a look at for tons of tips + advice!
How to Leave No Trace with Your Olympic National Park Elopement
I’m a photographer who’s incredibly passionate about helping couples respect the environment when they elope. It’s become far too popular for both photographers & couples to go to places they aren’t allowed to (to trespass), or to damage the land simply because they want to “get those views” or “get that shot.” It’s super important that we follow the rules & regulations set in place by public lands not only so WE can have the best experience possible, but so future visitors & couples can have just as amazing of an experience.
One way to respect the land and minimize the impact your elopement has on the environment is to follow the 7 Leave No Trace Principles. Before you continue reading this blog post, head to my other blog post that walks you through what the principles are & how to use them to Leave No Trace with your outdoor elopement!
Where to Stay Near Olympic National Park
The towns of Forks & Port Angeles have a ton of adorable Airbnb options for you to choose from! Whether you want to stay a little more in town or you’d love to sleep literally right in the middle of the forest, below are some of the coziest cabins & small homes you could book for your elopement. Make sure to keep in mind if you want to stay somewhere private with just the two of you, or if you want a bigger place to host your loved ones for a night or two!
Olympic National Park Wedding Vendors
Hiring the perfect team of vendors is essential to making your dream elopement come to life! Here are some awesome vendors that serve the Olympic National Park area that you can check out to help you plan your dream day!
Hair & Makeup
When it comes time for you to hire your Olympic National Park elopement photographer, I’d freaking love to be considered! I’m an expert at all things Washington elopements, so I’d be honored to help you plan your dream day at this stunning park full of beautiful landscapes & opportunities.
Take a look at my pricing below, and when you’re ready, contact me here so we can get this party started!
Elopement Packages and Pricing for Olympic National Park
- 4 hours – 2 days of elopement photography coverage anywhere in Washington
- Your own personal elopement guide & consultant
- Unique and personalized location scouting
- Vendor recommendations
- Permit and marriage license assistance
- Hand-crafted elopement timeline
- Created just-for-you activity list
- Unlimited guides and resources
- 100+ page How to Elope Guidebook
- Optional complimentary officiant service
- Digital online gallery with full resolution image and printing rights
- Sneak peek images within 1 week
- Photographer travel fees covered anywhere in Washington
Starting at $4,500
More Washington Elopement Resources
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In order to make your dream elopement day happen, it's super important that we connect and that you feel comfortable with me! The best way to do this is to reach out and schedule a call so you can learn more about me and I can learn about you two so i can document what's real + the most important to you.