Why Olympic National Park is Magical for Elopements
Olympic National Park (ONP) is magical for elopements because it has something for everyone wanting to get married in nature. It has the most diverse landscape in the Pacific Northwest!
Olympic National Park is on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and covers nearly a million acres. The park has glacier-capped mountains, huge alpine lakes, beautiful waterfalls, the most beautiful old-growth rain forest, very tall trees, and over 70 miles of coastline with iconic sea stacks. The Olympic National Park website contains detailed information with a map of all the places that you can visit.
If you can’t decide if you want to have your elopement in mountains or on a beach or in a rain forest, Olympic National Park may be the place for you to elope. You can have your ceremony at sunrise surrounded by mountains and then enjoy walking through a dense rain forest during the middle of the day and a leisurely stroll on the beach at sunset. Where else can you easily access all those types of landscapes in one day?
The Olympic National Park property is highlighted in green on this map below:
Next, I’d like to share with you my favorite places in Olympic National Park and also what I believe are the best places for your elopement.
Best places for your elopement in Olympic National Park
- Ruby Beach
- Lake Crescent
- Hurricane Ridge
- Hoh Rainforest
- Lake Quinault
- Sol Duc Falls
Olympic National Park – Ruby Beach Elopement
There are several beaches along the coast in the Olympic National Park, but Ruby Beach is hands down my favorite! It has iconic sea stacks and I’ve seen some of the most beautiful sunsets of my life from there. It is also easy to walk just a little way down the beach and find places that are private, where you can enjoy the beach on your elopement….just the two of you!
Ruby Beach is also easy to access. It’s a short walk from the parking area. You definitely want to plan your elopement there on a weekday because it can get very busy during weekdays, especially in the summertime.
Ruby Beach is also an amazing place for an adventure or engagement session. Check out these epic Ruby Beach engagement photos.
Olympic National Park – Lake Crescent Elopement
The Lake Crescent area is like a mini-retreat location! Every time I visit, I think about the resort that Baby and her family stayed at for the summer in “Dirty Dancing”. That movie was filmed on the east coast, so Lake Crescent is the west coast version. It has a large, peaceful lake surrounded by mountains. There are large areas of grass for resting or playing frisbee…and those iconic Adirondack chairs. Lake Crescent offers even more though…it has a rain forest, a waterfall and a hike that quickly gets you up above the trees for amazing 360-degree views…it’s called Mount Storm King. It is a very steep hike, but you can enjoy a big meal afterwards and not feel guilty about it.
There is a nice, long pier that goes out into Lake Crescent and is perfect for your elopement ceremony in Olympic National Park. And then afterwards, you can jump in the lake or get your workout in by kayaking or relaxing and enjoying a boat ride. And then when you’re done, you can rest in one of those lakeside chairs and enjoy the sun set.
Olympic National Park – Hurricane Ridge Elopement
Hurricane Ridge is an easily accessed mountainous area within Olympic National Park. There are many hiking trails that traverse the ridgetop. You can also drive along Obstruction Point Road (typically July through October) and there are several trails that are accessible along the 8 mile dirt road. Hurricane Ridge is accessible all year around, but only on Fridays and weekends in the winter time.
Continuing with the movie theme, ONP reminds me of “The Sound of Music”, specifically the scene where Julie Andrews twirls around on that beautiful, alpine meadow. Everyone I’ve taken there or shown pictures to always agrees. Hurricane Ridge has panoramic views, making it difficult to capture all of the views in one image….but great for a variety of backdrops.
I’m not sure why, but this area isn’t visited as much as some of the other areas with epic mountain views in Washington…and that makes it perfect for your elopement or vow renewal!
Olympic National Park – Hoh Rain Forest Elopement
The Hoh Rain Forest, pronounced “hoe”, is one of the lushest rain forests in the United States and one of the most visited areas in the Olympic National Park. It gets nearly 140 inches of precipitation each year. Moss and ferns blanket the forest floor and trees, which is personally my favorite part of this rainforest.
Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple and Douglas Fir all call the Hoh Rain Forest home and are some of the largest trees in North America. I remember the first time that I visited the Hoh and wanted to hug every tree. The trees are soooo tall and very wide…like nothing you’ve ever seen.
If you love green, then this location is perfect for your elopement ceremony. It’s also near the coastline and within easy driving distance to several beaches. You can also backpack along the Hoh River Trail, which is 18.5 miles
Olympic National Park – Lake Quinault Elopement
There is also a large lake and 8-miles of trails through a rain forest near the Lake Quinault Lodge. The world’s largest Sitka Spruce is just a mile past the Lodge. It’s over 1,000 years old. You can drive past the Lodge until you get to a gravel road, Quinault Rain Forest Loop drive, where you feel like you’re the only people around. There is dense forest, lots of wildlife and the Quinault river, which flows into Lake Quinault.
It would be a nice experience to have your elopement ceremony on the lake’s edge and then explore the rain forest together.
Olympic National Park – Sol Duc Falls Elopement
Sol Duc Falls is the prettiest and most unique waterfall in Olympic National Park. You can view it from above on a bridge or closer, along the trail. It makes for very picturesque images. The hike is just 1.6 miles round trip and is mostly flat.
On the way to the trailhead for Sol Duc Falls is the Sol Duc River. There is an overlook called the Salmon Cascades. During late October and early November, you can watch the coho salmon leap over the falls on their way to spawn upstream in the Sol Duc River. I have watched them and it’s truly amazing.
The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is on the same road. You can soak in the hot-mineral spring pools and stay in a cabin. Sol Duc is closer to Lake Crescent and the northern part of Olympic National Park.
Permit required to elope in Olympic National Park
Eloping in the Olympic National Park requires a Special Use Permit. It covers the photographing of your ceremony, if you have more than 5 people present. The couple getting married must obtain that permit and it only costs $50. You can request the permit using this link:
If you have less than 5 people total in attendance, that includes you and your photographer, you do not need a permit!
Washington State Marriage License and Rules
Another reason to elope in Washington? Straightforward marriage license rules (that of course, I help you to navigate!). Washington state requires a three-day waiting period before you can use your marriage license. You’ll need a certified officiant (I just happen to be one!) and two witnesses. If you don’t want to have anyone else at your elopement, that’s ok. We can always find some friendly hikers or locals at a coffee shop to ask to be your witnesses. What does that mean for you? All you need to do is fill out the license and I will make sure it gets in the mail shortly after your ceremony.
It is also good to note that licenses are valid for sixty days after the three-day waiting period. This is beneficial in case the unexpected happens. In case this occurs, there is time to pivot and make sure the license is still viable for your Washington state elopement!
Olympic National Park Weather
The weather in Olympic National Park is pretty temperate throughout the year. Average temperatures can be found in the table below.
Summer and Fall are definitely the most pleasant times to elope in Olympic National park, especially if it’s hot inland. Conditions in the summertime are relatively warm and dry and typically remain in the 60s. Olympic National Park cools off a little in the Fall and you have a better chance of seeing the moody fog, especially on the coast.
|January||47 / 36|
|February||49 / 35|
|March||51 / 37|
|April||55 / 39|
|May||60 / 43|
|June||63 / 48|
|July||67 / 51|
|August||69 / 51|
|September||66 / 47|
|October||58 / 42|
|November||50 / 38|
|December||46 / 35|
Places to stay in Olympic National Park
Lake Crescent Lodge
Lake Crescent Lodge is a historic lodge and was built in 1915. The lodge itself is beautiful inside and has amazing views from the cozy sun porch looking out onto Lake Crescent. I personally love the Adirondack chairs and logs placed along the lake edge where you can rest and relax. I could stare at this view all day.
You can choose to stay inside the lodge or select a cabin or cottages. The best part about staying in the Roosevelt Cabin or Singer Tavern cottage is that your pet can stay with you!
There is a big restaurant in the Lodge with many window-side tables that allow for views of the lake and any wildlife that strolls by.
Lake Quinault Lodge
Lake Quinault Lodge is a rustic lodge built in 1926. It is named after the Quinault Indian Nation.
The Lodge is also situated next to a beautiful lake with view of mountains in the distance. It has rooms in the main lodge, as well as rooms with lakeside views, a fireplace and in the Boathouse. Pets are welcome in the Boathouse. It’s very convenient that Lake Quinault Lodge is open year round.
A rain forest trail is just across the street. It’s an easy trail to hike with beautiful green, mossy trees.
A Hidden Haven Forest Cottages
A Hidden Haven is an adorable 20-acre property with forest, ponds, waterfalls and wildlife. It has 5 luxurious, private cottages that are nicely appointed. They are your home away from home with a full kitchen and dining area, living room, bedroom and large bathroom in each cottage. They also have cute outdoor seating areas that you can use. There is an adorable gazebo on the pond. They also have a turtle and reindeer, which you can hand feed.
The property is within 5 miles of the Olympic National Park and beaches. It is also near Port Angeles and the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The Dungeness Spit is one of the world’s longest sand spits and shelters a bay rich in marine life.
Woodland Inns has 13 uniquely decorated luxury cabins, one of which is ADA accessible. The Inn is located in Forks, a lovely 32-mile drive from Ruby Beach.
Forks has a long history in the logging industry and these log cabins honor that history with local art and cultural accents to inspire your exploration. It is conveniently located near the Hoh Rain Forest, as well as some of the most popular beaches.
It is also known for being the real town in which the fictional “Twilight” universe is set.
Olympic National Park Airbnbs
If you prefer something more private, there are many Airbnb options on the Olympic Peninsula.
Olympic National Park Campsites
There are campsites you can reserve in summertime in Kalaloch, Sol Duc and Mora. All other campsites are first come, first serve. Always make sure to check road status and campground status before heading out on your adventure.
Your Olympic National Park Elopement Photographer
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about why Olympic National Park is so magical for elopements! It was the first place that I visited when I moved to Washington and holds a special place in my heart. I love visiting the coast at any time of year!
I always take guests to Lake Crescent because it’s iconic views impress everyone. Ruby Beach is my favorite spot and where my elopement photography dreams began when I captured a proposal for a couple at sunset.
I know Olympic National Park well and would love the opportunity to help you plan the elopement of your dreams here. I also have many other resources that will help you plan you elopement in the Pacific Northwest and learn about How to Elope in Washington State. Contact me to start the process now!