Best Locations To Elope in Washington State

The Pacific Northwest is a paradise for couples seeking a breathtaking backdrop for their elopement and in this guide, I’m breaking down the Best Locations to Elope in Washington State. From rugged coastlines to majestic mountains, the Evergreen State offers a wealth of stunning locations to exchange vows and officially begin your lifelong adventure together.

I was born on the Kitsap Peninsula and I’ve explored and hiked a lot of the trails throughout the state of Wasshington, including the 500+ mile long section of the Pacific Crest Trail that spans from the Columbia River Gorge to the Canadian border.

As someone who is constantly seeking out the most epic, dramatic and jaw dropping landscapes in the state, here are some of the most enchanting elopement destinations you will find Washington and several that you won’t find many others share about.

1. Columbia River Gorge Elopement

Why have a wedding In the Columbia River Gorge?

Nestled along the border between Washington and Oregon, the Columbia River Gorge boasts dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests. Couples can elope amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of iconic landmarks like Multnomah Falls or find secluded spots along scenic hiking trails.

One of the most sought after locations in the Gorge is an old abandoned stone house in the forest which makes for an incredibly unique and intimate space for your elopement. Keep in mind that a Washington Discover Pass, Northwest Forest Pass, or in some case, local permits, may be required for ceremonies in certain areas of the Gorge. If you have any questions about a specific location, reach out and I’ll help you out!

Click here to see Danielle & Cris’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest & Columbia River Gorge Elopement

Choosing the best place To Elope In The Columbia River Gorge

Being that the Columbia River Gorge is also the border of Oregon and Washington, the locations to elope are abundant.

The Oregon side of the Gorge is stunning and littered with countless waterfalls such as Multnomah Falls (tallest waterfall in the Cascades), Bridal Veil Falls, Latourell Falls, Elowah Falls, Wahclella Falls, and many more.

The two big things to know about the Oregon side of the Gorge is that not every waterfall works well for photos due to space, position and lighting. You also have loads of great hikes out there such as Angels Rest but you will definitely want to plan a Gorge Wedding or Elopement in the spring or summer months when everything is lush and green. The Eagle Creek fire back in 2017 had a very big impact on the gorge so knowing where to go to still capture that beauty of this place is important!

Another location that serves as as an amazing location for a small wedding or elopement is Government Cove. This little island juts out into the Columbia River and has some of the best views of the Gorge. It’s a perfect place if you are wanting a nature inspired wedding but maybe have family that couldn’t make it up a hike. The thing to note about Government Cove is that it is privately owned by the Confederated Trribes of the Warm Springs Reservation so a permit is required if you plan to have your ceremony there.

The biggest reason why Oregon’s side of the Gorge is such an incredible place to consider for your small wedding or elopement is because it’s been very well protected since the start of the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1913.

The Washington side of the Gorge boasts a different kind of beauty and though it is a little more developed than the Oregon side, there are still a handful of incredible hikes to waterfalls and viewpoints you could include in your Elopement day.

My two favorite Washington Gorge locations I’d recommend are Horse Thief Butte, which is a great location for rock climbing, or the hidden Skamania Stone House.

Click here to see Danielle & Cris’ Elopement at the Skamania Stone House!

Romantic Washington Adventure Elopement

Best Time Of The Year To Elope in the Columbia River Gorge?

The Gorge is an amazing location year round however I’d recommend planning your elopement or wedding between when the wildflowers bloom in May to when the first rains falls in September or October. This is the time frame in which is the Gorge is going to be incredibly lush, green, and the waterfalls won’t be flowing wildly hard from the winter melt, making it much easier to get photos by the falls without getting soaked – though I’ll always support you in embracing the elements, especially on your wedding day!

Best Trails For Your Columbia River Gorge elopement

There are a ton of trails in the Gorge but having hiked every trail multiple times both in Washington and Oregon, these are the ones I’d recommend for your elopement based on multiple factors such as feasibility and space to shoot, the trails have the best natural light for photography, and which ones have the most diversity in landscape.

Make sure to note that either daily or annual permits are required at most trailheads in the Columbia River Gorge. For Oregon, you’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass and for Washington, you’ll need a Discover Pass.

Bridal Veil Falls: is a simple .6 mile long hike with only 121ft of elevation gain (on the way back). This waterfall is great for some couples photos, especially if you are having your elopement at

Bridal Veil Falls: is a simple .6 mile long hike with only 121ft of elevation gain (on the way back). This waterfall is great for some couples photos, especially if you are having your elopement at Bridal Veil Lodge

Latourell Falls: This is a very popular 2 mile long loop trail with several great waterfalls. Hitting it in the off hours gives you. abetter chance of there being less people and I find the morning time typically has the best light!

Wahclella Falls: This 2 mile long out-and-back trail is another great one for a small ceremony and diverse landscape for photos!

Horsethief Butte Trail: This mile long loop takes you gives you multiple vantage points of the Eastern side of the Gorge and has lots of options for tucked away private spaces where you can have a small ceremony.

Angels Rest: This 4.5 mile long out-and-back trail climbs up to a panoramic viewpoint that delivers a beautiful spot for photos or even a proposal at the top of the Gorge.

Government Cove: Just a few miles East of Cascade Locks, this peninsula like island in the middle of the Columbia River is one of the best views you will get of the Gorge and it has a lot of opportunities and diversity for an elopement, small wedding or engagement sessions. This is land of the Warm Springs Nation so it does require a permit to get married on the island.

2. Mount St. Helens Elopement

Mount Margaret BackcountryRober t J Hill

Why You Should Elope On Mount St. Helens

For couples seeking a unique and adventurous elopement experience, Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument offers unparalleled views of one of the most famous volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. After erupting in 1980, the landscapes around the mountain was dramatically changed and has left us with some of the best backcountry hiking you could ask for in Washington. 

The Native name of Mount St. Helens is “Loowit” or “Louwala-Clough”, meaning “smoking mountain”.

If you are a thrill seeker, looking for a next level Adventure Elopement experience, consider getting permits to summit this beauty of a mountain for an unbelievable ceremony on top of the Cascades. I’ve summited 3x over the years and can assist you on permits, gear, and everything it would take to make this an unforgettable trek.

If summiting isn’t in cards, consider exchanging vows amidst the otherworldly landscapes of lava fields, crater lakes, wild lava flow caves, or rugged terrain around the mountain. There are loads of trails out here that all lead to some really amazing and unique views.

Best Time Of The Year To Elope on Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens has so much to offer year round and though most people will opt to explore these trails and the surrounding area in the summer months between June and September, you can also had an incredible winter elopement on Mount St. Helens.

If you are planning to do a summit elopement, I’d recommend July or early August before it gets really hot. A lot of the trails around Mount St. Helens are pretty exposed so this works well even shortly after the melt when the mosquitos come out because you’ll be in more alpine meadow like areas. The big thing early on in the summer would be to explore away from water sources so the bugs aren’t as bad.

If you are looking for a winter elopement in the snow, early spring in April, when the weather in the Northwest starts to transition out of the rainy season is best. This is also when we’ll get the best snow and with spring bringing in warmer days, the day consolidates more and makes it easier to traverse with snowshoes or microspikes.

Eloping In The Mount Margaret Backcountry

Another location that most don’t talk about but should absolutely be on the top of your list of potential places to Elope in Washington is the Mount Margaret Backcountry. This area is one of my favorite hidden gems of Washington and it delivers lots of different options for easy to moderate hikes and jaw dropping views of the blast zone from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.

After backpacking out here in the winter and camping in the snow, I was blown away at the views and diversity in landscape that you have in this area. It’s very high on my list right now for places to recommend couples consider for their Washington Elopement or Wedding.

Mount Margaret Backcountry Robert J Hill

Best Trails for Your Mount St. Helens Elopement

Harry’s Ridge: This is the perfect trail if you are looking for minimal elevation and really incredible views of the entire blast zone as well as Spirit Lake. This starts at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and has connection to other areas in the Mount Margaret Backcountry.

Boundary Trail: This moderate trail is one of the best in the area and holds some of the most jaw dropping views of Spirit Lake as well as the blast zone of Mount St. Helens. I’ve backpacked this trail after the first weeks of snow (see sunrise photos above) and it has so much diversity and opportunities for your elopement. Whether this is in the plans. foryour elopement or not, if you are in the area, do not miss this hike! 

Ptarmigan Trail: This is the primary route for summiting Mount St. Helens and it starts at the Climbers Bivouac Trailhead. I’ve summited St. Helens three times in summer and winter conditions and this difficult trail is for seasoned adventurers as it climbs roughly 5000′ in 5 miles to the Crater Rim. Permits for this trail are open from April to October and must be booked the month prior to summiting. If eloping on the summit of Mount St. Helens is in the plans for you, I’m here to help you with planning, permitting, gear and more!

Loowit Trail: If a Mount St. Helens backpacking elopement is what you are looking for, look no further than this ~30 mile loop. The “Loowit” Trail, named after the native name for Mount St. Helens meaning “Smoking Mountain”, completely circles around the volcano and delivers incredible views of the mountain, epic waterfalls, alpine lakes, and otherworldly landscapes around every corner.

Hammocks Trail: This easy loop trail on the Northwest side of Mount St. Helens is perfect for the adventurers who want a more relaxing day but still immersed in breath taking landscape. It only takes an hour to do the 2.4 mile loop making this a perfect spot for a beautiful afternoon and sunset elopement or adventure session.

Marble Mountain Snow Park: This is specifically the best spot for a winter elopement on Mount St. Helens whether you want to go all-out and climb to the summit or just simply get to some really incredible views of below the mountain and have a private and intimate setting to exchange your vows.

3. Mount Adams

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So, let me tell you about the hidden gem that is Mount Adams. Imagine you and your partner surrounded by this jaw-dropping scenery, like something out of a dream. I’m talking towering peaks, lush greenery, and just this incredible sense of adventure in the air. It’s like nature’s playground meets romance central. And the best part is… it’s all yours. No crowds, no chaos, just you two soaking up every moment in this stunning wilderness. If you’re all about epic views and intimate vibes, Mount Adams is where it’s at for your Washington Elopement.

4. Goat Rocks Wilderness

The Traverse 2

Why You Should Elope in the Goat Rocks wilderness

If you are looking for one of the most mind-wrecking adventure days for your elopement, look no further than Goat Rocks. Tucked away in the southern Cascades, the Goat Rocks Wilderness is a hidden gem for adventurous couples seeking a remote and rugged elopement destination.

I rarely hear people speak about Goat Rocks because they often get drawn towards the “shiny” and popular National Parks however Goat Rocks, in my opinion is the creme-de-la-creme of Washington outside of the North Cascades.

Ask anyone who has ever hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and they will say, Goat Rocks takes the cake for most epic spot on the 2,653 mile long trek from Mexico to Canada. If you are up for going the extra mile, setting your eyes on Mount Rainier form the Knife’s Edge or watching the sunset on Mount Adams from this vantage point may bring you to tears and sear these colors in your memory forever. Don’t believe me, click here to see the most unreal sunset I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Explore alpine meadows, turquoise alpine lakes, and panoramic vistas as you exchange vows amidst the pristine beauty of this wilderness area. Keep in mind that access to Goat Rocks Wilderness does require permits, but I’ve got you covered on how to easily secure them!

What You Need To Know About Eloping in Goat Rocks

Washington’s Wilderness Area’s are special lands within the USDA National Forests that are designated so that untouched wild areas could be kept in their natural state.

That means that these are places where you can escape from the hustle of society and truly reconnect with yourself and your partner amidst some wild and jaw dropping views.

Goat Rocks is one of the most scenic spots you could explore in Washington. Though it does take a little more of an adventurous spirit to get to these views, you are immersed in the grandeur of Goat Rocks within the first few miles of most trails and that makes every step beyond worth it.

Being that this is a protected wilderness area, drones cannot be flown and permits are required to explore these trails.

Best Trails For Your Goat Rocks Wilderness Elopement

Klickitat Loop, Cispus Pass & Goat Lake: If a multi-day adventure is what you’re about, this trail will change your life. Imagine sipping on a warm beverage with your partner as you watch the gradient of twilight stretch across the sky with panoramic views of the Cascades. This trail deliver alpine lakes, waterfalls, and an easy off shoot to explore Old Snowy, which holds the best view in the house for the Goat Rocks area.

Old Snowy Mountain via Snowgrass Trail: Old Snowy is a short side trail that branches off the Pacific Crest Trail and it delivers 360º views of the entire Goat Rocks Wilderness and Washington Cascades. This trail. is the fastest way to get to these views and is a simple 10 mile out-and-back hike with 3600′ of elevation gain. Definitely for couples who are ready for a climb and who also crave an epic worthwhile reward at the top. Click here to see sunrise from Old Snowy.

Bear Creek Mountain: This simple 6.8 mile and 1500′ climb delivers some absolutely killer views and is perfect if you want a taste of Goat Rocks but may not want to go as far or as high. This can also work really well if you have a small group who also wants to be a part of your Washington Adventure Elopement!

Elk Pass: This 17 mile hike would be best for a 2-day adventure through Goat Rocks and delivers the best of the best you could ask for in the area, including the famous Knife’s Edge with the number one view of Mount Rainier in the Cascades. Truly, nothing beats it. This would. beadding just a little bit on to an Old Snowy Mountain hike!

5. Mount Rainier NAtional Park

Towering over the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier is an iconic symbol of Washington State and the Pacific Northwest as a whole and she delivers a breathtaking backdrop for elopements.

There are two primary areas to Mount Rainer and whether you choose to exchange vows near Paradise, with wildflowers blooming in the summer, or against the backdrop of snow-capped peaks near Sunrise, Mount Rainier offers endless opportunities for romance and adventure.

There is endless opportunities within the park and I’m here to help you choose something that is just right for you. Also, make a note that getting married in a National Park does require a permit and I’ll help you with all the logistics of it.

6. North Cascades National Park

Known as the “American Alps,” North Cascades National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. This area of Washington is by far the most dramatic for views and has some of the most world class hiking you could ask for in the states.

Exchange vows against a backdrop of jagged peaks, turquoise lakes, and old-growth forests as you immerse yourselves in the untouched wilderness of the North Cascades. Keep in mind that some areas of the park may be remote and require careful planning for logistics and permits.

7. Olympic National Park

From rugged coastline to temperate rainforest, Olympic National Park offers a diverse array of landscapes for couples to explore on their elopement day. Say “I do” amidst the ancient trees of the Hoh Rainforest, with moss-draped branches and cascading waterfalls providing a magical backdrop. Alternatively, exchange vows on a secluded beach along the wild and rugged Olympic Coast.

8. Washington Coast (Olympic Peninsula)

The rugged coastline of the Olympic Peninsula is a romantic and unforgettable setting for coastal elopements. From the wild beaches of Ruby Beach to the iconic sea stacks of Rialto Beach, the Washington Coast offers endless opportunities for couples to exchange vows against the backdrop of crashing waves and stunning sunsets. Keep in mind that weather conditions on the coast can be unpredictable, so plan accordingly and dress in layers.

9. San Juan Islands

Celebrate your love amidst the serene beauty of the San Juan Islands in Washington State. With charming seaside villages, breathtaking coastal vistas, and a relaxed island atmosphere, the San Juans provide the perfect backdrop for an intimate elopement. Whether you choose to exchange vows on a secluded beach, amidst rolling farmland, or overlooking the shimmering waters of the Salish Sea, your San Juan Islands elopement promises to be an unforgettable celebration of love and natural beauty. Embrace the island’s laid-back vibe, savor local cuisine, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting Pacific Northwest destination.

9. Gifford Pinchot National Forest

The Gifford Pinchot National Forest is a section of the Southern Cascades that 

Tips for Planning Your Elopement:

  • Research permits and regulations for your chosen elopement location, especially if you plan to have a ceremony in a National Park or National Wilderness area.
  • Find an Elopement Photographer who is experienced with the location you want to Elope and can assist with planning your day!
  • Make sure you have the proper gear and clothing for the level of adventure you are wanting to have as well as what’s appropriate for the terrain and weather, especially if you are eloping in a more remote or rugged terrain.
  • Make sure to get a marriage license so your officiant can solemnize your marriage. I am an ordained officiant so I can help with this as well!

 

Eloping in Washington State offers couples the opportunity to exchange vows in some of the most breathtaking and romantic locations in the Pacific Northwest. Whether you choose to wed amidst the towering peaks of Mount Rainier or along the wild and rugged coastline of the Olympic Peninsula, your Washington elopement is sure to be an unforgettable celebration of love and adventure.

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Hey, I'm Robert

Washington Elopement Photographer

I’m here to help you craft an elopement day or small wedding that is a true reflection of who you and your partner are and leaves you feeling more deeply connected and wildly alive.

As a Pacific Northwest native, thru hiker, mountaineer, and all around adventurer, I’m here to answer every question you have and serve you in planning the most epic elopement or wedding day you could dream up whether it’s here in Washington or Oregon, or on the other side of the world.