You’ve decided to elope in Mt Rainier National Park – congratulations! Mt Rainier is an incredible place to get married. From endless fields of wildflowers to glacier views and alpine lakes, it has everything you could imagine for an adventure wedding. If you’ve been looking for a magical place to elope that checks all of the PNW boxes, Mt Rainier is your place. As an adventure wedding photographer, I wanted to put together a few tips on how to elope in Mt Rainier National Park.
Choose your Season
Mt Rainier is beautiful in all seasons, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your adventure elopement here. The time of year matters. If you have your heart set on wildflower fields, your best bet is to choose a date between the end of July and early August when the flowers reach peak bloom. While this can vary a bit every year, those few weeks are generally a good time to shoot for. Spring and fall are less crowded with tourists, but you’ll need to look out for road closures. You can check the status of the roads at Mt Rainier National Park HERE. In winter, the Nisqually entrance is the only entrance open to vehicles. Note that the gate closes promptly at 5:00pm. You can view more of Mt Rainier’s operating hours and seasonal information HERE.
Pick a Location to Elope in Mt Rainier
Once you’ve decided on what time of year you’d like to elope, you can start thinking about your location. There are four entrances to Mt Rainier National Park – The Nisqually (open year round, chains required for all vehicles in winter), Carbon River (year round, vehicles limited at the time this post was written), White River/Sunrise (open early July – September), and Stevens Canyon (open late May – early October). Each has its own unique trails, viewpoints, and highlights. If you’d like to get married on a trail, I would highly suggest checking out Washington Trails Association. You can view up-to-date trip reports, photos, and mileage/elevation info for many trails within Mt Rainier. Mt Rainier’s website also has a list trails you can check out. You may also get married at various campgrounds, picnic areas, and amphitheaters within the park.
Obtain a Wedding Permit to Elope in Mt Rainier
If you are eloping in Mt Rainier National Park, you’ll need to obtain a special events permit. This applies even if it’s just the two of you. The number of guests you have attending will limit the location in which you can get married. You can find all the info you need on Mt Rainier’s permit page. Note that your photographer will need to obtain a separate photography permit to photograph your wedding in the park. Mt Rainier requires that all wedding permit applications be sent in at least 4 weeks before your desired date.
Book your Wedding Vendors
Now that you’ve got your location, date, and permit, it’s time to start planning the fun stuff. You’ll need an officiant and two witnesses to legally get married in the State of Washington. An officiant would be a great start if you don’t have one yet. If you are having trouble lining up all the details for your adventure elopement, I would highly suggest an elopement planner. Erika of The Greatest Adventure Weddings specializes in adventure weddings and is also an officiant. There are a number of incredible florists if you’d like to carry a bouquet on your elopement day. Hiring a professional hair and makeup artist is another great idea to keep you looking your best. Many will travel to you as well. You can view some of my top Washington wedding vendor recommendations HERE.
Book Lodging for your Mt Rainier Elopement
Be sure to book your lodging well in advance, especially if you are getting married in the summer at Mt Rainier. There are options for anything from quaint woodsy cabins to full lodges available near Mt Rainier. You’ll of course want to book something that is near whatever park entrance you will be getting married at. One of my favorite places to look for unique mountain cabins is AirBnB. You can also check out the following list for some inspiration on where to stay for your wedding at Mt Rainier below.
Lodging near the Carbon River Entrance:
Carbon Country Shady Rest
Plan your Elopement Timeline
With help from your photographer and any other vendors you have working with you, it’s time to start planning your elopement timeline. Decide on the best time of day to get married, whether sunrise or sunset, decide on other activities you’d like to do, and allow enough time if you are hiking to your ceremony location.
Obtain a Marriage License
You’ll need to apply for a marriage license to get married in Washington State, which can luckily be done online. Mt Rainier is located in Pierce County. Once you apply, the license will be valid for 60 days. You will need to appear and pay for the license IN PERSON. After purchase, there is a 3 day waiting period. If you are from out-of-state, be sure to allow enough time to do this before your wedding date! You can view more info about marriage licenses HERE.
Live it up on one of the best days of your life as you elope in Mt Rainier National Park. Your wedding day deserves to be epic!
When you elope in Mt Rainier National Park, don’t forget to LEAVE NO TRACE:
1. Plan ahead and prepare.
2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
3. Dispose of waste properly.
4. Leave what you find.
5. Minimize campfire impacts.
6. Respect wildlife.
7. Be considerate of other visitors.