When you think of Washington state, what do you see? Towering pine trees, snowy mountain peaks? This is the first thing that comes to mind for a lot of people – but in reality, the landscape of Washington is incredibly diverse! Maybe I’m a little biased, being an elopement photographer in Washington, but this state is really one of the most beautiful places to elope! You can drive a few hours from the city and reach the rain forest, or drive a few hours in the other direction and find yourself in the desert. With so many amazing places to elope, how do you narrow it down? Here are my favorite places in this state – and the best places to elope in Washington.
Mount Rainier National Park
If you’ve been to Washington, you’re definitely familiar with Mount Rainier. It’s the one that peeks out when you’re driving down the highway on the rare cloud free day in Seattle. While Washington does see a lot of rain and cloudy days, summer months usually bring clear skies. Once you get a peek of Mount Rainier from farther away, it’s hard not to want a closer look!
Entrance into Mount Rainier National Park is $30 per vehicle – but if you’re a frequent flier at the United State’s national parks, an interagency pass will get you into any national park, and is good for one year. At $80, it pays for itself pretty quickly!
This national park is usually covered in snow from mid fall to mid spring, and while for experienced adventurers this could be fun and a great way to avoid crowds, the best time to elope is generally summer. Crowds typically flock to the park in the summer, but when all the trails are open, it’s easy to find a secluded part of the park for your ceremony. Mount Rainier has everything from easily accessible overlooks that you can drive up to, to long backpacking trails with solitude and epic views.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is west of Seattle, and takes up the northwest corner of Washington. The expansive wilderness of this park offers everything from rainforests, to rugged coastlines and tidepools, to mountains and glaciers. When looking at the best places to elope in Washington, Olympic National Park definitely provides the most variety. You can have a picnic at an alpine lake, spot some mountain goats, and dip your toes in the ocean, all in the same day!
Olympic National Park costs $25 per vehicle to enter, but just like Mount Rainier National Park, you can get an interagency pass for just $80 and visit our country’s national parks as often as you want!
While Olympic National Park is very popular, because it’s so big and offers such a variety of scenery and things to do, there are many less traveled trails and hideaways for a more intimate elopement ceremony. Summer is the most popular time to visit this park, but because so much of it is on the coast, those areas of the park remain accessible in the winter, because it rarely snows. However, the coastal cities definitely see a lot of rain.
If you were (or are) a Twilight fan, you can visit the town of Forks, where the story takes place. The town has a lot of cute lodging options, and great hiking trails nearby. La Push is just a short drive away and full of incredible, movie-worthy beaches.
If you drove into Leavenworth without knowing anything about it, you might be a little confused. The town is known as the “Bavarian Village” – meaning that everything is designed in the old German style. They actually won’t allow buildings that don’t fit the theme, so even chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s are designed to fit in with the unique style. The story is that in the 1900s, the town was struggling – the railroad no longer. They decided to change the town to draw visitors. Leavenworth became the Bavarian Village, and not just with their aesthetic. The town hosts festivals throughout the year, with Christmas lighting festivals drawing the most crowds each year. And it definitely worked – Leavenworth is a huge tourist destination in Washington.
In Leavenworth, you can eat German food and stay in a cute rustic cottage, but just outside of the town are the Wenatchee mountains. You can explore different parks and trails in the mountains, which tend to be much less crowded and less popular than the national parks. Leavenworth is one of the best places to elope in Washington if you’re looking to combine a relaxing stay in town with an adventure or a hike.
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is the least popular park in Washington – but definitely not because it isn’t beautiful! The fact that it’s less crowded means that you can find a secluded spot for your elopement ceremony. This park has everything from ADA accessible overlooks that you can drive up to, to long hiking trails through the mountains. The Heather-Maple Pass Loop is a popular and beautiful hike that would be perfect for an elopement ceremony. You can end the hike with a dramatic view of the mountain ridges around you and the alpine lakes below.
Unlike most national parks, North Cascades has no entrance fee! The trails inside the park are totally free for everyone to enjoy – all the more reason why this gorgeous park is on my list of the best places to elope in Washington!
If you’re hoping not to get too far from the city, Snoqualmie Pass is probably the closest place to Seattle where you can go to get epic nature views and pacific northwest vibes. Being so close to the city, many of these trails get crowded, fast! But, if you elope at sunrise or sunset (but especially sunrise), you’ll be able to avoid people. Some amazing places to elope in Snoqualmie Pass include Gold Creek Pond, Franklin Falls, and Rattlesnake Lake. There are also a ton of hidden, lesser known gems around!
Most of the parking lots in this area require a Forest Pass – but check the exact trail or park you’re visiting, as some are free, and some require a Discover Pass instead.
Elope in Washington
If reading this list of my top 5 best places to elope in Washington got you feeling inspired, check out this post all about how to elope in Washington! There, I’ll walk you through the logistics and all the necessary prep work that will make eloping in Washington a breeze. And if you’re ready to explore this amazing state and want some more specific location ideas right from my trail log, don’t be afraid to reach out!
September 17, 2020