A Guide For
Where to Elope in Olympic National Park (Washington)
Destination and Adventure Elopements
All the best spots marry the love of your life
Why Olympic? Why not Olympic is the better question! Our first trip to ONP was on our honeymoon in 2018. We knew we wanted to go somewhere wild and different and full of adventure and ONP delivered all of that and more. There is almost nowhere on the Olympic peninsula that you can escape incredible views. You have the best of everything from beautiful snow capped mountains to lush forests to crystal clear lakes to wild beaches. Everything is accessible within a few hours drive so you can stay where your heart is happiest in either sleepy towns, busier cities, or in secluded wilderness. We choose to make our base camp in Port Angeles when we visit which is a great city to explore and relax in. It’s peaceful but still has a lively downtown with lots of lodging, food, and entertainment options to choose from.
Now again, why would you go to Olympic to elope? Like we touched on, this national park has it all and is a videographer’s (& photographer’s) dream. There are so many epic landscapes to choose from and whatever your vibe is, as long as you are a nature lover, Olympic has you covered. With everything spaced close enough together to diversify your film + photos, you can say your vows mountainside and still get amazing beachside footage if you’re someone who wants to express their love in more than one amazing locale. Most importantly, while this is a popular and stunning national park, it does not garner the traffic many others do and you can almost always find a private spot to say your “ I Do’s”.
Below we’ve compiled a list of our top four favorite locations that make magical elopement spots:
1.) The Olympic mountain range is our favorite mountain range. The peaks are majestic to say the least and give a certain air of delicate grace compared to some other ranges we’ve visited. They are snow capped the majority of the year (typically melt occurs in July and extends through about September) which allows for some awesome footage to be captured from near + far.
The rugged peaks offer breathtaking views the entire drive up to Hurricane Ridge, the mountainous area nestled high up in the Olympic range. While we’ve only been to the top while there were several feet of snow still lingering on our Spring visits, in the summer there are miles of ridge line trails offering views of wildflowers among the peaks and valleys of your hike. You can see the mountains from most places in the park and they do make a beautiful backdrop, but getting into the thick of it will really offer those fantastic views.
We have really enjoyed visiting in the Spring for two reasons. First, because there are way less people. We encountered less than 10 people each time (May) and really got to soak in the surroundings peacefully. Secondly, Daylight lasts longer and there’s still a lot of snow to give you that true snow capped feel.
However, we know summer offers a lot as well from warmer temps to access to the trails without having to wear snowshoes (lol). While open year round, keep in mind that the road to Hurricane Ridge closes for inclement weather, certain holidays, and your vehicle should be equipped with tire chains in the winter months. If your dream is to exchange vows in the snowy season, though, you can always check road access and closures on the national park website, www.nps.gov/olym.
This is one of the most unique areas we’ve ever been to and a forest-lover’s dream. The ferns, the moss, the larger-than-life trees, it’s all fantastic and feels like you’re in a fairytale. There is this shade of green in the rainforest that we’ve never seen anywhere else that really pops off from the rich reddish browns of the tree bark and soil. You can spend days exploring and still be wowed by the sparkling streams and intense quiet of the moss covered landscape.
There are a few things to note if you want to elope in the Hoh. The first is, the rainforest lives up to its name. The lush beauty comes from the plentiful rainfall that occurs year round. While most of the rainfall does happen in the winter months, it is important to have the expectation of at least a light drizzle in the forecast. This is not to say you can’t have an amazing day because truly that’s part of the magic of the rainforest. Both times we visited we had sunshine and light - moderate rain that lasted briefly. We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! The sunshine allowed the fresh droplets to sparkle against the moss and you could really feel the forest come alive.
Along the Hoh river rose mist that shrouded the mountains for a really ethereal vibe. The canopy of the trees doesn’t really allow you to get soaked except in a few more open places. Simply bring along a rainjacket and some waterproof footwear and you’ll be ready to hike to wherever you’d like to exchange vows. In the warmer months, the showers tend to pass quickly when they occur so you can hand off your jackets and change shoes if you wish for photo + video (though we kind of dig the authentic experience appearances!).
The second thing to note is that the Hoh is probably the top visited place in the national park (for good reason!). This doesn’t mean you can’t still have a beautiful private moment, you may just need to hike a little further in on one of the longer trails. The busiest spots in the Hoh are the Hall of Mosses and the Spruce Nature Trail because they are short, mostly level ground, and offer tourists a quick in and out with grand views. Those are great spots to walk along with your video + photo team if you have patience to wait for passers by, but the Hoh River Trail offers 18 miles and a lot more privacy.
Planning ahead can also help you avoid the crowds such as shooting for early morning or early evening and choosing a weekday rather than Friday- Sunday when the park is busiest. (Psst - sunrise and sunset offer the best footage anyway!)
The Hoh Rainforest
We LOVE lake Crescent. Lake Crescent has a humble yet epic feel that cannot be beat. Whether you view it from the top of Mount Storm King or from the shore of the lake itself, it's sure to be a breathtaking sight. On sunny days, the glacial water is so clear you can see up to 60 feet in some spots. We could, and did, stare at the lovely waters for hours soaking up the sunshine and skipping colorful smooth rocks from the lake shore.
The towering old growth forests around the lake offer a beautiful backdrop from any shore and if you are feeling extra adventurous, there are lots of trails that climb the mountains and allow for you to get insane aerial views of the lake. This is one of our favorite spots in Olympic because it is so peaceful and offers not only the lake views but also forest views with huge towering Douglas Firs and Sitka Spruce as well as really cool waterfall hikes.
Two of our favorite waterfall hikes in that area are Marymere and Sol Duc. Both offer so much natural beauty, but are quite popular (ie really worth seeing) so once again we recommend visiting during less popular times like sunrise or on weekdays to get a more intimate experience. Along the lake shore there are a lot of places that offer privacy to allow you time to breathe and soak up each other’s company in these unspoiled, epic views. You can even spend a few days at either the Lake Crescent Lodge which is right on the water or at the Sol Duc Lodge nestled in the mountains which has the added treat of on-site hot springs.
To be honest, it’s hard to pick just one beach because the ones we’ve visited have all been gorgeous. On our last trip, we went and filmed at Ruby Beach off of a recommendation and were delighted to see the rocky shores and huge haystacks as well as easily accessible cliffs.
We had explored Second Beach twice and while also very epic, it is a much more difficult journey down to the beach from the parking area so for an elopement we can give points to Ruby for being a gentler slope with equally stunning views and give points to Second beach for being less popular and therefore less crowded due to the level of difficulty accessing it.
Overall, the beaches along the peninsula are wild and wonderful and give off purely adventurous energy. There is a distinct color palette along the shores from the dark blacks and grays of the water and rocks to the deep rich greens of the trees and vegetation along the cliffs and the bright whites of the enormous driftwood on the beach. Late spring - summer offers the clearest horizon views but expect a moodier palette no matter when you choose to go. You can walk the beaches pretty far when the tides are low to find yourself a quiet spot to say “I Do.”
Washington Coast Elopement
Ruby Beach (or Second Beach!)
Checkout this intimate Engagement Session at Ruby Beach
How to Elope in Olympic National Park (Washington)
If you are hoping to plan your elopement in this treasure of a place, we definitely recommend a few ways to keep your stress low and your excitement high! To start, you and we both want you to have perfect weather and the perfect day. However, we really want you to have realistic expectations that sometimes these amazing places just don’t look like they do on Instagram. Go into your planning with the expectation that while inclement weather can be a factor, it can be embraced! It’s raining at my beach elopement? Let’s have the cute umbrellas ready and capture some romantic rainy footage. It’s a misty day on the lake and the mountains aren’t as visible?
the forest and get some shots under the tree giants. It is all about attitude and we, and all good creatives, will do our best to get some crazy cool footage anyway.
You are headed into nature because you love nature and it’s not always sunshine and clear skies. Another important thing to remember is that the state of Washington requires a licensed officiant and at least two witnesses. If you are still hoping to keep your elopement intimate, your photographer and videographer can sign the license as witnesses along with your officiant.
Now, once you pick a spot that you can’t wait to marry your partner at, begin to really lay out a timeframe with your creative team. As videographers, we love to be hands on with your timeline as it allows us to take a big part of the burden off of your shoulders and work on creating a confident timeline together. If you tell us where you want to go and what you are dreaming of capturing, our goal is to make your dreams a reality and help you outline a schedule that is going to give you the most privacy, the best footage for your film + photos, and the most joy in the moment.
Finally, dress for the occasion. Hiking boots and rain jackets are almost necessities in this park. That being said, it’s not impossible to bring along a backpack to pull out more stylish kicks, makeup or hairspray for touch ups, or anything else you may want to feel and look your best! Epic elopements aren’t for everyone, but are completely doable with happy hearts and adventures souls more excited about marrying than anything each other over everything else.