PACIFIC NORTHWEST, seattle based

Complete Guide to Planning a Mount Rainier Elopement in 2022

You’ve learned how to elope in Olympic National Park, and now it’s time to learn about how to elope at Mount Rainier National Park! One of the most iconic & most-visited spots in Washington, Mount Rainier has some of the most incredible views and outdoor opportunities for couples looking to elope in Washington. If you’re looking for a way to include not only epic mountain scenery but also alpine valleys, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, & endless hiking trails in your elopement, then a Mount Rainier elopement might be just what you’re looking for.

Enjoy this complete guide to planning a Mount Rainier elopement in 2022, filled with all the information you’ll need to create your dream elopement experience!

Table of Contents:

Getting to Mount Rainier

Park Entrances

Top 10 Mount Rainier Elopement Locations

How to Get Married at Mount Rainier

Entrance Fees

Special Use Permit

Getting your Washington Marriage License

Best Places to Stay Near Mount Rainier



Hotels, Lodges, & Resorts

How to Leave No Trace at Mount Rainier

FAQ’s about Eloping at Mount Rainier

Sample Mount Rainier Elopement Timelines

Getting to Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park is easy to get to, except for the traffic you may run into at certain times of day if you’re traveling from Seattle or other major cities nearby! 

Mount Rainier National Park entrances

There are a few different entrances into Mount Rainier National Park: the southwest (Nisqually) entrance via SR706, the northwest entrance via Carbon River Road, and the east entrances.

The Nisqually Entrance & northwest Carbon River Entrance are both open year-round, except for during extreme winter weather. The southeast entrance, northeast entrance, & Chinook Pass entrance are all open depending on weather – typically from July through late September. 

How long does it take to drive to Mount Rainier from Seattle?

The drive from Seattle to the Nisqually Entrance of Mount Rainier National Park is 90 miles, typically around a 2-hour drive depending on traffic of course.

Top 10 Best Mount Rainier Elopement Locations

1. Paradise

2. Sunrise

3. Longmire

4. Grove of the Patriarchs

5. Tipsoo Lake

6. Fremont Fire Lookout

7. Myrtle Falls

8. Naches Peak Loop Trail

9. Glacier Basin

10. Packwood

How do you get married at Mount Rainier?

Getting your Mount Rainier Wedding Permit

To get married in Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll need a Special Use Permit.

How to Get your Special Use Permit

Here’s how to apply for your Special Use Permit for a Mount Rainier National Park elopement:

  1. Complete this application form at least four weeks in advance of your desired date
  2. Email your completed application form to mora_special_use@nps.gov 
  3. Follow the instructions you receive from your park contact to pay the non-refundable $175 application fee
  4. If your permit request is approved, your permit will be sent to you
  5. Sign & return your permit for final approval

Mount Rainier Special Use Permit Rules + Restrictions

Here are the rules you need to be aware of to use your Special Use Permit:

  • Don’t impede the activities of other park visitors
  • Don’t rope off or block any public areas
  • Only modest decorations are allowed, with additional permissions
  • Your photographer will need a separate permit & permissions
  • Setting up chairs/tables/etc. isn’t allowed
  • Throwing confetti/rice/etc. isn’t allowed

Mount Rainier Entrance Fee

To enter the park, you’ll need to pay a separate entrance fee of $30/vehicle that’s valid for 7 days, or purchase an annual pass for $55. You can do both online, before you go, here!

Applying for your Washington Marriage License

To get your Washington marriage license, you’ll have to apply at any county auditor’s office in the state. The exact licensing rules and process will depend on the county you’re getting married in! Learn the details about your specific elopement county here.

Washington marriage laws

Here are a few important things to know about getting a WA marriage license:

  • The cost usually ranges from $33-72
  • The license is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance
  • Thankfully, you do NOT have to apply for your license in the county you’re getting married in
  • You do NOT have to be a Washington resident or U.S. citizen to get a WA marriage license
  • You must be 18+
  • There’s a 3-day waiting period between getting your license & the day you can get married
  • You’ll need to bring a current photo ID with you to apply, such as a driver’s license, passport military ID, etc.
  • You do NOT have to bring your birth certificate or social security card to apply

Best Places to Stay at Mount Rainier

Airbnb’s near Mount Rainier

Here are some of the highest-rated Airbnb’s near Mount Rainier, all of which are super cozy cabins that give you the outdoor, woodsy experience while still providing modern amenities – and a lot of them even have hot tubs for you to soak in! Win-win, in my opinion.

Packwood Airbnb’s

Ashford Airbnb’s

Campgrounds at Mount Rainier

If you’d rather cozy up under the stars, Rainier has plenty of campgrounds for you to set up at!

Hotels, Lodges, & Resorts near Mount Rainier

There are also plenty of hotels, lodges, & resorts in surrounding towns if you’re looking for a larger place to stay with more accommodation options.

How to Leave No Trace with your Mount Rainier Elopement

In case you’re unfamiliar with the Leave No Trace organization, it’s an organization dedicated to teaching people how to minimize their impact on the land they visit, and protecting the outdoors through simple & easy-to-understand teachings + resources. 

With the rise in popularity of outdoor adventure elopements has also come a rise in damage to land & nature, by both couples, photographers, & other vendors alike. I constantly see elopements take place on land that’s strictly prohibited for walking, such as unpaved paths & trails, or (especially in Washington) in off-trail wildflower meadows. Trust me – I know how beautiful those wildflowers are and how bad you want to dance through them in your elopement dress! And I KNOW you desperately want those unreal mountain views that you can only access via an unpaved path through the trees.

But the thing is, every time you break a rule and walk off-trail, you not only add impactful damage to that land – you also show others that it’s okay to do so. If you walk off-trail for just ONE shot in the wildflowers, the visitors around you (as well as future couples) will think it’s okay for them to do it, too, and thus starts a ripple effect.

I promise you that as your elopement photographer, I will help you find spots that get you JUST as incredible of mountain views & that show off wildflowers in the background, without having to cause damage to any land. It’s incredibly important that we set this example for future couples & other vendors, and that we respect the beautiful land we get to use as an elopement setting.

The 7 Leave No Trace Principles

To make it super easy & simple for us to minimize our impact on the land, the Leave No Trace organization has laid out 7 principles that we can follow not only on elopement days, but every time we get to enjoy & explore the outdoors. Each principle is easy to incorporate into your outdoor adventure elopement, no matter the location, and will ensure an elopement that’s safe, beautiful, and leaves the land just as beautiful for future couples/visitors.

Click on each principle to learn more!

  1. Plan Ahead & Prepare
  2. Travel & 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 Others

FAQ’s About Eloping at Mount Rainier

1. Can you drive through Mount Rainier National Park?

The highest point you can drive to inside the park is Sunrise, which sits at 6,400 feet! If you want to take a road trip around the mountain, start at the Nisqually Entrance and drive through Kautz Creek, Longmire, Paradise, Stevens Canyon Road, Tipsoo Lake, and eventually exit to the north via SR410. There are tons of stops along that route that provide incredible scenery for eloping couples & visitors alike.

2. What is the best time to visit Mount Rainier?

That depends on what type of weather you like best! Being in the mountains (duh), the weather at Mount Rainier National Park can be a bit unpredictable as the seasons transition. 

If you want to elope with warmer temperatures & a higher likelihood of a sunny day, and you’re okay with more visitors/crowded areas, elope at Mount Rainier in the summer.

If you’re dreaming of an elopement surrounded by the gorgeous wildflowers that Rainier has to offer, elope in the later spring months. Make sure that the snow has melted at the location you want to elope at, and def have a couple backup locations in place in case the snow stays for longer than expected!

If you want to elope surrounded by the stunning fall colors of the PNW, elope at Mount Rainier in September or early October. Be sure to monitor weather conditions in the time leading up to your elopement in case it starts snowing earlier than you planned, and have backup locations in place at lower elevations if higher elevations start to get snow!

Winter isn’t the best time to elope at Mount Rainier, because pretty much all of the park is covered in snow and inaccessible by foot. 

You can monitor current trail & road conditions + statuses here!

3. Is Mount Rainier crowded?

In the late spring, summer, & early fall, Mount Rainier can get quite crowded, yes! Visitors typically come during the warmer months for obvious reasons, and head to popular spots to see wildflowers & the best views of Rainier. If you elope at Mount Rainier during the summer, it’s best to elope at sunrise and/or on a weekday, to avoid the most crowds. Or, choose a more secluded location for your ceremony that still has rad views.

4. What is the closest town to Mount Rainier?

The closest towns to Mount Rainier are Ashford (6 miles away) and Packwood (39 miles away). Enumclaw is a slightly larger area, located 60 miles from the park. And the closest big cities are Olympia (17 miles away), Tacoma (40 miles away), and Seattle (70 miles away)!

5. Are dogs allowed at Mount Rainier?

Unfortunately, dogs are prohibited on all trails and in all wilderness areas at Mount Rainier due to potential damage to land & vegetation, native wildlife, and possible disruption to fellow visitors. If you really want to include your pet in your Mount Rainier elopement, I’d suggest booking an Airbnb that allows pets, and hanging out with your pet during your time at the Airbnb (in the morning or evening, at your reception, if you have your ceremony there, etc.)!

Sample Mount Rainier Elopement Timelines

8-Hour Mount Rainier Adventure Elopement

12:00 – Get ready in your Airbnb

1:00 – First look in the woods, couples portraits

2:00 – Head to trailhead

2:30 – Hike up to your ceremony spot, stopping along the way for portraits

4:00 – Vow exchange

5:00 – Mountainside picnic & champagne with your guests

6:00 – Sunset portraits on the mountain

7:00 – Hike down

8:00 – Head to your Airbnb for the night

Multi-Day Mount Rainier Adventure Elopement

Day 1:

11:00 – Get ready together in your Airbnb – slow morning with coffee, brunch, & cuddles by the fireplace

12:30 – Head to trailhead

1:00 – Hike to your ceremony spot

2:00 – Private vow exchange

2:30 – Charcuterie board picnic on the mountain

3:30 – Hike down

4:30 – Portraits at the base of the mountain, next to the wildflower meadows

5:30 – Meet up with your family at your Airbnb

6:00 – Dinner with family cooked by a private chef

7:00 – Sunset portraits outside of your Airbnb

7:45 – Drinks over the campfire with your family

9:00 – Soak in the hot tub at your Airbnb + stargazing photos

Day 2:

11:00 – Head to a local cafe for brunch

12:30 – Meet up with your family for a hike

1:00 – Hike to a waterfall

2:00 – Go for a swim, waterfall portraits

3:00 – Hike down

3:45 – Say goodbye to your loved ones & enjoy the rest of the day/evening in private

Related Washington Elopement Resources + Inspiration

5 Reasons You Should Have a First Look

Tessa + Jordan’s Rainy Olympic National Forest Wedding

7 Reasons You Should Have a Weekday Wedding or Elopement