PACIFIC NORTHWEST, seattle based

How to Elope in Olympic National Park: Permits, Vendors, & More

Dreaming of an Olympic National Park elopement? You’ve made a gooood decision – Olympic NP is one of the most beautiful places to elope in the PNW, in my own personal (totally not biased) opinion. So let’s talk about how to elope in Olympic National Park!

 how to elope

Here’s what I’ll be going through in this blog post:

  • Choosing your location
  • Picking a time of year
  • Hiring your photographer + videographer
  • Applying for your marriage license
  • Getting your permits
  • Finding a place to stay
  • Laying out your timeline
  • Makin’ a meal plan

So basically – a LOT of fuckin’ good info. Let’s get right into it, shall we?

 how to elope

First of all – why listen to me?

I get it – you’ve probably been readin’ up on a bunch of information, articles, blog posts, etc. already since deciding you want to elope in Olympic National Park. Your brain is probably overloaded with numbers and links and vendors and all that good shit. (Or maybe this is the first article you’re reading – in which case, glad you made your way here.)

So you might be wondering: why listen to what I say versus all the good tourist websites that you’ve already visited?

Pretty much because I’m NOT a tourist. Living in Port Angeles, I get to visit Olympic National Park suuuper often, which means I’ve got expert knowledge in everything about the park + surrounding areas in the PNW. 

 how to elope

I’ve also got a lot more “local knowledge” than your typical tourist visiting the area because I know all the secret spots and nooks & crannies that a visitor wouldn’t know.

So keep in mind that when I go through ideas for elopement locations in Olympic National Park in this next section, I won’t be going into super-specific spots. I’ll mainly be going through more general + vague areas that you can look up and get a feel for. 

Then, once you hire me as your Washington elopement photographer, I’ll share all my secrets with ya & help you find your exact dream location. Sound like a deal?

 how to elope

Best places to elope in Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge sits about 100 miles northwest of Seattle and is one of the park’s most easily accessible mountain areas. It overlooks super beautiful mountain views and has plenty of evergreens everywhere, giving ya that dreamy AF PNW scenery.

olympic national park wedding


Because of how easily accessible Hurricane Ridge is, it can get pretty crowded especially in the warmer months. So keep in mind that if you’re wanting to elope at Hurricane Ridge in the summertime, you may be met with people everywhere wanting to share those amazing views with you. 

Another thing to note about the weather here is that the road to the ridge is open throughout the summer. In the winter, it’s typically open Fridays through Sundays, depending on weather & road conditions. Definitely bring along winter tires if you’re trying to avoid crowds & get up to the ridge in the colder months.

olympic national park wedding

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach obviously sits on the park’s western side, about 185 miles from Seattle on Washington’s coast. It’s more of a trek from the major cities nearby but is so damn worth it. If you’ve ever seen photos of a beach with the most gorgeous rock formations, yummy sunset light, & Twilight vibes on Washington’s coast, it was probably Ruby Beach.

(P.S. the reason you’re getting Twilight vibes is that Ruby Beach is near La Push, where a lot of Twilight took place – you learn something new every day)

washington elopement

I love love Ruby Beach for its super moody feel, driftwood everywhere, super pretty rocks, and the most gorgeous sunsets when the PNW decides to give you some sun. It’s perfect for anybody wanting a dreamy beach elopement but wanting to keep those PNW vibes rather than hit up the sunny Cali coast.

Ruby Beach engagement session inspiration

This isn’t an elopement, but if you’re looking for some real-life inspo at Ruby Beach, take a look at Stephe + Siddeeqah’s engagement session. We had the best time exploring the beach & visiting the “Tree of Life” together. 

washington elopement

Hoh Rain Forest

The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the coolest rainforests you’ll ever see, I promise you. It’s gotta be one of the most beautiful places in all of Washington. It’s 200 miles from Seattle, just 20 minutes northeast of Ruby Beach – making it perfect for a couple who wants to hit up both the coast & the rainforest on their elopement day. 

washington elopement

This rainforest is full of that deep greenery you see on every PNW-vibe shirt/hat/accessory, ferns everywhere, and the coolest tallll beautiful trees + tree roots. Seriously the ideal location for anybody wanting to elope under a lush canopy and feel super small surrounded by Mother Earth. 

The rainforest also has a variety of hiking trails, so if you’re wanting to go on a hike on your elopement day, let’s trek through the forest!

how to elope

Lake Crescent

Last (but def not least) let’s talk about Lake Crescent, one of the spots I visit most often since it’s so close to Port Angeles. This super beautiful lake is about 110 miles west of Seattle, so not too bad of a drive from the area. Only 18 mi from Port Angeles if you live in that area like me!

The lake sits in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains and has the most beautiful mountain views + reflections in the water. It’s a super soothing location with the calm water, the dock to walk out and sit on, and the forest right on the shore. 

how to elope

For any avid hikers, the lake has got hiking trails nearby (including one to Marymere Falls, another pretty location in the forest), whether you want to explore the forest or climb nearer to the mountains.

Lake Crescent Elopement Inspiration

Dorothy + Jordan decided to elope at Lake Crescent Lodge and it turned out so beautifully. Check it out here!

how to elope

Picking a time of year

It’s important to pick the right time of year for your elopement because the weather + season plays a huge role in the vibe of your elopement day. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing what season you’re going to elope!

washington elopement


This is an obvious one – you’ll want to consider what the weather is going to be like. 

If you’re dreamin’ up a super gorgeous fall elopement with all the PNW warm-toned leaves & trees, remember that it’ll be much colder during that time of year. Consider what weather you thrive in: do you hate the heat? Despise the cold? Will you be super frustrated/irritated/not in the best mood if you’re freezing your ass off on a mountaintop while you try to say your vows?

 olympic national park elopement

We want your elopement to be the best possible day ever, no matter what weather or situations we get hit with. So if you know you’re going to be in a bad mood if you’re super cold, maybe don’t go for a late fall/winter elopement. Or if you HATE being sweaty and don’t want your makeup that you paid lots of dough for to get ruined, don’t elope in the middle of the summer. 

Or, elope in the summer somewhere where it’ll be cooler, like in the mountains or the rainforest – not somewhere where the heat will be super present.

how to elope

Olympic National Park weather

The ONP page of the National Park Service’s website has a ton of great information about weather conditions in each season at the park. Here are the basics of the park seasons to consider when picking when to elope in Olympic National Park:


Spring is when the weather starts to get warmer in the park, and the snow begins to melt. However, the weather can still be pretty unpredictable especially in the early spring, since you’re in the mountains and rainforests of Washington. Trail conditions start to improve in the spring but make sure that you check the status of higher elevation trails beforehand, as those will probably still have snow.

 olympic national park elopement


Obviously, the summer is when the park is the warmest, especially July & August. Temperatures never get too hot, but you’re less likely to encounter rainstorms or super cold temperatures.

washington elopement


In the fall at ONP, you get those super pretty colors – in exchange for more rain, cooler temperatures, and snow, especially at higher elevations. Be careful to watch trail and road statuses in the fall since they can vary so much depending on the year, month, week, even the day. 

 olympic national park elopement


Winter is clearly when the Olympics get the most snow and cold temperatures. So you likely won’t be able to access any mid to high elevation trails or roads during the wintertime. Be cautious of storms and flooding during this time of year, especially at campgrounds!

how to elope


Another thing you’ll want to think through when picking your time of year is crowds + tourists. Since the summer is the warmest time in the PNW (obviously), that’s when beautiful locations are more heavily crowded with tourists/visitors. 

If you’re wanting to elope at a popular location, consider a sunrise elopement, weekday elopement, or eloping in the off-season. If you elope on a weekend in the summer at an easily accessible spot, you’ll probably have a ton of people around you while you’re trying to say your vows in private.

So if you do want to elope in the summer & not at sunrise, let’s find a more secluded spot for you – we may have to hike or drive a bit farther but it’ll be worth it!

 olympic national park elopement

Road/trail accessibility

Finally, you’ll need to consider road and trail accessibility. The only thing about fall/winter/early spring elopements in the PNW mountains (besides the cold) is the possibility of snow closing down roads and trails. Keep an eye on road conditions through the Olympic National Park’s website and have a couple of backup plans!

 olympic national park elopement

Hiring your Olympic National Park elopement photographer + videographer

Next up it’s time to hire your dream Olympic National Park elopement photographer – a.k.a. me (hopefully) ;). Reach out here to start planning your dream ONP elopement with me, a local with tons of expertise in the area! & be sure to check out my video work if you’re looking for a videographer, or ask me for help in finding one once you hire me. 

how to elope

Applying for your Washington marriage license

I know I know, this is a more boring part of the elopement planning process. But you gotta do it. Apply for your Washington marriage license through the county you live in, well ahead of time so you have enough time to receive it.

The process and requirements for getting your marriage license are going to depend on the county you live in, so unfortunately I can’t give you the specifics on this one. But it’s pretty easy to find the info you need online – just go to Google and search “{your county} marriage license application” and you should find what you’re looking for.

how to elope

Getting your permits

Olympic National Park wedding permit

This is an important one: you need to get your Olympic National Park wedding permit so your elopement will be legal. The permit you’ll need to elope in Olympic National Park is a Special Use Permit, and here’s how to get it:

 olympic national park elopement
  1. Download the Special Use Permit application
  2. Fill out the application
  3. Send the completed application along with the $50 nonrefundable processing fee through check or money order (made payable to the National Park Service) to the address below:

Olympic National Park

600 East Park Ave

Port Angeles, WA 98362

  1. If your permit request is approved, you’ll receive a permit in the mail. Sign this once you receive it & mail it back to the park for final approval. 

Please make sure you do this as far in advance as possible to make sure you have enough time to receive your permit! We don’t want you frantically applying a month before your elopement and having to change plans at the last minute because you didn’t get it in time. 

 olympic national park elopement

Entrance fees

Also, note that there is a $30.00 entrance fee per vehicle per day to get into the park!

Other restrictions/important things to know

Can we bring our pets to our Olympic National Park elopement?

Pets are only allowed on certain trails and areas of the park:

  • Peabody Creek Trail
  • Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek
  • Beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations
  • Madison Falls Trail
  • Spruce Railroad Trail
  • July Creek Loop Trail
olympic national park wedding

If we’re hitting up one of those locations for your elopement and you want to bring your 4-legged friend(s), the NPS asks that you follow the “BARK” guidelines (cute, right):

  1. Bag your pet’s poop
  2. Always wear a leash
  3. Respect wildlife
  4. Know where you can go

Sounds easy enough to me, yeah?

olympic national park wedding

How do we protect the land we visit in Olympic National Park?

Great Q – we’ll make sure to be following the 7 Leave No Trace Principles during our time in the park. These principles help to minimize our impact on the land we’re visiting so that it stays just as beautiful for future visitors! You can learn more about the 7 principles here.

washington elopement

Makin’ a meal plan

Another important one – figuring out what you’re going to eat on your elopement day! Priorities, yeah?

You can get creative with this one, think outside of the box. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Pack a picnic to bring with you
  • Hire somebody to make a charcuterie board for a picnic with your fave snacks and finger foods
  • Hire a food truck to meet you & your guests (if you have any) at the spot where you’ll be ending the day
  • Cook a simple meal & s’mores over a campfire
  • Hit up a local pub or restaurant
  • Find a grocery store, get ingredients, & cook up your favorite meal together at your Airbnb after you say your vows

The opportunities are endless when it comes to ways to eat your favorite foods on your elopement day.

washington elopement

Where to stay near Olympic National Park

Another part of planning that can easily be forgotten – finding a place to stay. Whether you’re making a day trip for your elopement or want to make a week vacay out of it, finding a cozy place to relax together in between your adventures is key.

how to elope

Here are a few great places to stay near Olympic National Park:

  • Villa Vista Mountain Cabin – Port Angeles, WA
    • $249/night
    • Sleeps 6 guests
    • 2 bedrooms
    • 2 beds
    • 1 bathroom
    • Rustic cabin, mountain views, located at the entrance to Hurricane Ridge

  • Sequim Lavender Castle – Sequim, WA (northern part of ONP)
    • $525/night
    • Sleeps 12 guests
    • 2 bedrooms
    • 4 beds
    • 2 bathrooms
    • Fireplace, super cool medieval decor

  • Mountain View A-Frame – Port Angeles, WA
    • $186/night
    • Sleeps 4 guests
    • 2 bedrooms
    • 2 beds
    • 1.5 bathrooms
    • Private hot tub, fireplace, firepit

  • Olympic National Park Retreat – Port Angeles, WA 
    • $241/night
    • Sleeps 10 guests
    • 7 bedrooms
    • 3 beds
    • 2 bathrooms
    • Right on the water, mountain views, 10 minutes from Lake Crescent
olympic national park wedding

Laying out your timeline

Finally, you’ll need to plan out your elopement timeline. This is going to depend on a few factors:

  • Where you want to say your vows
  • Whether or not you’ll be hiking + how long the hike is, how many breaks you’ll need, what you’ll be carrying, etc.
  • Where you’re staying
  • Where your vendors are traveling from
  • What time of day you want to say your vows
  • What activities you’ll be including on the day-of
  • Travel time between locations
  • How weather will affect your travel/locations
olympic national park wedding

This is something I’ll be helping you with since I’m the pro for a reason & know a lot more about timeline planning than you need to. I’ve got plenty of experience with all of the elements of an elopement day, so I’ll help you figure out what to base your timeline on as well as planning out the actual timeline with you. Don’t worry – I’ve gotcha covered.

Phew – that’s the end of that! There’s really a ton more I could go into, but I like to save the rest for my awesome couples who hire me for my expertise 😉 Contact me here and let me help you start planning your dream Olympic National Park elopement!

olympic national park wedding