Mount Rainier is Washington’s most recognizable and iconic landmark. The area isn’t just home to Mount Rainier National Park, though! There’s three national forest areas and several protected wilderness areas. For a classic Washington elopement, Mount Rainier is a great choice. But there’s more to choose from than just “Mount Rainier,” so I’m here to walk you through all the best Mount Rainier elopement locations for your celebration! First though, let’s walk through some essentials for eloping here that you’ll want to know.
Mount Rainier Elopement Essentials
The Legal Stuff
Let’s start with the specifics about what you need to legally hold your wedding ceremony at Mount Rainier. For a Washington marriage license, you’ll need both an officiant (I’m ordained and can marry you if you want an elopement that’s as people-free as possible!), and two witnesses. You’ll also need a special use permit and a parking pass to hold your ceremony. How big your elopement will be determines the restrictions and regulations, so be sure to check here for all the correct information about special use permits. As a final quick note, I want to also mention that Mount Rainier is not a dog-friendly area! You’ll have to leave your sweet pups at home, or celebrate elsewhere if they’ll be joining you at your elopement!
Packing List Recommendations
There are a few things you’re going to want to bring with you for a Mount Rainier elopement! These are essentials for the environment and the landscape, but are easy to forget about in the rush of planning. These will help you have a smoother experience and make adventuring a little easier on you!
- Headlamps (if you hold your ceremony at sunrise or sunset and need to hike there and back, these are much needed, otherwise you’ll be hiking blind!)
- Bug and bear spray (yep, we’ve got both!)
- Lots of water
- Layers!! Coats, maybe fleece leggings under your wedding attire, gloves, etc.
- Umbrellas (especially spring, fall, and winter, the weather here is unpredictable and can change fast!)
- Shoes with good tread (if you’re hiking or even walking, this is a great idea to make sure you don’t slip or fall on the way)
Season & Time of Day for a Mount Rainier Elopement
Next, let’s talk about how to plan for what time of year and time of day to build the right kind of elopement at Mount Rainier for you and your partner! In general, I highly recommend a weekday elopement to avoid the crowds. Sunrise or sunset is best for lighting (no matter your location). In the spring and fall, it’s smart to choose a location that’s at a lower elevation — there’s the possibility of road closures due to bad weather, and it can get very cold!
I visit Mount Rainier often, and can help you narrow down your location options based on the vibe you’re imagining (wildflower meadows in the summer, a fire lookout with the best views, close to the mountain, etc.). Even with just a general aesthetic in mind, we can create the perfect photo-based timeline that gets you where you want to go for a Mount Rainier elopement! As a reminder, no matter when or where you elope at Mount Rainier, the Leave No Trace principles always apply to enjoy the area and keep it beautiful!
Mount Rainier Elopement Locations
And, finally, let’s dig into those location specifics for your elopement! These are some of my personal favorites, and I’ve included a variety of landscapes to give you the best range of options. No two elopements are the same, and where you elope reflects the individuality of you and your love! Let’s dive in.
Paradise is on the south side of the mountain, and is open year-round. For an elopement at Paradise, I recommend meeting at the lower parking lot near Henry M. Jackson visitor center with your crew of guests. The Nisqually Vista Trailhead will lead you from there through a 1-mile paved trail to overlook the Nisqually Glacier. This is a wheelchair-accessible trail, too! There’s also the Skyline Trail for more experienced, well-equipped hikers.
A few other spots within the Paradise region that I recommend for your Mount Rainier elopement are the Grove of the Patriarchs and Reflection Lake. Grove of the Patriarchs will give you more old-growth forest, redwoods-type of vibes (and it’s breathtaking!).
Sunrise is opposite Paradise, up in the northeast corner of the park. This area is open from early July to late September. This area is famous for its wildflower blooms in July and August, making it an oh-so-perfect spot for a summer elopement! If you’re up for a moderate hike, the Summerland Trail will lead you to wildflowers galore! Silver Falls Trail will also take you through beautiful flower meadows.
Sunrise is only open for a short time because of the high elevation. Most of the year, it’s covered in snow! Though it might be popular in the summer, you’ll find that Sunrise is typically still much less crowded than the Paradise region, which is ideal if you want a more private elopement.
See more from Chelsey & Hayden's anniversary session.
Mowich Lake takes a bit more effort to get to, but it is so, so worth it! It’s at the end of unpaved State Highway 165, where you’ll find a small campground and Mowich, Mount Rainier National Park’s largest lake. If you do decide to camp here, there is no fee. However, the sites are on a first-come, first-serve basis, which may not be the best idea for your elopement, where you’ll probably want to plan ahead at least a little!
You can see all the way to the lakebed here, where there’s ancient logs and drop-offs that are just mesmerizing! There’s a lot of vantage points that make for great ceremony locations, and this is bound to be one of the more private places to elope in all of Mount Rainier.
There’s also a fire lookout at the end of Tolmie Peak Trail, where the sight of both Tolmie Peak and Eunice Lake is really a knockout view!! Stopping at Eunice Lake is equally amazing. The last stretch up to Tolmie Peak can get pretty steep! This particular spot isn’t open for overnight camping, so if you’re hoping for a sunrise or sunset elopement, be ready with your headlamps for a bit of hiking in the dark!
Chinook Pass rests between the two towns of Enumclaw and Naches. It’s closed in the winter months because of the snowfall. This is a gorgeous scenic byway that makes for a pretty great driving tour. But there’s amazing location opportunities for your Mount Rainier elopement here, too!
I personally recommend the Tipsoo Lake Loop or the Naches Peak loop. These trails are close by each other, and are both moderate, shorter hikes with some great views. Tipsoo is great if you’d like the water to feature in the background at your elopement, while Naches Peak gives you an alpine experience!
See more from this engagement session here!
And there you have it — all the goodies for planning and a list of the best Mount Rainier elopement locations! I never get tired of the adventures and the sights to see around Mount Rainier. And I love, love, photographing elopements here! If you’d like to see what a full day elopement can look like, check out Heather and Chris’s elopement here! If you’re ready to dive in and tell me all about your vision for your elopement, contact me here! I can’t wait to hear from you.💛
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