So you want to know how to elope in Olympic National Park? This is the guide for you! In this guide I will go over best times of year, best places to elope in Olympic National Park, how to get there, and where to stay. I’ll also touch on permits and how you can get a permit for your ceremony in Olympic National Park.
Best Time of Year to Elope in Olympic National Park
Spring (March – May) – Spring is a great time to elope in Olympic! The weather is starting to warm up and nature is out in full force. This is one of the best times of year for waterfalls (they are at their peak!) and enjoy the lush greenery. It will be muddy on trails and you’ll still need to prepare for all kinds of weather though. The popular Hurricane Ridge will still be snow-covered and not accessible by car.
Summer – While summer is a GORGEOUS time in Olympic, everyone is trying to visit during this time which will mean crowds, less privacy, and possibly less options for ceremony sites. I highly recommend a sunrise or sunset ceremony time so you can avoid the bulk of the summer crowds! However, the incredible weather, clear trails, and access to all the popular sights might be worth chancing the crowds!
Fall – If you’re dreaming of eloping in a wonderland amidst gold, red, and orange leaves then Fall might be perfect for you! The crowds will start to die down by the autumn which means more privacy and snow will have just started to fall in the higher elevations. Like spring, prepare for muddy trails and bring your rain gear!
Winter – Most attractions in the park are closed during winter, but you’ll experience the least amount of visitors during this time. Activities will be limited but you can still visit places like the Hoh Rainforest and Ruby Beach!
Where to Elope in Olympic National Park
I love Olympic National Park for the variety it offers! You can be in a moss filled rainforest one part of your day, and then enjoying sunset on the beach with stunning views of the sea stacks at the end of your day! Not to mention the waterfalls, mountains, and cute coastal towns to explore.
Hurricane Ridge – One of the most popular places in the park and for good reason. You get stunning mountain views without the hike which is perfect for those with disabilities, small children, and couples who don’t want to hike on their wedding day. Hurricane Ridge does get snow from November to June but is still accessible if you want a winter wonderland elopement! Since this spot is so popular, I highly recommend visiting at sunrise or sunset to avoid the crowds.
Hoh Rainforest – Lush greens and ancient trees make the Hoh Rainforest a gorgeous location for your elopement ceremony. The meandering trails lead to tons of hidden nooks while you get to enjoy the ridiculously huge trees and fairy-tale looking moss. I love how easily accessible the Hoh Rainforest is for most people so if you’re not looking to do a workout on your elopement day but you still want gorgeous views… I can’t recommend this spot more!
Ruby Beach – Ruby is a perfect example of those epic Washington coastlines. While this beach can be fairly busy, if you’re willing to walk further down the beach you might have a spot all to yourselves. I love Ruby Beach for sunsets, and cozying up beneath the stars together.
Lake Crescent & Mount Storm King – Imagine a perfect blue lake surrounded by lush forest and you’ve got Lake Crescent. There are also tons of trails winding through the forest, rivers, and a waterfall nearby that you can explore. Plus, if you’d like even more of an adventure, the trail to Mount Storm King is nearby which gives you epic views at the top of the lake and surrounding mountains. This hike is on the more strenuous side – 2,000 feet of elevation within 2 miles – but the view at the top is worth it!
Rialto Beach – Rialto is known for its sea stacks, driftwood, and also the Hole in the Wall (only accessible during low tide) and is a great option if you want to bring along your furry family members! Rialto is less busy than Ruby and is also surrounded by tons of trails to explore.
Lake Quinault – This stunning lake in the middle of the Quinault Rainforest is a perfect location for a lakeside ceremony. With Lake Quinault Lodge (one of the few lodgings within Olympic) situated right on the lake, it also comes with super easy access from your lodgings to the lakeshore. You can rent a canoe in the summer months and also hike the nearby trails that go around the lake and into the lush rainforest.
How To Get To Olympic National Park
From SEA-TAC: As you exit the airport, head northwest onto WA-518 W and merge onto I-5 N. Enjoy the panoramic views as you make your way through Seattle and merge onto WA-16 W toward Bremerton. Continue on WA-3 N and merge onto WA-104 W, crossing the Hood Canal Bridge, where the journey truly embraces the Pacific Northwest’s charm. Enjoy the changing landscapes as you travel onto US-101 N, the gateway to Olympic National Park. This drive is about 2.5 hours long but you get to experience a variety of landscapes along the way including rainforests and some amazing coastal views.
Where To Stay in Olympic National Park
There aren’t a ton of options inside the national park but with Port Angeles and the town of Forks nearby you definitely have options!
Inside the park – While, like I said, there aren’t a ton of options for staying inside of Olympic there are a couple of really cute lodges I recommend! Lake Quinault Lodge is situated on a peaceful lake and isn’t far from the highway so you can easily travel to any of the attractions in Olympic National Park from the lodge’s location.
If you love being on the coast then I can’t recommend Kalaloch Lodge enough! There are options for rooms inside the main building of the lodge as well as a separate building that offers hotel style rooms, and entire cabins that can be rented if you want more space. This is my favorite place to stay since you have direct access to the beach, the Tree of Life, and it’s 5 minutes away from Ruby Beach.
Port Angeles – This cute harbor town has hotels as well as airbnb’s to choose from. There is a really cute shopping area with restaurants and the waterfront views are amazing!
Forks – This quaint town, made famous by the Twilight series, is also a great launching point for your Olympic adventures. Along with airbnb’s there are a few cute hotels to choose from like Miller Tree Inn.
How To Get Married In Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park has so many beautiful options for getting married! Waterfalls, sea stacks, mountain views, rainforests…
…but how do you actually get married in the park?? First, depending on the size of your elopement you may not need a permit! For gatherings of 5 or less no permit is needed to elope in Olympic. The national parks rules are ever-changing though so I will always double check any permit info for you! If you are having a gathering of more than 5 people then you will need to apply for a Special Use Permit:
“Special use permits are required for events such as weddings, ceremonies, meetings or gatherings. To apply for a Special Use Permit you can download a Special Use Permit application, but we also recommend that you e-mail us or write to c/o Olympic National Park, 600 East Park Ave, Port Angeles, WA 98362″
Once your permit is approved you’ll receive an email from the park with a link to pay. Permits range from $50-$100.
I recommend applying for your Special Use permit at least 4 weeks before your desired elopement date. The parks need plenty of time to complete the paperwork for your elopement and they can get pretty busy during the high season.
Don’t forget to pick up your marriage license! In Washington there is a mandatory 3 day hold once you’ve received your wedding license and if you’re coming from out of state I recommend you apply by mail. You won’t have to wait around in Washington for an extra 3 days if you apply by mail (unless you want to!) and once you arrive for your elopement the waiting period will likely have passed.
Here are a few more things you’ll want to know about getting a marriage license in Washington:
- You both must be 18 or older
- You must have a valid ID with you when applying for your license
- The fee for your marriage license is $69
- The license can be from any county in Washington State and can be used anywhere in Washington
Want to read more about eloping in Olympic National Park?…
Ready to start planning your elopement? Contact me and let’s come up with a plan!