The Best Places to Elope at Mount Rainier National Park [2022 Update]

June 18, 2021

Trying to decide where exactly to have your elopement in Mount Rainier National Park? I get it! There are so many amazing options that it can be hard to narrow it down. How do you decide between Paradise’s endless meadows of wildflowers and Sunrise’s stunning mountain views? Today, I’m giving you the best places to elope across the park based on my personal favorite locations & past elopements!

Best National Parks to Elope

First things first, Mount Rainier National Park is one of the absolute best national parks to elope in. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Mt Rainier is open and accessible year round. Rainier has amazing seasonality. The most popular season is late summer, when the renowned wildflowers bloom. But Mt Rainier also has an incredible Autumn and Winter season. In Autumn the mountain is afire with bright orange huckleberry bushes, red vine maple, and larch. In the Winter, it’s a snowy wonderland fit for an epic and picturesque Winter elopement.
  2. Mount Rainier has a wide variety of landscapes. It is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S. and it’s surrounded by wildflower meadows, many forests, waterfalls, and rivers. You will certainly have no shortage of amazing location choices and backdrops for your Mt Rainier elopement.
  3. Visiting Mt Rainier and standing in front of Her (yeah, we call the mountain ‘Her’ here in the PNW) is a spiritual experience. No matter your background, religion, or culture; Mt Rainier is just absolutely awe-inspiring. The mountain is almost inconceivably huge. My clients and I often stop and stare in amazement at the features of the mountain; pointing out glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife to each other for several minutes in between photos.

If you want an elopement location that is accessible, has location variety, and will leave you speechless; then a Mount Rainier National Park elopement is the right choice for you!

General things to know about Mount Rainier National Park

If you’ve followed me for any period of time, or taken a look at my website, you probably know that Mount Rainier is my favorite place and one of the best places to elope in Washington State! I absolutely love taking my clients there and going on trips there myself. I summited the mountain back in 2019, and have another summit planned for this summer. If you’ve been trying to figure out where to elope in Washington, or what mountain in Washington to elope at, this is the one!

Because I love the park so much, I always want to make sure I educate my clients on it and that we take care of it when we visit. So first, I’m going to go into some general info about the park that you should know before your elopement. Then I’ll get into my favorite specific locations!

Where it’s located

Mount Rainier National Park is located about 81 miles southeast of Seattle, and around 140 miles northeast of Portland. It’s an active volcano (yep, not just a mountain!), and is a super popular place to visit for tourists coming to the PNW – or just anybody who wants a mountain getaway who lives in the PNW, too. It’s really a place you can never get tired of, and that you’ll never be able to finish exploring.

couple on bridge

Permits + passes

One thing you always need to do your research on when visiting (and especially getting married) in a state or national park: permits + passes. Getting the right permit is essential to planning a successful Mount Rainier wedding or elopement and will help you make sure you’re being a respectful and educated park visitor.

couple walking on bridge

You can find a full list of Rainier’s permits and passes here, but the main one you need to pay attention to for your elopement at Mount Rainier is the special use permit. 

Here are the restrictions & conditions of this special use permit, according to the park’s website:

Party size determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies.

  • 1-12 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include select trails, picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
  • 13-24 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
  • 25-60 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include roadside locations and campground amphitheaters.
  • 60 + participants: may use campground amphitheaters.

Ceremonies may not:

  • Impede the activities of other park visitors.
  • Areas may not be roped off or blocked in any way to the general public.
  • Modest decorations may be allowed (additional permissions required).
  • Additional permissions are required for professional photography/videography; please include photographer contact information in the application form.
  • The setting up of chairs, tents, or awnings is not permitted.
  • Throwing of rice, confetti, etc. is not allowed.”

You’ll need to apply for this permit well ahead of time (at least four weeks before your requested date, but I recommend doing it as far ahead of time as possible) by completing this form and emailing it to mora_special_use@nps.gov

Seasonal trail closures

I’ll talk more about this for each location below, but make sure you research + monitor potential trail closures before heading to a specific trail on your elopement day. You can do that on the National Park Service’s website here!

couple on bridge

How to Leave No Trace inside the park

I’m super passionate about respecting the environment and making the least impact possible when visiting places like Mount Rainier National Park. That’s why I recently wrote an article all about how to Leave No Trace inside the park during your elopement, which I highly recommend you read and educate yourself with prior to visiting!


Now, let’s get into my favorite places to elope at Mount Rainier!

Check out the super cool map below to track a few of the most popular locations I talk about throughout this blog post:

Paradise

The landscape

Paradise is probably one of the locations at Rainier that you see most often in photos – it’s a lush wildflower, well, paradise. In the summertime, it’s filled with orange and purple wildflowers and luscious green grass EVERYWHERE you look. Its subalpine meadows and mountain views are to die for, and are totally unbeatable!

girl in white dress

The location

Paradise is located on the south side of the national park, 19 miles east of the Nisqually park entrance and 12 miles east of Longmire

When is it accessible?

Paradise is still mostly covered in snow in May and June, so the best months to go are usually July & August. The road to Paradise from Longmire is actually open year-round, but if you’re driving it between November and May, you’re required to carry chains just in case. 

mountains

This webpage has an interactive map of trail conditions that is awesome to take a look at before you visit the park! It’s updated weekly and provides information about snow + if any trails are closed for maintenance.

What to do in the area

Besides a ton of hiking opportunities (be sure to check out the Paradise Meadows Trail, Pinnacle Peak, and the Skyline Trail). Paradise has a few different facilities you can check out! Visit the Paradise Wilderness Information Center, the Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center, or the Paradise Inn for a beautiful + cozy place to stay inside the park.

tall trees

Pinnacle Saddle Trail

The location

One of my all time fav places to elope, Pinnacle Saddle Trail is located in the southeast part of the park and is a 2.5 mile round trip trail. You can access it by entering the Nisqually entrance of the park. Then driving 15 miles to the Stevens Canyon Road junction, and then heading right 1.5 more miles to the Reflection Lakes parking area. 

couple walking along trail

The landscape

This trail has the most beautiful view of open meadows and Mount Adams out in the distance – it’s worth the hike to get there! 

When is it accessible?

According to AllTrails, the trail is best used between May and October, and is usually snow-free starting in July, according to Visit Rainier.

couple walking along trail

Check out Tyana & Spencer’s recent Mt. Rainier Wedding – we hit up Pinnacle Saddle Trail for the most stunning sunset!

Burroughs Mountain Loop Trail

The location

This trail is a 9.4-mile loop trail near Paradise Inn and is a harder hike than Pinnacle Saddle. It’s got a paved parking lot at the start of the trail. So you’re able to park nearby, and is near a visitor center that you can stop at afterward. 

family

The landscape

Burroughs Trail has a stunning view of Rainier. On the trail you’ll also pass by Frozen Lake + Shadow Lake, two lakes with amazing trees and mountain views!

Whereas the Paradise side of the mountain is full of wildflowers, the Sunrise side (where Burroughs Trail and Fremont Lookout are located) is a lot more barren, and shows off an epic tundra landscape.

When is it accessible?

Keep in mind that Sunrise Road, which is the road leading to this trailhead, is subject to seasonal closures – you can monitor the road status here on the National Park Service’s website! As of the time of writing this (early June 2021), the road is expected to open around July 2nd depending on the weather.

Fremont Lookout

The location + landscape

Fremont Lookout is one of the absolute best places to elope. It is in the northeast part of the park. It is a 5.6-mile round trip hike, with a 1200 foot gain. You can start at the Sunrise Visitor Center and hike west on Sourdough Ridge Trail all the way to the Frozen Lake junction, and then you’ll head up to the lookout! You’ll have amazing views of Grand Park, Redstone Peak, Berkeley Park, and Skyscraper Mountain. Check out the Washington Trails Association webpage for more details!

mountains

When is it accessible?

Just like the Burroughs Trail, the Fremont Lookout Trail is best used from June through October and is also traveled to by Sunrise Road. However, as I mentioned is subject to seasonal closure. Make sure you do your research ahead of time. Monitor the road conditions, and come up with a backup plan or two! There are so many amazing places to elope at Mount Rainier so backup plans are easy luckily!

beach

Longmire Wooden Suspension Bridge

This suspension bridge sits in the middle of the forest above the Nisqually River. It is a pretty cool place to get some unique photos inside Mount Rainier National Park! I like using this bridge as a secondary location for some variety on elopement days. There’s a really nice view of Rainier when you cross the bridge that most people don’t know about!

couple hugging on bridge

Grove of the Patriarchs

The location

Grove of the Patriarchs is a truly magical place inside Mount Rainier National Park, filled with huge cedar and Douglas-fir trees – if you want to feel tiny amidst a crazy beautiful spot in nature, this is one of the best places to elope for you!

The hike is 1.5 miles round trip and is a fairly easy, family-friendly hike – perfect for a couple who doesn’t want to hike anything crazy, but still wants to do something small to get to a beautiful location. The trail leads you across the Ohanapecosh River, and you’ll use the Stevens Canyon Southeast Entrance to get near the trailhead. 

When is it accessible?

This Stevens Canyon entrance is open seasonally, from late May to early October, so make sure you’re not planning for a late fall elopement anywhere near this trail!

We visited the Grove of the Patriarchs for Ty & Spencer’s elopement recently – check out some of their photos here!

Naches Peak Loop Trail

The location

Naches Peak Loop Trail is one of the easiest places to elope at Mount Rainier. It is a popular, easy 3.5 mile round trip loop that starts along the Pacific Crest Crail at Chinook Pass. Start at Tipsoo Lake, and follow the trail from the picnic area in a clockwise direction to get the most beautiful views of Rainier! If the parking lot at Tipsoo Lake is full, you can park in the pullout lots and designated parking on the side of the highway nearby.

family overlooking view

The landscape

This trail along the northeast side of Naches Peak has super pretty views of high mountain lakes, mountain peaks, and lush green subalpine forests. Everything you could want in a PNW hike, right? I love Tipsoo Lake because you get absolutely stunning views and wildflower fields. All without having to hike a ton to get to your location. All you do is park and walk on the trails from the parking lot. You’ll see beauty everywhere you look! This is one of the most popular places to elope at Mountain Rainier because of it’s easy access!

When is it accessible?

This trail is best used from July until October, as are most trails in the park.

woods

What to do in the area

Tipsoo Lake has a few picnic tables. So you could totally have a fun picnic before hiking the trail to say your vows! 

Reflection Lakes

The location

Reflection Lakes sits along Stevens Canyon Road. It is the starting area for multiple intersecting trails, including the Lakes Trail (a 3-mile loop), Pinnacle Peak Trail, and the Wonderland Trail. The lakes are about 1.3 miles east of Paradise Road. You’ll park on Stevens Canyon Road to access those few trailheads!

couple hugging

The landscape

As you can probably guess from the name, Reflection Lakes reflect views of Mount Rainier and are an incredible place to elope at sunrise. It makes for an amazing, unique view of Rainier during an elopement. It’s got those iconic Rainier wildflower views, and is another spot you probably see often when looking at photos of the park! 

The reflection of the mountain is unreal at sunrise and sunset on sunny days, especially when you get an incredible sunset filled with colors in the sky. And if you’re dreaming up a fall elopement at Mount Rainier, the fall colors of the trees here frame these lakes so beautifully!

When is it accessible?

Stevens Canyon Road is open to vehicles during the summer season only. Which is, again, typically June through September or early October. 

Grand Park

The Location and Landscape

I’m VERY excited to share this location with y’all. After years of trying, I was finally able to make a trip to Grand Park at Mt Rainier in September of 2021. It’s an understatement to say it blew my mind. My friends still joke about my unconstrained overjoyed laugh when I got my first glimpse of Rainier from this trail.

Grand Park is an especially unique landscape. It is a mile long, half mile wide, perfectly flat meadow that was formed by ancient lava flow. At the boundary of the meadow is a vast sweeping view of Mt Rainier. This may be my favorite view of the mountain from the entire park. In the Summertime, the meadow is filled with wildflowers. In the Fall, it turns to a golden prairie grassland.

When is it accessible?

The best season for this trail is mid July to late September. Before mid July the trail will be covered in snow or very muddy from the snowmelt. After late September, it starts snowing again and restricts access to the trailhead and trail.

Some insider info for y’all, there’s a ‘backdoor’ entrance to this location that is wayyy easier of a hike. Avoid the classic Sunrise start location and do the Lake Eleanor cutoff for a much more enjoyable hike. Check out the hike here.

One last note on this trail, it’s best on a clear day, as the main attraction is the mountain view.

Traveling between locations for your elopement

When planning your Mount Rainier wedding or elopement, it’s important to carefully plan out which locations you’ll be visiting and in what order! Some of the locations mentioned in this blog post are easier to travel between than others, and you’ll want to make sure your locations make sense as far as travel time, roads, weather, and trails. 

This is something I’ll be sure to help you with, as your photographer and as someone who has visited Mount Rainier National Park countless times!

An example:

For Tyana & Spencer’s Mount Rainier elopement, we hit up two different locations after spending time at their cabin in Packwood: Grove of the Patriarchs, and Pinnacle Saddle Trail.

couple hugging

Pinnacle Saddle Trail is about 18 miles west of the Grove of the Patriarchs. You drive along Stevens Canyon Road to get there. (Remember, this road is closed in the wintertime!) We made sure to plan accordingly and add in the travel time to our day-of timeline/plans so that we didn’t end up missing the sunset due to not accounting for driving time.

The Sunrise side

The Sunrise side of the park, as I mentioned before, is a more barren, tundra landscape. Both the Burroughs Mountain Trail and the Fremont Lookout Trail are on this side of the mountain, about a 12-mile drive from each other. To get from one to the other, you’ll drive on White River Road, which is closed from November through May.

The Paradise Side

As I mentioned before, the Reflection Lakes are the area where multiple trailheads are located, including the Pinnacle Peak Trail hike. These two locations go hand-in-hand, are great places to elope, and are awesome for two photo opportunities during your elopement!

Paradise is also only around 4 miles away from Pinnacle Peak Trail. This makes Paradise an awesome place to start for your elopement. You can then adventure around the area to Pinnacle Peak, the Nisqually River, Snow Lake, and more!


Mt Rainier Elopement Packages

So you want to elope at Mt Rainier but are wondering how much it’ll cost you? Well the short answer is that’ll vary depending on quite a few different factors. Time of year (heyo, I give off-season discounts), how much coverage you want, and what other vendors you hire.

On average, my clients spend right around $10k to elope at Mt Rainier. You can spend less by booking less coverage and less vendors or you can spend a lot more by booking more vendors and a local cabin to stay at. Like I said, it all depends. But I do try my very best to work within my clients budgets.

I put together a blog that covers the price of eloping in Washington State that you can view here.

Mt Rainier Weddings

Want to see a few real Mt Rainier weddings? Check out these full galleries and start dreaming up your own Mt Rainier wedding!

Jen & Joey – Naches Peak Loop & Tipsoo Lake – Mt Rainier Fall Elopement

Cara & Zach – Mt Rainier Paradise Summer Wildflower Elopement

Tyana & Spencer – Pinnacle Saddle Trail – Mt Rainier Hiking Elopement

Phew, that was a TON of info about Rainier NP. And I’ve got plenty more where it came from. If you’re dreaming of a Rainier elopement full of adventure and epic views, I’m your gal. Reach out here to start chatting about + planning your dream Mount Rainier elopement with me!

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