mt rainier elopement

Elopements are becoming increasingly popular for couples who want to exchange vows in a more intimate and personal setting. Mt. Rainier is an incredible elopement location not only because it’s beautiful, but because of the many options you have when getting married here.

In this comprehensive Mt. Rainier elopement guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about planning a Mt. Rainier elopement, from the best locations to stay and fun activities to include, to packing essentials and tips for obtaining permits.

Why Choose Mt. Rainier for Your Elopement?

Close to the Seattle Airport

If you’re flying to Washington for your elopement, this is an easy location to access from there. Especially if you also are including guests and don’t want anyone driving for multiple hours! The Seattle airport is a major airport and it’s easy to get direct flights here from most locations.

Easily Accessible Mountain Views

A lot of couples think that most of these stunning mountain view locations require hiking. And while plenty of them do, there’s so many areas where you don’t have to hike. Mt. Rainier is one of those parks where you can easily get stunning mountain views from many different places without hiking at all!

Diverse Landscapes

An elopement in Mt. Rainier means you can include multiple types of landscapes in your day. You can easily visit a mountain view location, and alpine lake, waterfall, and be surrounded by wildflowers all in one day. There’s even the Grove of the Patriarchs, a dense forested section of Mt. Rainier, showing off deep greens, moss, and massive trees.

Wildflower Wonderland

If you like wildflowers, this is an amazing location for you. Wonderland Trail is littered with bright blooming flowers everywhere you hike. Most of the park is this way. You also get to see unique high elevation wildflowers such as Indian Paintbrush

Close by Lodging in Scenic Areas

Having a gorgeous elopement location is a must, but it’s pretty dang nice to have a stunning place to stay, too. There are so many places to stay near Mt. Rainier that feels like a little paradise. This is also perfect for couples who want to host an intimate reception after their elopement where they’re lodging!

Easy to Include Guests

Mt. Rainier’s rules on guests are clear and concise. You’re allowed to have them, but only in specific places and with a limited guest count. Personally, I think they make it super easy to know exactly where you’re allowed to be, and all of the options are breath taking.

It’s not hard to have a ceremony with guests, and then also break off and have solo time with your partner, too. The options here are pretty vast!

mt rainier lake

How to Elope in Mt. Rainier

If you don’t know the major steps of planning an elopement, you can read my in depth guide on how to elope here, as well as an elopement checklist here. As an elopement photographer, I do the majority of the planning for my couples. Although, I’m going to list out the major steps to get you started

  • Pick a location
  • Set a budget
  • Hire an elopement photographer
  • Decide on guest count (if any)
  • Finalize all included locations
  • Hire vendors
  • Make day of elopement timeline
  • Get permits and park passes
  • Get marriage license
mt rainier elopement

Elopement Locations in Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier has endless options for elopement locations. These are some of the most popular locations for elopements, and great options if you don’t mind other people being around.

Sunrise Area

The sunrise visitor center is accessible by the white river entrance of the park. It is the highest elevation you can reach in the park via vehicle. There are a lot of incredible locations in this area such at the Fremont lookout and sourdough trail.

Since this area is such high elevation, it has a shorter window of when it keep be visited due to snowfall. You’ll want to elope in this location during peak or late summer.

mt rainier elopement guide

Pinnacle Peak

Pinnacle Peak is a 2.9 loop with stunning views. This can be a popular trail, if you’d like to avoid crowds you can come here around sunrise or sunset, as well as elope around late September

Tipsoo Lake

Tipsoo Lake is a popular elopement location in Mt. Rainier for couples having guests. One of the reasons is because it allows up to 8 guests. It is also easily accessible and just a short walk from the parking lot, providing views of the alpine lake and the mountain.

mt rainier elopement guide

Wonderland Trail

This is a 90 mile trail, and you can hike a much smaller portion of it. Wonderland trail includes views of peaks, lakes, and wildflowers. The best time to access it is through July to September

Grove of the Patriarchs

This is an easy 1.1 mile loop. It takes you through dense and massive trees, as well as over a suspension bridge. Here you can also find a lake. This is perfect for couples who want to include some greenery in their day.

Summerland Trail

This 8.4 mile loop is moderate, and great for couples who want to spend a lot of their day on a trail seeing different kinds of landscapes. Here, you can catch wildflowers, mountains, meadows, and waterfalls. There has been wildlife spotted on this trail, so make sure to carry bear spray.

mt rainier elopement guide

Tolmie Peak

This is a 5.6 mile trail and on the moderate side. This is one of my favorite trails in the park, and I’ve experienced having very few other people around us during sunset. The mountain views are some of my absolute favorite in the area.

Bench and Snow Lakes

Another very popular location as this 2.2 scenic hike is easy, and absolutely stunning. As always, there are less crowds during the shoulder season. You can also always have a sunrise ceremony to avoid crowds as well.

mt rainier elopement guide

Narada Falls

If you’re looking to include waterfalls in your day, this 2.2 mile hike includes a massive and stunning waterfall. This is a very popular trail, and it’s hard to avoid other people.

My favorite way to find less popular trails in National Parks is by using AllTrails. You can use Alltrails filter to select “light” foot traffic. The trails you find with that feature will help you locate areas that aren’t frequented by other people. You can also include in other filters such as “mountain views” or “lake” or “wild flowers” to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Every heavily touristed National Park has tons and tons of “hidden gems” or locations with less traffic. My elopement packages include helping couples find these locations for their day!

Hiring a Mt. Rainier Elopement Photographer

Hiring an experienced elopement photographer for your day is going to be one of the biggest steps in planning your elopement. Why? Elopements don’t have “wedding planners.” We as elopement photographers help our couples with a ton of the planning, from reccomending locations, helping you create a comprehensive day-of timeline, to helping you secure your permits and marriage licenses.

I recommend hiring your Mt. Rainier elopement photographer early on in the process. They will help you figure out everything you need to know. It’s incredibly easy to make planning mistakes, or get easily overwhelmed by all of your options and everything you need to consider. Rest assured, I’m here from the beginning to help make this process easy and fun. Chat with me here!

Can I Have Guests at My Mt. Rainier Elopement?

The short answer is yes! The longer answer is that there are specific rules you’ll have to follow to do so, and only certain locations where guests are allowed.

Here are the official rules:

  • 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.
  • Include the throwing of rice, confetti, etc.

Best Time to Elope in Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier is open year round. That being said, there are a lot of places that aren’t accessible during winter. In fact, a lot of higher elevation hikes and locations aren’t accessible until July. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have incredible options during other seasons.


The Nisqually and Carbon River entrances are open during the winter. Winter in Mt. Rainier is a full on winter wonderland, and when you’ll see the least amount of people. You can also include skiing or snowboarding into your elopement at Crystal Mountain Resort!


During the spring, the waterfalls will be at their heaviest flow, making them absolutely gorgeous. Trails at lower elevation will be accessible, all while the mountain is still fully snowcapped. This is also a less busy time of the year to be in the park


Summer is prime time in Mt. Rainier since all of the trails begin to clear, and the wildflowers begin to bloom. It’s worth considering if you want to deal with it also being the busiest time of year in the park. Once again, there are still many locations where you can find solitude during your elopement.


The fall colors in Mt. Rainier aren’t comparable to anywhere else. This place is breathtaking this slower time of the year. Be careful planning high elevation hikes. A trail can quickly go from being clear, to having a ton of snow on it and no longer being accessible.

Best Accommodations Near Mt. Rainier

Theres quite a few options between camping, a-frame cabins, to resorts and big airbnbs that might allow you to host an intimate reception! Take a look at some of your options for Mt. Rainier elopement lodging.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Crystal Mountain is a beautiful resort for skiing and snowboarding. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re having a winter elopement in Mt. Rainier. With spa treatments and gourmet dining, this resort adds a little bit if luxury to your elopement in Mt. Rainier.


Packwood is a small and charming town right outside of Mt. Rainier. They have adorable coffee shops as well as their own hikes and scenic locations nearby. This is an awesome place to rent an Airbnb or find a cabin to stay in!


Ashford is just six miles outside the Nisqually Entrance. This tiny town sits at the foothills of the park and offers lodging. This is a great location if you want easy access in and out of the park. Here is a list of airbnb’s in the area!


Enumclaw is incredibly close to the park, and you can even get great views of Mt. Rainier on a clear day. You can visit downtown, get food and drinks, and explore the lush forest while staying here. And here is a list of Airbnb’s in the town!

mt rainier elopement

Fun Activities to Include in Your Elopement

The best thing about elopements is how personalized the experience is. Most couples decide to not include just regular wedding traditions.They instead decide to celebrate with activities that resonate with them and they will enjoy. Here are some ideas for activities to include in your Mt. Rainier elopement

  • Going on a hike
  • Having a bonfire
  • Having a picnic
  • Star-gazing or astrophotography
  • Swimming
  • Cliff jumping
  • Visiting waterfalls
  • Camping
  • Glamping
  • Bar hopping in town
  • Hiring a private chef
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter tou
  • Board games
  • Lawn games
  • Dancing
  • Desert
  • Private boat ride with champagne and dinner
  • Pool party
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Sightseeing
  • Scenic driving with time to stop for pictures
  • Visiting hot springs
  • Enjoying cocktails
  • Exchanging gifts
  • Reading letters from friends or family

Preparing Your Packing List for a Hiking Elopement

When planning a hiking elopement at Mt. Rainier, it’s essential to prepare a packing list that includes everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. It’s important to be prepared for the unpredictable weather and varying terrains of the park.

First and foremost, ensure you have appropriate footwear. Hiking boots with good traction are a must, as they will provide stability and support during your hikes. Don’t forget to bring extra pairs of socks to keep your feet dry and blister-free.

Layering is key when it comes to dressing for your hiking elopement. The weather at Mt. Rainier can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature. Pack a variety of clothing options, including lightweight and moisture-wicking layers, warm sweaters or fleeces, waterproof jackets, and comfortable pants or leggings.

Don’t forget to bring essential accessories such as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun’s rays at high altitudes. It’s also a good idea to pack a first aid kit, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated during your hikes.

You can pack your wedding attire and change when you get to your location. Or, if you’re doing a short hike, you can absolutely hike in a lightweight dress. Wearing nude leggings underneath helps if it’s chilly!

mt rainier elopement

Permit Information and Park Entrances

A special use permit is required to elope in Mt. Rainier National Park. These permits can also take up to four weeks to process, so make sure not to wait to long to get them! Mt. Rainier is also now requiring a time entry pass. Whereas you don’t need one if you have a special use permit, it might be a good idea to get one so you have no issues on your wedding day.

In addition to obtaining permits, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the park entrances and any associated fees. Mount Rainier National Park has multiple entrances, each with its own designated fee.

Nisqually: Southwest Entrance

This entrance is open year-round. This is the most popular park entrance. It leads to the Paradise Visitor Center which includes some of the most popular hikes in Mt. Rainier. This entrance is quite crowded, and I’ve had a hard time finding parking here.

Carbon River: Northwest Entrance

Open year-round. This entrance isn’t is popular. Here you can find some “hidden gem” locations and see a lot less visitors on your elopement day. Although, this area gets more rainfall. Make sure to pack correctly for this!

White River/Sunrise: Northeast Entrance

Open May – October. This entrance is primarily used to access the Grove of the Patriarchs trail as well as reflection lake. This is the part of the park that is more “lush” and green. Here you won’t find many mountain views.

Stevens Canyon: Southeast Entrance

Open July – October. This entrance is the second busiest in the park. It’s only open from July to October because it leads to Sunrise Visitor Center. This is the highest elevation in the park that you can reach by car! It’s also popular because there are stunning views all around, and plenty of short, and easy to access hikes.

How to Apply for a Washington Marriage License

To get a marriage license in Washington, you will have to fill out an application first online. Both of you must be currently unmarried and over 18 years of age. You do not need to reside in Washington. You will then have to pick up your marriage license in the county you applied through, which will be the county you’re getting married in.

Marriage licenses expire after 60 days. So be sure to not apply too early!

Can We Have Our Dogs?

Mt. Rainier is a National Park, so dogs are not allowed. They are allowed at campsites and in parking lots. If you want to bring your dog along, you’ll have to leave them outside of the park or with someone at a campsite. You can also consider an elopement location right outside of the park that still gives you views of Mt. Rainier. A good option is Gifford Pinchot!

Ready For Your Mt. Rainier Elopement?

Hopefully this Mt. Rainier elopement guide got you excited about planning your special day here! This is a ton of information to digest. With that being said, you don’t have to be alone in the planning process. I’m a Mt. Rainier elopement photographer who helps couples plan their entire day.

Still have questions? My consultation calls are designed to help answer any of your concerns, and get you excited about your day. Let’s chat!

Mt. Rainier Elopement Packages

Mt. Rainier elopement photography by Emilee Setting Photo, and everything included in my packages:

  • Explore anywhere within Washington, all travel fees included in the price!
  • Packages from half day elopements to multi-day elopements
  • Recieve a customized location list
  • Sending you a customized list of lodging options based on your needs
  • Included timeline design
  • Help obtaining your permits
  • Help obtaining your marriage license
  • A planning checklist
  • Unlimited guidance calls
  • All of your stunning photos delivered under three months
  • Day of polaroid sneak peeks

Elopement packages in Mt. Rainier starting at $6800. Want more information on my pricing and what’s included? Click here

Don't forget your free elopement planning checklist


You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

I'm Emilee

I'm an elopement photographer who specializes in planning, crafting, and documenting untraditional weddings. I believe a wedding day should be filled with traditions that resonate with you. I'm here from start to finish to make that happen. Want to chat about your plans? Click below to set up a free consultation! 

You see a stranger’s puppy & it takes everything in you not to run up & cuddle it.

Your dress gets dirt on it, and you shrug.

You think ice cream & wine is always an acceptable dinner option. Always.

You LIVE for the feeling of sunshine on your skin & wind in your hair.

You’re already screaming YASSSS WHERE DO I BOOK YOU?

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