You have seen gorgeous pictures of elopements in Mount Rainier and are dreaming of making it a part of your special day. You have no clue how to actually accomplish one though. I am here to give you a complete guide to a Mount Rainier Hiking Elopement.
UNDERSTANDING THE BASICS
I have shot dozens of Mount Rainier elopements, and I always recommend going through and understanding the basics before deep-diving into the specifics of what it will consist of. I know it is REALLY easy to get excited and jump ahead, but the planning process will be 100 times easier IF you start with the basics!
Here’s a list to get you started ⬇️
- Most locations, especially National Parks areas, require you to have permits in order to elope. You will need to apply for a SPECIAL USE PERMIT. This permit will cost you about $60.00 and just means that the National Park Service has deemed the activity (elopement) safe for the park.
- You will also need to pick a location to say “I do.” If you have an idea of where you want “the big moment” to happen, then it will make planning for the rest of it, easy peasy (for the most part)!
- Find a photographer that fits the style and “vibe” you are going for. You are going to remember that day forever, and I believe this may be one of the most important aspects of your day. If you don’t know of one already, I would love to CHAT about how I could help create your perfect “wedding day.”
- You will need to apply for a marriage license. Most couples forget about this stipulation, and it is just as important as the rest of them! Please keep in mind that you will need to have two witnesses present OR one other if you are including your photographer.
- Find a rad place to stay while you are there! There are so many amazing options from super cool a-frames in Pakwood to Bed and Breakfasts with the most romantic views! If you like the outdoorsy feel, you can camp in the park or use a camper van! Basically, the options are endless!
Should we get into the REAL reason you are here?! All things hiking elopements in Washington – specifically Mount Rainier! I am excited, and I hope you are excited because I have lots of information for you!
I grew up only 1-hour near the Carbon River entrance of Rainier, and I loved nothing more than to get lost on the trails with nothing but my hiking boots and a bag full of granola bars and water! Because of this, I have kind of made it my mission to help couples complete their hiking elopement dreams through the forests of Mount Rainier!
MY RECOMMENDATION: NACHES PEAK LOOP
Naches Peak Loop is a moderate trail that starts at Chinook Pass and spends half its time on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It is about 3.5 miles roundtrip which is one of the factors that catches many couple’s eyes! It has stunning views and is often covered with wildflower meadows with the beautiful Mount Rainier in the backdrop.
Naches Peak Loop Details ⬇️:
- Hiking time: 2-3 hours
- Multiple parking lots with RESTROOMS
- Sunrise vs Sunset due to crowds
- Plan accordingly during popular holidays, weekends, etc.
PLANNING A HIKING ELOPEMENT
Hiking elopements are so much fun and truly make for an incredible day. To have a successful one, though, takes a bit of work on your part!
There is no service anywhere near Mount Rainier. You need to make sure that you plan ahead for not being able to contact anyone. If you have multiple people in your party (including vendors), I recommend riding together. This makes sure that no one gets lost from the group.
Another way to make sure no one gets lost is to make sure that there is a specific game plan. Make sure that everyone knows the specifics of the plan. If anyone does get separated, if they know the times and locations, they will be able to meet at those places at specified times.
WHAT TO PACK ⬇️
- Food for lunch and dinner including snacks and water
- Hiking boots and tall socks
- Jacket or coat for when the sun goes down
- Bug spray and sunscreen
- Makeup and hair stuff for touchups
Going into a hiking elopement, it is important to get into the “leave no trace” mindset. If you begin your elopement thinking that way, it will make actually carrying it out that much easier!
MOUNT RAINIER SPECIFICS
HOW TO GET INTO MOUNT RAINIER ⬇️
There are 4 MAIN entrances into the park and which one you go through will be dependent on where you are staying or visiting!
- Nisqually Entrance is about 2 hours and 45 minutes from Portland, OR.
- Stevens Canyon Entrance is about 4 hours and 15 minutes from Spokane, WA.
- Carbon River Entrance is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Seattle, WA.
- White River Entrance is about 1 hour and 3o minutes from Ashford, WA.
The VISIT MOUNT RAINIER website has lots of maps and driving directions and is a great resource for finding your way into the National Park.
BEST TIME TO ELOPE IN MOUNT RAINIER ⬇️
Mount Rainier opens up in late July and closes after the first snowfall which is typically around the end of September. This means that if you want to elope here, you need to plan accordingly because you have about 2 – 3 months of wiggle room!
As you could probably guess, not only do you have to worry about snowy conditions affecting your elopement… But you also have to be mindful of wildfire season. Mountainous conditions are prone to fires. The specific area may not fall victim, but nearby fires may cause bad air quality.
If you are a lover of wildflowers, summer is the best time for those! With all honesty, Summer is my favorite time for elopement photos at Mount Rainier.
If you decide that you are looking for snowy scenery, you still have that option! I always recommend renting a cute a-frame in Packwood, WA. More often than not, they have super cute hot tubs and gorgeous views of Mt Rainier.
OTHER HIKING TRAILS IN THE AREA ⬇️
- Alta Vista/Deadhorse Creek Trail; Location Paradise, 2.4 miles (roundtrip)
- Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout, 5.6 miles (roundtrip)
- Pinnacle Saddle to Plumber Peak; 2.6 miles (roundtrip)
- Fremont Fire Lookout; Location; Sunrise, 5.4 miles (roundtrip)
- Panorama Point; location; Paradise, 5 miles (roundtrip)
ELOPEMENT ACTIVITY OPTIONS ⬇️
- Romantic picnic with a charcuterie board and champagne
- Camping with campfire hotdogs and smores (depending on fire restrictions)
- Hiking to gorgeous lookouts
- Renting an Airbnb for a reception with friends and family
- Go to a local bar or brewery (Packwood Brewery is my favorite)
- Take the gondola up at Crystal Mountain to share your vows with each other
CABIN AND LODGING ACCOMMODATIONS ⬇️
Because of the size of the area, my biggest piece of advice is to figure out your accommodations ASAP! I mean it, as soon as you decide on an elopement location, decide on a place to stay!
Here are some of my favorites:
Just because you decide to go down the elopement route, does not mean you have to forego traditional wedding vendors! You are able to hire them to make your day extra special! Florists, Officiants, Elopement Planners/Designers, etc. can still be involved!
Here are some of my favorites in the area ⬇️
I hope that this complete guide to a Mount Rainier Hiking Elopement helped! If you are looking for more ideas for a memorable elopement location, make sure to check out my previous blog: THE BEST WORLDWIDE ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS