Written by Cortlyn Adams
A Complete Guide for Your Mt Rainier Elopement
I’m sharing all of my tips and tricks as an adventure elopement photographer to help with your Mt Rainier elopement! Since moving to Washington in 2016, this iconic Washington volcano has been one of my favorite places to adventure. It has some of my favorite trails, views, fire lookouts and campsites in all of Washington. So, grab a cup of coffee and get comfy, because I’m sharing a complete guide to eloping at Mt Rainier National Park.
Why You Should Plan Your Elopement at Mt Rainier
One of the great things about this national park is the year-round accessibility! So, no matter what time of year you’re dreaming of eloping, Mt Rainier has so many options. There are lush forests where some of the oldest trees in the state grow, serene alpine lakes, stunning wildflower fields and historic fire lookouts with amazing 360-degree views. Also, there are hiking trails for all abilities within the park. And, there are amazing amenities inside and outside the park, too!
The Mt Rainier Elopement Checklist
I love helping my clients with all the need-to-know steps of pulling off an epic adventure elopement. So, I’ve compiled my top to-do’s for my couples into a simple checklist. If you can check these off, you’re ready for your Mt Rainier elopement!
Number 1: Find a photographer
Psst…I know of a pretty cool adventure elopement photographer who would love to document your day…just saying (lol). But, truly, this is a really important step in your planning process! Of course, you’ll want photos of your day to treasure for years to come. But, you also want to book a photographer with experience in adventure elopements. From national park logistics, weather patterns and uniquely scouted locations, it’s so important to work with a photographer who is well-versed in adventure elopement photography.
Number 2: Pick a time of year and day
Like I mentioned earlier, Mt Rainier National Park offers year-round access, which means there are plenty of options when choosing a time of year to elope. According to the National Park Service, “Visitation is at its peak in July and August, when the weather is warm and dry and the wildflowers are blooming.” So, this factors in choosing the day of the week you’d plan to elope. Here are some of my common rule of thumbs when choosing the season for your Mt Rainier elopement:
Number 3: Pick a general location
When it comes to your adventure elopement, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the location! Do you want to get ready in an a-frame cabin and then say, “I do,” at a stunning overlook? Done! Are you thinking about a deep, moody forest floor for your vows, then hiking to a fire lookout at sunset? I love it; let’s do it! When planning your elopement, you’ll want to choose a general location to help with travel logistics and other planning details. I can help you narrow down your options and we’ll create the best timeline featuring your dream locations for your Mt Rainier elopement. Later on in this blog, I’m sharing some of my favorite locations within the park!
Number 4: Apply for a permit
According to the National Park Service, most special events require a Special Use Permit. You can access more information about applying for a permit for Mt Rainier National Park by clicking here. Please know, permits require about four weeks to process, so you won’t want to put off getting this step checked off of your list! But not to worry- I help all of my clients with this step.
Number 5: Book a cabin or a campsite
After you have chosen the general location within Mt Rainier National Park where you’ll be eloping, you can begin booking your amenities! I have worked with couples who book cabins to get ready in and use at a post-elopement reception space. Click here to read everything you need to know about planning an Airbnb wedding. Or, you can even reserve a campsite for your elopement! I’m sharing my top recommendations for cabins and campsites near Mt Rainier, so keep reading!
Number 6: Apply for a marriage license
You’ve got your incredible partner, the stunning dress, the dreamy flowers and the epic elopement backdrop. But, you cannot forget one of the most important witnesses to your adventure-packed vows: your marriage license! Read about all the information you need to know about getting a marriage license for your Washington elopement by clicking here. Also, you’ll need to have someone ordained to officiate your elopement ceremony and two witnesses present (and yes, I’m happy to be a witness, if needed!).
Best Locations for Your Elopement in Mt Rainier National Park
Have I convinced you that Mt Rainier might just be the best location for your adventurous elopement? Well, if you’re still on the fence about this beautiful Washington treasure, then maybe a quick breakdown of some of my all-time favorite locations will do the trick!
At a fire lookout
If you’re wanting epic views at your adventure elopement, then a fire lookout might just be the perfect location for you. Following the devastating series of forest fires in 1910 that swept across Idaho, Montana and Washington, early fire protection became a priority to the Forest Service. That is when fire lookouts began to be built across the country to help with forest fire detection. Because of the high location of these fire lookouts, the views from these mountain tops stretch as far and wide as your eyes can see! See some of my favorite fire lookout adventures below:
Deep in the forest with the giant pines
Up until about 3,0000 feet of elevation, the Mt Rainier National Park’s ancient, lowland forests feature giant trees that reach over 200-feet into the air. How do you feel about having a forest of giants as your elopement witnesses? Sign me up!
Along an alpine lake
Alpine lakes are some of the most serene places I’ve ever been. The stillness of the water can create a glassy reflection, making a stunning elopement backdrop.
At an epic overlook
I feel like this option doesn’t even need an explanation! There are so many overlook points throughout Mt Rainier National Park for your elopement that are easily accessible and so beautiful. Want to see some examples? Check out this Mt Rainier elopement, featuring some stunning overlook backdrops!
Outside of an a-frame cabin
Utilizing a cabin is a great way to make you elopement feel cozy and relaxed. A cabin is a great place to get ready, host friends and family (you can read more about ways to involve family in your elopement day by clicking here), or even have a post-elopement party! Not to mention, an a-frame cabin makes a great photo backdrop, too!
Want to see more adventures at Mt Rainier National Park?
Check out the stories below
How to Make Your Elopement an Adventure in Mt Rainier National Park
It’s estimated that 2 million people visit Mt Rainier National Park every year! So, I’m hoping to share some insider tips and tricks to help your adventure elopement feel like your personal adventure! Through each of these entrances to the park, there are multitudes of campgrounds, trailheads, drive-up locations, visitor centers, and hidden gems I keep in my back pocket for my Between the Pine couples. You won’t be short on options when it comes to planning your Mt Rainier elopement! These are the four entrances to Mt Rainier National Park:
Nisqually: Southwest Entrance
This entrance, near Ashford, WA, is the most popular and is open year-round to vehicle traffic. This entrance provides the closest access to the Longmire and Paradise areas of the park.
Carbon River: Northwest Entrance
This entrance is also open year-round. According to Visit Rainier, “This region of the Mount Rainier National Park is home to a unique ecosystem within the park: an inland temperate rainforest. The area offers excellent recreation opportunities for hiking, backcountry camping and mountain biking as the Carbon River Road is one of the few places mountain bikes are allowed within the national park.”
White River/Sunrise: Northeast Entrance
This is one of my personal favorite entrances to the park! Through this entrance, you can find trailheads to several hikes and White River Campground. “Sunrise is 14 miles from the White River Entrance. At Sunrise, explore the Sunrise Visitor Center and Day Lodge” (Visit Rainier). The road to Sunrise is closed because of snow in mid-October and reopens in late June/early July.
Stevens Canyon: Southeast Entrance
This is my (other) personal favorite of the four entrances! This entrance is located just east of Packwood, WA (one of my all-time favorite mountain towns). This entrance is open from late-May to early-October. The Grove of the Patriarchs and the Reflection Lakes are accessible through this entrance.
The Logistics Behind Your at Mt Rainier Elopement
An important detail to consider when planning your Mt Rainier elopement is travel. I have worked with clients who travel from out of state, have guests coming from across state lines, or even live in Washington but have never been to Mt Rainier before. Basically, I’ve worked with a lot of different scenarios when it comes to travel logistics for elopements at Mt Rainier. That’s why my team (shoutout to Sophie!) created this helpful little graphic to help you understand travel time and park entrance options for your elopement.
Where to Stay for Your Mt Rainier Elopement
You can’t plan an epic adventure without securing a place to stay! Whether that’s a campsite or a cozy cabin, below are my top recommendations for where to stay for your Mt Rainier elopement. When choosing your Airbnb, it’s important to read through all the details listed about the home or cabin. The last thing you’d want is to put a deposit down on an Airbnb that does not allow gatherings to take place on the property (if you’re including family at your elopement). If you have doubts on whether the hosts allows gatherings, you can always contact the host and read through the reviews on the listing.
Airbnbs near Stevens Canyon: Southeast Entrance (Packwood, WA)
Airbnbs near Nisqually: Southwest Entrance (Ashford, WA)
Airbnbs near White River/Sunrise: Northeast Entrance (Greenwater, WA)
Mt Rainier Elopement Packing List: What You’ll Need
Curious what to pack for your Mt. Rainier elopement? Below are my top recommendations of what to pack before your adventure:
Who’s surprised that snacks is number-one on my list? Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t be. I love some local spots in the towns surrounding Mt Rainier, so I’ve linked those below:
Coffee and pastries: The Mountain Goat Coffee Company in Packwood, WA
Brews: Packwood Brewing Co. in Packwood, WA (this would be super fun spot for a post-elopement party!)
The America the Beautiful annual national park pass costs $80 and will last you for an entire year’s worth of adventures. It’s so worth the investment!
This is super important if you’re wanting to catch sunrise during your adventure elopement because most of your hike to the mountain views will be completed prior to sunrise.
Layers of clothes
The temperature drastically changes as the sun rises, so I always recommend bringing plenty of layers that you can shed throughout the morning. Throw in a long sleeve, sweatshirt, down jacket and rain jacket and you’ll be set!
It is always a good idea to be over prepared. You just never know what furry friend you could meet along a trail in the forest!
I mentioned this earlier in this blog post. Be sure to allot enough time for your permit request to be approved by the park.
I also mentioned this earlier in this post. Still have questions about the process? I’d love to help!
I’ll take care of the rest! I love being over-prepared, so I will make sure you’re fully covered! I will always have these things on me during an adventure elopement:
First aid kit
Your favorite snacks
Bluetooth speaker (there’s always a reason for a dance break)
Cameras (I mean, duh)
My Recommendations for Mt Rainier Elopement Vendors
Are the details to consider and understand about an adventure elopement at Mount Rainier making you sweat a little bit? Girl, you do not need to stress! There are some amazing vendors who have helped plan and execute some amazing elopements who will be some of the best teammates to make your dream day a reality. Here’s some of my favorite people to work with:
Cake: Sift & Gather
Florals: Rusted Vase Floral Co.
Photographer: me (lol)
Videographer: Emerald Media
Things to keep in mind for your Mt Rainier Elopement
At the end of the day, one of the key components of an adventure elopement is planning for a certain level of flexibility. We can work together to plan for the most epic adventure, but we’re working with Mother Nature in her natural habitat. So, remember that weather patterns can change. We can do the best we can to plan for sunny skies, but the mountain could have other plans! I’ve had sessions at Mt Rainier when we’ve experienced it all within a couple of hours of each other: rain, snow and sunshine! Another detail to keep in mind is the park entrance fee. If you’re inviting guests to witness your elopement, be sure they are aware of the required park fees. And, lastly, you have to keep in mind that this is a beloved national park. It’s likely that there will be others around, either on the trail or at the lookout. I can help you plan a timeline to avoid the peak visitation hours, but no one can guarantee a private area of a national park. You can think of onlookers as guests, but you don’t have to pay for their meal (lol)!
Woah. You guys! This blog was so much fun to put together! Was it helpful for you? Are you ready to begin planning your dream Mt Rainier elopement? Maybe you’re sold on the idea of an adventure elopement, but you’re envisioning a different mountain or national park? I love it! What other resources would you like for me to create? Let me know, and let’s adventure!
Ready to explore more elopements, weddings and adventures? Wander away below!
Between the Pine is an adventure elopement and wedding photography brand created by Mollie Adams. Based in the Pacific Northwest, Mollie travels with her camera in hand to document “I dos” in epic landscapes including Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii.