Written by our rad team member, Amanda Winther
Sunset engagement Photos at mount rainier
It’s no surprise that I’m a huge fan of Mt. Tahoma (or Tacoma) aka Mt. Rainier, and there’s truly no better place for sunset engagement photos if you want to celebrate and capture the beauty of Washington, Seattle, or the Pacific Northwest. And the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is exactly what we captured in this stunning sunset engagement session! We had a bit of everything that makes the PNW so incredible: views of Mt. Rainier, fields bursting with different colored wildflowers, and we even lucked out with some of the best weather I’ve ever seen at Rainier ever. If you want to capture your own sunset engagement, keep scrolling for the best time to take sunset engagement photos at Mt. Rainier, three things to keep in mind, and more. You’ll even learn about one of my favorite wildflowers of all time… the wild Dr. Seuss truffula flower (the official unofficial species name).
Meet the couple featured in these Mount Rainier sunset engagement photos
This is Katie and Jourdan, the stunning couple in these sunset engagement photos at Mt. Rainier. K & J will actually be one of my elopement couples for 2021 (first off how is it almost 2021, and also I seriously can’t wait until elopement season again!). Since they went ahead and booked a package with me that included an adventure session, we did their engagement photos (aka these incredible shots!) as their adventure session.
Katie and Jourdan grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so they wanted their engagement photos to capture the best view in the PNW (when you can see her, that is!), Mt. Rainier herself. And oh my, did she deliver… but I will get to that!
Now we pause for a little appreciation of the icon.
Mt. Rainier is iconic for more than a few reasons. First off, Mt. Rainier is both young by volcano standards at a mere 500,000 years old (wow, isn’t it insane that 500,000 years is young for nature?) and still an active volcano (extra cool points!). Mt. Rainier is also the 17th highest peak in the US, and the highest in Washington at 14,411 feet high. Mt. Rainier’s slopes are also home to the largest glaciers in the lower 48. So yes, Rainier deserves to be the icon she is! And now you can totally understand why Katie and Jourdan wanted to capture their engagement photos with the sun setting over Mt. Rainier as their backdrop.
Okay, back to Katie and Jourdan’s engagement session.
We started their sunset engagement session looking at our iconic mountain and enjoying some cold drinks that could not have been more fitting for the occasion. We had arrived early enough that we had plenty of time to hike and find lots of places to capture incredible shots. We chatted, took photos, and slowly meandered up the trail to the highest point of our hike, a wildflower-filled alpine meadow just in time for sunset to soak the peaks and the Dr. Seuss inspired wildflowers with the most absolutely insane light.
This is one of my favorite spots to shoot engagement photos and let me tell you, it honestly may have been one of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen. Not to mention that we had the trail almost entirely to ourselves. We really only ran into one other person and it happened to be one of my photographer friends, Hannah from The Foxes! Nearly empty trail, wildflowers in full bloom, incredible views of Mt Rainier, buttery soft light… I’m pretty sure none of us are going to get over that sunset anytime soon! Thanks for winking down on us lady Rainer!
The best time of year for sunset engagement photos at Mount Rainier
If you’re dreaming of your own sunset engagement at Mount Rainier, I highly recommend planning your adventure session for the summer months. In Washington, that means July, August, or the beginning of September. The reason being, by late July or so most of the snow will have melted, so almost all of the roads and trails will be accessible and snow free (of course, the exact timing depends on how much snow the area gets in the winter months). In June, many of the trails will still have snow, or even a combination of snow and mud, which let’s be real, mud can definitely put a damper on a photo session. In the summer months, you’re also most likely to have perfect 75-degree sunshine days at Mt. Rainier. Summer is also when the fields bloom with all kinds of wildflowers, which is basically the best thing ever! (Psst.. keep scrolling to see me nerd out Junior Ranger style all about the wildflowers we saw that day in Mt. Rainier!)
If summer isn’t your thing, I’ll let you in on a little secret. Fall in the PNW is kind of magical .. and it’s not really something people talk about much! Two words: fall foliage. Okay, two more words: larch season!
Want to learn more about Mt. Rainier weather patterns or learn about my favorite places there to shoot engagements and elopements? Then I definitely recommend popping on over to my Complete Guide to Planning your Mt Rainier Elopement (also great for planning engagement sessions). Or maybe you’re trying to figure out the best location for your sunrise, sunset, or fire lookout (my favorite!) engagement photos? I got you covered! Check out my top picks for best elopement locations in Washington. But warning, you may just fall in love with literally every national park and national forest in the state.
Three things to keep in mind when taking sunset engagement photos
If you’re planning your own sunset engagement session, you really do not need to overthink it. Here are my top three tips to make the most of your day or session:
Check if you need a special use permit
Learn about Leave No Trace and stay on the trail!
If you want solitude, consider a weekday
If you are shooting engagement photos in a National Park, you will need a special use permit. Depending on the park, these cost approximately $50-$60, and you can apply online. But the National Park will need some time to process the request, so you will want to apply a few weeks before your shoot! If you’re booking a package with me, move right on down to #2, because I will take care of this step (and pack the snacks, of course)!
If you haven’t heard about Leave No Trace, allow me to nerd out for just a second about why I love it so much. Leave No Trace is a set of principles that helps us minimize our impact on the outdoors so that we all can enjoy pristine nature for many more years to come. How rad is that? Even cooler, is that they built the Seven Principles (aka their guidelines to follow) around science and research. For example, their principle, Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces (like trails!), is based on research that shows how many years it can take for sensitive flora, like wildflowers or alpine meadows, to grow back after someone walks through them. (Spoiler: a long time!) Clearly I could keep going here, but check out my Leave No Trace guide if you want to learn how you can plan your own Leave No Trace engagement session (okay, I may be biased but this is probably the best way to apply Leave No Trace!). The main takeaway here is that you may not realize it, but meadows like the one in these photos are actually really fragile. Even one photo of you running through the wildflowers could destroy them for dozens and dozens of years. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get that epic shot! Jourdan and Katie stayed on the trail the entire time and I was able to use different focal lengths and framing to help make it look like they are more in the wildflowers than they really are.
If it is a beautiful, sunny, bluebird day in the mountains in the summer, you should expect to see quite a few other people out on the trail with you. So if solitude is important to you and your love, I recommend two things. First, if at all possible, choose a weekday for your engagement or elopement. Second, hire an experienced and knowledgeable local photographer. They will know which trails still deliver those epic views but will also be more secluded or lesser known. And, I may know just the girl for the job. But for real, I’d be so stoked to help you plan your best day and take you to all the best, less-known spots!
Identifying the wildflowers of Mt. Rainier: what we saw during these sunset engagement photos
Can we take a moment to appreciate how many different kinds of wildflowers we saw and captured in these sunset engagement photos? There are literally hundreds of different kinds of wildflowers in Washington, and dozens that grow in alpine meadows like where we took these engagement session photos. Isn’t that wild?! (Get it? Haha!)
I love looking at these gems of nature and trying to identify them by their rainbow of colors. That day we saw red, orange and pink paintbrushes, the yellow daisy-looking broadleaf arnica, and tons of blue and purple lupine. We also saw one of my favorite wildflowers, the big puffy bears ears looking flower, scientifically known as the Dr. Seuss Truffula Tree. Just kidding: they are the western pasqueflower (aka anemone occidentalis), and they actually start off as white and pale yellow flowers before growing hair and morphing into this wispy, soft truffula flower. I totally think ‘Truffala Tree flower’ is so much more fitting, don’t you?!
If you want help identifying wildflowers in Washington, here are some of my favorite resources:
Meet your sunset engagement photographer
I feel most at home outdoors, so it is no surprise that is where I gravitate towards as a sunset engagement photographer. In college, I was known as the “granola girl” because my outfits were always fit to go to class or hiking (not that I ever skipped class to go to the mountains, lol). From my days of exploring the hills of the Ozark Mountains, I am now hiking mountain trails across the Pacific Northwest, exploring the bases of waterfalls in Kauai and experiencing as many mountain top views in Washington as possible. I am passionate about this job of mine and adventuring to the most beautiful locations to document sunset engagements with the best couples. I’m a Pacific Northwest-based elopement photographer who knows the state of Washington, the national parks, forests, state parks, and other sunset engagement locations well. Basically, I’m dying for a reason to head back to the mountains, and I’d love for your adventure to be the reason! Click here to learn more about me, your sunset engagement photographer!
Are you ready to start planning your sunset engagement session? Let’s do it! Reach out and let’s start planning your greatest adventure yet.
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.