Are you dreaming of a wedding surrounded by towering trees and the peace of nature? Redwoods National Park might just be the perfect location for your elopement. The breathtaking destination is a favorite among couples looking to tie the knot in a serene and stunning atmosphere. In this article, we’ll guide you through everything you need to expect when eloping in Redwoods National Park. From the best time to visit to navigating the permit process and exploring nearby attractions, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and start planning your unforgettable elopement in this magical forest oasis!
Let’s Get Married: How to Tie the Knot In California
To make things legally legit in California, there are a few important steps to take. First and foremost, you’ll need to obtain a marriage license from the county clerk’s office. You will both be required to apply for the license in person. In California, there is a mandatory waiting period of 3 days after receiving the license before you can get married. This means you’ll need to plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to obtain and wait for your license before your elopement.
As is the case in most states, you will need two witnesses to sign the license and an officiant for your legal wedding ceremony.
When to Elope in Redwoods National Park
As you prepare for your magical redwoods elopement, it’s important to consider the best time of year to visit. The park is located in a coastal climate, which means that it experiences mild temperatures and consistent rainfall all year round. However, the temperate rainforest is still affected by seasonal changes, and each season brings different conditions that can affect your experience.
Spring is an excellent time to visit the park, with April and May offering comfortable temperatures and blooming wildflowers. The park is also quieter during this time, meaning fewer crowds to contend with. Summer brings warmer temperatures and larger crowds, but the longer days allow for more time to explore the park’s trails and natural wonders.
Fall is a magical time to visit the park, with the changing leaves and cooler temperatures creating a stunning backdrop for your ceremony. The park is also less busy during this time, making it an excellent option for couples looking for a quieter experience. Winter can be challenging due to the rain and colder weather, but if you’re prepared with proper gear, you can still enjoy the park’s beauty in a unique way.
Embrace the Moody Weather (AKA Bring your Raincoat!)
The rainy season extends through almost 10 months of the year. Couples and guests should be prepared for changing weather conditions and varied terrain. Trails can be steep and slippery, and some areas may be inaccessible during certain times of the year. Understanding the seasonal changes and how they affect the park’s conditions will help you plan the perfect elopement in Redwoods National Park. So be prepared, but worry not! Your redwoods elopement is all about embracing the elements and immersing yourself in the full PNW experience anyway – Rain included!
How to Get to Redwoods National Park
The bountiful beauty of the Redwoods requires a fair bit of commitment to get to.
Most people road trip to the parks from the closest major cities of Portland, San Francisco or Sacramento, though each of those requires at least 6 hours of driving one way. Another option would be to fly into one of the smaller regional airports in the region. Crescent City and Eureka/Arcata airports offer a limited number of commercial flights, but Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport across the border in Oregon could provide more flight options at a more reasonable price.
Flying into Medford significantly reduces the drive time required to get to the park (roughly 2.5 hours total), so you can have more time spent out on the trails. Of course, all of this effort to get to the Redwoods is repaid tenfold when you arrive and experience the lush fern covered forests, sandy beaches and the famous giant coastal redwoods.
Where to Stay near Redwoods National Park
Once you’ve made it to the area, you’ll want to extend your stay beyond your elopement day and explore the surrounding areas. Luckily, there are plenty of great options for accommodations in and around the parks.
For those who want to immerse themselves in nature, camping is a popular choice. Some of the best campgrounds in the area include Elk Prairie, Gold Bluffs Beach, and Jedediah Smith. Each of these campgrounds offers a unique experience, from ocean views to old-growth forests.
Some of the closest towns near the redwoods are Crescent City, Eureka, or Brookings, OR. Keep in mind though, these are all relatively small coastal towns with limited amenities. There many not be a huge restaurant scene or large selection of local vendors, but there are plenty of cute places to call home back during your time here.
An entire guesthouse situated on oceanfront property with panoramic ocean views. As a bonus, this same property also serves as an elopement or intimate wedding venue, meaning this could also act as a ceremony or reception space!
Each room at this Trinidad area bed & breakfast offers sweeping panoramic views of the ocean and outdoor decks to enjoy the sounds of the crashing surf with your morning coffee. Just minutes from the park entry as well as some of Californias best beaches, this is a great basecamp for your Redwood elopement.
Located just off the 101 in the quaint Victorian town of Fortuna roughly 30 minutes south of the parks, this turn of the century inn offers spacious rooms, immaculate victorian architecture, and easy access to the thriving heart of Ferndale and all its unique shops.
This cozy oceanfront retreat gives you a private space for viewing the wild Northern California coast. With dramatic windows stretching floor to ceiling, this view is worth every penny. It also comes with all the amenities and comforts of home. Want to cook up a meal for your partner or guests? This place includes a full kitchen to make that happen. Book your stay early though, this place books out well ahead of time.
Holiday Inn Express Mckinleyville
For a worry free overnight option that won’t blow your budget, the Holiday Inn just south of the park is a reliable option that you can’t go wrong with. This location boasts an indoor pool and Jacuzzi as well as complimentary bike rentals for exploring the coast.
Ferndale “Barndimonium” Cottage
This whimsical and immaculately decorated tiny home in downtown Ferndale can play host to not only your overnight stay, but also your ceremony or reception! They have an adjoining outdoor space and reception area that can provide the perfect venue for hosting your friends and family on your big day.
Humboldt Bay Social Club Suite
Humboldt Bay Social Club is a boutique hotel, bar, restaurant and event space on the shores of Humboldt Bay. Guests at the hotel are offered access to two outdoor clawfoot soaking tubs to enjoy under the stars. Also included are the fire pits, grills, and free access to coolers, wagons and anything else you’ll need for a perfect beach day. This cozy boutique hotel also offers a lobby bar, and a full restaurant open seasonally.
Nestled on a wooded hillside just 4 miles north of Trinidad and 12 miles south of the parks, the Viewcrest Lodge is a great basecamp for embarking on your elopement day. If seclusion is what you’re after, this lodge is actually a collection of cozy private cabins for you and your partner. A complimentary breakfast is included and delivered directly to your room, though if you’d prefer to make your own each cabin includes a full kitchen for cooking up a private meal for two.
Where to Elope in the Redwoods
When it comes to eloping in the redwoods, there are so many stunning locations for exchanging vows. Redwood National Park is actually a jointly managed complex of one National Park and three State Parks, with numerous small towns and scenic drives in between. The different parks have something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a secluded spot or a more popular destination. In order from north to south, here are each of the parks that make up the Redwoods complex.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
This park can take you deep into the heart of old growth redwood forests, which close proximity to amazing and dramatic coastal spots to watch the sun set.
Nearest Major Town: Crescent City, CA
Land Acknowledgement: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is located on the land of the Tolowa Dee-ni’
Popular Features: Big Tree, Stout Grove, Scenic Howland Hill Road
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Nearest Major Town: Crescent City, CA
This park features old growth forests and about 8 miles of gorgeous coastal trails. Unlike the other parks, the redwoods here are situated on a steep west-facing hill that sees frequent fog roll in from the ocean.
Land Acknowledgement: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is located on the land of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ and Yurok people.
Popular Features: Coastal Trail, Damnation Creek
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Nearest Major Town: Arcata/Eureka, CA
This park features coastal redwood groves, one of the most beautiful beach campgrounds and day use areas, as well as some unique features you may recognize from the movies.
Land Acknowledgement: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is located on the land of the Ner’-er-nerh/Coastal Yurok People
Popular features: Cal-Barrel Road Scenic Drive, Fern Canyon, Gold Bluffs Beach
Redwoods National Park
Nearest Major Town: Arcata/Eureka, CA
Land Acknowledgement: Redwoods National Park is located on the land of the Yurok and Tolowa Dee-ni’ people.
Popular Features: Tall Trees Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Grove (currently closed)
Choosing the Ideal Ceremony Location & Navigating the Permit Process
Redwoods National and State Parks has provided a list of pre-approved trails for elopements with guests, making it easy to find out which areas may be the best option for your group size. If you’ve fallen in love with a spot not on their pre-approved list, you may still be able to acquire a permit for it (this requires a two-week review process). If you’re looking for a more secluded spot, the park’s numerous trails and backcountry camping areas provide plenty of options. All of the permit information and pre-approved ceremony locations can be found on the Redwoods National Park Website.
No matter which location you choose, be sure to obtain the necessary permits and check for any seasonal closures or restrictions. Navigating the permit process and ensuring you have all the right documentation can be time-consuming, but it’s essential to follow park guidelines and protect this beloved natural wonder.
The permits can be obtained by contacting the park’s Special Use Permit office. You’ll need to fill out an application and provide details about your elopement, such as the location and date. Keep in mind that fees will vary depending on the type of permit you require. It’s best to apply for the permit well in advance to ensure that you have all the necessary documentation and approvals in place for your elopement. Be sure to check the park’s website for updates and alerts before finalizing your elopement plans.
How to Leave No Trace in the Redwoods
Many trails throughout the parks are very narrow, so please make sure to stay on the trail and only use approved ceremony locations that can handle your guest count.
Live florals are not allowed within the parks to prevent the introduction of invasive species.
And as always, take only photographs and leave only footprints.
Other Things to See During your Visit to Redwoods National Park
Redwoods National Park is a natural wonderland that offers more than just towering redwoods. Take a break from your elopement ceremony and explore the nearby attractions to make your trip even more memorable.
Explore Fern Canyon
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the area is by taking a hike through the 30-ft, ultra lush walls of Fern Canyon. Although ceremonies aren’t permitted here, it’s a great stop along your elopement adventure to see something unlike anywhere else in the park! Prepare to get your feet wet as you cross streams and gasp at the aptly named walls of green ferns lining the canyon walls. Note: A reservation is required to take the scenic drive to Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach during peak season – Be sure to get that, or otherwise hike from the Prairie Creek visitor center (which is no easy feat).
Enjoy the coast from the Water
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, try kayaking or rafting along the Smith River. The clear waters and beautiful scenery make for an unforgettable experience.
Take a Laid-Back Brewery Tour
Visit local breweries and wineries to sample some of the area’s best craft beers and wines. You can even take a brewery tour to see how the beer is made.
Take a scenic drive along the coast
And if you have extra time to spare, take a drive to explore the nearby Oregon and California coasts. From rugged cliffs to charming towns, there’s something for everyone.
Choosing Your Redwoods Elopement Vendors
As mentioned, this stretch of coastline is pretty rural. Finding local vendors for your elopement can feel tricky at times, but it’s not impossible! Here are some amazing vendors who live locally or offer travel to the area.
Overland Elopements (hey, that’s us!)
Lilli Productions Lincoln City, OR
Blossoms Florist Eureka, CA
Flora Organica Designs Arcata, CA
Hair & Makeup:
The Greatest Adventure Weddings
Lawson & Company Events Brookings, OR
The Bearded Chef Brookings, OR
Northern California Redwoods Elopement Photography Packages
We love this part of the world so much, we moved ourselves across the country to serve our couples here better. The Northern California coast is one of our happy places, and we’d be so stoked to show you all this area has to offer for your elopement. With elopement photography options ranging from four hours to multiple days, we’re here to help you plan your greatest adventure together yet.
Contact us now to book your California Redwoods elopement!