Best Places to Elope on the Olympic Peninsula
It was on our first trip to Olympic National Park that Trevor and I had the “Aha” moment that set in motion everything that our lives have become. For this reason and many others, this will always be one of our first suggestions for an epic elopement.
This is the pacific northwest at its best – and may be one of the best places to elope anywhere in the US. It can be a humbling experiencing stepping through the forest, among the ferns, with thousand year old spruce trees towering above you. The sweet smell of the wildflowers and pine on the mountain ridges will linger in your mind for months, and the glimpses of eagles and otters along the rocky shore will feel like a dream.
Olympic National Park is home to some of the most diverse terrain anywhere in the country, and that’s part of what makes it one of our favorite elopement destinations. Whether you imagine yourself eloping in a lush rainforest, a beach at sunset with the waves crashing over the rocks, or colorful alpine meadows packed with wildflowers, this place has something for you. On this location scouting excursion, we aimed to hit all three of the diverse backdrops it has to offer.
Elope in the Mountains – Hurricane Ridge
Hurricane Ridge is accessible year round, weather and road conditions permitting. We love Hurricane Ridge in spring and summer when the snow has started to thaw, the main road opens up, and the blooming wildflowers take over the landscape. After undertaking the winding 17 mile scenic ridge road, you find yourself immediately greeted by wide views of the Olympic Mountain Range. The mountains are dotted with snow until deep into the summer months.
Most trails are accessible immediately from the parking lot. With a great variety ranging from half a mile to eight mile epics, there are certainly options no matter your appetite for adventure. Any one of these would be a memorable and achievable addition to your elopement day. The way the trails line the ridge allows for epic views in every single direction, making this one of the most consistently awe-inspiring hikes we took all year.
And the smell!! I may talk about this too much but the combination of the fresh wildflowers and the pine trees being carried in the breeze…it felt like years were being added to my life by the breath. This will be your happy place, I promise.
Elope in a Temperate Rainforest – Hoh Rainforest
Where to even begin with Hoh Rainforest? This was the dry season and it was still so lush. Many trails are super easy and ADA-friendly, which is great when planning an elopement with guests!
The dry summer months make things a little less muddy and more manageable, but this being the Pacific Northwest, you have to prepare yourself for the possibility of a little rain and fog. Especially in the spring or fall. No matter, as photographers we love the moody vibes those conditions can provide. If you’re the go-with-the-flow type of couple, this could be the perfect location for your elopement. All trails are easily accessible from the parking lot, including two short loop trails and a much longer out and back trail that’s popular with backpackers. If you’re seeking a little more privacy for your big day, that might be the one for you – although we personally loved the loop trail that meandered among the mosses before opening up to a beautiful wide view of the Hoh River.
Elope on the Washington Coast
Perhaps the most identifiable stretch of coastline in the country – this is that peak pacific northwest vibe that everyone imagines. Depending on the weather, you can experience the heavy fog that completely transforms the beach, or a perfectly sunny west coast sunset. No matter where you choose to elope in Olympic National Park, make sure to stop at least once to watch the sunset along the coast.
Sunny evening at Rialto Beach
We rolled up to our campsite at the brand new Mora Campground just in time for sunset. (Mora is a must-visit if you’re hoping for a super accessible place to camp within the park. We were able to walk directly from our camp to the beach.)
Barely a cloud in the sky, and wildlife in every direction. In our short time at Rialto we spotted a plethora of bald eagles hunting and otters frolicking on the shoreline, though whales have also been known to populate this area too, depending on the season. If you haven’t visited this part of the country before, you may be shocked by the scale of the driftwood logs lining the beach too. The miles of shoreline accessible from here allows you to spread out and get away from the crowds for a private viewing of the sunset over the pacific ocean. A perfect end to a day of adventuring.
Foggy Rialto Beach Sunrise at Low Tide
The very next morning, we rolled out before the sun came up to walk to a stretch of coast only really accessible at low tide. The fog had seriously rolled in and we walked alone on the quiet beach, keeping an eye out for the faint silhouette of bald eagles on the tree tops.
When you time your trip just right, you can carefully walk around the tide pools and check out the starfish and giant green anemone. We were even joined by a curious grey seal that kept an eye on us from afar while he bobbed around in the water.
Our walks down the other beaches along the olympic peninsula were just as stunning. Ruby Beach was a little busier, but the fog was intensely moody. It’s a gorgeous section of beach where the Hoh River meets the ocean. We genuinely couldn’t decide if we preferred the sunshine or the fog, so know that it’s going to be epic no matter how the weather looks on your elopement day. We love the accessibility of Washington’s beaches, which gives you the opportunity to build so much more into your day.
Getting Around for your Olympic National Park Elopement
We love that it took only a few hours to travel between mountain ridges, rocky beaches, and temperate rainforests. Huge shoutout to Escape Campervans for allowing us to drive around the entire olympic peninsula at our own pace! They’re great because they have locations all over the United States, so you can pick up and drop off your camper at your destination instead of having to loop back. Their vans are a little bare bones though which was fine by us, but if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious there are plenty of other rental options in the van friendly PNW area.
We also saw a TON of fellow explorers using Peace Van Rentals. Cabana also offers a more comfortable ride with tons of amenities. Both are easy go-to suggestions if you’d like to incorporate a sweet ride into your elopement experience, and spend time camping and exploring the area on your own.
Where to Stay Near Olympic National Park
Camping at Olympic National Park
It may be easiest to find a campsite near your Olympic National Park elopement location, since you’ll likely be saying your vows at either sunrise or sunset for the best light. There are 14 developed campsites around the park, all with their own beautiful scenery. Only a few within the park itself allow for online reservations, including Mora Campground, which was our absolute favorite. We loved walking a little over a mile from our campsite to enjoy sunset on the beach. Olympic National Park Trips has a great online resource with detailed descriptions of all of the campgrounds in and around the park.
If you’re considering eloping in beautiful Washington state, Olympic National Park should be on the top of your consideration list.
Need a little more inspiration? Explore highlights from our favorite past adventures.