February 18, 2022

Mount Rainier Elopement Guide for a Unique Wedding

{2022 UPDATED} As a Washington State Elopement Photographer, I have created this guide to help you create a plan for your unique Mount Rainier Elopement. Holy moly Mount Rainier is a gorgeous plan, and I want you to experience as much as you can.

There are so many trails with epic views of one of the most majestic snow-capped mountains you’ve ever seen, with plenty of other peaks, forests, and waterfalls all around it. Even though it is absolutely gorgeous, there are still a few things to help ensure your elopement here will be the best it can be, so I’ve gathered some helpful tips for you to make your decisions easier.

Best Time of Year for a Mount Rainier Elopement

The best time of year to get married in the park ultimately depends on what season and activities you want for your elopement day. But, I think that one of the most beautiful aspects of Mount Rainier is the wildflowers, and if you want to see those I suggest late July – early August when they are in full bloom.

There is limited access to the park in the winter months (November 1st – May 1st) since many of the roads are closed due to snow. But if you are wanting a winter wonderland wedding, you can still make it happen in lower elevations. But keep in mind that even year-round you can find some snow on the ground at higher elevations!

Summer provides the driest of days with a high temperature of around 60-70, while the rainier seasons are spring, summer, and winter. Because of that, summer is also the busiest season. This is why I ALWAYS suggest choosing a weekday for your elopement. On weekends in the summer you will experience lines of cars waiting to get in and VERY FULL parking lots.

Beating the Crowds in the Park

If you want to avoid the busy summer season, but want to avoid winter weather, Spring in May/June or Fall in late August/September are great months to enjoy the park as well. You have a chance that certain areas won’t be accessible due to weather but you will definitely avoid crowds. The fall colors in Washington are also a beautiful sight!

Where to Stay in
Mount Rainier National Park


Camping is always a fun way to celebrate your elopements, whether you decide you want to live the tent life, have a camper, or rent a campervan, you’ve got lots of options for staying inside the park for a low price!
There are 4 campgrounds within the park: Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, White River, & Mowich Lake.
The campground are only open ranging from May-October depending on the campground you choose. You can make reservations for Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh, but the others are first come first served only. They also have different amenities so be sure you find the right one for what kind of stay you are looking for. There are no electrical, water, or greywater hookups in any of the campgrounds.

There are also a few campgrounds spread around the outside of the park if you need a backup plan or a way to pay smaller fees.


There are 2 lodges inside the National Park:
National Park Inn & Paradise Inn.
National Park inn is open year-round because it is in the lower elevations of the park. It is located not far past the Southwest entrance of the park. You can make reservations online HERE.

Paradise Inn is located in the Paradise region of the park which is directly South of Mount Rainier. It isn’t far from the other Inn and can be easily accessed by the Southwest entrance or the SouthEast entrance.
The views from Paradise Inn are amazing and you have direct access to tons of trails right from your doorstep. You can make a reservation HERE.


The closest towns with multiple places to stay outside of the park are Ashford near the Southwest entrance, and Packwood from the Southeast entrance. Both of these towns are adorable and have a good few motels, hotels, and rental places to stay. They also have food and other amenities you might want access to throughout your trip.

You can also lookup Airbnb or VRBO rentals in the area depending on the size of your group for your elopement.

There are also a few cute lodges or resorts in the surrounding areas that you can rent as well.

I always suggest finding somewhere that you feel really cozy, comfortable, and excited to stay. I would suggest booking a place to stay as far in advance as possible!

Fees, Passes, & Permits

The park requires a permit in order to get married. Your photographer/videographer might also need a separate permit as well. You can apply for a permit by downloading the application on their website and emailing it to the listed ranger. The cost is $60 and you must apply at least 4 weeks before your desired date.

There are additional restrictions on your pass for your elopement ceremony listed on their website and advised in your permit acceptance. The size of the elopement also determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies. The larger the size, the fewer options provided. Undoubtedly, I always suggest keeping things small and simple for elopements on public land!

You also need a pass to get into the park itself, whether that means that you buy a single vehicle pass that gets one car into the park for 7 consecutive days ($30 total) or you have a general America The Beautiful Pass (usually around $80/year) which provides you with a few other perks if you visit national parks frequently. If you plan on visiting the park multiple more times that year you could purchase the Annual pass (55 total), but you likely won’t be doing that unless you live nearby!
Permitting can change at any time, so be sure to check the website below for any updates.

Marriage Legalities for
a Mount Rainier Elopement


According to Washington state law, you need to apply for your marriage license at least three days before you elope!

You can either arrive early for your elopement experience or you can apply online and have it mailed to you. Once you get your license it is valid for 60 days.

You will need an ordained officiant and 2 witnesses to sign and legalize your marriage.

The other option is to just do the official legalities on your own time in your own home state before or after your elopement adventure. This allows for more freedom throughout your day if you’re not set on legally being married during your celebration.

What to Wear for
a Mount Rainier Elopement

Depending on the time of year, you can wear different things!

The main thing to remember is that it always gets colder the higher in elevation you go, and there can be snow on the ground year-round in many areas. Make sure you bring layers so that you can adjust as necessary. Hats, gloves, scarves, and thermal underlayers are never a bad idea.

For shoes, you are going to want something super comfortable, durable, and with plenty of traction. You might be walking through mud, dust, water, and over rocks. Hiking boots are usually the best bet when it comes to your wedding day shoes.

If you are wearing a dress, I always suggest dresses that are loose around the hips and light and flowy. You don’t want anything keeping you from moving around, taking normal steps, and weighing you down.

Comfort is always key to having a fun elopement day.

The more comfortable you are, the more present at the moment you are going to be to enjoy the experience with your partner.

Activities to Do for
a Mount Rainier Elopement

Whether you want to spend the day (or multiple days) doing a mix of things or focus on one, there are tons of options of fun outdoor activities to choose from for your elopement inside the park.

Wildflower Exploring: Mostly done in late July – early August in the peak of wildflower season.

Day Hiking: You can’t go wrong spending the day hiking to beautiful views and through gorgeous scenery.

Backpacking (need a permit): If you’re wanting more privacy and are up for a bit of an adventure, backpacking into a beautiful spot for the night is a great option! But you will need to get a backpacking permit ahead of time.

Everyone loves a good picnic, and what could be better than having one with a beautiful view of the outdoors.

Snowmobiling/snowshoeing: The winter months are a great time to go on a snowy adventure on foot or on a snowmobile!

Biking (e-bikes allowed): You can even bike the west side road and have it all to yourself with no cars.

Boating: Take a packraft on a hike up to a lake or kayak on Mowich lake, you’ve got a few options to get on the water in the park.

How to Get Around
Mount Rainier National Park

You will definitely want to rent a car for an elopement at Mount Rainier unless you are taking a road trip and driving the whole way there!

Having the freedom to get around how and whenever you want will be key for the flexibility needed for an elopement day. You don’t need a car with 4WD to get through the park in the warmer months since everything is generally paved, but if you are wanting to explore some of the dirt roads in the National Forest outside of the park it doesn’t hurt to get a more offload style vehicle.

In the months of November through May, there will be limited road access due to snow, but you are also required to have tire chains on your car. If you are renting some rental companies offer this as an add-on, but if you are driving yourself you will need to purchase tire chains beforehand.

Inspiration For Your
Mount Rainier Elopement

Feel like you are physically in the park while watching the film of Sawan and Laurin’s epic Mount Rainier elopement adventure. Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration!

“Kathryn is the BEST!! ❤️ We had our elopement in Mount Rainier National Park, and she did such an amazing job capturing our day. From beating us to our sunrise ceremony location to creating a beautiful film that brings us to tears, and a lot of badass hiking with her heavy gear in between, Kathryn exudes the warmth, adventurousness, and professionalism necessary to be the perfect elopement videographer.

Kathryn’s portfolio speaks for itself, her style is exactly what we were looking for, and from our first phone call, we could tell she was going to be a lot of fun to work with while also having a very comforting presence.

On the day of our elopement, Kathryn was the wallflower we were looking for during the intimate parts of the day. She was able to capture all of her footage just going with the flow, and she worked incredibly well with our photographer. Kathryn drove on dirt roads and did multiple high intensity hikes to capture the various parts of our day, including a 1300 ft elevation gain over 1.5 mile for our evening shoot, and then hiking back down at night. She’s incredibly sweet and helpful, and brings the perfect energy to your wedding day.

When we received our video, it was exactly what we were hoping for. It told the story of our wedding day perfectly, both how it was and how it felt. It was incredibly heartfelt in the most artistic way possible and our vows are weaved in perfectly. We tear up every time we watch it. Thank you so much for everything, Kathryn! You and the work you create are pure magic.”


Photography, Videography, & Planning

Finding the right person who can capture your elopement day AND help with planning it so that it fits perfectly to who you are isn’t an easy task.

Meet Me

I’m Kathryn & I love to help couples create outdoor elopement days that focus on your experience as much as your final photos and video. I believe your elopement day shouldn’t be a photoshoot, it should be filled with memories and moments that make you happy.

I am also a rare solo photographer AND videographer by trade, providing you with the option of being able to re-live the day multiple ways without having to hire multiple vendors or have multiple cameras pointed your way all day. Lots of my couples don’t want to feel like they are on a reality tv show during their elopement day; they just want to celebrate their wedding in a beautiful place with their partner and to be able to go back to those moments over and over again throughout their lifetime.

I’d love to help you plan and capture your epic Mount Rainier Elopement. I’m your girl.