Love is Magic Photography

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MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT PLANNING GUIDE

Mount Rainier is one of my favorite National Parks and a gorgeous backdrop for your Elopement. If you are thinking about eloping in Mount Rainier this guide will help you plan the perfect adventure. Along with the endless views of Mt. Rainier, the park is filled with evergreen forests, rolling green hills, vibrant wildflowers (during peak season from the last week in July until mid August), and 360 degree views of the surrounding cascade mountain range. This park has two main areas that are most popular called Sunrise and the Paradise region. Both of these sections are accessible by car and have dozens of hiking trails connected to them.

Mount Rainer Elopement couple kisses

CHOOSE YOUR MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT LOCATION

Before you can secure your permit you must choose a specific location to include on your permit. I’ve included fees and website links that are current as of May 2024.

You can view trail condition live cams here: Nps.gov

Be aware that some trails are not available daily, choosing a Tuesday – Thursday gives you a higher likelihood that your permit is approved.

THE BEST MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT SPOTS

EASY TRAILS

1. Silver Forest Trail located in the Sunrise area. This easy 2 mile roundtrip loop is perfect for couples who aren’t wanting to hike a ton on their wedding day. This trail is lined with wildflowers and pine trees and is popular to explore during wildflower season in August. This is one of my personal favorite trails for portraits at sunset. Best July – October.

2. Grove of the Patriarchs is located on the Paradise area near Stevens entrance. This is an easily accessible and paved trail that goes through an old growth forest just past the Ohanapecosh Visitor Center. Accordingly, its a favorite for tourists and I recommend having a morning ceremony during summer. There isn’t a lot to see in the area of the park, so if you’re hoping for more jaw-dropping locations, I recommend driving up to the Paradise section of the park located a few minutes up the road for more location options. Be sure to get a photo with the Mount Rainier entrance sign (pictured below) before continuing on to The Grove of the Patriarchs.

3. Reflection Lake is located on the Paradise area via Stevens entrance. It has stunning views of Mount Rainier and when the lake is perfectly smooth you have a mirror-like reflection of the mountain. Plus the lake is right on the main road and not really a hike at all.

4. Tipsoo Lake and Naches Peak Loop Trail is located on the Sunrise side near Carbon River entrance. Tipsoo Lake is an easy half mile walk around the picturesque subalpine lake surrounded by gorgeous wildflower meadowsPlus it’s right on the main road along State Route 410. Parking is easy but pretty popular so sunrise or early morning is recommended. Sunset is stunning but you’ll have to battle hikers for photos. Naches Peak Loop Trailhead is right across the street from Tipsoo Lake. It’s a medium difficulty trail, pretty steep to begin with but once you get up the hill you have a gorgeous view of Mount Rainier plus lots of wildflowers and an alpine lake with more views of Mount Rainier. Sunset is stunning but you’ll most likely have to battle hikers for photos. Best June – October.

PICNIC AREA

5. The Sunrise Visitor Center Picnic Area would make the perfect Mt Rainier wedding venue. This is not your average picnic area! It’s expansive with tons of incredible pine trees and wildflowers surrounding you. The tables are large and seat around eight to ten people, with some tables grouped together making it easy to accommodate a group of 15+ people. Plus, each grouping of tables is tucked away in the trees making it feel super private.

6. The Paradise Visitor Center Picnic Area is very similar to the Sunrise Visitor Center Picnic Area, just on the other side of the park. You can find groupings of picnic tables nestled in the pine trees, surrounded by wildflowers in the Summer. This would make an incredible Mt Rainier wedding venue if you are looking to include friends and family in your day or just enjoy a celebratory meal with your partner!

ADVANCED TRAILS

7. Mount Fremont Lookout Trail located in the Sunrise area. This elopement location begins at the sunrise visitor center with wildflowers lining the trail and ends with sweeping views of the nearby mountain range. The hike is 2.4 miles long each way (5.7 miles roundtrip) and is fairly steep and rocky, but the views are well worth the effort. Mt. Rainier is known for having some of the best fire lookouts in the state. Fire lookouts often have the best 360 degree views and make for great portrait or ceremony locations. The Mount Fremont Trail specifically is really popular, so don’t expect to get this location to yourself no matter what time of day you’re here. The trail is available July to October.

8. Skyline Trail/Panorama Point located in the Paradise Area. Mount Rainier National Park’s most famous hiking trail. It’s a hard, 5.7 mile roundtrip loop that takes you through some of the most scenic spots of the park such as Myrtle Falls and Panorama Point. You don’t need to hike far to get some epic views of Mount Rainier. The trail is a must-do, even if you decide to skip it for your ceremony. However, this is the most popular trail in the park, so don’t hike it mid-day. Instead, plan for sunrise or sunset where you may get entire sections of the trail to yourself.

9. Tolmie Peak Hike is located on the Sunrise side near Carbon River entrance. This difficult 5.6 mile roundtrip hike is well known for its ending view at the Tolmie Peak Fire Lookout. On the trail, you’ll pass alpine lakes, forests, and never-ending mountain ranges. There are endless areas for pictures and exploring. This spot is particularly beautiful during sunset and after dark. If you want to go stargazing, this is the spot to do so. However, be prepared for steep inclines and lots of hikers, especially during the busy summer months. The trail is available July to October.

For more information and photos of more trails click here for Sunrise Trails and here for Paradise Trails.

MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT PERMITS

To elope in Mount Rainier National Park, you have to apply for a wedding permit and pay a fee. Before you apply, you have to determine where in the park you want to elope! Elopement locations vary depending on how many guests you want to invite.

Currently Mount Rainier Requires a $250 permit fee to get married in the park.

Here are some guest guidelines from the National Park Website:
1-12 participants: may use almost any location in the park.
13-24: may not use wilderness or primitive locations, but may use certain pre-determined locations along trails at Paradise and Sunrise; may also use locations along roads such as pullouts, picnic areas, and campground amphitheaters.
25-60: limited to roadside locations and campground amphitheaters.
Over 60: campground amphitheaters only.
Ceremonies may not impede the activities of other visitors. Outdoor areas will not be closed off during ceremonies and parking may not be reserved. Throwing of rice, confetti, etc. is not allowed. Setting up chairs or erecting tents or awnings in roadside pullouts or parking areas or on trails is not permitted.

Once you have selected an exact location you need to email an application form. Applications must be submitted at least four weeks before the requested date. 

MOUNT RAINIER RESERVATION

Recently, Mt Rainier National Park implemented a reservation system. Over the past 10 years the park has seen a huge increase in visitors so they implemented a timed entry to help with the flow. Since you will have received a Special Use Permit you can use your permit instead of using a timed entry reservation to gain access to the associated corridor of the permit. Just present a copy of your permit to Park Rangers upon entry.

Mount Rainier Stevens Canyon entrance

WASHINGTON MARRIAGE LICENSES

Currently Washington Marriage Licenses cost $72

Couples can either choose to legalize their marriage on their elopement day or just have a symbolic ceremony. Washington marriage laws require 2 witnesses and an officiant to sign the license to legalize your marriage during your elopement.

Washington Marriage Laws require a 3 day waiting period before your license is active and it valid for only 60 days. You can apply for the license online within 60 days of your wedding date. If you are unable to appear in person together, you can submit a notarized application by mail. Detailed information is available on the website.

LODGING FOR YOUR MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT

Be sure to book your lodging well in advance, especially if you are getting married in the summer at Mt Rainier. Mount Rainier is about a 2 hour drive from the Seattle Airport. You can stay in one of the two hotels located within Mount Rainier National Park or in the nearby towns including Packwood, Ashford, Greenwater, or Enumclaw. There are many Airbnbs and cabins available near Mount Rainier. Consider booking something that is near whatever park entrance you will be getting married at.

Lodging near the White River/Sunrise Entrance

This entrance is on the far side of the park, I personally haven’t used it. It’s remote and there isn’t a populated town nearby.
Loge Camps
Crystal Mountain Cabins
Silver Skis Chalet

Lodging near the Nisqually/Paradise Entrance

ASHFORD is located on the Paradise side of Mt Rainier National Park, near the Nisqually entrance. This area is filled with tons of cute A-frame cabins, though the town itself is pretty remote. Most of your vendors will be based in Seattle so fly in early enough that you can pick up your cake, bouquet and supplies before driving to your cabin. Lodging near the Nisqually/Paradise Entrance:
Iron & Vine Treehouse
Hebe’s Hideout
The Little Blue A-Frame
Echo House
Stone Creek Lodge
Wellspring Spa
Stormking Cabins
Paradise Inn

Lodging near the Stevens Canyon Entrance

PACKWOOD is the closest town to the Stevens Canyon entrance and is the place where most of our couples stay. It has everything you need from gas stations, hotels, restaurants, and (my favorites) Packwood Brewery Co and The Mountain Goat bakery. This town has more to offer in terms of places to stay and access into the park.
Heartwood Cabin
The Shady Frame
Cozy River Cabin
The Little Owl Cabin + Chateau Marmot
Packwood Lodge
Mountain View Lodge
Packwood Mountain House

Lodging near the Carbon River Entrance

GREENWATER is a really small and one of the lesser known towns near the Carbon River Entrance of and gives the closest access to the Sunrise side of Mt Rainier. Town highlights include a little outdoor shop named Wapiti Outdoors, it has ice cream and sandwiches plus a local tavern called Naches Bar and Grill. So while it is much more remote, you can still plan a fun post elopement celebration here. Or if you want to stay a bit further out consider Enumclaw.
Carbon Country Shady Rest
A-Frame Cabin
Luxury Mountain Cabin
Enumclaw’s First Church

MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMENT PLANNING TIPS & IDEAS

Hike in your athletic clothes and then change into your elopement dress at the top of the hike – then you have a great opportunity for a first look with your significant other surrounded by panoramic views.

Consider a Hot Air Balloon ride or take a Gondola ride to see the park from above.

Pack a picnic and small bottle of Champagne to pop an d celebrate your nuptials with.

Bug Spray is a MUST in the summer months.

MOUNT RAINIER ELOPEMEMNT TIMELINE

I always recommend hiking at sunrise or sunset or both during your Mt Rainier elopement, for blue hour and golden hour, making your photos absolutely stunning. There are typically less people out on the trails at sunrise. So you’ll receive more privacy, even if it is one of the more popular trails in the park.

Most of the time, couples book a local AirBnB cabin to get ready in, have a first look there, as well as family portraits and then we head up to Mount Rainier for the ceremony and newlywed portraits at golden hour. 

Mount Rainier Elopement timelines always look a little differently based on the weather, time of year, and where we are located at first. If you are getting ready at an adorable A Frame cabin in Ashford, then the drive up to Rainier is about 35 minutes whereas it takes 50 minutes from the Packwood side. It all depends on location and where you want to go. First decide where you want to get married in Rainier, then choose your getting ready location and any other special activites you want captured. And I will create a custom timeline for sunset, sunrise or early morning depending on the season and popularity of the locations.

BOOK YOUR ELOPEMENT VENDORS

Now that you’ve got your location, permit, reservation and licence, it’s time to start planning the fun stuff. I’m a photographer and I am ordained so I can lead your ceremony and sign your licence.
If you haven’t already booked me, view my packages and info on my website.

FLORALS – Mt Rainier has very strict rules on florals:

– Disbursement of rice, flowers, confetti, sky lanterns, or releasing of wildlife is prohibited.
– No scattering of plant materials (petals, seeds, rice, etc.)
– No bouquets that are fragile/falling apart
– All imported plant material must leave the park
– All flower arrangements must be securely wrapped
– No dried flowers or seed heads permitted
– No noxious weeds – Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board

MOUNT RAINIER RECOMMENDED VENDORS

FLORALS
Courageous Crow | Packwood, WA
Big Bottom Bouquets| Randle, WA
Packwood Flower Delivery | Packwood, WA
Goldenrod Floral | Seattle, WA
Emerald City Flowers | Seattle, WA
Olympia Blooms | Olympia, WA
Naviphytology | PNW

CAKE
Lil Cakery | Seattle, WA
Honey Crumb cakes | Seattle, WA
Delicately Sweet | Seattle, WA
Florida Peach Sweets | Lakewood, WA
Annie’s Got Cakes | Seattle, WA

HAIR & MAKEUP
Classy HMUA | Seattle, WA
Skagit Bridal Hair and Makeup | Snohomish, WA
Angie Evans | WA mobile service
Seattle Blossom and Beauty | Seattle, WA

Mount Rainier is one of my favorite elopement locations. I am so thankful for the wonderful people that hire me and support my passion! If you are a couple or family wanting photos on your Mount Rainier vacation or If you’re thinking about taking Mount Rainier elopement photos, I’d love to meet you there. Fill out the contact form on my website, and let’s make memories!

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