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THE BLOG

WASHINGTON ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | PNW ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | THE CARDINALS ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Hi! I'm Natasha! Your Washington elopement photographer, dog petter and donut eater. While photography is my first love, connecting with people is my love language. You'll find me lovin' on the big moments, the quiet moments, the silly moments – but especially the in between moments. The moments that are unadulterated and unfiltered. The ones where you are the real you. Here on the blog you'll find all of my favorite tips, tricks and resources for planning an elopement that's all about those moments.

NATASHA CARDINAL

WASHINGTON

ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER

IN THIS GUIDE

Why You Should Elope in Washington State
The Best Time of Year to Elope in Washington
The Best Places to Elope in Washington State
Mount Rainier National Park Elopement Locations
Olympic National Park Elopement Locations
Olympic Peninsula Elopement Locations
Mt. Baker-Snoqualimie National Forest Elopement Locations
North Cascades Elopement Locations
Washington Elopement Location Ultimate Guides
Washington Elopement Planning Resources
Meet Your Washington Elopement Photographer

WHY YOU SHOULD ELOPE IN WASHINGTON

We know picking an elopement location isn't easy. With so many stunning places out there, how could you possibly choose what the best place to elope is for you? Well in this blog we're gonna talk, why Washington state should be at the top of your list and cover all of the best places to elope in Washington state to make your elopement even more beautiful than your wildest dreams.

Imagine a place with incredible natural diversity, from lush forests and rugged coastlines to majestic mountains and over 3,000 glaciers. Washington serves up the ultimate captivating vibes, not just making your elopement photos uniquely breathtaking, but giving you the adventure of a lifetime.

Picture kicking off your marriage with activities like hiking through enchanting forests, backpacking through rugged mount landscapes, paddle boarding in crystal clear lakes (there's a local saying that you're never more than 10 minutes from a lake in Washington), or even embarking on a glacial trek for the adventurous duo. Feel like taking a dip after saying your vows? Dive into alpine lakes that'll leave you in awe (in the best way, of course).

And here's the bonus – Washington isn't just a visual treat; it's a haven for your four legged friends too! Washington is hands down one of the most dog friendly states in the U.S., so if you're thinking of bringing them along you'll be welcomed with open arms.

Sound like a dream? We think so too.

So, if you're up for distinctive landscapes, endless adventure, and starting your journey surrounded by nature's wonders, Washington might just be it for your elopement. Trust us, you won't regret it (we would know – it's where we eloped too!).

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ELOPE IN WASHINGTON STATE

Washington is an amazing place where you can elope just about any time of the year too! While Summer is by far the most popular, there are incredible locations for any season, it just depends on what sort of landscape you're open to. In the Summer and Fall you'll have your choice of everything the PNW is known for: stunning mountains, glaciers, lush forest, mossy rainforest, dramatic coast, even deserts and canyons!

In the Winter and Spring you'll have more limited options, but it's the perfect time to visit the more coastal and forested locations for the quintessential moody PNW vibes with dramatic skies. And if you're really up for an adventure, there's no shortage of opportunities for activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing too!

THE BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN WASHINGTON STATE

MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK

An icon, a legend, Mt. Rainier is the pinnacle of PNW mountains. Not only is Mt. Rainier a badass volcano, but she's the tallest mountain in Washington at 14, 411 feet! Rainier is hands down one of the best places to elope in Washington state.

Best Time of Year to Visit: July-October
Best Day of the Week to Elope: Weekdays
Best Time of Day to Elope: Sunrise, because of Mt. Rainier's popularity you'll have crowds to contend with most days. Some of this can be avoided by eloping at sunrise (the most magical time for photos too!)
Dogs Allowed: No

Permits:

THE BEST MT. RAINIER ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

Nisqually Vista Trail
Length: 1.1 miles
A very popular trail with some of the most stunning view points of Mt. Rainer herself! Just a short walk from the parking lot, this trail is paved, and as soon as you hop on the trail you'll be greeted with the most beautiful wildflowers in the summertime too.

Tipsoo Lake
Length: 0.7 miles
A stunning alpine lake surrounded by a short loop trail. In the summer you'll have views of Mt. Rainier, in the fall the lake is surrounded by the most gorgeous fall colors, and no matter what time of year you visit it's beautiful! Because it's such a short trail with such beautiful views it's extremely popular (a theme you'll see with a lot of these locations) but visiting at sunrise or during blue hour (the time right after sunset) will help avoid some of the crowds.

Reflection Lakes
Length: 2.75 miles
If you've ever looked up photos of Mt. Rainier National Park you've probably seen this spot, because Reflection Lakes has one of the most iconic and most photographed views in the whole park! A 2.75 mile loop with about 850 ft of elevation gain makes it one of the best lakes in the area. On a clear day you'll have Mt. Rainier reflecting in the water (hence the name), with tons of wildflowers in the summer, and the fall colors dancing on the lake surface in Autumn.

Naches Peak Loop
Length: 3.2 miles
This hike begins at Tipsoo Lake and traverses alpine meadows, and if you hike it counterclockwise you'll have views of Mt. Rainier while you hike! If you feel like hopping in a mini alpine lake along the way you'll have the opportunity on this trail too. It's also one of the best wildflower hikes in the whole park with carpets of lupine, magenta paintbrush, and white bistort flowers. There's even some wild huckleberries if you're there in late summer!

Alta Vista Trail
Length 1.8 miles
Sweeping panoramic valley views, wildflowers, and the most adorable little marmots are what make this trail so amazing. One of the more popular trails in the Paradise area, you'll have to contend with crowds, but it's worth it! You'll have views of Mt. Rainier on the way up, and St. Helens, Adams, and the Tatoosh Range on the way down.

Skyline Loop Trail
Length: 5.5 miles for the whole loop, with plenty of places to stop along the way
Easily THE most popular trail in the park, the Skyline Loop Trail has one of the grandest views in the whole country (yeah, I said it). This trail has literally everything the park has to offer from glacier views, wildflower meadows, some of the most spectacular views of the mountain, marmots everywhere, alpine meadows, cascading waterfalls. There is absolutely no shortage of gorgeous places to say your vows.

*I would only recommend a sunrise weekday elopement here during the summer and fall. The parking lot often fills up by 8-9am, so make sure to arrive early. If you wake up early enough you can catch sunrise at Panorama Point here for some of the most breath taking glacier views too!*

Myrtle Falls Viewpoint
Length: 0.7 miles
Myrtle Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls one of the most photographed places in the whole park! The falls itself is 72 feet high, with Mt. Rainier looming in the background, surrounded by lush alpine wildflowers and lush evergreens, and a walking bridge that crosses the falls. It's absolutely iconic (I know I keep saying this, but c'mon, it's truly insane). While I don't recommend saying your vows here since it's such a busy trail, I do recommend stopping here for some photos since it's such a short walk!

Dead Horse Creek Trail
Length: 2.3 miles
A moderately challenging trail that's worth the uphill hike to get up to the view points. One of the best places to see wildflowers, with a small stone foot bridge, sweeping views of Mt. Rainier, and a beautiful place to say your vows right on the side of the trail.

Bench and Snow Lakes
Length: 2.5 miles
Just a short walk from the parking lot, you'll be greeted with two blue green alpine lakes with views that rival the popular Reflection Lakes, and far fewer people than some of the busier trails in the park! You'll be able to go right down to the shores of the lake, dip your feet in, and maybe even go for a dip on your elopement day. And if you can score the permit, there's two beautiful campsites super close to the lake shore too.

CHECK OUT OUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ELOPING AT MT. RAINIER HERE!

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Olympic National Park is extremely diverse in landscape and is the biggest National Park in Washington! You'll find everything from rainforest to glaciers, snow capped mountain, to rocky coast and sandy beaches here.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Any time of year depending on your location! (we'll cover the best time for each location here)
Best Day of the Week to Elope: Weekdays, Olympic National Park is extremely popular!
Best Time of Day to Elope: For the beach locations sunset is the best, for lake, mountain, or forest locations sunrise is always recommended!
Dogs Allowed: At some locations, yes! (we'll get into specifics for each location)
Permits:

THE BEST OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

Ruby Beach
Rugged and wild coastline with sea stacks, tide pools, and driftwood, what's not to love? The quintessential PNW beach vibes. One of my favorites beaches in the PNW! Pluuuuus, it's dog friendly! This is one of the few locations that I recommend no matter what time of year you want to elope too. In the winter you'll have moody skies, some rain, and powerful surf, but it certainly makes for some of the most romantic dramatic elopement vibes ever.

Rialto Beach
A scenic beach with tide pools (some of the best in Washington!), sea stacks, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, nearly black sand, and some of the most spectacular sunsets for a dramatic coastal elopement. If you visit during low tide you can even go to the Hole-in-the-Wall Rock! This location is also dog friendly and similar to Ruby Beach (they're only about an hour from each other), I recommend it any time of year!

Lake Crescent
Pristine Gatorade blue water so clear you can see the ancient trees on the lakebed beneath the water, mountain backdrop, and dense forests make it the most romantic location for your elopement. While this location is technically dog friendly so long as you stay in paved areas, you'll be very limited in where you can go with your doggo. While it's gorgeous here anytime of year, Summer and Fall are by far the most popular times to visit.

Hurricane Ridge
One of the most popular areas of Olympic National Park and for good reason! Hurricane Ridge has panoramic views of the Olympic Range, and in the summer months blankets of wildflowers cascade down the mountainside, truly making it one of the best places to elope in Washington state. The best time of year to visit is July through October, and I always recommend visiting at sunrise to avoid the bulk of the crowds! Unfortunately this location is not dog friendly.

The Hoh Rainforest
A lush and mossy temperate rainforest with towering trees, gigantic ferns, and a green canopy, perfect for anyone who wants to feel walk around a forest that feels like a Disney movie set. It's easily one of my favorite places in the entire world. You could spend hours gazing into the crystal clear creeks, observing the tiny universes of lichen and moss, and looking for the parks resident herd of Roosevelt elk. This location is beautiful any time of year, but is especially beautiful in the fall and late spring when things really come alive! Unfortunately dogs are not allowed here.

CHECK OUT OUR ULTIMATE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT GUIDE HERE

OLYMPIC PENINSULA

While super close to Olympic National Park, there are a few locations that are on the Olympic Peninsula that aren't park of the park that we just couldn't leave out of this guide! Below you'll find the best places to elope in Washington State that are on the Olympic Peninsula.

Cape Flattery
The western-most point of the U.S., Cape Flattery is one of the most dramatic places in Washington we've ever been to. With massive sea stacks sprinkled in the crashing waves below, surrounded by lush mossy cliffs, it's home to some of the most spectacular sunsets in the state and the cutest bunch of otters and seals.

Best Time of Year to Visit: Anytime! Summer is the most popular since you'll most likely have some sun and mild temperatures, but a rainy winter elopement here would certainly bring all of the moody goodness if you're willing to brave the rain.

Best Day and Time to Visit: Weekdays in the summer are usually the best time to avoid people, but honestly every time I've visited, no matter the day or time of year, it's pretty low key. Sunsets here are especially beautiful!

Pets allowed: Yes! Pets must be on leash here but they're welcome to join you.

Permits: For this location you'll be on Makah Tribal Land and will need a recreation permit ($10) that you can find here!



Cape Disappointment State Park
Cape Disappointment State Park is one of the most underrated elopement locations in Washington. A tucked away state park right on the Oregon border, Cape Disappointment has those moody coastal vibes and stunning sunsets. You'll have everything from two historic lighthouses, to rocky cliffs, sandy beach (with a small sea cave!), and a hidden cove to explore. Not to mention some stunning forest to explore with funky cedars and spruce trees.

Fees: requires a Discover Pass or a $10 day pass (there are pay stations to drop cash in an envelope at most parking lots here)

Best Time of Year to Visit: Anytime! Summer and fall are always crowd favorites in the PNW since we're known for our mild weather, but Cape Disappointment is beautiful any time of year. If you're willing to brave the risk of some rain, Winter and Spring will give you the quintessential PNW moody vibes with clouds and fog, perfect for snuggling up and getting those dramatic windswept feels.

Best Day and Time to Visit: Weekdays in the summer are usually the best time to avoid people, but honestly every time I've visited, no matter the day or time of year, it's pretty low key. You'll be able to explore without heavy crowds. Sunsets here are especially beautiful!

Pets allowed: Yes! Pets must be on leash here but they're welcome to join you.

MT. BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

Mt. Baker is one of our favorite places in all of Washington, and most definitely one of the best places to elope in Washington state. Brian and I even eloped here ourselves! We know all of the best spots for an elopement any time of year here, so you can't go wrong with a Mt. Baker elopement. Below you'll find a link to our Ultimate Guide to Eloping at Mt. Baker also!

Best Time of Year to Visit: Summer and Fall, typically July–October
Best Day of the Week to Elope: Weekdays, but even on a weekend you'll be able to find some more private areas
Best Time of Day to Elope: Sunrise or sunset
Dogs Allowed: Yes! Dogs are allowed on leash in all of Mt. Baker National Forest.
Permits:

  • no permits needed for weddings under 75 people
  • you'll need a Northwest Forest Pass ($35 annually) or a $5 day-pass that you can get at any of the Mt. Baker parking areas if you bring cash. 

THE BEST MT. BAKER ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

NORTH MOUNT BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST / ARTIST POINT

Heather Meadows
The Heather Meadows area of the Mt. Baker area is one of the most beautiful areas of the park. In the summer it's carpeted by beautiful white and pink heather blossoms, but also has one of the most spectacular and ADA accessible spots! The Fire and Ice Trail is a short paved trail that leads to a stunning view of Iceberg Lake and Table Mountain.

Picture Lake
If you're looking for the best view of Mt. Shuksan then Picture Lake is IT. With plenty of gorgeous wildflower blooms in the summer, surrounded by lush forest, you'll need to hike just 0.6 miles and no more than 50 feet of elevation gain, the trail is even ADA accessible! As one of the most photographed lakes in America, it's no secret why. The reflections off the lake make for the most stunning photos.

Bagley Lakes
For those that still want a bit of a hike on their wedding day but without it being too strenuous, the Bagley Lakes Loop is the perfect in between. A moderately challenging 2.2 mile loop and 250 feet of elevation gain, you'll hike around the lake with views of plenty of wildflowers in the summer, glowing foliage in the fall, sweeping views of two lakes, with some lovely boardwalks to guide you in some places, and a picturesque stone bridge crossing. If you're a lake lover like myself, you won't be disappointed.

Chain Lakes Loop
Brian and I hiked this trail with our friends for our elopement and I can absolutely confirm it's one of the most stunning hikes in the area. Throughout the 6.5 miles, you'll have sweeping views as you traverse the mountainside, with wildflower meadows on one side, and stunning views of Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan, and pass multiple alpine lakes, each different and even more beautiful than the last. It's a moderately challenging hike, but worth the views. If you're obsessed with alpine lakes this is the trail for you.

Ptarmigan Ridge
At 9.0 miles and 1,600 feet of elevation gain, this trail not for the faint of heart, but if you're willing to make the trek, you'll be rewarded with up close and personal views of the Park Glacier on Mt. Baker and it's the closest you can get without starting a climbing/mountaineering trail. It's one of the most spectacular hikes we've ever done and would be even more spectacular for an elopement ceremony!


SOUTH MT.BAKER-SNOQUALMIE NATIONAL FOREST

Gold Creek Pond
A short and sweet 1 mile loop around a lovely lake with mountain views that is accessible for all! The trail is paved the whole way, making it great for just about anyone of any activity level. This lake is accessible all year long, with beautiful wildflowers in the summer and a popular snowshoeing trail in the winter. This location is popular since it's just a little under an hour from Seattle, making it a busy trail. But visiting at sunrise is always recommended for guaranteeing a parking spot and avoiding the bulk of the crowds.

Franklin Falls
If you're looking for a waterfall, this dramatic waterfall tucked in a lush forest that only requires a 2.0 mile hike to visit is it! I only recommend visiting this trail during the spring, summer and fall as it's in a known avalanche area in the winter.

Lake 22
Right on the iconic Mountain Loop Highway, Lake 22 is one of the most popular alpine lakes to visit. But an oasis of wetland, mountain rainforest, old-growth trees and mountain views makes it worth braving the crowds for. At 5.4 miles roundtrip and 1,350 feet of elevation gain it's definitely a hike but would make for some of the most stunning backdrop. We recommend a sunrise elopement here since you'll have crowds to contend with in the afternoon and around sunset, but it really is worth waking up early for! This location is also dog-friendly.

Baker Lake
A massive gorgeous lake with views of Mt. Baker, and the surrounding Cascades. Water levels here fluctuate depending on the season, so in the winter when the lake levels are low you'll have tons of giant ancient tree stumps as your backdrop, and the rest of the year when the water is high you'll have pristine water and lush mossy forest.

Big Four Ice Caves
A short hike with a big payoff, and a totally badass experience, the Big 4 Ice Caves is just what it sounds like. An easy walk on a wide gravel trail with boardwalks throughout makes this trail accessible to most. You'll have views of cascading waterfalls and the ice sheets that form the caves at the base of Big Four Mountain. While anytime of year is beautiful to visit, it should be noted that parts of the Mountain Loop Highway close in the winter.
*never go up to or in the caves even if there are other people doing it! Because of the nature of the ice, the caves are extremely unstable and can collapse*

NORTH CASCADES

Home to some of the most rugged beauty in the Pacific Northwest, the Northern Cascades are so packed full of beautiful goodness that it's hard to know where to start. But if mountains and lakes are your jam, the North Cascades are the bees knees.

Best Time of Year to Visit: July-October
Best Day of the Week to Elope: Weekdays, North Cascades National Park and the surrounding areas are very popular!
Best Time of Day to Elope: Sunrise
Dogs Allowed: At some locations, yes! (we'll get into specifics for each location)
Permits:


Diablo Lake
An iconic North Cascades lake that is hard to believe could actually be that blue. There are multiple places to view the lake and get right down into the lake. And the bonus is that there is no parking fee and dogs are allowed! This is often the last stop on the North Cascades highway when it closes in the winter.

Thunder Knob Trail
A beautiful 3.4 mile trail with views of Ross Lake and the surrounding mountains. Dogs are welcome here on leash too!

PHEEEEEW, THAT WAS A LOT! THANKS FOR BEARING WITH US!

That was a lot of info, but we hope this helped give you an idea of all of the options available to elope at in Washington. Have a few locations you've nailed it down to but aren't sure what to do next? That's what we're here for! Below are some of our Ultimate Guides on the most popular elopement locations, but here are some of our other favorite planning resources:

WASHINGTON ELOPEMENT LOCATION GUIDES

hudson valley wedding photographers the cardinals

We're Natasha and Brian! Your Washington elopement photographers, dog petters, and donut eaters focused on creating the dreamiest and intentional photos of your elopement. But we're so much more than just photographers. When you work with us, you get built in Washington elopement planning experts, guides for all of the most beautiful trails, snack holders, dress fluffers, tissue providers, and friends.

We know exactly what it's like to elope, because that's what we did too! We eloped on a misty August day on Mt. Baker with our sweet dog Fern, 7 of our closest friends, and it couldn't have been more us. Creating an experience that's undeniably you and honors your relationship is what we know best.

Feel like we're the perfect fit? Same here!

Fill out our inquiry form and let's chat.

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