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THE BLOG

HOW TO ELOPE IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR 2024

LOCATIONS, PACKAGES, PERMITS, VENDORS + MORE!

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | WASHINGTON ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER | THE CARDINALS

seattle wedding photographer

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

How to Elope in Olympic National Park
The Best Time of Year for Your Olympic National Park Elopement
The Best Olympic National Park Elopement Locations
Where to Stay for Your Olympic National Park Elopement
Permits + Passes: What You Need and How to Apply
How to Get Your Washington Marriage License
Packing Checklist: What to Bring to Your Olympic National Park Elopement
The Best Vendors for Your Olympic National Park Elopement
Frequently Asked Questions
Olympic National Park Elopement Packages

HOW TO ELOPE IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK: YOUR CHECKLIST

  1. Choose the time of year you want to get married
  2. Hire your Washington elopement photographer
  3. Choose where you want to get married in the National Park
  4. Book your other vendors (florist, officiant, hair + makeup artists, etc.)
  5. Book your lodging
  6. Apply for your Special Use Permit
  7. Apply for a Washington marriage license
  8. Get married! Woohoo!

THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO ELOPE IN OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Olympic National Park is a unique place in Washington where you can have a stunning elopement any time of the year! But let's talk about the pro's and con's of each season so you know exactly what to expect no matter what time of year you plan on eloping here.

SUMMER
Summer is hands down the most popular time of year to elope here, with good reason! Pacific Northwest summers are something of legend, known for being absolutely spectacular with mild weather, temperatures in the 70s-80s, cool breezes, stunning sunsets. It's literally perfect. But because it's so beautiful, it's one of the busiest times in the park too. Summer is tourist season in Olympic National Park so for most locations you'll be fighting some crowds for sure. For most of the coastal locations, because they're so remote you'll have less crowds than some of the most popular locations like Crescent Lake or Hurricane Ridge, but if you want to avoid the bulk of the crowds I always recommend a sunrise elopement here!

FALL
The Olympic Peninsula is known for it's moody, true PNW feels and fall is the when that comes in full force. Moody skies, misty rain, chilly temperatures, and changing leaves make it cozy and moody. Most of the bulk of the crowds are gone, leaving many of the best elopement locations much less crowded. You'll have a higher chance of rainy weather, but honesty a moody foggy elopement is peak PNW aesthetic and is unbelievably magical for the right couple!

WINTER
While the mountains are often packed with snow by early November, there are still beautiful locations for a winter elopement in Olympic National Park. Washington is known for it's dark and rainy winters, but they're stunningly beautiful in their own way. Other than the rain, temperatures are relatively mild, usually hovering in the 30-40s, making it easy to navigate many of the park beautiful locations. You'll have many locations available without crowds too!

SPRING
Spring is the most underrated season on the Olympic Peninsula in my opinion! While rain is still a possibility, as temperatures warm up everything explodes with mossy green goodness. And in my opinion this is the best time for rainforest elopement in the Quinault Valley or Hoh Rainforest! The rainforests are unbelievably lush and full of life, the snow is starting to melt in the mountains and the rivers and waterfalls are absolutely roaring. Spring brings the drama for sure.

bellingham wedding photographer at rialto beach engagement session

THE BEST OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT LOCATIONS

  1. Hurricane Ridge:
    • Panoramic mountain views of the Olympic Range, providing a stunning backdrop for elopement ceremonies. Wildflowers in the foreground add color and vibrancy to the intimate setting.
    • Hurricane Hill Trail:
      • Length: 3.4 miles Elevation: 826 ft.
        This trail offers stunning panoramic views of the Olympic Mountains. The meadows along the way are filled with wildflowers during the summer, providing a colorful and picturesque setting for an elopement.
    • Klahhane Ridge Trail:
      • Length: 2.7 miles Elevation: 1,450 ft.
        This trail leads to high alpine meadows and rocky ridges with breathtaking views. It's a moderately challenging trail that rewards hikers with a stunning backdrop, making it a great location for an elopement ceremony.
  2. Lake Crescent:
    • The pristine blue waters of Lake Crescent provide a serene and reflective setting, ideal for intimate elopement ceremonies. The historic Lake Crescent Lodge adds charm to the scenery.
  3. Lake Cushman:
    • A popular summer destination for locals, Lake Cushman is a gorgeous lake right on the edge of Olympic National Park. While technically not within the parks boundaries, we'd be wrong not to include it as an option here since you have tons of spots just a few miles down the road from here to get some great photos like the Staircase Rangers Station, the Mt. Ellinor Trail, and the North Fork Skokomish River Trail.
  4. 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!
  5. 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.
    • Hall of Mosses Trail:
      • Length: 1.1 miles Elevation: 78 ft.
        The infamous trail in the Hoh Rainforest. You'll walk a short loop that takes you beneath trees completely covered in thick squishy moss, past crystal clear creeks, and you might even see the resident herb of Roosevelt elk!
      • Spruce Nature Trail:
        • Length: 2.1 miles Elevation: 95 ft.
          A gentle trail that winds through old-growth forest with massive spruce trees, and is connected to the Hall of Mosses trail, but will take you down to the Hoh River bed for some epic views of the mountains and the Hoh River Valley.
  6. Second Beach:
    • Length: 4.0 miles to walk the whole beach
      A remote beach with dramatic seascapes, sea stacks, and stunning sunsets, providing an intimate and romantic setting for elopement ceremonies.
  7. Kalaloch Beach:
    • Rugged cliffs, driftwood-strewn shores, and expansive coastal views. What isn't there to love here? This is also where the infamous Tree of Life is! Imagine having your ceremony beneath this iconic tree?
  8. 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 make it perfect for a dramatic coastal elopement. If you visit during low tide you can even go to the Hole-in-the-Wall Rock!

CLICK HERE FOR OUR GUIDE TO PLANNING YOUR RIALTO BEACH ENGAGEMENT PHOTOS

Where to Stay for Your Olympic National Park Elopement

Because Olympic National Park is so unbelievably massive, there are tones of beautiful locations to stay! Below you'll find a link to our full list of Airbnb recommendations all over the Peninsula that we're always adding to. Buuuuuut here are three of our favorite places hands down!

CHECK OUT OUR FULL AIRBNB RECOMMENDATIONS LIST

FOR OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK HERE

Coastland Camp: Tiny house + Sauna
Forks, WA
3 guests, 2 beds, 1 bath tiny house
A beautiful tiny house nestled right in Forks, WA with a hot tub, sauna, fire pit, beautifully designed, and private. It's the perfect place to do some getting ready photos and a first look before heading out to a stunning ceremony in the Hoh Rainforest or on the coast!

Photos from Airbnb

Cabin on Crescent Lake
Crescent Lake, Port Angeles, WA
5 guests, 2 bedrooms, 2 beds, 1 bath
Right on the shores of the iconic Crescent Lake, you could have an all in one elopement here and say your vows right on the shores of Crescent Lake. How much more perfect can it get?

photos from Cabin on Crescent Lake Airbnb

Oceanfront Olympic Cabin
Forks, WA
A stunning truly ocean front cabin nestled into the beautiful giant trees, you'll have ocean views, perfect sunsets, and the opportunity to have your ceremony right on the cliffside. If you want something even more dramatic you'll be near the Hoh Rainforest, the rest of the Washington Coast, and many of the lush forests nearby.

photos from Oceanfront Cabin Airbnb

Permits + Passes: What PERMIT You Need and How to Apply

Typically you'll need two things for your Olympic National Park elopement: an Olympic National Park day-pass and a Special Use Permit

SPECIAL USE PERMIT

In order to get married in the park, you'll need a special use permit that let's the NPS know where you're planning to elope. Typically the permit cost is $100 and you can find the application here!

The NPS recommends applying for your permit at LEAST 3-4 weeks before the date you plan on getting married, but I'd recommend applying as soon as you have your date nailed down.

How to Get Your Washington Marriage License

Getting married in Washington State is a pretty easy process! You'll need to follow these step in order to legally get married:

  • Have a scheduled date and officiant locked in for your wedding
  • Apply for your marriage license either in person or online
  • Wait the mandatory 3 days between when you get your license and get married
  • Have your ceremony
  • Mail your marriage license or drop it off in person at the county office within 60 days of when you get your license

WHAT YOU'LL NEED

  • Application fee is $62-72.00 depending on the county you get it in and is non refundable.
    • You can pay in office: cash, money order, cashier's check, or debit/credit card
    • Or by mail: signed money order or cashier's check
  • Minimum age to marry is 18.
  • Waiting Period: There’s a 3 day waiting period.
    • This mean's that you'll have to get your marriage license at least 3 days before your wedding day! For example if you get your license on a Wednesday, you can get married that Saturday.
  • License Validity Time: You'll have 60 days from the day you get the license to return it to the auditors office for your marriage to be legally recognized.
  • Residency: You do not need to be a Washington resident to apply for a license or be married in the state.
  • Witnesses: Witnesses are not necessary to apply for a license, but state law requires that at least two witnesses be present at the ceremony. Witnesses should be at least 12 years of age.

CHECK OUT OUR GUIDE ON HOW TO GET

MARRIED IN WASHINGTON STATE HERE!

how to get married in washington state a guide by washington elopement photographer the cardinals elopement photography

The Best Vendors for Your Olympic National Park Elopement

OFFICIANTS
Officiant Jimmie
Did you know I'm also ordained? You'll need two witnesses to complete your marriage license, but if you want the simplest ceremony, with just the two of you, I'm happy to sign as your officiant.


PLANNERS (who also offer officiant services!)
Tapestry Events
Altar Micro-Weddings

ELOPEMENT FLORISTS
Goldenrod Floral (Carlee even did my own elopement flowers!)
Bugs Flowers
Flora Pacifica
Kylie Hale

ELOPEMENT HAIR + MAKEUP ARTISTS
Pacific Brides
Blossom and Beauty

Packing Checklist: What to Bring to Your Elopement

ELOPEMENT DAY ESSENTIALS

  • Your printed Special Use Permit
  • America the Beautiful pass or park day-pass
  • Your vows
  • Rings
  • Florals (bouquet, boutonnière, flower crown, etc.)
  • Shoes you'll wear for photos or ceremony if not your boots
  • Your wedding attire (if you aren't hiking in it)

HIKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hiking boots
  • Layers (weather can change in an instant, so be prepared for any weather)
  • Rain jacket
  • Puffy jacket
  • Flashlight
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Tissues or hankie (for all of those happy tears)
  • Toilet paper (if you're planning on being at a location away from facilities)
  • Blister pads + first aid (I'm a former wilderness first responder and always have a first aid kit also!)

If you're eloping at a dog friendly location:

  • Breakfast and dinner for your dog
  • Any special leash or collar (flower collar, bowtie, etc.)
  • Harness
  • Poop bags
  • Treats
  • CBD treat if you have a dog that would benefit from them
  • Towel in case things get soggy

FAQ

Is Olympic National Park dog friendly?
The short answer is...it's complicated. lol. There are some sections of Olympic National Park that are dog friendly, and other that only allow dogs in paved areas and parking lots. If you're looking for a location that's dog friendly some of my top recommendations are Ruby Beach, Rialto Beach, some areas of Lake Crescent, Kalaloch Beach, Lake Cushman, and all of the Olympic National Forest!

How far is Olympic National Park from Seattle?
It depends where in the park you're looking to go! One of the closest locations is Lake Cushman, about 2-2.5 hours from Seattle, and as you take highway 101 out to the coast, it can take up to 4.5 hours to get to locations like Rialto Beach. Typically people take the northern route (Highway 101) as it's the most beautiful way to drive (you'll drive past Lake Crescent, and many of the park entrances), but you can take the southern route along Routes 8 and 12 until you meet up with Highway 101. It's a big loop that wraps around the entire park if you're feeling ambitious and up for a road trip.

What sort of activities can I do on my elopement day here?
I'm glad you asked because this is my specialty! The beauty of eloping is that you can incorporate so many of the things you love into your elopement day. Olympic National Park has opportunities for hiking, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, tide pooling (we're talking sea stars, colorful anenomes, all sorts of crabs and fish), wildlife viewing (eagles, seals, otters, elk, you name it!), tons and tons of cool things to do. One of our favorite things to do as a Washington elopement photographers is to help couples plan all of the fun stuff so we made a whole blog with 98 Unique Elopement Day Activity Ideas to help you plan!

YOUR OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHERS

hudson valley wedding photographers the cardinals

We're Natasha and Brian! Your Olympic National Park 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 Olympic National Park elopement planning experts, guides for all of the parks 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.

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT PACKAGES

01

02

03

SUNRISE/SUNSET

HALF DAY

FULL DAY

For that couple that's ready to pack in every experience they can from sun up to sun down. This package is perfect if you want sunrise and sunset coverage so you get the best of both worlds! This time can be split however you'd like throughout the day, so we don't miss a thing.

Short and sweet for the couple that's all about keeping it simple. We'll cover your I do's, go on a short hike or visit your favorite local spots, and take some damn sweet photos along the way.

The sweet spot for all of the essentials. We'll cover your getting ready photos, head to your ceremony location, go for a hike, eat-drink-and-be-merry, visit the most beautiful locations for photos, have a romantic dinner.

~ 8 hours of coverage

~ premium bespoke wedding album

~ timeline + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

~10 hours split between sunrise and sunset

~ premium bespoke wedding album

~ timeline + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

~ 4 hours of coverage

~ timeline planning + location planning

~ guides, questionnaires + resources

to inspire the best adventure ever

~ sneak peek gallery

~ travel + tax included within the PNW

$6,000

$4,800

$7,400

LET'S CHAT

LET'S CHAT

LET'S CHAT

LIMITED AVAILABILITY

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FEEL LIKE WE'RE THE PERFECT FIT? SAME HERE!

You only do this once, so use the contact form below to reach and let's make this the most intentional, most you Olympic National Park elopement out there.