How to Elope in Mount Rainier National Park
Adventure Elopement Photographer - Traci Edwards
Getting married at a National Park is a dream come true when you as a couple love the outdoors, hiking, camping, and being fully immersed in the towering evergreens and epic mountain landscapes. Mount Rainier National Park is one of those parks that blows your mind and exceeds all expectations with miles and miles of trails, endless waterfalls, stunning glaciers, and astounding quiet nooks. John Muir said it best of all….”Of all the fire-mountains which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”
How does a couple go about getting married in this National Park?!
First things first, let’s get things set on the legal side. You will need an officiant and two witnesses to legally become married in the state of Washington. Prior to the ceremony you will need to apply for your marriage license, which you can do at at the county government's auditor's office or online. There is a three day waiting period to obtain your license. You must get married within 60 days of obtaining your license, or it becomes invalid. Fees for your marriage license are different per county. After you have held your ceremony and the documents are signed do not forget to mail them back to the county office!!
If you want to have an intimate ceremony at Mt Rainier with just the two of you I suggest doing the legal wedding at the courthouse or having something special, small and intimate with a few friends or family. This way your vow reading and elopement day together can be just truly you two.
Next step is getting everything squared away with the National Park! You and your photographer will need a permit to hold a wedding at Mt Rainer National Park. This process is simple, but you want to plan with enough time to get everything done correctly. You will need to apply with the National Park Service at least four weeks in advance and the photographer will need to apply for their permit 90 days in advance. Keep this in mind when you are planning! If you decide to elope in less of a time frame than this my suggestion is to call or email the park ranger to see if you will have enough time to receive the proper permissions. There is also an application fee of $60. Keep in mind it is $30 to enter the park (per car) unless you have a yearly pass. To apply for your Mt Rainier Wedding permit click here.
It is important to consider the weather when planning your elopement or intimate wedding in Mt Rainier. This active volcano actually makes it’s own weather conditions mostly due to its high elevation. The best time to elope at Mt. Rainier is from late June to early September, but keep in mind snow is still present in a lot of places. From July to August you will be treated with the blooming wildflowers in the meadows. If you want a snowy dream try May or November for your elopement, but do your research on closed trails, roads and camping areas.
Other things to consider when planning your wedding day at Mt. Rainier from the National Park Service Webpage:
Party size determines which locations may be used for wedding ceremonies.
1-12 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include select trails, picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
13-24 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include picnic areas, roadside locations, and campground amphitheaters.
25-60 participants: may use certain pre-determined locations, which may include roadside locations and campground amphitheaters.
60 + participants: may use campground amphitheaters.
(The park lays out some basic rules to that will guide you down the path of selecting your location, but the park is huge and you may be asking where to say those vows to each other! If you have been to Mount Rainier before consider trails and spots you’ve hiked that made you feel the happiest, most in awe or most connected. If you have been together, where are some places that were your favorite and you shared great memories together or what are some locations you haven’t hiked to there yet, but have always wanted to!? If you have never been seek advice from your photographer, share with them what you envision and do research on trails. Consider the time of day, are you willing to set out and get to your ceremony location at sunrise or are you more of a sunset chaser? Just as their names point out the Sunrise area of the park is beautiful at sunrise and vice versa for Sunset point. The National Park rangers are great resources for locations within the park and are plentiful with information as well.)
Ceremonies may not:
Impede the activities of other park visitors.
Areas may not be roped off or blocked in any way to the general public.
Modest decorations may be allowed (additional permissions required).
Additional permissions are required for professional photography/videography; please include photographer contact information in the application form.
The setting up of chairs, tents, or awnings is not permitted.
Throwing of rice, confetti, etc. is not allowed.
ALWAYS, always practice Leave No Trace behind when visiting or saying ‘I Do’ in the National Parks.
When planning and thinking of guests, decor and more keep in mind that you are in a park that other folks and critters are inhabiting and enjoying.
If you are traveling in to get married at Mt Rainier the best airport to fly into is Sea-Tac in Seattle. The park is only an hour and half drive from the city. Be sure you enter from the right park entrance for your ceremony’s location! If you are choosing to stay in the park there are several camp grounds you can camp at like White River campground or Cougar Campground. To find neat camping near by the National park or places to stay try Hip Camp or Airbnb. With a short drive from the city you could also bunker down in Seattle. Keep in mind during season the park is busy and places can book out early. Plan ahead!
I hope this information is helpful to you, please feel free to reach out or comment any below with any questions you may have. I am always happy to help!
Tell me in the in the comments below if you’d elope at Mt Rainier! If not, which National Park would you love to elope at?!
Hi, I am Traci!!! Your elopement photographer that is deeply invested in creating a day perfect for your love story. I believe your wedding day should be a true expression of your relationship, a day where you can express your emotions freely with each other and connect on a deeper level. I serve the Pacific Northwest and Southwest regions. I would love to help plan your elopement day and be there to capture your day <3 Say hello!