Your complete guide for the best places to elope in Oregon and how to do it
There are very few states that offer the variety of epic landscapes that Oregon does. Oregon really has it all. Western Oregon is covered with lush, mossy forests and cascading waterfalls. Head out to the coast and you’ll find what many would argue is the most breathtaking of the rugged PNW coastlines, with giant sea stacks, rocky coves, and sandy beaches that stretch uninterrupted for miles. The center of the state is defined by the Cascade mountain range. Here you can experience some of the best outdoor adventure in the state, exploring snowcapped volcanic mountain peaks, alpine lakes, hot springs, waterfalls, and rivers. On the east side of the mountains, the climate is much drier with a desert environment featuring rocky pillars, rich red sand dunes, and lots of sun. Whatever you’re looking for, Oregon has it. Which can make deciding on the best place to elope in Oregon extremely difficult. But hopefully this article will help you narrow it down a bit 😉
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We are adventure elopement photographers who have extensively explored the amazing landscapes of Oregon. We’ll help you find the best places to elope in Oregon and break down the logistics of how to do it.
5 BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN OREGON:
Oregon Elopement Stats:
BEST TIME TO VISIT: June – September
CLIMATE: The mid summer months (June through September) are the driest months in Oregon. You might not see any rain for 60+ days and the temperature rarely climbs above the 80s, making for some of the best summer weather in the country. October can be gorgeous with vibrant pops of color from the changing leaves, but this is also when the rain starts to move in. It’s a toss up with the weather during this transition time – you might get lucky with gorgeous sunny days, or you might get a week straight of rain. Regardless of the rain, though, it can be a beautiful time to visit. By November, you’re pretty much into the PNW rainy season. Winters in western Oregon are mild and wet. But all this precipitation equates to lots of beautiful snow in the mountains, providing awesome powder days on the slopes and some stellar snowshoeing. The eastern side of the state is a lot sunnier but a lot colder.
LANDSCAPES: Rugged beaches / snowcapped mountains / alpine lakes / waterfalls / old growth forests / rainforests
NATIONAL PARKS: Crater Lake National Park
BEST CITIES FOR LODGING AND ADVENTURE: Portland / Cannon Beach / Pacific City / Astoria / Eugene / Bend
MARRIAGE LICENSE: To apply for your marriage license, you must apply in person no more than 60 days before your elopement. You will receive your license the day you apply for it, there is no waiting period. You’re required to have an officiant and two witnesses. The application is $60.
For more details, visit the Multnomah County Website.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: While there’s only 1 national park in Oregon, Crater Lake, there are over a hundred state parks that are incredibly epic. There’s so much to explore! And if you’re a dog lover, most parks and trails in Oregon are dog friendly. We’d argue that Oregon is the most dog friendly state in the country ;)
INTERESTING FACT: The state varies A LOT in climate from the west to the east! You can expect the Oregon coast to be 10 degrees cooler than Portland and is usually overcast fall through spring. Bend, on the eastern side of the mountains, is a dryer climate with greater temperature swings and is usually a lot sunnier fall through spring.
Data and chart from Google
THE OREGON COAST
The Oregon coast is known for its rugged beaches, big haystack rocks, and laid back vibe. In Pacific City you can drive your car right on to the beach, pop open your trunk, and enjoy a beer while watching the surfers catch waves in front of the giant Cape Kiwanda. The temperature is a lot cooler than a tropical beach, but you can still bask in the sun on a warm summer day. The incredibly scenic Highway 101 hugs the coastline, offering up stunning vista after stunning vista and access to lots of hiking. After a day spent wandering up and down the dramatic coastline, you can end with a warm bonfire right on the beach.
Driving time from Portland: 1.5 – 2.5 hours (or more if you go farther south)
Best place to look for lodging: This depends on which area you want to elope in, but some towns to keep in mind are Astoria, Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Pacific City, and Lincoln City. They all have plenty of lodging options, restaurants, coffee shops, and grocery stores. Airbnbs tend to book up fast during the peak summer months, so make sure to reserve a place ASAP!
Check out pics from the Oregon Coast: Beach Elopement on the Oregon Coast // Hug Point Adventure Session // Hug Point Elopement Scouting // Cape Kiwanda Elopement // Cape Kiwanda Airstream Morning Of Session
BEND // SMITH ROCK STATE PARK
Bend, OR is a fun little mountain town on the eastern side of the mountains known for its outdoorsy residents and craft breweries – over 20 of them and counting! Willamette National Forest is just to the west of Bend and provides classic PNW snowcapped mountains and forests. Smith Rock State Park, Oregon’s little version of Zion National Park, is just to the north of Bend and is known for its red desert cliffs and rock climbing. With snowcapped mountains, epic waterfalls, and red desert cliffs, it’s a one stop destination for all kinds of adventure.
Driving time from Portland: 3.5 hours
Best place to look for lodging: Bend, OR on Airbnb! Bend is a lively town filled with great restaurants, shops, and breweries. Being so close to Portland also makes it pretty busy on the weekends, so make sure to book your reservations as soon as you can.
Check out pics from a session near Bend: Sparks Lake Adventure Session
If there’s one thing that Oregon has every other state beat on, it’s waterfalls. According to Wikipedia, there are over 238 waterfalls sprinkled all over Oregon! Some are close to Portland, making it an easy getaway for those wanting to stay in the city, and some are farther out for those looking for a more remote experience. Some are almost roadside for many tourists to enjoy, and some require a bit of a hike to reach, giving you more privacy. But almost all of the waterfalls are surrounded by Oregon’s magical forests with big old trees, bright green ferns, and lots of hanging moss. If you want a waterfall elopement, Oregon is the perfect place, hands down!
Driving time from Portland: There are waterfalls sprinkled all over the Oregon. You can find epic waterfalls as close as 45 minutes from Portland.
Best place to look for lodging: Lodging completely depends on which waterfall you want to elope at! You can find waterfalls near every major city or cute little mountain town.
Check out pics: Oregon Waterfall Elopement Scouting
MT. HOOD NATIONAL FOREST // THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE
Mt. Hood is one of Oregon’s most beloved mountain peaks. It’s the massive snowcapped dome you can see from almost anywhere in Portland. It’s a breathtaking mountain with plenty of scenic hikes all over and for any difficulty. The Columbia River borders Mt. Hood National Forest and is another place loved for its scenic beauty and recreational activities. The Columbia River Gorge, or “the Gorge” as locals say, has sweeping cliff views of the river and is also known for some of the most famous waterfalls in Oregon.
Driving time from Portland: 1-2 hours
Best place to look for lodging: There are a lot of cute lodges all along the the Columbia River Gorge and Mt. Hood. Your best bet is checking Airbnb.
EPIC PLACES TO ELOPE