Your complete guide for the best places to elope in Washington State and how to do it.
The best thing about eloping in Washington state is that Washington literally has it all, from rugged coastlines and old growth forests to vast mountain ranges with glaciated peaks and turquoise alpine lakes. If you wanted a little bit of everything for an all day epic Washington elopement, you could even get a mix of all of the above! However, this variety makes deciding on the best places to elope in Washington that much harder. If you’re making a vacation out of your Washington elopement, Seattle is a great hub for travelers. There are many fun towns to visit, world class cuisine, and obviously countless epic hikes throughout Washington state. We have been living and traveling on the road for the last four years and let’s just say that there’s a reason why we picked Washington state to be our new home base – it’s incredible here and one of the best places to elope.
THE FOXES' FAVES
We are the expert Washington elopement photographers having planned and photographed countless Washington elopements. Here’s our guide on the best places to elope in Washington.
7 BEST PLACES FOR ELOPING IN WASHINGTON STATE:
Washington Elopement Stats
BEST TIME TO VISIT: June – October
CLIMATE: The summer months of June – September are the dryest months in Washington. You might not even see a drop of rain for 60+ days! It rarely gets too hot, and it’s always about 10 degrees cooler on the coast than the forecast for Seattle. In the fall, the rain starts to move in. October is a toss up – it can be gorgeous and dry with beautiful fall foliage or it can be that classic moody PNW rain. While you can definitely get some gorgeous sunny days throughout the winter, it is overcast with a light rain much of the time. Up in the mountains at higher elevations, this equates to dumping snow. Mt. Baker ski area holds the WORLD RECORD for most snowfall in one season: 1,140 inches in 98-98!
LANDSCAPES: Rugged beaches / snowcapped mountains / alpine lakes / waterfalls / old growth forests / rainforests
BEST CITIES FOR LODGING AND ADVENTURE: Seattle/Tacoma / Bellingham / Port Angeles / Leavenworth
MARRIAGE LICENSE: You must apply for your marriage license at least 3 days before and no more than 60 days before your elopement. You’re required to have an officiant and two witnesses. The application is $67. You can apply in person or by mail.
For more details, visit the King County Marriage License website.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: The National Parks aren’t the only good spots to elope in Washington. The whole state is filled with national forest land, state parks, and amazingly beautiful scenery pretty much anywhere you turn. Also, late September/early October has a lot of beautiful fall foliage colors in the North Cascades, but there’s a greater risk for rain. One more thing, the snow doesn’t melt off until late June (in some cases early July) in the high alpine mountains.
INTERESTING FACT: While the western side of the Cascades is known for getting lots of rain, the eastern side gets over 300 days of sun a year! If it’s pouring in Seattle, you can usually hop in a car and drive a couple hours east over the mountains to get your sun fix.
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Mt. Rainier is the single most breath taking mountain we’ve ever seen. It is incredibly massive and is easily seen from most cities in the area, including Seattle (but the view from Tacoma takes the cake). There are beautiful forests, lakes, and all kinds of trails surrounding the mountain, making it a perfect place for a variety of scenery. Roads in the national park give you access to all sides of the mountain, and each area offers a different view and experience. On the west side, the road to Longmire and Paradise take you right up to the snowy base of the behemoth mountain, and this road actually remains open most of the winter. On the other hand, much of the east side of the park is inaccessible in the winter. But in the summer, the east side is home to some of our favorite spots in the entire park.
Driving time from Seattle: About 2 hours
Best place to look for lodging: There are tons of cute cabins and lodging options on Airbnb and VRBO all around the park. Enumclaw, WA is a particularly good spot to look that provides a nice central location. There is also lots of great camping in the area.
Drive north on I-5 from Seattle towards Bellingham and you’ll be on your way to the North Cascades, home to some of the most epic mountain views Washington (or this country for that matter) has to offer. The North Cascades are known for their steep, jagged peaks, rugged mountain ranges, and the famous volcanic monolith, Mt. Baker. Artist Point is one of the most famous spots in the region, offering absolutely jaw-dropping views of Mt. Baker, and even better views of the Alps-like Mt. Shuksan. Diablo Lake is a rival contender for most popular spot in the North Cascades, offering easy access to a gorgeous alpine lake experience. And if you’re up for a hike, the opportunities for epic views are endless.
Drive time from Seattle: 2.5-3 hours
Best place to look for lodging: Bellingham, WA is a cool college town with lots of great options for lodging, good eats, and tasty craft brews. There are also lots of great cabins and rentals on Airbnb within the mountains of the North Cascades.
Check out pics from the North Cascades: North Cascades National Park Elopement with guests // North Cascades Backpacking Elopement // Diablo Lake Elopement // North Cascades Winter Elopement
THE WASHINGTON COAST
Most of the Washington coast is found on the Olympic Peninsula, but the coast really deserves its own description. The Washington Coast is a dramatic, rugged, and moody landscape. It’s overcast a lot of the time (photographer’s dream lighting situation!) but in the summer you get plenty of blue sky days with some of the best sunsets we’ve ever seen! Old growth forests creep right up to the beaches, which seem to stretch on forever, occasionally broken up by rocky outcroppings jutting up from the sand and waves. The Washington coast has a much more remote feeling than the Oregon coast, with few towns and amenities west of Port Angeles on 101. It can feel like going back in time, which is pretty special. The whole Washington coast is a magical place that we deeply love.
Driving time from Seattle: 3-4 hours
Best place to look for lodging: Port Angeles, WA is the closest city with lots of lodging options. Aberdeen is also an option, but Port Angeles is more central to other sites on the peninsula. Astoria, OR is a cool city and a good spot to stay if you’re planning to explore the southern end of Washington’s coast, like Cape Disappointment State Park. But our favorite way to explore the coast is camping right on the ocean. Kalaloch beach and campground is an awesome spot that is right by Ruby Beach and offers stunning oceanfront camping.
The Olympic Peninsula is arguably one of, if not the, most stunning and varied wilderness landscapes in America. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, the Straight of Juan de Fuca to the north, and the Puget Sound to the east, the Olympic Peninsula is a rugged wilderness complete with glaciated mountains, rainforests, and miles of coastline. You can even hit all three in a day if you really want. Olympic National Park doesn’t make up the entire peninsula, but it is a huge chunk of it. Being a National Park, dogs aren’t allowed on the hikes (sad), but there are also plenty of dog-friendly hiking areas too. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll find multiple lifetimes’ worth of it here.
Driving time from Seattle: 3-4 hours
Best place to look for lodging: Port Angeles, WA is the biggest city on the peninsula and is a great central location to explore all the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park has to offer. Plus, it’s a port city with ferries to Vancouver Island, BC for extra adventure!
Check out pics from Olympic National Park and Olympic mountains: Hurricane Ridge Elopement Scouting // ONP Mountains Elopement Scouting // Hurricane Ridge Winter Elopement // ONP Mountains Adventure Session
Being such a wet climate much of the year, trees love it here in Washington. And they get BIG. Cedars, Firs, and Hemlocks tower hundreds of feet overhead a lush, fern-covered forest floor. Walking through one of Washington’s many old-growth forests is a mystical, ethereal experience (at least we think so). The Hoh Rainforest is a very popular spot due to it technically being an actual rainforest and within the Olympic National Park, but honestly, every old growth forest in Washington isn’t that much different. Expect bright green moss hanging from giant trees with trunks that are wider than a car, light filtering through a canopy that towers high overhead, and trails that cut through thick growths of a wide variety of ferns.
Driving time from Seattle: The Hoh Rainforest is a little over 4 hours drive from Seattle. However, there are literally old growth forests in Seattle. Point Defiance Park in Tacoma is incredibly magical and accessible. Really you can find a cool forest anywhere in Washington.
Best place to look for lodging: If visiting Hoh Rainforest, you’ll probably want to stay in Port Angeles or a campground in the national park.
SNOQUALAMIE MT. BAKER NATIONAL FOREST AND LEAVENWORTH
Snoqualmie Pass and the Snoqualmie Mt. Baker National Forest is one of the closest locations to Seattle that offers everything you’d want in a Washington elopement. Hop on I-90 east from Seattle you’ll be at Snoqualmie pass within 45 minutes (if you don’t hit traffic). Snoqualmie is a popular ski area, and is equally beautiful in the summer. Franklin Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the region. You can also drive into the mountains a little farther north on Highway 2, which takes you through Stevens Pass, another popular ski area. Stevens Pass is steeper and a bit more rugged than snoqualmie, and spits you out in Leavenworth, which is a popular spot on its own. Leavenworth is a pretty cheesy, but undeniably cute, German-themed town, with access to some of the best alpine lakes hikes in the state. Due to its easy access from the city, this region tends to see a bit more crowds. But serenity can still be found on a weekday and there are some stunning spots that should absolutely be explored.
Drive time from Seattle: 30-90 minutes depending where you go
Best place to look for lodging: The Seattle area is a great spot to be for these locations, but there are also lots of cabins and vacation rentals within the mountains. Leavenworth is a fun town to stay in as well if you don’t mind the touristy vibes of little Bavaria.
Mount St. Helens is one of the most unique, ethereal mountains in the US. It once was a lush mountain filled with lots of trees, meadows, and alpine lakes, but all of that was decimated in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. The eruption removed 1,300 from the peak leaving a giant crater and a desolate place below it. The mountain now feels other worldly with ash and rock everywhere. Now, 30+ years later we are just starting to see regrowth of the land. In June there are fields of blooming wildflowers as you walk through the barren landscape. It’s an incredible mountain and feels like something other worldly.
Drive time from Seattle: 2.5 – 3.5 hours depending on which side of the park you enter.
Drive time from Portland, OR: 1.5 – 2 hours depending on which side of the park you enter.
Best place to look for lodging: Vancouver, Washington and Portland, OR are the closest cities to Mount St. Helens and are great places to look for an urban experience. If you’re looking for a cabin experience, check out airbnbs and vrbos near Silver Lake, Longview, or Yale.
Check out pics from Mount St. Helens: Mount St. Helens Elopement
EPIC PLACES TO ELOPE