March 23, 2023
When I first think of the best locations to elope at Mt. Rainier National Park, I think of peak Summer season with wildflowers in more hues than you can dream of, clear blue skies and panoramic mountain ranges. Washington residents are lucky that much of the summer offers predictable clear skies and moderate temperatures. But Mount Rainier offers so much more than just one season and the best locations to elope at Mt. Rainier really depends on the time of year you choose to have your wedding.
I’ve seen everything from Mt. Rainier’s stunning fall color displays, to moody mystical cloud inversions, to vibrant rainy days to dreamy snow laced trees and the reality is, a national park elopement requires a little bit of flexibility and trust in whatever mother nature delivers for your day.
Below are my favorite Mt. Rainier Elopement locations. These offer a great starting point and I am happy to help you narrow down elopement locations based on the time of year and vision for your day! If you’re looking for more planning resources, you can also find more information for your Mount Rainier National Park Elopement.
Please keep in mind that even though it’s your wedding day, it’s important to practice Leave No Trace principles when choosing your Mt. Rainier elopement locations. National Park weddings require some awareness to protect the fragile meadows for years to come. If guests are involved in your wedding day, Mount Rainier’s marriage permitting system has specifies ceremony locations by guest count.
The Paradise area of Mount Rainier is open year-round weather permitting. It’s the most well known and accessible area for your Mt. Rainier elopement locations. This is where peak wildflowers bloom, tourists flock, mountaineers begin their ascent to summit Tahoma herself, and hidden gems lie around every corner. You can truly gain spectacular and quiet views just a few minutes walk from the parking lot or can turn this location into an all day adventure with trails sprawling in each direction. If you’re planning a Mt Rainier Elopement in the late Fall-Spring, this is one of the only areas accessible due to seasonal road closures. From this area or on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier, the Tatoosh range, myrtle falls and more. Much of this area has paved pathways but does include some elevation gain.
Difficulty level of Paradise Trails: Easy to Challenging – Build Your Own Adventure
Paradise is perfect for: Clients with guests or easy to access locations. This really can be a “build your own adventure” location and can be made into a longer experience.
The Longmire area is great for non-peak season wedding season, rainy days and forest elopement dreams. It sits at a much lower elevation making it great for wild weather days and is especially beautiful during the winter with a dusting of snow or on a foggy day. It’s also a great spot for a quick first look on your way up the mountain!
Difficulty level of Longmire: Easy
Longmire is perfect for: Mount Rainier elopements with guests, forest elopement dreams and off-season weddings.
With everything from forest views, to rocky ridge lines, you can hike to an old fire lookout with unmatched views of Mount Rainier and a stunning blue lake below. This is one of the best locations to elope at Mt. Rainier National park. Elevation gains gradually then fairly steep during the last portion of the trail. I really enjoy the area just past the lookout that offers a rocky ridge line look with panoramic mountain ranges behind.
Difficulty level of Tolmie Peak Lookout: Moderate to Difficult | 7.5 miles and 1100 elevation gain
Tolmie Peak Lookout is perfect for: Couples who want an adventure for their elopement, a “just us” elopement or small group
This is one of my favorite hikes to date. We’re talking from the parking lot stunning with a variety of changes throughout the venture from your options of Mt. Rainier elopement locations. When you make it to Second Burroughs (all that’s really required for a wedding day), the mountain is undoubtedly, in your face. Although this trail has some wildflowers along the way, it tends to be a bit more rocky, exposed and cliffy offering a much different experience than the Paradise side of the mountain.
Difficulty level of Burroughs Mountain Trail: Difficult | 9 miles and 2500 elevation gain or just under 5 miles for the first 2 Burroughs round trip.
Burroughs Mountain Trail is perfect for: The adventurous and experienced hikers
Following the same start as Burroughs mountain trail, this is hands down one of the best views of the mountain but what makes it even greater are the views along the way. There is A HUGE variety on this hike giving you lots of different looks on your day! Plus it’s fairly mild for a wedding day hike for experienced hikers.
Difficulty level of Fremont Lookout: Moderate | 5.6 miles and 1200 elevation gain
Fremont Lookout is perfect for: The adventurous and moderately experienced hiker couple, smaller groups
If you dream of marrying under dreamy green giants and staying near Packwood, this location is right for you. Here you’ll find redwoods and cypress trees sky high nestled among a beautiful crystal blue river with a rocky shore bank perfect for intimate ceremonies. This location is out of the way if you’re staying in Ashford so please keep that in mind.
Difficulty level of Grove of the Patriarchs: Easy | Make your own adventure
Grove of the Patriarchs is perfect for: Mount Rainier elopements with guests and forest dreams.
This gorgeous location is a fairly mild and diverse hike including rolling hills, seasonal waterfalls, alpine lakes with sandy shorelines and clear views of Mount Rainier. It’s family friendly and because so, I recommend this location for a morning elopement as it’s fairly popular during peak season. I would avoid weekend wedding dates at all costs if this location is high on your list.
Difficulty level of Naches Peak Loop: Easy to Moderate| 3.2 miles and 600ft elevation gain
Naches Peak Loop is perfect for: Hiking beginners that want a mild hiking experience on their wedding day or a couple that wants a variety of views with lower elevation gain.
*2023 Wish List Hike!*
Sitting just outside of Mount Rainier National Park, High Rock Lookout is part of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest so it’s one of the few locations that is Dog friendly with Rainier views. It’s short but a steep climb offering absolutely gorgeous views at the top.
Difficulty level of High Rock Lookout: Moderate to Difficult | 3.2 miles and 1365 elevation gain
High Rock Lookout is perfect for: Adventurous wedding couples who don’t mind a quick workout to the top with stunning views.
Although Mount Rainier National Park is beautiful in all of it’s seasons, a large portion of the park is unaccessible from sometime in October until May or June depending on weather and road conditions. Seasons greatly affect Mount Rainier’s accessibility, weather, and the look of locations so it’s best to know a timeframe in order to narrow down what is available.
Summer: I start with Summer because this is truly how I feel most “envision” Mount Rainier National Park. Summer at Mount Rainier visually begins in mid-July when the snow melts out and the wildflowers begin to bloom. There’s not an exact science to this one – it just depends on how quickly the snow melts. I’ve personally seen that as early as mid-June and as late as the beginning of August. It’s a short season with boundless areas in the park – all within an arms reach. It’s also important to understand that this is the peak of tourist season and often when crowds flock to the park. I highly encourage weekdays to make accessibility a bit easier. If you’re looking to hike, this is the perfect time of year for you. So many of the trails are only accessible during Summer and early Fall. If you’re open to easy to access locations, another season (or once school is back in) may drastically increase your ability to gain some privacy.
Fall: Beautiful colors filter through in the fall affecting higher elevation locations first. Fall colors begin as early as the beginning of September but more commonly towards the end of the month. This also tends to be that moody time of year where fog begins to creep in and rain becomes more frequent approaching the Winter months. It is not uncommon for a dusting of snow to sweep through as early as the beginning of October. Sometimes it stays and sometimes it melts back out reviving Fall colors.
Winter: The colder it gets the more precipitation increases and for high elevation locations, that means SNOW! Most areas of the park are not accessible after mid-October when road closures begin to limit access. The exact date depends on conditions so I highly recommend planning for the Nisqually entrance or Crystal Mountain.
Spring: This is the lovely time of year where the Snow is beginning to melt out. Lower elevation locations tend to be clear with vast amounts of water creating “pop-up” waterfalls. Higher elevation areas are still packed with thick slippery snow until becoming patchy around June.
Then check out MY GUIDE on everything you need to know about getting married at Mt. Rainier from ceremony permits to weather conditions.
Welcome to the blog! I’m a small-town Florida girl and Army wife relocated to the Seattle Suburbs, documenting love from one coast to the other. I live for a good PNW mountain breeze, sweat pants, and local eats. Let's be friends!