Best Places to Elope in the West - Pacific Northwest Elopement Photographer
Top 5 elopement locations - Oregon Coast, Redwood National Park, Southern Utah, Olympic National Park, and Idaho
West Coast, best coast, right? ;) But seriously, the West Coast boasts some of the most epic scenery. If you want an adventure elopement in the US, odds are you’re looking to the West. I’ve been traveling all across the West for years and there’s a bit of scenery for everyone. Towering mountains, rocky coastline, red desert rocks, miles of dense forest, and sandy beaches. In the winters, you can catch a tan in the desert or snowshoe in the mountains. You can find 100+ degree days in the summer or conditions still in the 50s and 60s. It allows you all the options to customize your perfect day.
The only problem with so much awesome…trying to pick only one awesome for your elopement. If you try to look up every single hike, specific location, and area on Pinterest, you’re going to quickly get overwhelmed. Here’s my top five favorite general areas to get you started on your hunt for the perfect location.
I may be a bit biased because I live here but it’s tough to beat the rocky coastline of the Oregon Coast. It’s mile after mile of beautiful rock formations and sandy beaches. Here's some highlights of why the Oregon Coast is the perfect elopement spot.
It’s all public land so there’s not an inch of it closed to the public.
Oregon is elopement friendly and often, you don’t even need a permit to get married on the beach.
With so many options of epic backdrop, you can easily dodge crowds and find a level of adventure fit for you. There’s locations with epic, more challenging hikes and others that are just off a parking lot. Any family member of any age could join you or you can tackle a new adventurous challenge as a couple. With so many options, you could even do both to incorporate all the most important people and experiences for your day.
Many come for the coast but find epic inland activities too. The rainy climate creates lush forests filled with ferns. There’s often small mountains and public forests against the coast giving you lots of adventure options nearby.
The local climate is easy to work around since it’s fairly consistent. The temperature is generally between 50-65 even when other inland locations drop to freezing or skyrocket to uncomfortable heat. The ocean keeps the climate from changing sharply. The summers are often sunny and 65.
If the coast is sounding like your dream elopement, check out these other two resources for more information!
How to Plan an Oregon Elopement (with even more beautiful OR location recommendations)
Reasons to Elope in Brookings, OR (my favorite coast town and home)
Still need convincing? Want more to love? Enjoy these Oregon Coast photos.
Redwood National Park
The Redwoods are a special kind of forest. I was raised in forest ecosystems but the Redwoods shook my whole concept of forests. The unique environment creates a magical experience that leaves you in awe of the power of nature. Here's some huge benefits of the Redwoods.
The Redwoods are super expansive. While the state-national park collective is in Northern CA, they stretch up through Oregon as well and farther south than the parks. This gives you so many options. Generally the state-national park area boasts the biggest trees but the area is still large enough to get away from crowds. More options makes it so much easier in case plans change or a location you picked originally is taken/busy/blocked.
The scenery next to the Redwoods is awesome. If I were planning a Redwood elopement, I'd do the first part in the forest and the second part in another environment. Most of the Redwoods are close to the rocky coastline. My personal favorite is getting to take my clients to Redwood National Park and Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor in one day. Check out this elopement that does just that!
This place has a great temperate climate. It keeps pretty cool and doesn't really get snow in the winter. So if you're someone (like me) who sweats a lot and doesn't want that for your wedding, this climate is perfect. Even if it's cloudy or foggy, it actually enhances the photos. I probably still wouldn't recommend winter to avoid the rain but otherwise the weather is great.
The shade of a forest makes it easy to get great photos even in the middle of the day. The shadows of the forest gives you the flexibility to have your first look and ceremony in the full sun and catch a sunset somewhere else. This lets you enjoy more time on your day while still getting photos with beautiful light and colors.
Check out this Redwoods vow renewal if you want to see what a Redwoods elopement can look like!
When you think Southern Utah, you probably think Zion or maybe Bryce. But the whole area is incredible with lots of varieties of red rock formations. There’s enough elevation difference that you have some climate options varying by 10-20 degrees. There’s lots of stunning spots without the crowds and even 5 different national parks alone. Here's more on why this area is awesome (and why you should look beyond the main parks).
The weather is great in the off season. Southern Utah can be terribly hot in the summer. Kudos if you're in the group that can handle 100+ degree weather but I am not one of them. The off season can be a great time of year to visit and you get to avoid some of the crowds. Fall and spring are especially good since the weather is still nicer but not as hot. It still has more unpredictable weather in the winter so despite the desert climate, you may want to avoid that time of year.
There's a ton of park options. National parks, state parks, and all sorts of other public land types cover most of Southern Utah. So while Zion may be what you see on Pinterest, there's lots of other less busy options that can get you just as epic of scenery.
There's a lot of easy access attractions and high level adventures. There are so many options for any level of adventurer. You can get married in a parking lot with an epic view or hike the infamous cliffs Angel's Landing (okay, probably not if you're wearing a dress because yikes). Not all parks offer so many options for each level of explorer quite like Southern Utah does.
There's lots of climate options in the area even in the same season. As I mentioned earlier, the elevation plays a huge role in the weather at the various parks. Places like Bryce Canyon are generally cooler than Zion on the same day because it's at a higher elevation. This also means its epic red spires get covered in snow each winter.
Check out this session in Zion to help you dream up how those red rocks could look on your wedding day.
Enjoy the wide variety of landscapes that Southern Utah has to offer.
This is another one I'm totally biased on because I lived the first 24 years of my life in this beautiful corner of the West. But that's also why you should hear me out when I say this is an under appreciated gem. I spent my childhood exploring every corner of the area and can tell you all its best features. So let's get started!
The 4 seasons are amazing. You get nice hot summers (80-90 usually), stunning fall leaves, feet of snow every winter, and all the greens coming out in the spring (plus rain but oh well). The only season I'd advise you against is spring with all the rain. Otherwise, each season is beautiful in its own way.
There's usually no crowds. Most of the places here go relatively unnoticed. There's a few main hubs that gets packed with tourists but if you hire the right photographer (hint, hint, wink, wink), you can easily get just as prettier, if not prettier, spots without any crowd. The park in that picture above is my personal favorite and we didn't see more than 5 people that entire day.
The activity options are endless. There's boats for rent if you want to get married in the middle of the lake, snowmobiles for rent if you think a helmet is a perfect accessory, ski slopes, hiking, back roading, camping, and so much more. Since there's no national parks around, it's easier to find places that let you get athletic. If you're an "off the beaten path type," North Idaho might be fulfilling all your elopement dreams.
Check out more of what North Idaho has to offer with these Idaho sessions.
Also check out this resource about a Southern Idaho gem:
Here's some more photos of the secret spots this Idaho Potato can show you.
Olympic National Park
Honestly y'all, this might be the only place I could move that is cooler than living on the Oregon Coast. This place is absolutely mind blowing. I've never seen such a wide variety of scenery in such a small area. This place is epic and likely has whatever scenery backdrop you're looking for.
The climate in this section of Washington is unreal. It's generally temperate but has sections that are shielded from the typical coast rain and cool temperatures. The unique set up of the mountains creates a rain shadow that creates a stunning rainforest on one side and epic mountains on the other side that hardly see rain. You get to see a lot of benefits of the rain like waterfalls and lush forest without the same drenching of rain. On nice summer days, you can enjoy the cool, 60 degree climate in an actual rainforest and more rocky coastline on the rainy side of the rain shadow.
The Olympic Peninsula has endless scenery options. There seems to be a waterfall around every corner of the forest, the Olympic Mountains give you epic, snowy peaks, the typical rocky coastline and crashing waves of the PNW, 2 huge lakes, and even a true rainforest. You can easily visit each ecosystem within 1-2 hours of each other. If you don't want to pick one scenery to miss out on another, this is a place you can truly have it all.
The crowds aren't too bad if you pick the right spots. Despite a large portion of this area being part of Olympic National Park, it's really not busy like Mt. Rainier or Yosemite. It boasts the same level of awesome scenery but you can have a lot of spots to yourself. It covers a huge land area that allows tourists to spread out. With so many waterfalls, you can have a falls to yourself even midday on a Saturday. Large stretches of beach give everyone plenty of room to have their own space. Massive expanses of forest let you avoid the crowds.
Check out this Olympic National Park elopement resource.
Here's some more photos that will never do the epicness of this area justice.
Obviously there's around a thousand other beautiful places you can elope. There's places like Yosemite and Mt. Rainier where you'll likely be fighting huge crowds. There's other secluded, hidden gems with just as much potential as these ones. Here's my best secret for finding your perfect location:
Hire an elopement photographer with experience planning elopements.
Myself, and other photographers specializing in elopements, have experience to take your vision of your perfect day and turn it into a reality. We know how busy this place is but maybe this other one will have a similar feel and the privacy you want. Maybe this place has a good weather on your date while this other place won't. Travel and elopement experience can help account for all those factors to create your perfect wedding day.
Ready to start planning your elopement? Check out these other resources!
Want some expert help planning? Let's start chatting and planning your perfect elopement experience.