How to Elope in Olympic National Park

The majestic landscape of Olympic National Park encompasses not only a breathtaking coastline, but a beautiful backdrop of trees and mountains as well. Beaches dotting the Pacific coastline make the most astonishing destination to make your wedding day even more magical. Most of the National Parks allow elopements and ceremonies to take place within their boundaries, but many of them have rules/suggestions when it comes to getting married in their specific park.

To elope in Olympic National Park, a special use permit must be secured first. The permit itself is $50, and the application for the permit can be found here. Questions involving the permit can be answered through their visitor information line at (360) 565-3130 during regular business hours; and more information can be found at their Facebook page here.

The permit must be received at least three to four weeks before the requested elopement date for processing. The rangers are typically easy to get a hold of to ask questions about the permits, approved ceremony locations, approved props/décor, etc. In Olympic National Park there are many preapproved ceremony sites that offer a variety of spectacular views. For a beach backdrop, popular preapproved areas include, Kalaloch and Rialto. Kalaloch is open and flat, and you might spot a whale or two! Excellent sites for a large group are: Lake Crescent and Bovee’s Meadow. Other preapproved ceremony locations include: Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Rainforest region (my personal favorites). Since these areas are designated places in the park to get married, there’s a chance that some of them are booked well in advance, so the earlier you’re able to turn in your permit, the better. Some people choose to forgo the permit, simply winging it or risking it, but I strongly advise applying for the permit. You certainly wouldn’t want to be fined or asked to leave on your wedding day because of a permit that wasn’t acquired.

Some of the common restrictions in Olympic National Park are the types of props/décor that can be used, typically dogs aren’t allowed, and groups over fifty aren’t permitted, among others. These are in place to protect the park and its flora and fauna, as well as the experience of the other park guests, and these are great questions to ask a Park Ranger when you ask about your permit!

None of the approved ceremony locations require strenuous hiking; in fact, you can drive to many of the preapproved sites on the front country area. However, a few sites may include more hiking, but only smaller groups are allowed in those areas. Either way, venturing into other areas of the park to take photos may require a fair amount of hiking.

I suggest planning your ceremony time for either sunrise or sunset. This will give you the most flattering light of the day, with the least amount of foot traffic from other visitors. Kalaloch Beach would be the perfect sunset location along the Pacific Ocean. Chat with your photographer about what time and location make the most sense to you. When it comes to exploring Olympic National Park, I typically suggest a sunrise/early morning ceremony so you have lots of time for traveling around the park to take photos, and then you’ll be able to enjoy the sunset along the Pacific Ocean afterwards.

Here are a few things to be sure to bring with you as well:

  • Hiking shoes, as well as the shoes you’ll be wearing for your ceremony

  • Sweater/jacket – the mornings and evenings in Olympic National Park tend to be cool, especially if you’re eloping outside the summer season

  • Water/snacks, maybe some bubbly?

  • Any easy, cute props, like a rug/blanket to stand on

  • Headlamp or flashlight if you are shooting at sunset and need to hike down in the dark

  • If there is a chance of rain, bring a jacket and/or umbrella. KLEM Studios is all for embracing the weather and running around in the rain—it can be so dreamy! Just be sure to have a jacket or blanket along to warm up afterwards

  • Have a few locations in mind to take photos after the ceremony (your photographer can help you with this as well)    

An Olympic National Park elopement provides a stunning venue for one of the best days of your lives, filled with gorgeous scenery and striking photo opportunities. It’s perfect for the adventurous couple that wants to start their forever with an unbeatable view. There are so many more tips and tidbits that I have for couples looking to elope in Olympic National Park, from lodging/campground options to hike suggestions to restaurants. I would be happy to share them with you; feel free to email me directly at kate@klemstudios.com.

Stay adventurous,

Kate