Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve probably heard of Mount Rainier, or at least seen photos of this glorious, snow-capped peak on a postcard somewhere. After all, it’s only one of, if not THE most iconic destinations in the Pacific Northwest (as it deserves to be)! It’s essentially a playground & a paradise for anyone who loves being out in nature and feels most at home in the crisp mountain air. Which is why a TON of couples have started eloping & getting married there in recent years—what better place to tie the knot than in the middle of a spectacular mountain landscape full of wildflowers, alpine lakes, and lush meadows?! If you love that idea, then you’ve come to the right place, my friend: this is your one-stop-shop, all-inclusive resource to allll things Mount Rainier weddings & elopements.
Starting out with the basics: where the heck is Mount Rainier? (If you’re a PNW local, feel free to skip this section!)
Mount Rainier National Park is located in the south-central area of Washington State, covering nearly 240,000 acres of stunning alpine terrain. It’s actually the 5th oldest national park in the country, so it’s been around a while (since 1899)! The park is pretty centrally located in terms of major cities in Washington, with Seattle, Tacoma, Yakima, and even Portland, Oregon all within 200 miles of the park. It depends on which park entrance you’re heading to, but to get from Seattle to the Nisqually (southwest) park entrance, it’s typically about a 2-hour drive.
I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t say there are a ton of “cons” of getting married at Mount Rainier—more so just things to be aware of, and that you may have to work around. I imagine you’re already falling in love with the scenery after just a few photos, lol, so you probably don’t need to see many pros, but I’ve got ‘em for you anyway! Below are the top pros & cons of having a Mount Rainier wedding or elopement.
Now that you know where Mount Rainier is and all the pros & cons of getting married here, let’s talk about WHEN the best time is to have your wedding or elopement in the park.
The best time of year to get married at Mount Rainier is the summer, between July and August, as this is when the park is fully open & the temperatures are warmest! It’s also the most crowded time of year so you will want to make sure you visit on a weekday or early in the day, orrrr that you find a more secluded spot for your ceremony. Roads in the park typically close down between October and November, so you can definitely get away with an early fall elopement as long as you have backup plans in place in case of early snow.
Peak bloom varies by season and depends on the weather, but typically mid-July to mid-August is when you’ll find those vibrant, colorful wildflowers at Mount Rainier.
I’d say that sunrise & sunset are the best times of day to get married at Mount Rainier. Sunrise will typically have fewer visitors in the park, so keep that in mind if you want to get married at a popular spot. Be sure to check sunset times with your photographer, as they can vary by location. Keep in mind also that the mountains will block the light depending on the angle, so it’s important to choose a location with scenery that will work well with where the sun is rising/setting in the sky. Honestly nothing beats a sunset elopement or wedding in the mountains — you’re going to want those golden hour photos!
I know the legal stuff isn’t quite as fun as choosing your location and picking your date, buuut it’s just as important. Below are the three things you’ll need to do in order to legally get married at Mount Rainier National Park!
In order to have your ceremony inside of Mount Rainier National Park, you’ll need to get a Special Use Permit. This permit costs $175 to apply for, and may come with additional monitoring fees if necessary.
Here are a few important things to know about wedding ceremonies in Mount Rainier National Park:
When you’re ready, follow these steps to get your Mount Rainier National Park wedding permit!
Since you’ll be getting married in the state of Washington, you’ll also need a Washington marriage license to make your ceremony legal!
In order to get legally married in Washington, you must:
Washington also has a mandatory 3-day waiting period, which means you have to wait 3 days before you can use your marriage license—you can’t just use it right away. The King County website has an easy online calculator to help you figure out when your license will be valid, and until what date you can use it: all you have to do is put in your ceremony date and it’ll do the math for ya!
Your Special Use Permit will not waive the standard park entrance fees, so you, your guests, and your vendors will all still need to pay these. You can opt for a 7-day, single vehicle pass for $30, an annual park entrance pass for $55, or an America the Beautiful annual pass for $80, which grants you access to tons of other national parks & federal recreation sites in the US! Carpooling is a great way to save some money on these passes, since they apply to your entire vehicle and aren’t charged per passenger.
Nowww let’s get to the most fun part of the planning process: choosing WHERE to get married at Mount Rainier! Rainier really has everything – mountain views, old-growth forest, wildflower meadows, waterfalls. There are endless possibilities here for a truly amazing celebration, but I’ve done my best to narrow it down for you! Below is a list of some of my favorite elopement locations inside of the park, as well as a few awesome Mount Rainier wedding venues for larger celebrations outside of the park.
Paradise, a subalpine meadow that blooms with wildflowers in the warmer seasons, is a particularly gorgeous spot with iconic views of both Mt. Rainier and the Tatoosh Range. It was named “Paradise” for a reason—it literally looks like a dreamy scene straight out of a movie with all the wildflowers, lush greenery, and insane views. There are a ton of trails available at all levels, so you can wander and really explore without straying from the paths and trampling the delicate flowers! Pinnacle Peak is one of my favorite hikes from Paradise if you want to get higher-up views, as you get to see stunninggg scenery of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.
Sunrise is another incredible part of the park to visit if you want views from higher up, as it has 360° views of the Cascades that you can access during the summer months. Just like Paradise, there’s an amazing trail system in the Sunrise area that offers a ton of different opportunities for adventure, and no matter where you go, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Rainier (at least on clear summer days!).
If you want a wedding venue that doubles as a phenomenal place to stay with your loved ones, then you’ll love Crystal Mountain Resort! It’s the largest ski resort in the state with over 2,000 acres of gorgeous alpine terrain, and some of the best skiing & snowboarding in the country. You and all of your guests will get to take the scenic ride up the Crystal Mountain Gondola, and then you can tie the knot in front of some of the most spectacular views that the PNW has to offer—their ceremony spot is actually the highest-elevation ceremony location in Washington!
If you’d rather stick with a more rustic cabin vibe, Altimeter Cabins is a really great wedding venue in Ashford, super close to Rainier. The cabins are SO cozy and welcoming, in such a romantic setting among the lush alpine trees, and they have multiple dreamy sites you can use including the Sherpa Lodge, Climber’s Estate, Mountain Pavilion, dance floor, and even a cedar bathhouse!
Want those same woodsy vibes, combined with a bit of an elevated spa experience? Check out Wellspring Spa & Woodland Retreat in Ashford! It’s a true mountain retreat, nestled among a stunning forest sanctuary with SO much gorgeous space to explore. They’ve got space for ceremonies of up to 200 guests, and you’ll have access to a variety of amazing amenities such as spa facilities, cozy accommodations, and relaxing cedar hot tubs and saunas😍
Copper Creek Inn is the ideal venue for couples looking to host a rustic, country-style wedding near Mount Rainier. It’s located in Ashford at a super serene, beautiful outdoor setting, with a spacious dining area, outdoor garden, and nine different cabins available for overnight stays. And a huge bonus: Copper Creek Inn also has a restaurant that serves up some pretty dang mouthwatering dishes that you and your guests will adore!
Finally, there are a TON of amazing Airbnbs, VRBO’s, and other cabin rentals near Mount Rainier, especially in Ashford and Packwood, that are great to either host your wedding at (if it’s allowed) or stay overnight. One of my personal faves is Cozy River Cabin (pictured below), where I’ve had multiple couples stay and/or hold their intimate ceremony! Just be sure to double check with the hosts that you’re allowed to hold your ceremony at the place you book, and if you’re not, maybe consider just having your evening dinner there, or simply getting some cozy nighttime portraits taken together after your ceremony in the national park.
Before ya go, I’ve got a few final Mount Rainier wedding & elopement tips to make sure you have the most smooth, stress-free day possible!
There ya have it, friends, allll of my best Mount Rainier wedding & elopement tips, advice, and recommendations. I hope you’re feelin’ like a total expert now 😉 If you’re still looking for a photographer to come along and document your unforgettable day in this mountain paradise, hit me up—I’d freaking love to help you plan the best day of your life!
Want to see some real Mount Rainier inspo to help get your creative juices flowin’? Check out a few of my faves below!
And if you’re still not decided on Mount Rainier, here are three in-depth guides to my other favorite elopement locations in Washington state.