Ultimate Mount Rainier Wedding & Elopement Guide

January 5, 2024


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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.

Where is Mount Rainier?

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.

If you’re flying in from out of state for your Mount Rainier elopement, you’ll want to fly into either SeaTac (2 hours away) or PDX (2.5 hours away).

Why Get Married at Mount Rainier? Pros & Cons

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.

Pros of getting married at Mount Rainier:

  • It’s not too far from Seattle: Seattle is only about 2 hours away from the southwest part of the park, which is a very doable day trip in my opinion! You could easily find a cozy cabin near Rainier to stay at for the first part of your elopement, and then head into the city for the last few days, or vice versa. You could also stay near Rainier and just take a day trip into Seattle to find a yummy restaurant, see the Space Needle, etc.!
  • It’s every outdoor lover’s dream come true: You can probably already tell from looking at the photos, but Rainier is literally heaven on Earth for anybody who loves being outdoors. With 200+ miles of amazing hiking trails, multiple campgrounds, and opportunities for biking, climbing, skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, & more, you’ll NEVER run out of epic experiences to choose from at Mount Rainier.
  • The scenery is pretty dang unbeatable: Uhhh obviously! The alpine landscapes are to DIE for, filled with lush flowers in the summertime, gorgeous fall foliage once the temperatures start to cool down, and beautiful alpine lakes + mountain views all freaking year. Even just the drive to Rainier is so beautiful and will have your jaw on the floor!
  • The summer wildflowers are to die for: Ahhh yes, the iconic Mount Rainier wildflowers! They really are as gorgeous as they look in the photos, and are SO worth seeing if you can. You have to time it right since they’re only out for a month or so, and they’re at their peak bloom during the busiest months (July-August)—so you’ll want to keep crowds in mind, too.

Cons of getting married at Mount Rainier:

  • It gets PACKED in the summer: The park itself gets around 2 MILLION visitors each year, and since summer is the main season that people visit, a majority of those visitors come to the park within a period of 2-3 months. That’s a lotttt of people and a whole lot of cars, too😅If you want to get married at a popular spot in the park, your best bet to avoid crowds is to arrive early in the day and/or go on a weekday. Otherwise, you might want to find more secluded spots that won’t be quite as busy during peak season.
  • Most of the park closed in the winter: Because of the snow and high elevations, the majority of the park roads and trails close down once winter arrives. The park is technically open all year-round, but the only road that you’ll generally be able to visit in the winter is Longmire to Paradise, which can also close down anytime that it’s too snowy. Areas such as Sunrise, White River, and Stevens Canyon road close for the season around October-November, which does limit your choices of when you can elope.
  • The weather is unpredictable: On that same note, you can never really predict what the weather will be like! While most roads usually close around mid-November, they may close in late or even early October some years, depending on the snow. And the same goes for the spring—even though most of the time the major roads are open again by June, they may open later if the snow hasn’t melted yet.
  • It’s not pet-friendly: Unfortunately dogs are not allowed inside of Mount Rainier National Park, so if you really want to include your pups in your ceremony, then this might be a dealbreaker for you!
  • The permit fee is higher than other parks: The non-refundable application fee for a Special Use Permit is $175, which is higher than other parks in the PNW. However, keep in mind that this is still a billion times cheaper than it would cost to rent a venue or any other type of ceremony location!

When to Get Married at Mount Rainier

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.

When is the best time of year to get married at Mount Rainier?

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.

When is the best time to see the wildflowers at Mount Rainier?

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.

What is the best time of day to get married 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!

How to Legally Get Married at Mount Rainier

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!

1. Get your Mount Rainier wedding permit

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:

  • Your group size will determine the locations you can use for your ceremony
  • You aren’t allowed to rope or block off any areas to the public
  • Throwing rice, confetti, etc. is not allowed

When you’re ready, follow these steps to get your Mount Rainier National Park wedding permit!

  1. Complete this application form
  2. Email your application to mora_special_use@nps.gov at least 4 weeks in advance of your requested date
  3. Wait for instructions, then pay the non-refundable $175 application fee online
  4. Wait for your permit to be approved
  5. Sign & return your permit for final approval

2. Get your Washington marriage license

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:

  • Be over the age of 18 unless you have parental consent
  • Provide valid government-issued ID when applying for your license
  • Have at least two witnesses present over the age of 18
  • Pay the license fee (varies by county)
  • Use your license within 60 days of issuing

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!

3. Pay the standard Mount Rainier National Park entrance fees

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.

Best Mount Rainier Wedding Venues & Elopement Locations

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!). 

Crystal Mountain Resort

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!

Altimeter Cabins

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!

Wellspring Spa & Woodland Retreat

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

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.

Final Mount Rainier Wedding & Elopement Tips

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!

  1. Bring bug spray, and use lots of it!
  2. Have backup locations in place, just in case the weather takes a turn at the last minute.
  3. Stick to the trails & follow Leave No Trace principles.
  4. Carpool if you can, to save money on park passes & make parking a little less difficult during peak season.
  5. Check the road conditions in the days leading up to your elopement to make sure you’re aware of any last-minute closures/changes.
  6. Arrive early in the day and/or on a weekday to avoid huge crowds.

Hiring Your Mount Rainier Wedding Photographer

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!

Real Mount Rainier Wedding & Elopement Inspiration

Want to see some real Mount Rainier inspo to help get your creative juices flowin’? Check out a few of my faves below!

Joyful Cabin Elopement at Mt. Rainier

Mount Rainier National Park Elopement

Sunset Mountain Engagement at Mt. Rainier

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.

Best Seattle Elopement Locations

Mt. Baker Wedding Guide

Top 22 Places to Elope in Washington State