Mt. Rainier is nothing short of iconic. Towering at 14,411’ above sea level, it’s visible from almost everywhere in Seattle on a clear day. It’s a mountain that’s synonymous with the Pacific Northwest, and even has its own National Park!
Now, imagine saying your vows overlooking (or ON) the highest volcano in the lower 48! Can you see it? I sure can.
In this post, I’ll cover the whens, the wheres, and the hows of planning your spectacular Mt. Rainier elopement.
When to Elope
As with all Washington National Parks and Forests, summer is generally the best time to visit. You’ll find that all entrances and roads are open, giving us countless location options. By late June, most of the snow will have melted, and by July, Mt. Rainier National Park’s famous wildflowers will be in full bloom.
Fall, Winter, & Spring
The more you venture into colder months, the lesser your chances are of experiencing a sunny day. Additionally, out of the four entrances into the park, only one is open in the off-season. You can enter Mt. Rainier National Park through the Nisqually entrance, but the road that leads to the foot of the mountain is subject to weather.
What’s My Best Option?
What I’m trying to say is this: if you want a 90% guarantee that the weather is going to be clear on your elopement day, opt for the summer months (late June - early September). If you don’t mind a little snow in your wake, May through June is a great option. If you are willing to risk bad weather for fall colors, consider late September - early October. We can always have a backup plan if needed!
Where to Elope
Oh MAN do we have options!!! Whether you’re looking for an epic hike or a spot where we can just pop out of the car, Mt. Rainier has something for everyone.
There are four entrances to Mt. Rainier: Nisqually (the most popular, located southwest of the volcano), Stevens Canyon in the Southeast, Sunrise in the Northeast, and Carbon River in the Northwest, each with its own unique attributes. Here are some popular elopement locations in each quadrant of the park.
- Skyline Trail is the most popular hike in this area, and for good reason. This 6.2 mile, 1800ft of gain hike brings you to a ridge where Rainier will tower over you in all her grandiosity. We can stop at any point on this trail for your elopement.
- Reflection Lake is a short and sweet 3.6-mile trail with EPIC wildflowers in the summertime.
- Pinnacle Peak Trail takes you up the Tatoosh range just south of Mt. Rainier itself. A quick 1.5-mile climb reveals 360-degree views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and of course, Mt. Rainier! It’s personally one of my favorite underrated rails in the park.
- If you’re down for a rewarding challenge, consider sniping a backpacking permit for Camp Muir. We’d climb the first 4,600’ up Mt. Rainier, set up camp, wake up for the sunrise, and get you married! Keep in mind that the last 2000 or so feet are snow-covered all year round.
- Mount Fremont Lookout is a gorgeous fire lookout that you can access in under 3 miles. You’re rewarded with expansive views of the surrounding range, Mt. Rainier, and a lookout that’s begging to be photographed.
- Glacier Basin Trail brings you to the base of Mt. Rainier from the Northeast. This 7.8-mile hike begins in a thick forest and climbs steadily to reveal the foothills around.
- Tolmie Peak Trail has everything you could ever need for a picture-perfect elopement. Alpine lakes? Check. Fire lookout? Check! Unparalleled views of Mt. Rainier? Double-check. I highly recommend this one.
- Fay Peak Trail offers bountiful alpine views in a way lesser popular area of the park.
Car Accessible Viewpoints
Once we start working together, I’ll let you in on all my favorite locations so we can choose together. As always, I log hundreds of miles every month to find the best areas. And since we’re using public land instead of a costly venue, it’s our job to do what to protect our surroundings and practice the 7 principles of Leave No Trace!
How to Elope
Mt. Rainier National Park experiences a lot of traffic, so securing a wedding permit is essential. At least four weeks before your requested date, you will need to fill out the form on this website (search for “Permit for Weddings”) and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Parks Service encourages small, intimate weddings within the park! But keep in mind that we will need to select a location before applying for your permit, and we would have to acquire special permissions to add any decorations. But truthfully? The scenery is more than enough!
Getting to Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier National Park is ultra-accessible from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The Sunrise entrance (where Tolmie Peak sits) is just 60 miles south of the airport, and the Nisqually entrance is just 80. If you plan on renting a car, make sure you choose one with all-wheel drive for the winter months.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of gorgeous accommodations in and around the park! I recommend staying in Ashford or Packwood.
- Mt. Rainier Getaway (Sleeps 4, $217/night, located in Ashford)
- Cabin 135 @ Mt. Rainier (Sleeps 3, $215/night, located in Ashford)
- Fillmore’s Landing @ Mt. Rainier (Sleeps 6, $220/night, located in Ashford)
- The Little Blue A-Frame at Mt. Rainier (Sleeps 3, $161/night, located in Ashford)
- Cozy River Cabin at Mr. Rainier (Sleeps 6, $341/night, located in Packwood)
For all NPS campsites, make sure you snag them far in advance! Campsites are first-come-first-served from May 28 - June 23 and September 7 - October 10 and reservation-based from June 24 - September 6. Availability is released in late February.
HipCamp is also a great option for private campsites that take away the stress of highly-desired National Park campgrounds.
Van Life It!
Washington is the capital of luxury campervan rentals. Outdoorsy.com and Go Camp Campervans are like Airbnb for fully outfitted vans. Renting one of these souped-up vans makes it easy to continue your adventure after you elope!
- Luxury Campervan with Queen Bed, Full Kitchen, and Full Bathroom
- Yogi the Van
- Gorgeous Off-Grid 4WD Campbulance Van with Indoor Shower and Toilet
Mt. Rainier National Park Adventures
My oh MY is there SO much to do in Mt. Rainier National Park! Here are some adventures to consider in and around the National Park.
- Feeling adventurous? Book a Four Day Climb to summit Mt. Rainier with RMI Guides. Before beginning the climb, they offer a full day of mountaineering training to prepare.
- Visit Seattle and make sure to book a food tour of Pike’s Place Market and stop by Starbucks Reserve in Capitol Hill.
- If a winter elopement speaks to you, go snowshoeing!
- Charter a private plane for a scenic flight over Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier.
- Backpack 90 miles on the Wonderland Trail.
- Go skiing at Crystal Mountain Resort, which sits in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. No winter? No problem! You can hike up Crystal Mountain for incredible views, or hop on the Gondola all year long for an easy way up.
Start Planning Your Wedding with Nomadic Weddings!
Ready to start planning your unforgettable North Cascades National Park elopement!? Nomadic Weddings proudly offers complimentary planning assistance from start to end, customized packages and timelines to fit any needs, and an experience that will make this adventure your best one yet! This thing won't plan itself! Reach out today to get started.
Share this story