Rattlesnake Lake Elopement Guide — How to Elope at Rattlesnake Lake

Rattlesnake Lake is nothing like it sounds — you won’t find dangerous snakes underfoot when adventuring here. It’s a beautiful recreation area just 30 miles east of Seattle great for swimming, fishing, hiking, picnics… And elopements! 

This is another favorite location of mine for an adventurous elopement in Washington. In this guide I’m going to break down everything you need to know in order to get married here. We’ll cover:

Let’s get started!

A groom looks up at his bride as she climbs atop a huge tree trunk at Rattlesnake Lake on their elopement day

Why Choose Rattlesnake Lake for Your Elopement?

Rattlesnake Lake is 35 miles east of Seattle off I-90, near North Bend. Up in the mountains, the Rattlesnake rec area includes the lake, a picnic area, Rattlesnake Ledge Trail, and tons of hiking and biking opportunities. 

And yes, you truly don’t have to worry about rattlesnakes here. This gorgeous place got its name from the open grassy fields that used to be here. When the wind rustled through the tall, dry grasses, they would shake and rattle a lot like a snake. 

Another cool feature about this area is the tree stumps in the lake. They can either be covered or exposed depending on when you visit, and can be so cool to see. 

Like so many other places I love in Western Washington, Rattlesnake Lake has unparalleled views of the mountains. There are tons of opportunities for a rugged nature escape, and the romantic exploration that awaits here makes it ideal for an elopement. You already know I love hiking elopements (I have a whole post about them here!), and this location is perfect for that. 

Weather & Best Seasons at Rattlesnake Lake

So when should you elope at Rattlesnake Lake? Well, the best news of all is that this area is open year-round, so you can get married here whenever you want to. But, consider the type of elopement you want to have — something warm and sunny, with lots of access to dry hiking trails? Something a little foggy and moody?

Here’s a breakdown of the temperature and precipitation trends at Rattlesnake Lake. Even in the summer, the temperatures don’t get too hot, so it’s nice for hiking. In any other season, be prepared for more rainy or snowy days. 

Another unique thing to consider at Rattlesnake Lake is that at different times of the year, the water levels in the lake change. And when they do, the iconic tree stumps are either covered, partially exposed, or fully exposed. This can make for an entirely different experience!

When the water level is high and low can depend a lot on the amount of snowfall that happens in the winter. The water levels will stay high through the summer if lots of snow fell the previous winter, and so on. When you’re planning your elopement here, you can check on the current conditions through a quick Google search to find out what you may see once you arrive!

Permitting Info for a Rattlesnake Lake Elopement

A lot of areas and parks in Washington require the Discover Pass to park at the trailheads or in parking lots. Good news — the Discover Pass is not required at this location, so you can park for free. 

Even more good news — eloping here is also completely free! No permit is required, as long as your group is no bigger than 30 people. Any groups larger than 30 are strictly prohibited. 

There is also no car or traditional camping allowed here. This is strictly a day-use area. 

Activities at Rattlesnake Lake for an Elopement

One of the things I love most about elopements is the opportunity to make it a personal, memorable experience through activities you may not otherwise be able to do, either because you travel for your elopement somewhere different than home, or because these things aren’t doable at a traditional wedding. Here’s some suggestions for what you can do in the Rattlesnake Lake area!

Explore the Lakeshore

I’ve said a lot about how amazing this lake and mountain area are, so of course I highly recommend spending some time on the lakeshore. If the water level is low, you can explore the stumps exposed, even climb on them, and take gorgeous portraits by the water.

Water Activities

There is so much more than swimming at Rattlesnake Lake! You can paddleboard, kayak, canoe, etc. The Seattle public utility rule is that any boats must have a self-propelled or electric boat motor only. Getting out on the water or in the water during your elopement is nothing short of serene.


Last time I visited, I saw a group bouldering on the rocks! If you’re feeling especially adventurous, this is a fun spot for some climbing. 

Bring Your Dog(s)!

Rattlesnake Lake is a dog-friendly area, so you can bring your pups along for the celebration! Play on the beach, incorporate them into your ceremony, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Visit a Nearby Attraction

If you think you might want even more adventure, there are several other incredible spots within reasonable driving distance from Rattlesnake Lake. Gold Creek Pond is 28 miles away, and Franklin Falls is 24.

Hikes at Rattlesnake Lake

There are several notable hikes at Rattlesnake Lake, too. 

Rattlesnake Lake Trail (marked #1 on this map) is on the southeast side, and it’s a mix of packed gravel and pavement. It’s 0.75 miles, rated very easy, and is ADA accessible. 

Rattlesnake Ledge (marked #2 on this map) begins at Rattlesnake Lake. The first 2 miles from here are incredibly popular, so the trail will be heavily trafficked at pretty much any time that you go. The next 11 miles on this trail will take you all the way to Snoqualmie Park. This is a moderate-to-difficult trail, and there are lots of exposed cliffs and steep drops, so extreme caution is advised. The views are simply unparalleled!

These two are most popular here, but there is also the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail and the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. 

Places to Stay Near Rattlesnake Lake

Rattlesnake Lake is conveniently located whether you’re a Seattle native or traveling from afar. You have tons of options for where to stay — Airbnbs, camping sites, lodges, etc. Here’s a couple of my recommendations.

Of course, there are lots more options than this. We can hunt for some more as you plan your elopement!

Other Helpful Tips

We’ve just about covered everything you need to know to elope at Rattlesnake Lake. If you have any lingering questions, I’m here with the answers! 

  • Tip 1: Don’t be deterred by how popular this spot can get. There is more than one parking area, and the space is vast. There will be lots of opportunities for private moments so you can have your ceremony and take portraits!
  • Tip 2: There are bathrooms near the parking lot, so you don’t have to worry about going at your hotel first and then holding it all day.
  • Tip 3: There is no drinking water available, so bring lots of your own! (There is water at the Cedar River Watershed Education Center)
  • Tip 4: No open fires are allowed here, but we can head back to your cabin or campsite for a cozy cookout after your elopement.
  • Tip 5: Leave no trace. Dispose of your waste, respect the wildlife, stay on the trails, and preserve the experience for other visitors.
A woman lays on her stomach atop a tree trunk in a wedding dress, kissing her new husband at their Rattlesnake Lake elopement.

Elopement Packages for Rattlesnake Lake

I’m Marla! I’m an adventure elopement photographer based in Seattle, and I love Washington and Oregon elopements. But I consider myself to be more than a photographer — I’m your right-hand gal during the entire elopement planning process, from locations to permits to vows to timeline. 

As your trusted elopement photographer, all my travel fees are included in your package. You’ll get a custom timeline and location guide catered to your needs and vision, as well as unlimited consultations and communication with me. 

It’s my passion to help you create and then to document this once-in-a-lifetime experience that kicks off an exciting new chapter in your lives. 

To see more about my elopement packages in Washington, click here. 

To reach out to me, click here.


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