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Table of Contents:
- Top 7 Places in Washington for Adventure & Engagement Sessions
- Washington Adventure & Engagement Photographer
Mountains, Rain Forests, deserts, waterfalls, alpine lakes, rivers, beaches. . . would you believe me if I told you that Washington is home to every single one of these unique settings?! We have access to every single one of these landscapes without crossing a border, meaning that your options are quite literally endless when it comes to choosing a location for your Washington engagement session. I’m a firm believer that your engagement photos should encapsulate all the authentic pieces of your one-of-a-kind relationship, and should really reflect who the two of you are as human beings. Whether that looks like taking a sunset stroll along the Olympic Peninsula, toes in the sand while you drink in the golden hour light, or meeting up at sunrise for an 8-mile hike through the mountains; there’s no right or wrong here!
I want to make sure you know ALL your options when you’re choosing your engagement session location, and fortunately for you, Washington has a full spread of pretty incredible ones! I’ve narrowed down my top 6 favorite places in Washington for engagement sessions, as well as adventure sessions, if you’re not engaged & just want rad photos of the two of you. Ready to fall in love with each and every one of these spots (and probably have a hard time picking just one)?!
Looking for locations specifically in the Seattle area? Head over to my guide to the Best Seattle Engagement Photo Locations instead!
Top 6 Places in Washington for Adventure & Engagement Sessions
1. The Hoh Rain Forest
First up on the docket is the Hoh Rain Forest, a place that just oozes magic from the moment you step onto the forest floor. Located on the Olympic Peninsula about 4.5 hours from Seattle, this rainforest is unlike ANY other rainforest you’ll ever visit. It’s a pretty iconic Washington destination, bursting with the most stunning, deep green foliage, ferns essentially everywhere you look, and towering trees dripping in moss. It’ll come as no surprise that, because of the insane amount of rain it gets, this fairytale-esque forest is one of the most lush rainforests in the world, getting as much as 14 feet of rain per year (!!).
Because the Hoh Rain Forest is part of Olympic National Park, you’ll need an Olympic National Park Pass in order to park + explore the area. The standard entry fee for a private vehicle is $30 (valid for seven consecutive days), but I recommend option for an annual pass ($55) if you plan to visit the park more than once throughout the year! You can also opt for an America the Beautiful Pass, which is an $80 annual pass that gives you access to every national park in the country and will save you a ton of money 🙂
One of the best parts about the Hoh Rain Forest is that because it’s at a low elevation along the coast, rather than deep in the mountains, it’s a really great location for an engagement session at any time of year. While the winter and spring do see a TON of rain in this area of the peninsula, there’s rarely enough snow to prevent access – so if you’re up for a chilly session with a high probability of rain (which is seriously magical in the forest, by the way), then the Hoh Rain Forest is a perfect year-round option for you! The Hall of Mosses is a super short, easy, and accessible trail in the forest that I recommend checking out no matter the weather – there’s barely any elevation gain, it’s wheelchair-friendly, and it takes you through the most gorgeous parts of the forest.
The only downside to the Hoh Rain Forest is that pet’s aren’t allowed, so if you want to bring your pups along for your engagement photos, you’ll either have to leave them at home or keep them somewhere safe while you explore the forest.
Leo & Jimmy picked the Hoh Rain Forest for their adventure session, and it turned out absolutely beautifully – take a peek at this fun & casual Hoh Rain Forest Adventure Session for further inspo!
2. Deception Pass
If you’re looking for a spot that’s much closer to Seattle, but still boasts absolutely stunning views and has plenty of options for adventure, Deception Pass is one of my personal favorites. It’s about a 1.5-hour drive from Seattle, so totally a doable day trip, but you really feel like you’re a lot further away from the city! Deception Pass separates Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island, and is home to the iconic Deception Pass Bridge that you’ve probably seen in photos. It’s an epic location for engagement photos & adventure sessions thanks to its dramatic seascape scenery, dense forests (with 30+ miles of trails to explore), and abundant gorgeous coastal spots along the shoreline. If you and your partner really want to take full advantage of this iconic park, why not spend the night under the stars at one of the many campsites after your session wraps? This would be such a beautiful way to extend this special time together, away from your lives for a night, and really make it worth your while.
This beautiful area is actually part of a state park, so keep in mind that you’ll need to follow WA State Park rules and regulations while you explore. To park at Deception Pass, you’ll have to get a Discover Pass, which is valid for all state recreation lands in Washington; it’s either $10 for the day if you buy on-site ($11.50 online) or $30 ($35 online) for a year. And if you want a location that you can bring your pets to, then you’re in luck – Deception Pass State Park is dog-friendly, as long as you keep ‘em on a leash!
Deception Pass is another location that can really be enjoyed all year-round – it just depends on what type of atmosphere you’re dreaming of. Summer is great for enjoying the warmer weather by the water, but can get pretty crowded due to the park’s popularity (and you may run into traffic). If you’re okay with a little bit cooler temperatures, spring and fall are just as amazing; especially fall, with the gorgeous colors that fill up the shoreline scenery.
3. Mount Baker (Artist Point)
I know I always say that every dang location is my favorite (I’ll be honest, it’s impossible to choose), but Mount Baker really has a special place in my heart, as it’s the place where my partner and I eloped! While the entire Mount Baker Wilderness is heaven on Earth, Artist Point is really the main area you want to go for your adventure. It takes just under 3 hours to get to Artist Point from Seattle, so while you could totally do a day trip if you’re down for the drive, I’d probably recommend finding a place to stay the night before or after your session. Check out Airbnbs in nearby towns like Deming & Glacier – there are a TON of cozy & cute cabins that would be perfect!
Artist Point is every mountain-lover’s dream for a multitude of reasons: it’s easy to get to (but also has plenty of trails if you want more of an adventure), there are a variety of alpine lakes, the foliage is stunning, and the panoramic mountain views are just to die for. To park at the Artist Point Trailhead, you’ll need to pay a $5 fee per vehicle, per day, or you can bring a valid Northwest Forest Pass instead.
One important thing to note about Artist Point is that it’s only accessible by car during the warmer months; typically from around July through late September or early October. The last 2.7-mile stretch of the Mount Baker Highway closes off each winter for the season at milepost 55, just after the Heather Meadows Visitor Center. So you CAN get there all year-round, but during the snowy months, you’ll have to hike that last stretch to get to Artist Point. It’s definitely doable if you’re up for the trek & want to see the magical winter wonderland that awaits you at the top of the mountain!
In terms of other seasons, fall is probably one of the most popular times to visit Artist Point thanks to the dreamy colors that come out once the temperatures start to drop Summer is the best if you want the warmest, sunniest weather, but the lush greens of spring are quite incredible, too – honestly, you really can’t go wrong no matter what time you have an adventure session or engagement session at Artist Point!
Artist Point also makes for a phenomenal elopement location (duh), so if you’re liking the idea of eloping at this stunning spot in the mountains, check out Brandi & Jordan’s Glam Artist Point Elopement to get the ideas flowin’!
Snoqualmie is the perfect area to explore if you want to stay as close to Seattle as you can, while still getting picturesque views, mountains, and gorgeous lakes! It’s about 28 miles east of Seattle, and there are SO many amazing locations to check out, depending on what you want your engagement or adventure session to look like. While the Snoqualmie area is filled with gorgeous spots galore, three of my favorites are Gold Creek Pond, Middle Fork Trail, and Rattlesnake Lake.
Gold Creek Pond
Gold Creek Pond (which is more like a lake) is just under an hour’s drive from Seattle, right off of I-90, and is by far one of the most popular & picturesque lakes in this part of the state. People looove visiting Gold Creek Pond thanks to its ease of access from the city, its wheelchair-friendly trail that goes around the lake, and the landscape that’s seriously beautiful at any time of year. You’ll find colorful foliage in the fall, vibrant wildflowers in the spring, and blue skies in the summer (but hey – it IS still western Washington, so rain is always a possibility!). I absolutely loved Danielle & Jacob’s Gold Creek Pond Elopement, and def recommend taking a look at their gallery to see more of this beautiful pond!
Middle Fork is, well, the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River! There’s an awesome trail that runs upstream along the fork and makes for a fantastic beginner’s backpacking trek, or you can just find some spots along it for your engagement session instead of doing the whole thing. There are multiple different routes you can take – this is a 7.5-mile out-and-back route, and this is a 12-mile round trip hike upstream. The trails will take you through the quiet of the Snoqualmie area, in and out of the forest, beneath overhanging cliffs, and over creeks. The greenery is simply gorgeous along this trail, and having the rushing water right next to you makes for such a peaceful environment that’s perfect for cozy photos in the trees! You’ll need a Northwest Forest Pass to park at the trailhead.
Finally, Rattlesnake Lake is another fantastic spot for engagement photos in the Snoqualmie area, located in North Bend. It’s a big recreation area about 40 minutes from Seattle, with stunning views of the mountains, unique tree stumps that are often exposed in the lake, and tons of hiking and biking trails. I love that Rattlesnake Lake is SO easy to access and doesn’t require a big hike – just park and walk wherever your heart desires! The lake & the surrounding area are pretty dang beautiful in the winter, just as they are throughout the rest of the year – so it’s a very viable spot for a winter engagement session. And it’s also a fabulous spot for adventure elopements, which is why I put together a dedicated Rattlesnake Lake Elopement Guide for you.
P.S. All three of these locations are dog-friendly, so you’re welcome to bring along your (leashed) furry friends to traverse the trails with ya!
Check out Rachel & Riley’s Enchanting Wedding at Snoqualmie Falls Forest Theater for some stunning Snoqualmie inspiration!
5. Mount Rainier (Paradise)
Located on the south side of Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most spectacular areas in the entire Pacific Northwest: Paradise! Aptly named, this portion of the park draws visitors from all over come spring & summertime thanks to its iconic wildflower meadows, luscious foliage, glorious hiking trails, and unparalleled views of the Tatoosh mountain range. Paradise Inn & the Paradise Visitor Center are the starting point of a ton of incredible trails, ranging from easier adventures like the walk to Myrtle Falls Viewpoint via Skyline Trail, to longer treks such as the Skyline Trail Loop.
Because of its high elevation, July and August are by far the best months to take engagement photos at Paradise, especially if you want to see those breathtaking wildflower meadows full of lupines, mountain heather, and scarlet paintbrush, plus summer obviously gives you the best chance at clear skies. September and October are also magical at Paradise, with leaves changing colors everywhere you look, but can be a little more risky since you never know when it could start snowing! Be sure to monitor current road and trail conditions at Paradise before you make your way there; the Longmire-Paradise road often experiences closures between fall and winter, and closes nightly in the winter.
A few practical details – first up, you’ll need to have a Mount Rainier National Park Pass in order to park at Paradise! Your options are the same as they were for Olympic National Park: either a standard entrance pass for $30, or an annual park pass for $55. Second, Mount Rainier sadly isn’t a pet-friendly park, so you’ll have to leave your furry BFF’s at home for your session.
Oksana and Jay had the most breathtaking hiking elopement at Paradise – scroll through their dreamy gallery here for more examples of this stunning mountain paradise! (See what I did there?)
This last location is a COMPLETELY different vibe than all the rest on this list; so far, we’ve been highlighting all the best mountain + rainforest locations in Washington, but this one is a totally, wide-open desert. Yup, Washington has a desert!
Vantage is an area of eastern Washington located about 2 hours east of Seattle, overlooking the Columbia River and close to the Ginkgo Petrified Forest. You might recognize Vantage if you’ve ever been to or heard of the Gorge Amphitheater, an iconic outdoor concert venue right in the middle of the barren desert landscape! It’s such a cool location for engagement photos because you don’t even feel like you’re in Washington anymore; the desert is so opposite of the western side of the state, and the golden hours + sunrises/sunsets are incredible. One of the most popular spots to visit in Vantage is the Ginkgo Petrified Forest/Wanapum Recreation Area that I mentioned earlier, which is one of the most diverse fossil forests in the country, and boasts unique desert scenery filled with fascinating fossils. Vantage is also a very popular rock climbing destination, with over 700 routes available – so if climbing is your thing and you want to incorporate it into your session, let’s do it!
Washington Adventure & Engagement Photographer
I told you Washington had it all, didn’t I? From the deserts of eastern Washington all the way to the lush rainforests of the peninsula, your options are truly neverending when it comes to Washington adventure & engagement session locations.
As long as your session feels like YOU, that’s all that matters; whether your session looks like the two of you holding hands as you walk through a glorious rainforest, hiking through the majestic mountain ranges of Washington, or lounging around by the lake & having a summertime picnic. And hey, I’ll be down for it all.
I’m here to help you plan your perfect session every step of the way, be it an adventurous anniversary session or an engagement session before your upcoming elopement. If you’re looking for a gal that’s completely in love with love (and documenting it, of course), and who knows this beautiful state like the back of her hand, then congrats – you’ve found her! Learn more about what I offer & what it’s like to work together here, and if it feels like we’re a match made in this PNW heaven, then let’s get in touch! I can’t wait to hear what you’re dreaming up for your Washington engagement or adventure session.
Craving more elopement and engagement guides like this one? I’ve got plenty for you – here are some of my recent favorites that couples have been loving!