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An epic elopement at the base of a waterfall…exchanging vows as the water rushes behind you, the awe and beauty of one of nature’s coolest phenomena helping you kick off an exciting new chapter of life with your partner… Yeah, you could say I simply love this idea! A waterfall elopement always gets me excited as an elopement photographer here in Washington.
And beyond just the great waterfall locations in our state, I put together this guide to help you understand the logistics of this particularly unique elopement idea! Everything you need to know about eloping at a waterfall is here.
The Logistics of a Waterfall Elopement
Every outdoor adventure elopement has unique circumstances that you’ll have to be prepared for. And often, it’s stuff you may not think about at first. But you definitely don’t want to get caught unprepared, so here’s what to keep in mind when you’re planning your waterfall elopement.
Choose an Appropriate Season
While summer or fall might tempt you because of the warmer days and easier hiking here in Washington, don’t get sucked into that idea too far!! Because of the snow melt, the waterfalls in Washington are going to be most powerful and beautiful in the spring. This is going to make for potentially muddier and more difficult trekking, but the sights you’ll get for your ceremony are so worth it.
Be Prepared for a Dirty Dress
Speaking of mud, waterfalls are going to have lots of it, regardless of the season! If either you, your partner, or both of you are wearing dresses, be okay with the hem getting dirtied up. It’s unavoidable! (Personally, I love this dark ombre effect at the bottom of gowns. There’s something just so beautiful about a lived-in, well-adventured dress!)
Be Prepared to — You Guessed It — Get Wet!
The bottom of a dress isn’t the only thing that will be touched by the elements for a waterfall elopement. Water, water, water! The spray is inevitably going to hit you, pretty much no matter where you stand. You can lean into this, and agree to get soaked to the bone (these portraits will be epic), or keep your distance a bit to keep the soaking to a minimum!
Be Prepared Not to Hear
The roar of a waterfall can be quite loud, especially if you’re there at its strongest point. If you’re hoping to read your vows in front of the falls, you’ll have to cuddle pretty close, or be prepared to shout them real loud!
Activities at a Waterfall Elopement
Even if the main focus of your elopement is the waterfall element, there’s so much more to do! Especially here in Washington. Here’s what I recommend including/what may be automatically built in, depending on location.
Hiking to access your chosen waterfall might be a necessary part of your elopement experience. I have a guide here all about hiking elopements to help you prepare for a trek on your day.
Even if your waterfall isn’t super far off the road, I encourage you to consider a nearby hike! Getting out in nature and enjoying that quality time with each other can be so fun. And sometimes a hike is more like a nature walk along a paved trail or a boardwalk, and that works, too.
A post-ceremony swim at the waterfall might be just what you’re after! You can change out of your elopement attire, or just dive right in while wearing it if you don’t mind. (Though any dresses should be lightweight enough to be able to swim safely in!) Either way, swimming is a great waterfall elopement activity.
This might not be an option right at your ceremony location, but there might be a good spot nearby on a lake or river for you to go on a water-led adventure. Just you and your partner, or maybe your whole intimate group together!
Locations in WA for a Waterfall Elopement
Now that you know what to prepare for and what you can incorporate into your waterfall elopement, let’s get into my favorite waterfall locations in Washington state!
Waterfall Elopement Locations in Olympic National Park
To elope in Olympic National Park, you’ll need a permit if there are more than 5 people (including me!)
With no set beginning or end point, the Quinault Loop is a 4-mile trail with lots of dense, lush forest growth. Along this looped trail, you’ll come across 4 waterfalls of note! This is a great place to come for your elopement, because you have built-in backups in case one spot is a little too crowded for comfort.
- Cascade Falls: the most popular waterfall along this circuit. Easy access, family friendly, and dogs allowed (on leash only)
- Bunch Creek Falls: a gentler waterfall not far off the road. You can scramble up on the rocks and have a real adventure at Bunch Creek.
- Willaby Creek Falls: another small fall along the trail near the South Shore bridge. This waterfall flows along a couple tiers of land, creating a couple small pools at each base.
The hike to Marymere Falls from Lake Crescent is easy and partially paved. It’s a 1.8 mile round trip hike, but nothing strenuous. There are two viewpoints at the end of the trail that give you great views looking down on the falls as they flow through a notch in the cliffside.
Sol Duc Falls
Depending on how heavy the water flow is, Sol Duc Falls can split into up to 4 channels, flowing about 50 feet into a narrow canyon. There are viewpoints all over to see these falls, and a bridge over the river.
To get here, you’ll start at the Sol Duc Hot Springs and Resort. The trail is 1.6 miles round trip with just 200 feet in elevation gain– more of a nature walk, like we talked about earlier!
Waterfall Elopement Locations in Mt. Rainier National Park
To elope in Mt. Rainier, you’ll need a permit.
In the Paradise region of Mt. Rainier National Park, Myrtle Falls is a 72-foot tall waterfall with a gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier visible. This waterfall is located just under half a mile from Paradise Inn, along the Skyline Trail.
This is an incredibly popular spot, so I recommend a waterfall elopement here in the off-season, as well as a sunrise elopement to really beat the crowds.
Narada Falls is accessible by car, so it’s perfect if you’re not looking to hike. The parking area has a viewpoint, as well as another viewing spot along a short dirt trail. There are picnic tables, bathrooms, and a stone bridge across the top of the falls.
Waterfall Elopement Locations at the Columbia River Gorge
While Multnomah Falls is the most famous waterfall in the Gorge region, it is on the Oregon side and tends to be super busy, so I want to highlight a few Washington-side waterfalls at the Gorge where you can have your elopement!
There are actually a lot of them, so I won’t go into too much detail (but they’re all amazing!). Here’s 7 waterfalls at the Gorge:
- Falls Creek Falls
- Panther Creek Falls
- Spirit Falls
- Hardy Falls
- Siouxon Creek
- Rock Creek Falls
- Sweeny Falls
Other Waterfalls to Consider for Your Elopement
Franklin Falls is in the Snoqualmie region. It’s a 2 mile hike with 400 feet in elevation gain, making it an easy trek. Dogs are allowed as long as they’re on leash, too!
There are three tiers to Franklin Falls, with a total drop of 135 feet. You’ll be able to see 70 feet from the trail. If you’re careful, there’s a separate, narrow path in the rock that will lead you all the way to the base of the falls. This is an iconic spot to get married. The rocks are wet and slippery, so be extra cautious.
For a truly epic waterfall, Snoqualmie Falls is perfect. You can’t get as close to the falls here as you might be able to in other places, but parking is free and the viewing areas are open all day! The Salish Lodge is also right here, so you can get a nice elopement meal before or after your ceremony.
And there you have it! Everything you need in order to prepare for a waterfall elopement, as well as some great location recommendations here in the state of Washington. I can’t wait to tag along and capture your day as it unfolds — for elopement photography in Oregon, Washington, and beyond, reach out to me here.