When people think of nature in Washington, one of the first places that come to mind is Mount Rainier National Park. With its snow-capped peaks, lush wildflower fields, and endless hiking trails, this national park is truly one of Washington’s best outdoor gems and an excellent choice for couples planning an adventure elopement or wedding. When it comes to planning your Mt Rainier elopement, there are two different sides to the park, Sunrise, and Paradise. Both sides of the park have something incredible to offer and the one you choose for your elopement, all comes down to the type of experience you want to have. This blog will cover some of the things you’ll want to consider when choosing where to have your Mount Rainier elopement.
Paradise vs Sunrise: The Two Sides of Mount Rainier National Park
Spanning close to 240,000 acres, Mount Rainier National Park is a massive park that is located southeast of Seattle. Because this park is so large, there are four entrances:
- White River/Sunrise Northeast Entrance
- Stevens Canyon Southeast Entrance
- Carbon River Northwest Entrance
- Nisqually Southwest Entrance
These four entrances will all give you a different experience within the park so when planning your elopement, it’s important to consider what you want to do and where you want to go in order to choose the best route inside the park.
Fun fact: What most people don’t know is that Rainier is not a mountain, it’s actually a dormant volcano!
Not only does Mt Rainier National Park have four entrances, but it also has two sides that people commonly refer to as Paradise and Sunrise. Each area has its own visitor center but slightly different things to offer.
This location tends to be one of the more popular sides of the park due to its lush wildflower fields and beautiful meadows. Paradise is located on the south side of Mt Rainier, so if you’re coming from Portland or anywhere south of Washington, this is the closest side. One of the trails in Paradise will lead to a gorgeous waterfall and several others will give visitors close-up views of the mountain.
If you’re looking for a place to stay overnight, the closest towns to Paradise are Packwood and Ashford. This side also has lodging inside the park, making it an especially convenient option if you want to stay nearby after your elopement.
Sunrise is best known for its wide open fields that give panoramic views of Mt Rainier. Located on the Northeast side of Rainier, this side tends to be a bit more barren than Paradise but don’t let that stop you from planning an elopement here! Sunrise still has plenty of wildflower fields that come to life in the summer as well as lots of family-friendly hiking trails with full views of the mountain making it an ideal option for elopements with guests.
Best Hiking Trails in Mount Rainier National Park
Both Paradise and Sunrise have excellent hiking trails to choose from. Some require very little effort while others are a bit more strenuous, taking several hours to complete. As your elopement photographer, I have a full list of hiking trails and locations within the park that I can share with you. Depending on your elopement vision and the type of experience you want to have, I’ll help you find the perfect trail to suit your need!
My top tip when choosing an elopement location, no matter where you’re getting married is to sit down with your partner and envision what you want your day to look like. Where do you see yourself? What do your surroundings look like? Is anyone else there with you? Those are all good starting questions that can help you narrow down your ideal location.
For some hiking trail ideas to get you started, visit the NPS website to explore some hiking trail options for each location below:
Mount Rainier truly is an incredible place to plan an adventure elopement or wedding! Keep scrolling to see photos from Ashley and Michaela’s Mount Rainier elopement at Sunrise.
If you’re ready to start planning your own adventure wedding, head over to my contact page and send me an inquiry. I’d love to hear from you!
Sunrise Mount Rainier Elopement Vendors
Photographer: Taylor Denton Photography
Florist: Zory’s Flowers
Wedding Dress: Rent the Dress