Crater Lake National Park Elopement Guide
Hi, I’m Lucy – your dorky elopement planner & photographer! In this guide I’ll go over everything you need to know to plan the perfect Crater Lake National Park elopement. Crater Lake is Oregon’s only National Park and home to America’s deepest lake. Crater Lake is the remains of the ancient Mt. Mazama, a 12,000ft volcano that collapsed about 400,000 years ago, leaving this pristine lake in its crater that’s over 1,900 feet deep! It is said that this is one of the world’s cleanest lakes. The water level stays the same year and year, and is only fed by snowmelt. Read more about the park’s geology here.
Where is Crater Lake National Park?
Crater Lake National Park is located in south central Oregon, about 4 hour’s drive from Portland, the closest major airport. However, it’s a very high elevation park, with the rim sitting at about 6,000 feet and the highest point at almost 9,000 feet. Because of this, accessing the rim of the park is only possible after the snow has completely melted, in July, August and September. This is not one of the most well traveled parks, so you’ll enjoy fewer crowds than the big dogs like Rocky Mountain National Park and Yosemite. Consider including Crater Lake during your road trip elopement – you’ll get to see so much more!
Where to elope at Crater Lake National Park
This is the Big Question! And the answer truly depends on what you want to see and the level of adventure you’re willing to take on. There are 46 permit locations within the park, which is exhausting to think about or list. So I’ll narrow down some of my favorite spots so you can see them for yourself. Of course, you can get in touch with me for a free consultation and location blueprint!
I’ve created this custom, interactive map of Crater Lake National Park and the surrounding highlights with color photos I’ve taken of each location. Booked clients can move, click, pan and zoom the map. Then you can see all the great spots without leaving your living room. If you’re planning from afar, this is a visual key to picking out the elopement ceremony location that works for you. Details like what seasons and time of day are best for each location are included. It will help you plan your activities, accommodations, and your day’s itinerary. Lastly, it’s easy to have a great backup location picked out with this map in front of you. Having that Plan B in your back pocket will keep your planning stress-free!
About me – Crater Lake National Park Elopement Photographer & Planner
I’m a colorful Crater Lake National Park elopement photographer with an obsession for mountains, hiking, and my cats. I plan elopements in National Parks from start to finish – taking you out of the dreaded blank page phase and into the awesome world of offroad elopements! My photography style emphasizes the epic landscape of your dreams and the authentic moments that make you two.. well, you two! I love my job and my nature-loving clients. Crater Lake is one of my very favorite NPs in the west. Maybe I’ll see you there!
How to plan a Crater Lake National Park elopement in 2024
Planning to elope in a National Park is actually pretty easy! First, think of your elopement more like a trip and less like an event. You don’t need a reception space, a cake, tablecloths, bridesmaids, groomsmen, or any of the minute details of a traditional wedding. For one thing, the epic landscape speaks for itself as a background. All you need is an approved park ceremony permit ($50) and a knowledgable Crater Lake elopement photographer & planner. Apply at least 8 weeks in advance. All the wedding guidelines are listed here.
Step by Step Guide to planning a Crater Lake National Park Elopement
- Choose an elopement date and book a Crater Lake Elopement Photographer
- Apply for the National Park ceremony permit with your photographer’s guidance on timing and location
- Book your flights, accommodation, rental car, and any additional vendors such as officiant or florist
- Pack your best outfit ever, lace up your hiking boots and ELOPE!
When to elope at Crater Lake National Park
Because of Crater Lake’s enormous amount of snowfall – an average of 42 feet per year – the rim road opens in mid summer. July and August are the best months to elope here when most of the park is accessible. Additionally, choose a weekday for your elopement. Not only does this win you the most privacy, it also helps the park staff process your permit favorably. As for time of day, each photographer shoots differently, so collaborate with your photographer for their timing details. The photos in this guide were taken in late July 2023.
What is there to see at Crater Lake?
Of course, the jewel of this park is the stunning blue Crater Lake – that goes without saying! Drive around the rim to see the shining waters from many different angles. In the southeast corner, you can see the rock formation called the Phantom ship. There are also pumice pinnacles, a desert, a watchtower and numerous waterfalls and hikes to explore.
Wizard Island Tours at Crater Lake in 2024
Wizard Island is the volcano shaped island within the lake. To access it, you must hike down the Cleetwood cove trail and take the ticketed boat cruise to land on the island. This attraction has been closed in 2021, 2022 and 2023 but we are hopeful that it will be back in operation in 2024. The boat dock has been rebuilt. The cost is usually less than $40 per person.
2024 Crater Lake Elopement Packages
I offer All inclusive Crater Lake elopement packages or photography & planning only options. There are no travel fees, download fees, watermarks or other hidden fees. These prices are valid for 2024.
2 Day elopements at Crater Lake National Park – $9900
1.5 Days of elopement photography – $7900
1 Full day adventure elopement at Crater Lake – $6900
Up to 4 hours elopement at Crater Lake – $5500 **Only available on select dates**
2024 Crater Lake Elopement Availability
**I have availability for one more couple’s Crater Lake National Park elopement on August 28th, 29th or 30th, 2024!**
Where to stay when visiting Crater Lake?
Where to stay near Crater Lake National Park is pretty easy! The park has a lodge right on the rim that should be your first choice for accommodation. But book early, as it does fill up! If the lodge isn’t available for your dates, browse my list of rad, unique, cozy and convenient nearby Airbnbs. There are A-frames, riverside cabins, and even a fire tower! Choosing an unforgettable place to stay will anchor your planning and give you a space to relax in that you LOVE!
Do I need an officiant to elope at Crater Lake?
Yes, Oregon requires an officiant to sign your marriage license to make your marriage legal. Additionally you will need two witnesses. Passersby, hikers, hotel clerks, or any living human 18 years or older can sign for you. I am ordained and I’ll happily officiate your elopement for you (Yes, while photographing it!)! This will help save money as professional officiants can cost $500 to $2500. Crater Lake is located in Klamath County, but you can obtain your marriage license in any Oregon County. Klamath Falls, Roseburg, and Bend have courthouses and are about equal distance from the park.
How long do we need for our Crater Lake Elopement?
I know you’ll be spending a full day just getting here – so you should spend at least one full day enjoying it! Your elopement ceremony itself probably won’t take very long, but you can and should embrace all the wonderful activities you can do together as newlyweds on your elopement day. If you’d like to be alone at the rim, start before dawn and wrap up at sunset! Not up for sunrise? You can stay out late to catch shooting stars.
Crater Lake National Park Elopement Sample Timeline
5:00 Getting ready at the lodge and traveling to the trailhead
6:00 Beginning a short hike to the ceremony spot
6:25 Sunrise – reveal your wedding day clothes and get married with friends there to cheer you on.
6:40 Portraits of you 2 – just married and on cloud 9!
7:30 Breakfast picnic set up by friends at the picnic tables
9:00 Get to Cleetwood Cove and hike down.
9:30 Boat tour of Wizard Island begins. Throw trail mix in each other’s mouths.
2:30 We’re back at the dock to disembark. You may want to take a cliff jump hand in hand into the crystal clear water.
3:15 Drive around the east rim, stop at any viewpoints that catch your eye.
4:00 Begin the hike to Plaikni falls. Exchange gifts & read some passages to each other that you’ve picked out.
5:30 We are hungry again. Perhaps your friends headed back to your accommodation to prepare dinner for you. Or they’re having a competitive chili cookout in a nearby campsite. Maybe we hire in a chef / food delivery service to make a hot meal for you. Or you’re in an Airbnb and cook dinner together like you do at home. Either way, you can all eat together. Maybe invite the friends to toast to you, or read letters to you or play video messages from loved ones who couldn’t be there.
9:30 Star photos at the rim!
How much does it cost to elope at Crater Lake?
You can really choose how much you’d like to spend to make your elopement perfect for you. Some folks want to make their elopement day their trip of a lifetime. If that’s you, be a bit more spendy on your accommodation and outfits. Cake, flowers, and beauty services are always optional. Feel free to opt the F out! This isn’t a performance, so you have complete freedom to only do what you want.
Crater Lake Elopement Budget
$60 Oregon Marriage License
$50 National Park Special Use Permit
$500 to $5000 Elopement garments and accessories
$600 to $2500 Your Accommodation for a few days
$5000 to $9000 A great Crater Lake elopement photographer & guide
$400 Optional Hair & makeup
$300 Food, drinks, snacks and cake
$500 to $2500 Professional officiant (optional)
=$6910 to $20,210
Can I bring my dog to Crater Lake?
The short answer is yes and no! Dogs and other pets are allowed in specific areas of the park, and prohibited in all other areas. You may bring your beloved to the campgrounds, picnic grounds and paved areas, as well as the following trails: The PCT, Godfrey Glen, Lady of the Woods, Annie Spur and Grayback Drive. You probably want to select a more dog friendly location if you are wanting your dog in attendance at your elopement.
What is there to see in Oregon?
Oregon is an AMAZING state to visit for your elopement. There are waterfalls around every corner. Incredible mountain hikes. The coastline is to die for, with offshore rocks, haystacks, and tons of sea life. Fossil beds, caves, colorful canyons, and towering rock spires can also be found within this diverse state. It’s mossy, it’s gorgeous, and it’s waiting for you! Visit my Where to Elope page for more inspiration!