Marcela Pulido is a Portland Oregon wedding photographer capturing the candid, emotional, and playful moments of your wedding day. Serving the Pacific Northwest and the surrounding areas, and available for travel worldwide. You deserve damn good photos.
They don’t say “Northwest is Best” for no reason! Here’s the Top 10 Places to Elope in Oregon as written by me, Marcela Pulido Photography!
This is your ultimate guide to eloping in Oregon and how to do it!
Oregon is magic.
Which location will you choose?
The Pacific Northwest has so much to offer; in a single day you can from from the mountain to the city and head straight to the coast! There’s not a lot of places in the world that offer such diversity when it comes to landscape. Which makes sense why people travel not just from around the country but from all over the world to elope and get married in the Northwest! If you don’t know where to start, then don’t worry. I gotchu!
When is the best time to elope in Oregon?
Portland is well-known for being rainy and having those moody vibes, but let’s not forget that summers in the Pacific Northwest are the best-kept secret that the states has to offer! You can elope any time of the year in Oregon but it’s good to have an idea of what you’re getting yourself into;
If you time it right you can expect to see the cherry blossoms or the wildflowers start to bloom! This is a great time to elope in meadows and with mountains, with the snowcapped views. Let’s not forget this is the absolute best time to capture the waterfalls! All the snowmelt makes the waterfalls extra strong during this time of year. In March there’s a good chance you can expect to see some remaining snow too.
Months: March through May
Summer is the best time to visit the Gorge and do some hiking elopements! The lush greenery and waterfalls offer epic landscapes for those moody vibes. Or we can head up to the lakes for some views of the mountain! Anywhere is game this time of year.
Months: June through August
When the air turns crisp and the leaves start turning, you know Halloween is right around the corner! Early October is ideal to get the orange leaves or to head to the pumpkin patches. I love heading to the Gorge this time of the year and catch a sunset with some beautiful views!
Months: October and sometimes November
This is when I get a lot of out-of-towners coming to Oregon to elope and there’s one thing I always need to make clear; this is the rainy season! Make sure you come prepared with a proper raincoat, layers, and boots. I’m all about the moody vibes and making it work though but first and foremost your comfort is a priority! This is the perfect time of the year to head up the mountain and get some snowcapped mountain views and play in the snow for a fun elopement or engagement session!
Months: November through March
Now on to what you’re really looking for…
The Top 10 Places to Elope in Oregon
1. Mt Hood
Mt. Hood is actually a 11,250′ tall potentially active volcano about 50 miles southeast of Portland. But don’t let that scare you, the towering volcanic mountain is a local favorite for skiing, climbing, hiking and more! There’s a wealth of incredible areas all around the perimeter and base of the mountain that offers some truly stunning views of the yearly snow-capped views.
Driving time from Portland: 1 hour
Where to stay: There’s a handful of resorts to stay at on the mountain itself or check out some AirBnB’s in the Government Cove area!
The subalpine lakes offer optimal views of the mountain with a reflection. The surrounding forests offer some great diversity in landscape too!
2. Crater Lake
Crater Lake is the deepest lake in America at 1,943 feet! This lake is unbelievably clear and blue thanks to the water coming directly from rain or snow. Crater Lake is also known for being one of the snowiest places in the USA and gets 43 feet of snow each year! Which means that it’s harder to access in the Winter (from November to April) with many if not all of the roads being closed for the season. Your best bet is to plan from May to June, and you’ll likely still see snow then too!
Driving time from Portland: 4 hours
Where to stay: Check out AirBnb for some spots to stay nearby!
3. Waterfall Area
Everyone knows that Oregon has the best waterfalls to choose from, I mean look for yourself! According to Wikipedia, there are over 238 waterfalls all over the state! Some of the most photogenic and well-known ones happen to be right in the Columbia River Gorge, making it super accessible coming in from Portland.
Driving time from Portland: 1 hour
Where to stay: You have a few options here, you can stay in Portland and drive an hour to the waterfall area or there’s also Cascade Locks or Hood River a little further to the East and closer to the Gorge.
Pro tip! Midweek elopements tend to work best for the well-known areas to have less foot traffic around. But better yet, arriving sometime during the day or in the morning works best to beat the crowds and have the place entirely to yourself.
4. Cannon Beach
You may know Haystack Rock, one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks! Cannon Beach is the closest to Portland, at about 1 – 1.5 hour drive. Come during the summer to bask in the sun or come in Autumn if you’re into the more rainy, stormy, moody vibes. Look into an Airbnb to stay at nearby to complete the experience.
Driving time from Portland: 1 – 1.5 hour drive
Where to stay: Cannon Beach has a lovely little town with some lodging or AirBnB options nearby!
5. Smith Rock
Everyone knows the rainy and forest views of Oregon, but let’s not forget about the desert! Head down to Central Oregon and Bend and you’ll see a completely different landscape waiting for you. Bend is known for getting 300 days of sun out of the year! Smith Rock is a favorite for climbers and hikers alike.
Driving time from Portland: 3 hours
Where to stay: It’s a lot easier to fly into Bend, OR and drive out to Smith Rock than to do so from Portland! You can find plenty of lodging in Bend or use AirBnb, you can even camp nearby if that’s more of your vibe!
Pro Tip! Stay a little later for a night session to capture the beautiful stars like you only can in a place with little to no cloud cover!
6. Oregon Redwoods
The Oregon Redwoods trail on the South Coast is the only place in Oregon that you’ll find soaring redwood trees! Sumer is the best time to visit to enjoy the surf and sad and soak in all the wonders. Samuel H. Boardman Corridor is a must-see for an incredible elopement spot!
Driving time from Portland: 6 hours
Where to stay: Find lodging in Brookings!
7. Cape Kiwanda
The Oregon coastline has some of the most beautiful and scenic views that you can imagine. Head down towards Lincoln City and Cape Kiwanda will take your breath away. In a single location you get sandstone cliffs with ocean views, a gorgeous beach, and a sand dune!
Driving time from Portland: 2 hours
Where to stay: Pacific City or Lincoln City
8. Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River divides Oregon from Washington. Just a short drive from Portland and you’re there! Where else can you get epic views, waterfalls, and a river all in one? It has some of the most iconic sceneries in Oregon that you can imagine to elope in Oregon.
Driving time from Portland: 45 minutes – 1 hour
Where to stay: Portland, Cascade Locks, or Hood River
Pro tip! Make sure you get the Northwest Forest Parking Permit so that’s one less thing to worry about on your big day!
9. Alvord Desert
Another incredible desert landscape that Oregon has to offer! The desolate landscape is unlike anything you’ve seen before. The flat surface of the desert is flanked by mountains towering 5,000 feet above and to the West. Another advantage of being out here is heading to the hot springs for a relaxing soak. Deserts are always optimal spots for stargazing, so camp out for the night and make sure you wake up early enough to catch the sunrise like never before.
Pro tip! The winters can get very cold and the summers very hot, Spring or Autumn would be the best times to visit.
Driving time from Portland: 7 hours
Where to stay: Camp on the salt plats! If you’re not into camping, you can stay at the hotels in Burns, the rustic Frenchglen Motel in Fields, or at the bunkhouses offered by the folks who run Alvord Hot Springs.
10. The Painted Hills
Known as one of the 7 Wonders of Oregon and with good reason, the Painted Hills are a stunning vista tones and hues painted onto the hillside. The red colored dirt will make you feel like you’re on an entirely other planet and is an incredible place to consider as you elope in Oregon.
Driving time from Portland: 4 hours
Where to stay: The closest place to stay is still an hour drive away in Prineville, but you’ll be able to find grocery stores and restaurants there too. You can’t camp in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument units but you can find free disperesed camping just outside the Painted Hills before getting back on the US-26 or campgrounds in the Ochoco National Forest nearby.