To elope in Oregon, you need a marriage license, at the cost of $50. It’s good for 60 days, and in most counties you are allowed to waive the 3 day waiting period for a small fee. Two witnesses and an officiant are required to sign the license (did I mention I’m also a licensed officiant if you’re just wanting to read vows and sign papers?). Based on “landscape traits”, I’ll help you select the best view. Whether that’s a mountain peak, or a gorgeous sandstone cliff overlooking the ocean. Let’s get started…
BEST PLACES TO ELOPE IN OREGON
I’ve lived here nearly all my life and boy, can I show you some of the best hidden gems that are out there.
The Oregon Coast
Best Time to Visit: Late May – September
October through March is dodgy when it comes to precipitation. From Fall to late Spring, rain and drizzle is prevalent (but don’t let that stop you if you’ve got your heart set on the coast!).
Landscape Traits: Rocky bluffs, sandstone, sand beaches, ocean-surrounded rock formations, waterfalls (yes, some beaches do have them!), lighthouses. My opinion on the Oregon Coast is this: it’s one of my favorite places. It’s not super crowded, there’s a variety of topography, you’ve got access to cute shops on boardwalks, there’s fun microbreweries aplenty, and it’s an hour and a half drive from I-5 at most. The awesome aspect about an elopement on the Oregon Coast is that no permit is required if you’re not setting up things like arbors or chairs. If you are, a permit is $50-100, depending on what you’re requesting. While you can’t prevent others from enjoying the beach at the same time as your ceremony, I’ve found that most tend to stay out of your way (and my photos).
Inside Info: You may have heard of a location or two along the coast. One that is super popular: Cannon Beach. My advice? Skip it. It’s popular, crowded, and parking can be problematic. There are so many other beaches that are more varying and less crowded. I’ve got some more info here.
Crater Lake National Park
Best Time to Visit: June – September
The north entrance is not open before late May and closes due to snow in late October. That means a majority of the scenic Rim Drive is not accessible to visitors from November to May.
Landscape Traits: Views of the caldera, pumice desert, Wizard Island, hiking trails, high elevation for stargazing. If you’re wanting epic views at sunrise or sunset and a unique elopement location, Crater Lake may be the place for you. Your elopement does require a permit and has some limitations on amplified music, etc., but overall it is completely worth it. I’ve written more about how to Elope at Crater Lake (click the link for more info!). Depending on how long you want to hike, I can recommend some amazing spots along the rim that ensure that the likelihood of being bothered during your ceremony is slim.
Inside Info: July or September is prime time to avoid most wildfires. Sunrise is also less busy than sunset! It also gets windy at the rim, especially in the afternoon, so bring a jacket even if you think you won’t need one!
Best Time to Visit: April – October
Depending on where you’re headed, some higher elevation waterfalls may have snow (like the North Umpqua or McKenzie River areas). In general, November through April is a rainy time of year for Oregon.
Location Traits: towering falls, granite cliffs, columnar basalt, algae/moss. There are waterfalls aplenty no matter where you look in Oregon. Do you want tall towering waterfalls, or rushing flowing rivers over boulders that fall a shorter distance? How long of a hike are you wanting to trek? Your biggest waterfall selections are going to be just outside of Portland along the Columbia Gorge, along the North Umpqua River (near me!), or along the McKenzie River.
Inside Info: The Columbia Gorge waterfalls get less snow than the other listed waterfall areas. The North Umpqua Highway is about a 45 minute drive further on to Crater Lake.
Best Time to Visit: Early April – October
Places in Eastern Oregon fall in a rain shadow, so while they may not get the precipitation like the Cascades, several inches of snowfall are possible in the high desert areas of Harney County and Lake County. Also, temperatures can regularly hover around freezing or below.
Location Traits: salt flats, colorful hills, far off mountains, dry lake beds. Lots of people think Oregon and images of rugged coastline, rain, and forests come to mind. But what most people don’t realize is half our state is high desert. On the eastern side of the Cascades, there are a variety of landscapes that are just as epic as the rainier portion of the state.
Inside Info:The Painted Hills needs a permit, and don’t discount places like Christmas Valley or the Alvord Desert. The drawback for some people, these locations are pretty far removed from civilization and have little in the way of shopping, convenience stores, etc.