ELOPE AT CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK: YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE
AS A LOCAL CRATER LAKE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER, I’VE GOT YOUR BACK WHEN IT COMES TO ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED NATIONAL PARKS IN THE COUNTRY.
Let me be the first one to tell you, if you’re debating on having an intimate wedding or want to elope at Crater Lake National Park, debate no more.
It’s a great option for simple and intimate adventure weddings or an elopement.
Located in the heart of the Southern Oregon Cascades, Crater Lake is a gorgeous choice for an adventure elopement or intimate wedding. Getting married at Crater Lake isn’t as hard as it may seem. Sure, you’ll need a special event permit, but it’s inexpensive, and if your wedding date is at least 6-8 weeks from now, you’re golden. I’ve spoken to the powers that be on behalf of your awesome self, so let me give you all the pertinent info:
Are you ready to elope your life?
Let’s create a day for you that’s wild, bold, and full of fun in a dramatic landscape!
Crater Lake WEDDING PERMITS
You need a permit. This totals a cost of $100. $50 to apply for the special wedding or elopement, and $50 for the actual permit once you’re approved. On the permit, you need to list first choices of locations and dates and allow 8 weeks for processing.
Pro Tip: The permit department at Crater Lake is notoriously slow. The permit department states that the permit is official once you sign it, return it, and then their officials sign it and return it back to you. It’s not uncommon to not hear back from them after you sign it and return it. In order to elope at Crater Lake through proper channels, please plan to file for a permit as early as possible.
Your ceremony/reception will be outdoors. Crater Lake does not supply or offer indoor accommodations for weddings or elopements. They have plenty of outdoor options, though, especially after late June/early July, when all the Rim Drives are typically open.
More Permit Info
Special Things to Consider
If you want to elope at Crater Lake, know that amplified music isn’t allowed, and that includes portable music like a boom box. Accoustic music is totally allowed though, if it doesn’t disturb other park visitors. That means you should definitely ask your guitar friend to gift you a serenade as their wedding present ;-). I also highly suggest giving Anastasia Allison of the Musical Moutaineers a call – she plays a mean violin and hiking to serenade the mountains at sunrise is her jam. They’re also on Instagram and Facebook.
In addition, throwing flowers, rice, balloons, or butterflies is not permitted to keep the integrity of the local ecosystem intact. Most of my brides and grooms understand and don’t usually plan on incorporating that stuff anyway for that particular reason (#leavenotrace, babes).
Also to note. Sunset is busier than sunrise, but sunrise is no less beautiful. While you can’t prevent other visitors from enjoying the park, most people will stay well out of the way of an ongoing ceremony. I personally prefer sunrise due to fewer people but also because you and Wizard Island are backlit.
Crater Lake doesn’t have to take up your entire day. Want to include local waterfalls and views just outside the park? Check out the link below:
IMPORTANT FACTS Regarding Crater Lake National Park
Entrance Fees – Cars are $10 in the winter (November 1-April 30), $20 in the summer (May 1-October 31). Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants. Good for up to 7 days.
Road Closures: The north entrance and rim drives open typically between May and July, depending on snowfall. Keep updated with current road conditions at https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.
WHEN TO ELOPE at Crater Lake National Park
If you want most, if not all of the rim to be free of snow, mid-late June will be your starting point for the year (the above image was taken June 21st and we still had to traverse snow fields to get to this spot). Before then, most of the rim isn’t open, and the first week/end the rim is fully open is reserved for non-motorized vehicles (Ride The Rim). Mid-late June until late September is the best time of year for decent weather and full access to the rim.
The North Entrance to Crater Lake closes down in the Autumn, but that doesn’t mean it’s inaccessible completely. When enough snowpack builds up, you’re able to rent snowmobiles and ride the north entrance road up to the first rim viewpoint! The best time to have a winter Crater Lake elopement will be in January and February when snowpack is high enough and there is a chance of sunnier/nicer weather (skies get tumultuous around seasonal changes, like the winter solstice). Bonus: Nearby lakes have gorgeous views of extinct stratovolcano Mt. Thielsen.
Weather: Even in July and August, the rim gets windy – particularly in the afternoon. When visiting in mid-June, I’ve seen the temp (with wind chill) drop down to the 30s, so it’s best to bring a jacket even if you think you won’t need one. The first snow of the fall/winter doesn’t typically happen until October, but September has seen snow on occasion. Mid-July and around that time also brings tons of mosquitoes.
Need lodging suggestions for lodging or locations around the park for the perfect ceremony spot? Check out my recommendations below:
Lodging is difficult around Crater Lake, because it’s slim pickings compared to places like the Oregon Coast. But here are the places I’d recommend checking out:
Crater Lake Lodge – This one fills up quickly, often a year in advance, but keep checking back for cancellations! There’s a restaurant in the lodge as well. It’s a great option for people who want to be right in the action, but still feel like they’re getting away from the hustle and bustle of life.
Cabins at Mazama Village – Not quite on the rim, but really close to all the action. These cabins are located at the west/south entrance.
Diamond Lake Resort – About 15 minutes away from the north entrance of the park is the Diamond Lake Resort. There are several lake-related activities to do and equipment to rent. There are also a handful of campgrounds lining the lake. Every year they put on a fireworks show for the 4th of July.
Lemolo Lake Resort – Another 15 or so minutes north of Diamond Lake is the Lemolo Lake Resort. These are no-frills lodgings, but there are some cute a-frame vintage cabins available.
Steamboat Inn – About 45 minutes from the North Entrance along the gorgeous and waterfall-filled North Umpqua Highway is the Steamboat Inn. They’re right along the river and have a lovely little restaurant. Be aware that there is no WiFi or cell service here. It’s very much about disconnecting and relaxing.
YOUR CRATER LAKE ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHER
Heyoo! I’m Sam, and if you’re looking for a Crater Lake elopement photographer, the search is over.
I’ve lived essentially a stone’s throw from Crater Lake for most of my life, and know all the best spots for your ceremony and couples portraits.
I’m here to not only capture your memories, but help out with planning, location permitting assistance, and alllll that fun stuff.
With me at your side, your Crater Lake elopement is guaranteed to be an epic adventure, filled with new places, fun times, and lots of great views.