YOUR Guide from a Local

Take it from a local, once you experience eloping in Crater Lake, you’ll be on a whole new level of badassery.

Digging the resources? You ain’t seen nothing yet…

As a local photographer to Crater Lake, let’s make sure your elopement day includes all the area has to offer!

sam@samstarns.com @samstarns

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.

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. But submit your permit application ASAP, because that’s always a slow process! Scroll down to read the most important info on how to elope at Crater Lake…

Crater Lake Wedding Permits

Total Crater Lake Permit Cost: $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.

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

Prohibited Items

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.

Other Prohibited Ceremony Items at Crater Lake:

  • Throwing flowers
  • Throwing Rice
  • Releasing Balloons
  • Releasing Butterflies

This is 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).

Sunset vs. Sunrise

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.

vintage solstice crater lake elopement
smokey Crater Lake elopement
Golden Hour-ish
Oregon Crater Lake elopement

Crater Lake doesn’t have to take up your entire Elopement day

Want to include local waterfalls and views just outside the park? Check out the link below:

Entrance Fees

Private vehicles are $20 in the winter (November 1-May 21st as of 2024), $30 in the summer (May 22-October 31). Admits one private, non-commercial vehicle (15 passenger capacity or less) and all occupants. Good for up to 7 days. As of January 2023, the fee station no longer accepts cash.

2024 Free Entrance Days in the National Parks

The following dates are entrance fee-free, though keep in mind that means a busier park! I’d avoid these days, especially ones that land on weekends.

Some other busy dates to keep in mind: Fourth of July Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, and Labor Day Weekend.

Road Closures at Crater Lake National Park

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 often reserved for non-motorized vehicles. Late June until late September is the best time of year for decent weather and a good chance at full access to the rim (though keep in mind in September, Ride The Rim causes closures).

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.

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Crater Lake Weather

smokey Crater Lake elopement

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.

Keep in mind that around August and early September, the Cascades see wildfires. In the past, access via roads like Highway 138 have been closed or limited. This also means visibility is limited. The image above/left was during this season – as you can see, Wizard Island is very hazy in the background.

Lodging at Crater Lake

Need lodging suggestions for lodging or locations around the park for the perfect ceremony spot? Check out my recommendations below:

CLICK FOR My Airbnb Recommendations

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.


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.

Your Crater Lake elopement is guaranteed to be an epic adventure, filled with new places, fun times, and lots of great views.