What to Know if You Want to Elope on the Oregon Coast at Secret Beach or Natural Bridges
Elope on the Oregon Coast at Secret Beach or Natural Bridges
So you wanna elope on the Oregon coast at Secret Beach or Natural Bridges. I mean, who wouldn’t? Just search #secretbeachoregon on Instagram, and you’ll be tempted, too. Of course, social media is a fabulous way to research elopement destinations. It also means that once secluded areas now beckon people from all over.
Even if you type “southern Oregon coast elopements” into Google, you’ll see stunning images of Natural Bridges and Secret Beach—which was actually a secret beach until a few years ago. Let me give you fair warning that it isn’t a secret anymore. Although it’s worthy and stunning and makes for gorgeous elopement images, there is more to it than you see on social media. What you don’t see are the crowds of people and what’s involved in getting to those locations.
Secret Beach, Oregon Coast
Due to social media geotagging, what was once a secluded area has become a highlight for travelers. What you don’t see is how tiny the beach is. Also, the parking lot is a small (for 8 cars max) pullout that needs a vehicle with high clearance unless the lot has been freshly graded. There is also no sign designating the parking area. Because of increased traffic and overflow, people are now parking across Highway 101.
Once you do get on the beach, people like to spread out and have their own space, making finding a secluded elopement spot almost impossible. It is a short walk from the parking area to Secret Beach, but the hike back up is steep and tiring. Unfortunately, that fact sneaks up on couples, and most folks need to take breaks as they head back up.
The trail has also faced increased erosion from traffic. This beach is not advisable to anyone with mobility issues (hip replacements, instability, etc.).
Natural Bridges, Oregon Coast
Natural Bridges is another beautiful spot that offers unique views and natural formations. However, when you see photos, they most likely aren’t taken from the viewing platform. Most of the stellar images are from a lower vantage point, which is quite an effort to reach.
When I go there with couples, it requires hiking down a very steep social trail (a trail formed because so many people walk that way – not often a good thing) to get to the rock outcropping. If you’re afraid of heights or don’t have sure footing, I wouldn’t advise doing this. Essentially, you have to hold on to trees to avoid slipping. Truthfully, it’s steeper than a cow’s face—and then there are the crowds. Also, the trail is legit dangerous, when it’s wet, so it’s not advisable in winter or rain because of the steep drop-off.
***2022 NATURAL BRIDGES UPDATE: Due to increased erosion and more recent falls/deaths, there are now “DO NOT ENTER” signs before the steep trail descent. I’ve already thoroughly vetted couples that I take down there (and limited the ones I do take), but due to these recent events, I (along with many other responsible adventure elopement photographers) will no longer be photographing or taking couples to Natural Bridges.***
Other Options to Consider on the Oregon Coast
Not only are Secret Beach and Natural Bridges popular, but there are a lot of things to consider. Many people come to the Oregon coast and want a secret, private, beautiful elopement with no one else there. If those are your goals, it is possible in other locations.
However, if you simply must head to Secret Beach or Natural Bridges, sunrise is a gorgeous time to go. There are fewer people, and the light is absolutely perfect. As with any area, the busiest times are the weekend and the three hours leading up to sunset. Also, if there is any natural phenomenon, such as a new moon or visible planet, these areas tend to get crowded.
If you are open to considering other options, there are several areas on the southern Oregon coast along the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. Just north are Gold Beach and Port Orford that are equally as gorgeous and less popular.
Additionally, hire an elopement photographer that is a native Oregonian like me. I regularly travel the south coast and have a list of fabulous locations for elopements. I’m also aware of the stats of specific spots and know which ones are crowded and what times are best to head to certain areas.
If you want to include sea arches in your elopement, I recommend booking a kayak or SUP tour. That may sound odd, but it’s a fabulous way to explore the coast without the caveat of overcrowding. The company I deal with welcomes diversity and is conscious of the outdoors. A big bonus is that they can take couples to places with no land access and organize overnight tours.
Elope With Me on the Oregon Coast
If you want to elope on the southern Oregon coast, do the dang thing! Let’s create an awesome day. Just be more open-minded and don’t have your heart set on those locations. At the very least, be aware.
I always say that “forewarned is forearmed” because the last thing I want is for you to be insistent on going to those places while wanting seclusion. Unfortunately, there is a high chance that you may be disappointed. Although Secret Beach and Natural Bridges are stunning, they won’t give you those secluded images that are all over social media.
So, let’s plan the beautiful, coastal Oregon elopement you and your partner envision. Then, let’s make your wedding day images the ones everyone looks to for inspiration.