The Best Oregon Waterfall Elopement Locations | Sam Starns Elopements

There’s just something alluring about waterfalls, and it’s no wonder that people enjoy them all over the world. Plus, Oregon’s falls can make the perfect backdrop for your elopement. The Beaver State is filled with stunning stand-alone options and parks with several to choose from. As a born and raised Oregonian, here are some of my absolute favorite locations to have an Oregon waterfall elopement (and some that are popular that I recommend against).

The Waterfalls of Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is absolutely filled with gorgeous waterfalls for eloping. Multnomah Falls is one of the most famous in Oregon. However, the park has 26 falls—some more popular than others—with drops ranging in height from 30 to 620 feet. The Columbia River Gorge runs along the state lines to separate Washington and Oregon.

  • Multnomah Falls – The highest of the falls, Multnomah is 620 feet tall and is accessible by vehicle. It has two different drops with a bridge going across. However, as an Oregon elopement photographer familiar with the area, I would say that Multnomah is beautiful to visit, but it isn’t ideal for a wedding. Yes, I know it’s quintessential and what comes to mind when you think of Oregon, but it’s always crowded, which means that it’s impossible to get images free from people. You also need a Portland photography permit to photograph there, so in short—it’s fabulous for hiking or a visit, but there are so many other gorgeous falls to discover.
  • Latourell Falls (link) – At 249 feet, Latrouell isn’t even half as tall as Multnomah Falls but is my favorite waterfall because it’s beautiful and easily reachable by hiking or car.
  • Wahkeena Falls – This set has two hiking trails, which allows us to sneak away and capture images after exploring the 242-foot falls.
  • Wahclella Falls (above) Wahclella has a bit less traffic than the other areas. The final falls are 70 feet tall with a beautiful splash pool, where we can capture interesting reflective images.

The Waterfalls of Umpqua National Forest

My stomping grounds. The Umpqua. Umpqua National Forest is located in central Oregon and offers a unique waterfall collection. It’s my favorite area for an Oregon waterfall elopement. I know it like the back of my hand and whether you want to focus on one set of falls or hike around and hit a few, it’s a gorgeous place to have your elopement. Hot springs are also peppered throughout the forest, making for unique images. Although I’m listing popular waterfalls, talk to me about what you want. Honestly, there are three times as many waterfalls along the highway that are only known to locals, and we like to keep these lesser gems to ourselves because of lack of infrastructure and Leave No Trace principles. If you let me know what you’re looking for, we can find more private falls to fit. 

  • Lemolo Falls (link) – These beautiful central Oregon falls offer a 150-foot drop. However, these waterfalls are best left for hiking instead of an elopement, as they can be challenging to navigate.
  • Toketee Falls – As one of Oregon’s most famous falls, Toketee is an easy hike and has unique basalt formations. Most of the photos you see of this waterfall are from the pool’s base, which requires the photographer to go past the observation point (a no-no). It’s down a very steep cliffside, and several people have been injured or even died there. So, in short, Toketee is beautiful and easy to get to—which makes it popular and busy—but I am not going off the trail into dangerous (and now closed off) territory to capture images (sorry not sorry!). Plus, heading into closed-off areas doesn’t abide by the concept of leaving no trace. 
  • Trestle Creek Falls (link) – This waterfall you’re able to walk behind/underneath! It’s one of my favorites, though it does require a hike and some elevation gain. But is it worth it? Oh yeah! While this is technically in the Umpqua National Forest, it is more easily accessed out of Cottage Grove and Dorena (farther north than Highway 138 – where most of the North Umpqua beauty is found).
Watson Falls, Oregon waterfall elopement
  • Watson Falls (above image) – The trailhead for these 293-foot falls has plenty of parking and is accessible by a 0.4-mile trail. I highly recommend these as they are tall and you can go up to the base of the falls. But be prepared – the height of the falls means lots of spray at the bottom!
  • Susan Creek Falls – If moss-covered rocks under 50-foot falls sound amazing (they are!), then the ones at Susan Creek are worth considering. Unfortunately, as of September 2020, wildfires ravaged the area around the falls. Essentially it’s burnt to a crisp, and views of water and dirt won’t make for ideal elopement photos.
  • Fall Creek Falls – You can walk right up to this waterfall, and along the 1/2m trail you squeeze between basalt formations as if you’re entering another world. Unfortunately, this trail was also ravaged by the Archie Creek Fire in 2020 and is closed until further notice.
  • Whitehorse Falls – Although it’s popular, these stunning Oregon falls are a mere 14 feet in height and plunge into a large pool. 
  • Clearwater Falls (below image) – These 30-foot waterfalls are in the middle of a beautiful forest of Douglas Fir. It’s an easy hike (if you could call it that) and is an impressive cascade of falls.
Clearwater Falls Oregon waterfall elopement

The Waterfalls of Willamette National Forest

Willamette National Forest is about 30 minutes west of Bend, Oregon. Many of the waterfalls are easily reached by vehicle, while others require a hike within the park (which means a bit more privacy, too!).

  • Proxy Falls (link) – These are a pair of gorgeous waterfalls, and you go through lava fields to reach them. It’s also near Dee Wright Observation Area, which kisses the Pacific Crest Trail and gives you a view of a lava field that spans for miles. Highly recommend!
  • Tamanawas Falls – Falling from a 150-foot cliff of lava, this area several minor falls on the way up, making for worthy photo ops. 
  • Salt Creek Falls – This waterfall has a 280-foot drop that is viewable from a boardwalk. Although this seems perfect for photos, adventure photographers like me like to avoid anything that is manmade. Plus, a boardwalk means that it’s popular, and crowds are less than ideal with an elopement.

Other Places for an Oregon Waterfall Elopement

If you prefer to explore a different part of the state, this Oregon elopement photographer has got you covered. Take a peek at the variety of waterfalls in other areas below.

Oregon adventure elopement near a waterfall
  • Ramona Falls – Located in Mount Hood National Forest, Ramona Falls is a 120-foot row of cascading waterfalls, which is quite impressive in person.
  • South Falls – This 177-foot waterfall is in the Silver Falls State Park, and the water is also viewable from behind. 
  • Abiqua Falls – Also located in Silver Falls State Park, Abiqua is 180 feet tall and requires a hike or 4-wheel drive to get to. But it’s well worth it! Unfortunately, in 2020, wildfires ravaged most of the Cascades, and Abiqua Falls was affected as well until further notice.
  • Tumalo Falls (above image) – These 97-foot high Oregon falls are located near Bend in the Deschutes National Forest. Although they are a bit busy, the surrounding area is lovely with the red rock and red dirt. This location doesn’t suit many guests though, as there isn’t a lot of room for a group to stand.

As you can see, Oregon has an incredible variety of waterfalls, so we can most certainly find the type you are looking for. Another plus is that you aren’t limited to just one! With a local—hint, me!—as your Oregon elopement photographer, we can explore several waterfalls during our time together. We can always head to some of the lesser-known falls to capture truly unique images. Whether we concentrate on one set of falls or include several, an Oregan waterfall elopement is always exceptionally gorgeous.

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