Oregon’s diverse natural beauty includes many iconic landmarks to consider when planning an elopement. You’re certainly familiar with majestic Mount Hood, spectacular Crater Lake and the surreal Oregon Dunes… but have you heard about the Columbia River Gorge?
It’s a major geologic feature that defines a significant portion of the Pacific Northwest, yet not many folks think about it when they think of Oregon.
The Columbia River Gorge is, quite simply, perfect for couples eloping in Oregon. It has a variety of scenic landscapes to consider… something that will appeal to everyone’s taste and ascetics. Most are within easy driving distance.
How to Elope in the Columbia River Gorge
This article is meant to serve as both a guide and inspiration for your Columbia River Gorge elopement. Logistically, there are a few rules and regulations to be aware of while planning.
- No amplified music or loud noises
- Food trucks or vendors are not permitted
- The ceremony cannot block public access trails or roads
- Open flames (including candles) are not allowed
- Large decorations are prohibited
- Tossing rice or confetti or any kind (even biodegradable) is not permitted
- Camping and overnight stays are restricted to designated areas, of which there are plenty.
Much of the Columbia River Gorge is overseen by the US Forest Service, so the rules and regulations originate there. If your group size is 75 people or more (including your guests , your vendors and yourselves) you’ll need a special use permit.
Contact the US Forest Service on how to get a permit.
That said, 75 people, is inching out of ‘elopement’ territory, and you might consider booking a traditional wedding venue. Might I recommend the Griffin House?
Best Spots to Elope in the Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia is a BIG river. Winnowing down possible locales is no small feat. And since it also constitutes the border between two states, there are spots in both Oregon and Washington to consider. I’ve compiled lists of possible sites in both states to jumpstart your brainstorming.
Elopement Locations along the Oregon Side—
The iconic Latourell Falls, are the Beyoncé of the Gorge. A classic for a reason. It’s nature’s VIP section, and the short hike is the red carpet leading to your own special show. Best time? Spring, when the falls are flexing their full glory.
Bridal Veil Falls:
This spot is the hidden gem in a world of basic rock. Tucked away in the woods, Bridal Veil Falls is perfect if Mother Nature is your wingman. A moderate hike is a small price you pay for a ceremony beyond enchanting. Pro tip: Go in late spring for the wildflower extravaganza.
It’s the rockstar of waterfalls, but beware, it’s like finding a quiet moment at a concert. If crowds don’t concern you, and you want a brief ceremony, Multnomah Falls is your stage. Bonus: It’s a year-round spectacle, picturesque in any season/weather.
For those who want a low-key, calm riverside setting, Government Cove is a good choice. It’s the Gorge’s best-kept secret, like a hidden speakeasy but with more trees. Choose winter solitude or summer vibrancy, it’s your call. Cheers to that!
Take your love to new heights at Angel’s Rest. The hike is like a relationship – somewhat challenging but oh-so-rewarding. Late spring to early fall is the sweet spot. You’ll get stunning views, a sense of accomplishment, and major bragging rights in the outdoor community.
Vista House at Crown Point:
Vista House is like your classy aunt’s living room… with a view. It’s accessible year-round, combining old-school charm with Gorge grandeur. This venue is more traditional, and will add a bit of sophistication to your photos.
Wind in your hair, wildflowers at your feet – that’s Rowena Crest. It’s accessible year-round, but if you envision wildflowers as your natural wedding decor, visit in the spring. It’s like getting married in a botanical garden, but way cooler.
Feeling adventurous? Mount Defiance is like the Everest of the Gorge – challenging but worth the climb. Late spring to early fall is your window for epic views and a wedding day that’s literally on top of the world.
Deschutes River State Recreation Area:
If you’re all about that riverside vibe, consider Deschutes River State Recreation Area. Accessible all year, it’s a nature-themed spa day. The river sets the mood, and the seasonally changing foliage creates the color schemes.
Elopement Locations along the Washington side—
Climb a little, get a lot. Beacon Rock would definitely be included in a Gorge highlight reel. Accessible year-round, it’s a moderate hike resulting in major views. Pick spring or fall for temperate weather, and you’ve got a front-row seat to Gorge greatness.
For a wildflower extravaganza, Dog Mountain is your stage. Best in late spring, it’s literally a floral explosion – Instagram dreams do come true. It’s a mildly challenging hike, but the vibrant blooms are your reward. Say ‘I do’ surrounded by a sea of color!
Cape Horn is the Gorge’s way of saying, “Here, have it all.” It’s a choose-your-own-adventure book, with wooded trails, open bluffs and sweeping vistas. Accessible year-round, it’s particularly dramatic in late spring. The Columbia River adds the wow factor.
A carpet of wildflowers? Yes, please! Catherine Creek is nature’s runway show, particularly in the spring. Easy trail, vibrant blooms, and Gorge views – what more could you ask for in a wedding venue?
Columbia Hills State Park:
Columbia Hills State Park combines Washington’s wild beauty with a history lesson. Ancient petroglyphs add something very unique to your wedding backdrop. Accessible year-round, it’s a step back in time with some Gorge magic.
Known for stunning views and wildflowers, Coyote Wall is one of Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces. Best in late spring, it’s accessible via a variety of trails. The Gorge sprawls below, creating a memorable backdrop for both your wedding and your wedding album.
Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail:
Tucked away in nature’s back pocket, the Lyle Cherry Orchard Trail is a veritable secret garden. Best in spring, it’s an easy trail with a carefree orchard vibe. Imagine saying ‘I do’ surrounded by blossoms and the scent of nature.
There are no rules dictating that you limit yourselves to just one of these spots… the drive up the gorge is incredibly scenic, and a full day’s adventure could easily include several lovely spots, and a leisurely road trip exploring historic highway 30.
Might I suggest a stop at Latourelle Falls, vows at Angel’s Landing, followed by some celebratory wine-tasting in Hood River?
More Resources for Eloping in Oregon
Oregon is one of the nation’s very best elopement destinations, in my opinion…although I may be slightly biased! If you’re researching accommodations, check out this blog post about unique hotels and resorts along the Columbia River Gorge.
And if you’re not set on the Columbia River Gorge for you elopement, check out these articles for further inspiration:
Columbia River Gorge Elopement Photographer
Hey there 🙂 I’m Ginger, the photographer and owner at Tule Walks. Your local Oregon elopement expert, here to hold your hand through the planning process. I live in Bend, but I frequent the Columbia River Gorge for business and pleasure.
I’m all about curating your elopement day to fit your needs and your style. Obsessed with wandering through nature, authentic moments, and telling your story. If you’re looking for an Oregon Elopement Photographer to lead you and document your Columbia River Gorge elopement, whether it involves trekking miles to the perfect spot for vow exchanges, or chilling at a charming AirBnB for most of the day (while awaiting a golden hour session perhaps?) I’ve got you covered.
Oregon Elopement Packages & Pricing
When you are ready to hire an Oregon elopement photographer, I’d be honored to be considered.
I love all things ‘Oregon Elopement” and would be so excited to help you plan your magical day in this beautiful state, whether it’s at Smith Rock or some other awe inspiring elopement location (there are so many in Oregon).
Check out my pricing page for more information.