On this post, I’ll be covering the best places to elope in the US (United States) for an adventure wedding and phenomenal photos. While there are many nuances to this topic, the main contributing factors to each location will include scenery, lodging options, activities & accessibility.
After co-creating, photographing and experiencing adventurous weddings and elopements as a full time job for 4 years, there are a few key components that have become very clear. Every couple I work with is unique, but they tend to need these few things the most…
In the wedding industry, Washington state is primarily known for it’s forests, mountain and ocean views. With stunning landscapes from the central cascades to the rocky coast lines of Olympic National Park, including waterfalls and alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, it’s really turning into an adventure elopement destination.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is the only major airport in the state, but it’s centrally located outside of Seattle and is only a couple of hours from each of the national parks. With small towns and some small cities spread throughout the state, it’s easy for couples to find the vendors they need.
If you want to make the most of your time in Washington, I always suggest a day after session. Molly & Ryan were able to make it work, so they got alpine lakes, forests, mountains, and the coast!
Oregon and Washington are so similar that I consider Oregon to be my second home! They have such very similar landscapes, with added emphasis on waterfalls and an incredible coast line. Eastern Oregon also features high desert landscapes, which creates an even larger variety of scenery. The largest major city in Oregon is Portland, located an hour or so from the coast and the Columbia River Gorge.
Want to know how to elope on the Oregon coast? Check this out!
While California is certainly known for its palm trees and sandy beaches, it also offers almost every other landscape you could want! There are major airports and cities throughout the entire state, and due to it’s popularity – there’s a large amount of wedding vendors to choose from. There’s the Redwoods in the north, San Francisco and Big Sur, Yosemite and Joshua tree – and that’s just scratching the surface of what’s possible. California is easily one of the best places to elope.
Montana is known for it’s massive mountains and wildlife. Glacier National Park is a fantastic place to elope. There’s an airport and a major city 30 minutes from the park, making the park easy to get to and providing a variety of lodging options. There’s a ton of hiking and sightseeing, along with biking, kayaking, and other outdoor sports!
Utah is one of my personal favorite places for couples to elope. My fiancé and my friends and I went on a road trip through most of Utah in the fall of 2022. As soon as we got to Moab, I understood why Utah was such a special place. The red canyons, boulders and structures are jaw dropping!
Similar to Southern Utah, Arizona makes the list because of it’s stunning, high desert landscapes! There’s Sedona, Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Lake Powell, and a lot more. You can apply for your marriage license online or in person, making the legal aspect pretty easy.
The southwest in general is an amazing place to visit! There’s helicopter tours, hiking through slot canyons, mountain biking and so much more. Because Utah & Arizona are such beautiful places with so many activities, they easily make the list of best places to elope.
With consistently warm weather, beautiful tropic views, and a laid back culture – Hawaii is another great place for an elopement or destination wedding! There’s mountains, beaches, and tons of amazing food. Since the state is so accustomed to people eloping there, it makes finding vendors and traveling around fairly easy.
Glaciers, mountains, forests, rivers, dramatic coastline and wildlife galore! Alaska is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Although Alaska is remote, it does have several airports you can fly to. Given how far north Alaska is, peak tourism is in the summer months between May and September.
Fortunately, it’s easy to elope just about anywhere in the United States! The easiest state to elope in is Colorado though, mostly because it’s a state that allows self-solemnization; meaning you don’t need an officiant/witnesses. You can bring in your ID’s along with the proper marriage license forms to the county clerk.
If you want to check out more about the legal side of self-solemnizing or performing your own marriage, check out the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment website here!
Denver is an incredibly progressive and cool city, just outside of the Rocky Mountains. Given it’s proximity to the park, eloping here is a great choice!
Typically with adventure elopements, one of the most expensive line items can be travel cost. In order to keep that down, the cheapest states to elope in will be the ones that are closest to home. Road tripping can also help keep travel costs down, and provide a lot of flexibility with location selection. In order to keep things really affordable, you can skip the cost of a venue and elope in the natural beauty of one of the following states;
Hawaii & Alaska are also incredibly gorgeous, but typically flights are just a little more expensive.
Eloping on public land(national parks & forests, state parks, etc.) in a beautiful state means you can get gorgeous photos and save money on a venue. Permit costs for eloping in one of these places is typically under $500.
Most couples inquire with me before they have decided to elope, so I’ve seen a lot of couples go through the decision making process. One of the easiest things you can immediately do is the process of elimination. Revisit all of the places you’ve considered, and cross out any that you know won’t work. Afterwards, you can compare the remaining places to your priorities, needs and budget as a couple. Then, you’ll have a very clear picture of which location(s) will be right for you.
For all of my eloping couples, I provide location lists tailored to their unique needs. Included are the names of trails, beaches, or other ceremony locations. Additionally, if there’s a hike involved I include distance and elevation gain. This allows my couples to confidently decide the exact right place to elope!
Thinking about where to elope and want some help? Fill out my contact form and let’s chat!