Lake Crescent Weddings, Olympic Peninsula Weddings, Weddings

The Ultimate 2024 Guide to Your Lake Crescent Wedding or Elopement in Olympic National Park

Bride and groom walking on a dock at Lake Crescent

The Ultimate 2024 Guide to Your Lake Crescent Wedding or Elopement in Olympic National Park by Adrien Craven Photography

If you’re reading this 2024 guide to Lake Crescent Weddings and Elopements, I hope you’re ready for all the info on getting married or having an elopement at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park! If you aren’t already familiar with Lake Crescent, prepare to be amazed by this breathtaking sapphire lake located in remote Northwest Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula.

Due to lack of nitrogen, which limits the growth of phytoplankton, the water of the lake stays stunningly clear. The depth of Lake Crescent was only fully mapped in 2013 and 2014, when a bathymetric survey showed the deepest point to be 596 feet, despite erroneous reports from the mid-1900s and late 1800s that the lake was over 1000 ft deep. 

Why you need to consider Lake Crescent for your Olympic National Park wedding or elopement!

There’s truly no place on earth like Lake Crescent! With stunning bright blue water that is fed by glacial mountain streams (that’s why they’re so cold!) and surrounded by sheer, forested mountains, Lake Crescent is a wedding and elopement destination like no other. Located in the northern foothills of the Olympic Mountains within Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent is nonetheless accessible by Highway 101 without an entrance fee.

Lake Crescent was formed when an ancient landslide divided the original body of water that once comprised both Lake Crescent and its smaller eastern neighbor, Lake Sutherland. I’ll touch on Lake Sutherland in a bit — its located right outside the National Park boundaries and is a great option for nearby lodging — but first let’s talk about the spectacular destination that is Lake Crescent!

Where is Lake Crescent and why should you get married there?

Lake Crescent is 22 miles west of the city of Port Angeles in Northwest Washington State, on the Olympic Peninsula. Port Angeles is the main gateway for Olympic National Park, an international destination for destination weddings and adventure elopements! The spectacular scenery and the sheer variety of Olympic make it an incredible place to visit and get married. 

The closest town to Lake Crescent is Port Angeles, which is 22 Miles to the east. The closest major city is Seattle, which is 105 miles and about 3 hours of driving to the southeast. And the closest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma (SEA, or “SeaTac” to the locals). You could also fly into Portland OR and drive north, which would take about 4 hours. 

North Olympic Peninsula Route

If you’re traveling to a Lake Crescent wedding or elopement from outside of Washington state, you’ll likely fly into Seattle-Tacoma International airport, which is 148 miles to the southeast. The trip from SeaTac can be accomplished through a variety of methods of transportation— my favorite option is taking the ferry from downtown Seattle across the Puget Sound! The views from the ferry are just incredible, and in my humble opinion, you won’t get the full “Washington” experience without a ferry ride.

After you disembark the ferry on Bainbridge Island, you’ll drive another couple hours to reach Lake Crescent. The route will then take you north from Bainbridge Island via the Kitsap Peninsula, across the Hood Canal Bridge, and then west through the towns of Sequim and Port Angeles. Port Angeles is the best place to stop for groceries, restaurants, and any last minute items! Don’t forget to fill up on gas — there is a gas station between Port Angeles and Lake Crescent at Shadow Mountain, but take it from a local and fill up in PA.

Olympia to the Ocean Coast Route

The other option is take Highway 101 west from Olympia, Washington, and travel northwards up the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. This route is also incredibly scenic; if you want to visit the ocean beaches and the Hoh rainforest en route to Lake Crescent. There are fewer amenities along the way; the best place for gas, food, and supplies is the tiny town of Forks (yes, that Forks). 

The Best Lake Crescent Wedding Venues (20+ people)

Lake Crescent Lodge

The historic Lake Crescent Lodge is situated at Barnes Cove, midway along the southern shore of Lake Crescent. The lodge faces west, towards the setting sun, overlooking the western portion of the lake. Lake Crescent Lodge features a restaurant, guest rooms, and quaint cabins spread out along the lakeshore. Lake Crescent Lodge is idea for weddings with a larger guest count and those traveling from out of state as it offers ample accommodations, parking, a restaurant, pet-friendly rooms, and a seasonal reception tent on the expansive lawn, as well as other amenities and facilities for larger groups. You can even rent canoes and paddle boards to explore the lake during the summer season!

The Lodge property also features a secluded lakefront ceremony site called the “Moments in Time” meadow, which is available May-September. Surrounded by lush forest on three sides, the meadow is an intimate and secluded place for a wedding ceremony, while still being easily accessible from the main Lodge property. 

Lake Crescent Lodge is also ideal for intimate weddings and elopements; you can stay overnight in a historic lodge cabin, wake up and get read, and just walk outside to the lakeshore to say your vows to one another, whether you’re having a private elopement or a micro-ceremony, ! You can explore the trails and beaches around the Lodge, and if you want to venture somewhere else for more scenic locations there are ocean beaches and mountain trails within an hour’s drive. 


NatureBridge Olympic is a summer camp and environmental education organization; the parent company has sites that provide events and training throughout the United States. The Olympic National Park location is situated on the southern shore of the lake at Barnes Point, just east of Lake Crescent Lodge. The property features the historic Rosemary Cottage, which hosted President Theodore Roosevelt on his historic tour of the west. Scattered across the property are a dozen or so quaint cabins that are available to wedding guests for two nights during a wedding weekend.

The unique thing about NatureBridge is that you can rent out the property for multiple days; your guests can arrive on Friday evening for a welcome dinner, campfire and s’mores, and settle into the cozy cabins. Saturday begins with breakfast in Rosemary Cottage; then guests can enjoy canoeing, hiking, and even swimming in the warmer months while you get ready for your lakeside wedding ceremony in the afternoon! After the reception winds down, guests head back to their cabins — no driving necessary! Sunday offers brunch and a relaxed atmosphere to leisurely depart the property; you could even squeeze in a final hike, or visit Lake Crescent Lodge for lunch at their restaurant before you hit the road. 

Camp David Jr. 

Camp David Junior is operated by the Clallam County Parks Department. The historic camp is used for events and summer camps from April 15 to October 15. If you’re envisioning a summer-camp style wedding where all your guests can stay on-site in cozy camp cabins, this would be a great option! The site also includes a commercial kitchen, a main lodge with wrap-around decks, and trails throughout the sloping, 9-acre property. There is a cabin on the lakeshore that can be rented separately for smaller events. The views of Lake Crescent and the surrounding forest  from the decks of the lodge are unparalleled.

Log Cabin Resort & Campground 

The Log Cabin Resort & Campground is located on the northeast shore of Lake Crescent. The resort offers both cabins, full-hookup RV sites, and a variety of tent camping sites if you’re envisioning a camping wedding! You can even bring up to two dogs at your campsite; each site has fire rings and picnic tables as well.

If you prefer to stay indoors, the Lodge offers kitchenette and non-kitchenette cabins,  a-frame lakeside chalets, and comfortable lodge rooms as well. Guests can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, as well as hiking, biking, and fishing around the lodge property. The lawns by the lakeshore would make a lovely spot for an intimate Lake Crescent wedding ceremony or elopement!

Bride and groom walking away from water in front of mountain forest.

The Best Lake Crescent Elopement Locations 

Marymere Falls Trailhead & Storm King Ranger Station

If you’ve seen the iconic cabin-in-the-woods located in Olympic National Park on instagram or other social media, chances are it’s the Storm King Ranger Station at Barnes Point. The Ranger Station is usually open to the public; the interior houses rangers’ offices and supplies. On my last visit, visitors weren’t being allowed inside due to Covid, but you could still talk to the rangers and get information about the area. Hopefully it will be open again soon, as the historic building is undeniably charming!

In front of the Ranger Station is a beautiful meadow and view to the eastern portion of Lake Crescent. There is a boat launch and a picturesque dock with views of Storm King mountain and the beautiful blue-green waters of the lake. To the south is the trailhead to Marymere Falls, a 1.7 mile out-and-back hike through incredible old-growth forest carpeted with ferns, salal, thimbleberry, salmonberry, and huckleberry bushes. Both the area around the ranger station and waterfall would make a fantastic location for an elopement ceremony, and a quick hike to the waterfall afterwards would be ideal for waterfall photos! I would recommend scheduling an elopement for these locations on a weekday, as summer weekends tend to get a lot of tourist traffic!

Bovee’s Meadow 

Situated between the Lodge and the southern shore of the lake, Bovee’s Meadow is possibly one of my favorite spots at Lake Crescent! I’ve been coming here for years to swim on warm summer days, and just to walk by the water and skip rocks when it’s cooler. The views towards the west end of the lake are just as good, if not better, than the views from Lake Crescent Lodge, and if you time it right you’ll have the place to yourself!

Even though it’s a busy swimming beach, most folks don’t stay for sunset — which is the ideal time to be there for photography, in my opinion! There are some trails through the woods that lead to a little bridge over Barnes Creek or out to the gravelly “point” that protrudes into the lake to the west. This is the absolute ideal location for sunset elopement photos after your Lake Crescent wedding ceremony! 

Fairholme Campground 

The only campground on Lake Crescent, Fairholme Campground is a great place to start if you plan to camp the night before or after your elopement. There are walk-in sites right along the lakeshore and you can fall asleep listening to the waves lapping on the shore! If you want the convenience of parking right next to your campsite, there are ample drive-up sites located in the woods.

Towering fir, hemlock, cedar, and maple shelter almost all of the campground, and it stays shaded even in the hottest parts of the year. If you’re envisioning saying your vows under the trees by the water’s edge, this location should be on your list! It also makes a great starting point for exploring the north shore of the lake, and areas further west like Sol Doc Falls or the ocean beaches!

La Poel Day-Use Area 

La Poel Day-Use area is a lesser-known picnic area along the southern shore of Lake Crescent that is a great spot for a lakeside lunch or a small elopement right at the water’s edge. It’s easy to miss the sign for La Poel as you’re driving on Highway 101, so be sure you know where to go! A tiny stream runs down to the lakeshore and picnic tables are interspersed amongst the trees. There are fire pits too, but make sure you check the seasonal fire regulations if you’re planning on a hot dog roast!

North Shore Dock & Picnic Area 

This one is a hidden gem! A great option for a tiny elopement or wedding day portraits at Lake Crescent, the North Shore Dock & Picnic area is off the beaten path, so it doesn’t get as much tourist traffic. Located across from the Pyramid Peak Trailhead, the views towards the southern shore and breathtaking Olympic mountains are a little less well-known than the more typical Lake Crescent scenery. If you’re looking for privacy for your Lake Crescent elopement, this is a great option. 

Pyramid Peak 

This one isn’t for the faint of heart! The challenging hike to the old fire lookout on the top of Pyramid peak is 6.8 miles, roundtrip and 2400 feet of elevation gain. But the panoramic views are to die for! Just imagine saying your vows on a literal mountaintop with the foothills of the Olympic Mountains and the sapphire lake beneath you in front of the historic cabin that served as an aircraft lookout during WWII. 

Lake Crescent AirBnBs

AirBnBs are becoming increasingly popular locations for micro weddings and elopements! As long as you communicate clearly with your host that you’re planning on having an elopement, it’s a great option if you’re having few or no guests. A couple airBnBs that have incredible views and locations on Lake Crescent are: 

Cabin on Lake Crescent 

Storm King Retreat Lake Front Property

Thompson Point 

Lake Crescent Wedding Permits

Getting a Permit for your Lake Crescent Wedding or Elopement

Despite what’s reported elsewhere, you don’t need to pay an entrance fee to visit the Lake Crescent area. Highway 101, the main route across the north Olympic Peninsula, carries millions of vehicles through the area every year. If you want to visit Hurricane Ridge, Sol Duc, the Hoh Rainforest, or the Staircase areas of the park, you’ll need to pay an entrance fee of either $30 per vehicle (valid for 7 days) or purchase an annual pass for $55.

You can buy your pass online or in-person at one of the entrance stations. If you purchase a pass online, you must print it before you arrive! The pass must be displayed on your car’s dashboard while you’re visiting one of the fee areas of the park.

Olympic National Park Special Use Permit

If you’re having an elopement or wedding ceremony within Olympic National Park, you will need a Special Use Permit. You can download a the permit application here.

I recommend doing this at least 4-6 months prior to when you plan to have your wedding or elopement!

First, download the Special Use Permit application, fill it out, and mail it in to Olympic National Park. You’ll need to send your permit application and a $50 non-refundable processing fee (check or money order) made out to the national Park Service to this address: 

Olympic National Park
600 East Park Avenue
Port Angeles WA 98362

You’ll receive a permit in the mail if your request is approved. Sign your permit and mail it back to the park for final approval.

Clallam County Marriage License

You will also need to apply for a Washington State Marriage license if you aren’t already legally married. I recommend booking an experienced officiant to help you navigate the process! However, if you want to have a friend or family member perform the ceremony, they can get ordained online. To have a legal ceremony in Washington State, you’ll also need two witnesses! 

Where to Stay at Lake Crescent

In this section, I’ve compiled some of the best places to stay in the Lake Crescent area. If you want to stay on the lakefront, Lake Crescent Lodge and the Log Cabin resort, as well as several airbnbs are available with direct access to the lakeshore and beautiful water views! Numerous other airbnbs and a few hotels are available in the area. 


Lake Crescent Lodge 

Log Cabin Resort 

Emerald Valley Inn 

Terra Vista Chalet 


Fairholme Campground 

Salt Creek State Park Campground 

Sol Duc Campground

Log Cabin Resort & Campground 


The Cove AirBnB

The Perch AirBnB

Thompson Point AirBnB

Lake Crescent House 

Camp David Retreat 

Cozy Lake Crescent Cabin 

Blue Haven

Bride and groom exit ceremony at NatureBridge Wedding

What is the best time of year for your Lake Crescent Wedding or Elopement?

If there’s one thing about the weather in Washington, it’s that it’s unpredictable It can rain or be sunny any day, any season! Although the summers are increasingly hot and drier than previous decades, it’s still entirely possible to have a rain shower any day of the year. 

My philosophy is that if you’re going to enjoy the lush green and verdant foliage of Olympic National Park, you just need to embrace the rain! After all, the rain is the reason everything stays so green. Something I’ve always said as someone who has spent most of my life in the PNW is that the rain showers usually don’t last all day, or even hours on end. It will sprinkle, drizzle, or mist, and even clear up entirely during portions of the day.

There’s no right or wrong time of year in the PNW, but you do need to be aware of the conditions during each season, prepare appropriately, and plan for safe travel. A couple resources I use are the ONP trail conditions website and the Washington State Department of Transportation sites. The WSDOT site has cameras you can use to check the conditions on certain parts of the road. For Lake Crescent, look at the Indian Valley & Heckelsville Shed cameras in particular. 


As the summer starts to cool down in mid-September, the grass turns golden and the scattering of deciduous trees—maple, alder, wild cherry, and vine maple—begin to change from green to gold and orange. Early fall is my favorite time of year in Northwest Washington. You’ll need to pay closer attention to road and trail conditions as fall progresses. October is usually pleasant, with crisp mornings and light frost  in the mornings. Snow will begin to show up on the mountains to the south of Lake Crescent, making the scenery even more stunning and dramatic. 


There’s a reason why summer is the most popular season for weddings in the Pacific Northwest! July, August, and early September have the best weather and the most sun of the year. Even when it’s hot, it’s not unbearably so, and the evenings are pleasant and cool. That being said, make sure you dress comfortably & drink plenty of water in the heat! Summer also brings road construction, so take a look at the WSDOT website to check if there’s a major construction project on your planned route. 


In my experience, Spring has the most unpredictable weather in the PNW. You can have lovely, mild, sunny days, or overcast, chilly rainy days. The weather does start to get warmer, bringing with it snowmelt and rain that can lead to flooding. Even late May and June can often be cool and drizzly. Bring extra layers for warmth, boots for muddy trails, and be sure to check trail conditions and road and traffic reports before you travel. Higher elevations will have snow into June and early July at the highest altitudes.


Although it’s obviously the wettest and coldest time of year, Winter is beautifully moody and atmospheric. I love watching the mist rise off the evergreen trees, and there’s nothing like the subtle sound of rain or snow in the forest. It goes without saying, dress warmly and plan some of your time indoors! Winter elopements in the PNW are incredibly beautiful; one huge advantage is that you will often have a location entirely to yourselves since three aren’t as many tourists as during the warmer months. A little more planning for travel is necessary, and many of the higher elevation areas and roads are inaccessible. As long as you’re well prepared and warmly dressed, your winter Olympic National Park wedding or elopement can be completely spectacular!

Lake Crescent Elopement Packages

I hope you’re getting excited about planning a wedding or elopement at Lake Crescent! Once you’ve decided on a wedding venue and booked a date, the next step is finding your Lake Crescent Wedding Photographer! I’d love to talk with you and find out if we’re the right fit! My wedding and elopement packages begin at $3450. Everything is customized for each client so you get exactly the coverage you need for your wedding day! I can also help you with designing a wedding album, gallery wall, and other ways to display your gorgeous photos. Contact me here and let’s get started so you’ll have incredible photos to remember every moment!

FAQs about Weddings and Elopements at Lake Crescent

Is Lake Crescent Swimmable?

Yes, depending on the time of year and how well prepared you are! July, August, and September are usually the best months for taking a dip in the lake. During the rest of the year, bring a wetsuit or a drysuit if you plan on getting in the water!

Is Lake Crescent open to the Public?

Yes! Lake Crescent is open to the public year round, apart from weather, construction, or accident-related road closures, which are thankfully rare. It’s still good to check the ONP road conditions before your trip, and know about alternate routes just in case. Highway 112 can be used if HWY 101 is closed for some reason, although it will add several hours to your trip depending on your specific destination. 

How cold is the water in Lake Crescent?

It’s chilly. The water temperature stays around 40-50 degrees year round, although in the winter I’d swear it’s in the 30s. You can use this website to check an estimate of the temperature:

Can you bring dogs to Lake Crescent? 

Dogs generally aren’t allowed in Olympic National Park in order to protect the native ecosystem, however there are a few exceptions. Dogs can be in parking lots as long as they’re on a leash. Leashed pets are allowed in drive-in campgrounds and picnic areas and on paved and dirt roads and certain trails. Certain locations like the Log Cabin Resort allow dogs and have pet-friendly accommodations. Trails that allow dogs include:

  • Spruce Railroad Trail (North shore of Lake Crescent)
  • Peabody Creek Trail (Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles)
  • Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek (1/2 mile)
  • The beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch area)
  • Madison Falls Trail (Elwha)
  • July Creek Loop Trail (North shore of Lake Quinault)

 If you do bring a dog to your Lake Crescent wedding or elopement, the NPS asks that you follow their “BARK” guidelines:

  • Bag your pet’s poop
  • Always wear a leash
  • Respect wildlife
  • Know where you can go

You can see the full list of locations inside of Olympic NP where pets are permitted here!

What is there to do at Lake Crescent?

Well if you love the outdoors, there’s endless possibilities! Hiking, biking, canoeing and kayaking, swimming, scuba diving, trail running, bird watching, I could go on and on! As long as you prepare well for the weather and practice Leave No Trace, you’re practically guaranteed to enjoy your time at Lake Crescent. 

Day Hikes Around Lake Crescent




Elev. Gain (ft.)

Marymere Falls

Old growth forest to a 90 ft. waterfall.

0.9 one way


Moments in Time

Self-guided nature trail through forest and by the lake, accessible with assistance.

0.6 loop


Mt. Storm King

Steep switchbacks climb part way up Mt. Storm King.

2.2 one way


Spruce Railroad

Paved, accessible trail hugging the north shore of Lake Crescent on an old railroad bed including two historic railroad tunnels. Bikes and leashed pets permitted. Accessible paved extension leads west on the Olympic Discovery Trail.

4.0 one way

(6.5 extension one way)



Fairholme Campground Loop

Old growth forest. This trail has entrances at the top of Loop B and the campground access road.

0.8 loop


Pyramid Peak

Climbs steeply to a World War II spotting tower with views of the lake. One section crosses a steep landslide.

3.5 one way


Aurora Creek

Climbs steeply up rocky terrain through old growth forest to Aurora Ridge.

3.4 one way


Barnes Creek

Climbs up to Aurora Ridge through old growth forest; only first 4 miles maintained.

7.5 one way


Lake Crescent Wedding & Elopement Inspiration

Finally, please enjoy these photos from some Lake Crescent elopements, weddings, and engagements I’ve photographed over the years!

Bride and Groom kissing on the beach at Lake CrescentBride and groom kissing at their wedding ceremony at Lake Crescent Lodge

Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent elopement Bride and groom kissing on the beach at sunset at Lake Crescent Lake Crescent wedding   Bride and groom on the beach at their Lake Crescent wedding   Bridal party on the dock at sunset at Lake Crescent LodgeLake crescent elopementLake Crescent wedding Bride and groom at Lake crescent elopement Lake Crescent wedding Couple on dock at Lake crescent with bouquet Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent elopement Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent wedding Bride and groom in the forest at Lake crescent wedding Bride and groom at sunset at Lake Crescent wedding Lake Crescent wedding   Bride and Bridesmaids at Lake Crescent

Bride and groom on the dock at sunset at Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park Lake Crescent wedding Bride and Groom on the dock at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park Bride and groom kissing in the rain at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park Bride walking in the forest in the rain at Lake Crescent Bride and groom walking on the beach at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park Bride on the beach in the fall at Lake Crescent Bride and Groom in the water at Lake Crescent elopement Bridal Party on the dock at sunset at Lake Crescent Lodge elopement Bride on the beach in the fall at Lake Crescent Bride and Groom on a dock at Lake Crescent elopement Bride and groom in the rain at Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park Lake Crescent wedding Bride and groom on the dock at sunset at Lake Crescent Lodge Lake Crescent wedding Bride and Groom on a dock at Lake Crescent Lodge wedding Bride and Groom in the snow at Storm King Ranger Station at Lake Crescent Bride and Groom kissing in the water at Lake Crescent elopement Lake Crescent wedding Bride and groom on the beach at Lake Crescent Lake Crescent elopement Bride and groom walking on a dock at Lake Crescent Bride and Groom in the snow at Storm King Ranger Station at Lake Crescent Bride on the beach at Lake Crescent wedding Groom on the beach at Lake Crescent

Looking for more Lake Crescent Weddings and Lake Crescent Elopements?

Check out these posts:

Fall Engagement Session at Lake Crescent

Lakeside Summer Wedding at NatureBridge on Lake Crescent

Are you searching for your Lake Crescent wedding or elopement photographer? You found her! Get in Touch with me here!

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Hey there! Welcome to my blog—Make yourself comfy and look around! As an Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park, San Juan Islands, Seattle, Whidbey Island, and destination wedding photographer, I want to be a resource for you as you put together your own wedding day. Browse around, have a look, and let me know your questions!  I'm so happy you're here, and I hope you want to get in touch so we can chat about your wedding day.