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Mt. Hood National Forest encompasses a significant portion of Oregon’s public lands. This popular area is where its namesake stands alone as the highest point in Oregon, but equally popular forests, lakes, and rivers exist here too. This area—which covers over a million acres—can be found east of Portland and just south of the Columbia River Gorge.
The Mt. Hood area of Oregon is distinctly, stereotypically Pacific Northwest—foggy mornings amongst the trees, snow-capped mountain peaks, and thick groves of old-growth forests all culminate to make this landscape stunningly beautiful and truly wild. Dozens of waterfalls, winding rivers, and named peaks are all equally worth visiting as the 11,250-foot-tall Mt. Hood.
If you’re looking to get married in Oregon and searching for a venue that encompasses the vivid green PNW-vibe, you’ve found it! Below, I go over a short list of my favorite wedding and elopement locations near Mt. Hood, touch on some of the permit requirements to get married in the national forest, and provide wedding inspiration from past couples who eloped with Adventure Instead.
Where to Elope at Mt Hood
There are too many places within Mt. Hood National Forest that are perfect for weddings and elopements—I wish I could list them all! I’ve limited the list in this blog to some of my favorite well-known locations that are easily accessible, but there are dozens of other sites we can discuss throughout the planning process in addition to these. My goal is to help you find your dream elopement location—whether that’s a more traditional wedding venue, a remote trailhead, or a summit at the end of a long hike.
Mt. Hood has a good mixture of locations with varying levels of accessibility. You definitely don’t need to be a hiker, mountaineer, or adrenaline junky to elope! Define adventure your way, and we will support you throughout the process of crafting your dream wedding experience.
Mt. Hood Wedding Venues
Timberline Lodge—This mountain lodge is high up on Mt. Hood, where the clouds often drift in to cover the peak. However, when the sun is shining, there are few places with a better view on this mountain. Choose from a few on-site locations to get married or simply stay on the grounds for a truly unique wedding day experience.
Ski Bowl—This venue on the face of Mt. Hood is also the site of one of the most popular ski resorts on the mountain. Utilize this gorgeous venue in the summer or brave the elements for a truly winter wonderland celebration in the colder months. Weddings up to 250 people can take place here.
Copper Spur Mountain Resort—This rustic resort sits on 700+ acres within the Mt. Hood National Forest with stunning mountain views and thick evergreen forests. This venue can host up to 200 guests for a stunning mountain wedding or would be perfect for a larger reception celebration following an intimate elopement ceremony.
Mt. View Orchards—This stunning orchard venue is ideal for those who want a truly unique backdrop to their ceremony. Mt. Hood stands tall in the distance, visible from this site on sunny days.
Hood River Hotel—This historic building near Mt. Hood in downtown Hood River would be ideal for your wedding or wedding reception. Up to 150 people can gather at this site, which dates back to the 1800s and the formation of the town of Hood River.
Mt. Hood Elopement Locations
Lolo Pass—Hiking here will take you to some of the most stunning viewpoints of Mt. Hood. In the summer, it’s a well-traveled gravel trail. In the winter, this area becomes a popular snowshoeing destination.
Silcox Hut—This restored warming hut is right behind Timberline Lodge and is ideal for small, intimate weddings and elopements. It’s not remote in the typical sense, but that is traded for ease of accessibility and simplicity. No hiking is required for this spot, but one could easily have a ceremony here with family and friends then take one of the many nearby trails for portraits.
Trillium Lake—This lake is ideal for kayaking or rafting adventures. However, it is also one of the busiest locations in the Mt. Hood National Forest each summer. I highly recommend this accessible campground area for weekdays or off-season elopements only. By choosing a less popular date, you’ll find yourself rewarded with unparalleled views of Mt. Hood, trails through dense evergreen forests, and a calm lake perfect for a relaxing afternoon adventure.
Tamanawas Falls—These falls flow most heavily in the spring, and this hike is one of my favorite three-season hikes on the eastern side of the mountain. The hike is 3.4 miles through a well-maintained trail between towering evergreen trees. Once you reach the falls, it is possible to scramble across some rocks to reach the base or you can stay on the maintained trail for a stunning view.
How to Elope at Mt. Hood
To elope at Mt. Hood, you first need to choose a location—or you can choose a date and I’ll be able to suggest my favorite spots accessible that time of year. Whatever you begin with—date or location—you’re certain to have a truly PNW wedding celebration! Mt. Hood is one of my favorite places in this stunning state, and one of my favorite parts of this job is getting to share these special spots with my couples. Click HERE if you’d like a step-by-step guide for eloping in Oregon with a curated list of our favorite locations—beyond what’s on this list.
Each location within Mt. Hood National Forest looks a little different depending on the time of year. Below, I go over each season with a little description to give you an idea of what it would be like to elope at that time of year. Also, I’ve included some #inspo at the end of this blog so you can see other weddings featuring Adventure Instead couples! Our Oregon elopement packages include coverage options for whatever kind of intimate wedding or elopement you are planning, so keep reading to find out more about all the logistics.
Permits for Your Mt. Hood Elopement
I’ll be the first to admit that the permitting process for eloping on public lands is not always clear or simple. However, the Mt. Hood National Forest has a pretty clear definition of events that require a permit—and most weddings will require a permit.
I’ll quote the forest service to keep things as simple as possible—”[E]vents on national forest lands require a temporary special use permit for almost any kind of outdoor activity where participants exchange money or pay a fee to participate…Where no money exchanges hands and more than 75 individuals are involved, the event is classified a non-commercial group use. A simple permit is available free-of-charge for such events. Examples of non-commercial group uses include weddings, family gatherings or political rallies.”
The permit will likely be free, but you’re still required to obtain one to get married in Mt. Hood National Forest. The benefit to taking this step is the assurance that your activity won’t be disrupted by any other scheduled events, you’ll likely receive additional advice about the best places to get married on your date, and you’ll be able to ensure the natural environment is protected by abiding by all forest service regulations.
The Best Time of Year to Elope at Mt Hood
Mt. Hood National Forest is one of the gems of Oregon—gorgeous lakes, stunning viewpoints, and expansive forests make this corner of the country one of the most romantic! However, the view will be very different depending on the time of year. My goal here is to make sure you know what to expect so that you can choose a date that suits your unique wedding goals—no season is “bad” to elope at Mt. Hood, but certain times of year are better for certain locations and activities.
If you love hiking, camping, and a little bit of privacy, then autumn might be the best time for you to get married at Mt. Hood. The trails are still pretty dry, the evenings are getting cooler, and fewer people will be venturing out now that summer is over. If you want to choose one of the more popular spots in the national forest but don’t want to risk snow, I highly recommend considering a date in September or October!
The term “winter wonderland” perfectly describes Mt. Hood national forest from December through March. The trails that remain accessible are covered in the white fluffy stuff, and places that aren’t hikable can still be accessed via snowshoe most of the time. The biggest environmental consideration during the winter actually isn’t snow—it’s fog. There is a really good chance you’ll find yourself unable to view the mountain many days throughout the winter, which might invalidate your reasoning for this location. However, if expansive views aren’t your goal because you’re looking for thick, dramatic forests covered in frosted trees—winter at Mt. Hood is perfect!
Expect it to be wet if you get married anywhere in the Mt. Hood National Forest in the spring. Those April showers do bring May flowers, but even the most sunny days can be rather damp. If you’re not scared of a little water in the air, then you’ll be happy to hear this is also the time of year to find the rivers and waterfalls raging. The melting snow from winter has engorged the springs all over the mountain, and the waterfalls are at their most dramatic. There are occasional sunny days, especially toward the end of May, but before then, you’re likely to experience quite a bit of mud. Plan for a place and activities that won’t tear up the trails too much.
Summer at Mt. Hood is one of the most fairytale-like places you can possibly imagine. Getting out on the lakes, hiking the trails, and reaching higher elevations are all pleasantly warm excursions. However, this perfect weather also brings in other like-minded visitors, and you’re much less likely to find a place to yourself. Expect to venture farther, deeper, or higher to try and get away from the crowds if you get married here in July or August. Choosing a weekday is also more likely to provide you a respite from the weekend traffic. But if getting out on the lakes or rivers (without being too cold) is your dream wedding, then I highly recommend Mt. Hood in the summer!