The Columbia River Gorge area is a popular destination for Portland metro area hikers and nature lovers. Its majestic waterfalls are also a beautiful backdrop for intimate weddings and elopements. I’ve created this guide to help you understand exactly how you can elope among the beautiful natural features, lush forests, and stunning waterfalls along the Columbia River.
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, part of the National Forest Service, maintains the trails and day use areas in the Gorge.
Columbia River Gorge Elopement Regulations:
No Exclusive Use
You may not reserve or have exclusive use of any of these public areas. Avoid crowds by eloping on a weekday.
No Outside Vendors (including Officiants)
Outside vendors are not allowed because this is considered commercial use of public lands. The outside vendor rule also applies to officiants and celebrants.You can have a friend officiate your marriage, as long as they are not being paid.
Leave No Trace
Don’t plan to include decorations, or throw rice, confetti, birdseed, flower petals, etc as these are stictly not allowed. You can not have any impact on the land or other visitors’ experiences. Don’t create a mess and make sure to leave the area as you found it!
It is free to elope and hold weddings in the Columbia River Gorge, and groups fewer than 75 do not need to apply for a permit. (Most areas in the Scenic Area are not able to accommodate more than 75 people anyway!)
Best Locations for Columbia River Gorge Elopements
Latourell Falls is a great place to elope or take portraits. It’s easily accessible, and is located just a short walk from the Latourell Falls Trailhead, where there is a decent sized parking lot. This waterfall towers at an impressive 250ft. Continue along the 2 mile loop to visit the upper falls for more privacy. In the winter, the water flow is usually quite forceful. In the summer months the flow often ebbs to an elegantly subdued cascade. In any season, Latourell Falls is a top pick for a magical waterfall elopement location.
Wahclella is a farther hike than most waterfalls in the gorge, but overall clocks in with a relatively short 2.4 miles (out and back). There are some ups and downs along the trail, and you should take care not to slip. Wahclella Falls has two drops to it’s overall 350ft height.
Multnomah Falls is the most iconic waterfall in the Gorge, and you’ll certainly see why when you lay eyes on its impressive double drop fall. At 620ft, it is the tallest waterfall in the entire state of Oregon. It is also the most visited national recreation site in the state! Therefore, this location is best for wedding portraits, rather than a ceremony. Make a reservation at the Multnomah Falls Lodge Restaurant for a post elopement celebration!
Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls might be my favorite of all of the Gorge waterfalls, simply because of the perfect rock outcropping that makes for the ideal ceremony spot. Bridal Veil is a half mile walk, and has it’s own parking lot and restrooms. It is an excellent choice for a family friendly elopement or one with small children.
Dry Creek Falls
Dry Creek Falls is must less popular than the other picks on this list, but that’s exactly why I’ve included it. If you are eloping in on a weekend, or during the busier summer months around holidays, this waterfall is a good option. It is around 4 miles from the trailhead, and you can expect to be rewarded with few people at your destination. Dry Creek Falls is around 75ft.