When Haley and Matt told me that they wanted their engagement session to be taken in the Olympic National Park, west of Seattle, I was really excited! I had only ever been there as a kid on family trips. I had never been there as an adult, and I had never shot there. So to have the opportunity to go back to the park and also do a session there was a trip I was definitely looking forward to.
I am not sure how familiar you are with the park, but it is HUGE! The park itself covers close to a million acres, but surrounding the park is another massive stretch of landscape that is barely inhabited and full of crazy beautiful spots to shoot in. The Olympic National Park is the home to a wide variety of shooting locations, with 3 ecosystems including giant mountain ranges, lush rainforests, and rugged pacific coastline. It would be difficult to visit more than one of these places in a single day, unless you shot right alongside the border of two of the ecosystems.
Main points of interest in the Olympic National Park for an engagement session or elopement would be the following beautiful spots:
Hurricane Ridge – Hurricane Ridge is located in the center of the Olympic National Park. From the top of the Hurricane Ridge, you are surrounded by beautiful fields, meadows, and mountain ranges stretching into the distant horizon. At over 5000 feet in elevation, Hurricane Ridge and the surrounding trails can have snow as late as July, so bring some warm clothes to throw on before and after the shoot, especially if your session will last into the sunset. If you want striking mountainous horizons, with snowy peaks as far as the eye can see, Hurricane Ridge is the perfect location for your Engagement or Elopement. [Distance from Seattle Airport: 144 miles, 3 Hour 15 Minute Drive]
Hoh Rainforest – The Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the United States. Stepping into the stunning rainforest pathways, you will find yourself surrounded by waist high ferns, trickling creeks and streams, and large Spruce, Hemlock, and Maples dressed up with various types of hanging moss. Snow can fall in the winter months, but mostly what you will want to take into consideration is the rainfall. The Hoh Rainforest can get over 120 inches of rain a year, with the summer months (June through August) being the best chance to have a dry photo session. Come prepared for wet socks and shoes, even in the summer months as the forest floor is almost always damp. [Distance from Seattle Airport: 205 miles, 4 Hour 30 Minute Drive]
Ruby Beach – On the western side of the Park is the Pacific Coast. The coastline has several great beaches to have an engagement session or elopement. One of the most scenic beaches is Ruby Beach. Ruby Beach has all the ruggedness that you might expect from the Washington coast, but it also has large areas of beautiful sandy beaches to explore. The sunsets at Ruby are stunning, especially when there are spotted clouds on the horizon catching the red and purple hues from the setting sun. [Distance from Seattle Airport: 173 miles, 3 Hour 30 Minute Drive]
La Push Beach and Rialto Beach – La Push and Rialto beaches are right up the coast from Ruby Beach. Both beaches are located on the Quileute Indian Reservation and are absolutely beautiful places to have a photo session. The Reservation may or may not be open to visitors during your visit to the Park, so make sure you do your research prior to selecting one or both of them as your choice of location. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Reservation was closed to outside visitors hoping to limit exposure to its residents. However, if the beaches are open to the public, I would highly recommend these beaches, as they are known for their sandy beaches and vaulting stone pillars. [Distance from Seattle Airport: 194 miles, 4 Hour Drive]