Julia Mina Photography, California Elopement Photographer

A Complete Redwood Elopement Guide for 2024

Table of Contents

If you’re here, that likely means you’re dreaming of a redwood forest elopement. How exciting! I may be biased, but as a redwoods elopement photographer, I believe you can’t go wrong in choosing the redwoods of California as your elopement location.

With that being said, it can feel like a hefty task to plan your elopement in the redwoods. Where should you elope? When should you elope? How do you elope in the redwoods? These are all questions I’m going to dive into, plus more so that you can have the redwood elopement of your dreams without the stress of planning it! Don’t worry, I’m about to go over everything you need to know about eloping in the redwoods, so stay tuned! First lets dive into what the word elopement actually means.

Elopement Definition


Today, the word “elopement” symbolizes more than just a way to get married; it’s an intentional, personalized, one-of-a-kind experience focused on the couple and their love. Elopements allow you to craft the wedding day of your dreams without limitations, unnecessary stress, or outside pressure. They bring the focus back to you and your love, allowing you to celebrate and honor your marriage in a way that is authentic to you without distractions.  When you’re eloping, you can plan an epic adventure together in the great outdoors, rediscover each other, embrace each moment, and create memories that will last forever. Check out my “11 Reasons to Elope in 2024: Why You Should Elope“.

Where are The Redwood National & State Parks?

The Redwood National & State Parks are located in Northern California. These parks are home to some of the most iconic and oldest trees on earth! The Redwoods State Parks consist of 3 redwood state parks in total. These parks are Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Prairie Creek Redwoods, and Del Norte Redwood State Park. Humboldt Redwood State Park is also a popular redwood park that is technically separate from the other three.

4 closest major cities/towns to redwood national park

Here are the five closest major cities/towns to Redwood National and State Parks along with their approximate driving times:

Crescent City, California – Approximately 10-30 min
Eureka, California – Approximately 30min -1.5 hour 
Arcata, California – Approximately 30min -1.5 hour 
Brookings, Oregon – Approximately 30min

  • Note that driving times are approximate and may vary based on traffic and road conditions.

How to get to Redwood National & State Park?

Redwood National and State Parks are very accessible to get to, which makes it the perfect location for a California elopement! 

6 closest airports to redwood national park

These are five of the closest airports to Redwood National Park and State Parks. I recommend looking into all of these options as pricing varies between them and you may be able to find a better deal to one a bit farther away if you don’t mind driving a bit longer to get to the redwoods!

*Airports I don’t recommend*

While both of these airports are the closest to the Redwoods National & State Park, I don’t recommend them for your elopement day because of their small available flights and unpredictable delays & cancellations due to foggy weather. (I personally experienced it)

5 Reasons to Elope in The Redwoods

As a redwood elopement photographer, I believe the redwoods offer some of the most magical and romantic locations in Northern California. That’s why it lands in the second spot in the 12 of The Best Places to Elope in California section of my “How to Elope in California: Comprehensive Guide 2024” Let’s dive into 5 reasons why you should elope in the redwoods!

Natural Beauty

If you’re looking for those whimsical forest and fairytale wedding vibes, the California redwoods are the perfect choice! It is home to half of the world’s old-growth Redwoods and there’s nothing quite like having the towering redwoods and lush green forest as the backdrop for your elopement!

Unique Experience

Planning an elopement means you have the freedom to pick and choose what to implement to your day. Redwoods have access to a ton of fun adventure opportunities, stellar views, and memories to be made! If you love the idea of hiking through the California redwoods, canoeing the rivers, stargazing and roasting s’mores by a campfire, a romantic picnic by the river, or even horseback riding through the redwoods, then a redwood elopement might just be perfect for you!

Cost effective

When you choose to have a redwoods elopement, you can focus on your experience which can create a budget friendly experience. When you elope, you can have a more intimate experience which saves you on catering, invitation, decor, and venue costs, plus more. You can choose to invest into your experience as a couple versus hosting a wedding for 100+ guests!

Nearby California Coast

You will find that all California redwoods grow within close distance to coastline of California. This makes it easy for couples to visit the coast during their elopement day which adds variety to their experience & photos. 

Intimate & Secluded

Even though it is a popular National & State Park, it is so spread out through the map that there are a lot less tourists on trails. This makes Redwoods National & State Park a perfect location to have your intimate ceremony with seclusion.

Top 5 FAQ'S About Eloping in
the Redwood National & State Parks

redwoods elopement guide redwoods elopement photographer julia mina ceremony

Q: can you get married at redwood national park?

A: Yes, you can get married at Redwood National Park!

Q: how much does it cost to get married in the redwoods?

A: Eloping in the redwoods will cost anywhere between $100-$200. 

* This does not include vendor fees.

Q: what is the downside of elopement?

A: The downside of eloping all depends on the preference of those who are eloping. Most elopements allow up to 20 guests. Some may see the downside of eloping being untraditional. Many couples choose to elope for a more intimate wedding experience. 

Q: best places to elope in the redwoods?

A: The best places to elope in the redwoods are Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Prairie Creek Redwoods, and Del Norte Redwood State Park. Humboldt Redwood State Park is another great option, although not technically part of Redwood National Park.

Q: Can you get married in the redwoods for free?

A: No, you’ll need a special use permit for all weddings, elopements, or vow exchanges that happen inside the Redwoods National and State Parks! The special use permit costs $100.

  • Requests outside of the normal conditions and/or approved locations have an application fee of $200.

Redwood Wedding & Elopement Permits

You will need a special use permit to get married in the redwoods. The permit costs $100 (or $200 if you’re applying to get married for any location that is outside of the pre-approved list or if you have any special requests.)

How to apply for your redwood national & state parks special use permit:

Step 1: Select Your Location

You will need to select one of the pre-approved locations for your ceremony. You CAN choose from other locations, but the application for this will need to go out for a two-week review and you will be charged a $200 application fee versus the standard $100 application fee. 

Step 2: Select Your Date & Time

Ceremonies are scheduled in 1-3 hour time blocks. Permits can only be written for day use hours.

  • Permits won’t be granted during/around major holidays because of crowding.
Step 3: Fill Out & Email The 2 Forms

You will need to fill out and email:

Email both of these forms to the Permit Coordinator with the email below:

[email protected]

Step 4: Pay The Application Fee

Once you submit your application forms and they are received, you can expect an email from PAY.gov. with instructions on how to pay your non- refundable application fee.

You may have to pay additional charges if:

  • You need even monitoring 
  • There is resource damage, site cleanup is needed, etc. 

Permit Conditions For Your Redwoods Elopement

  • Live or dried natural plant/flower material is not allowed.
  • Releasing of doves, butterflies, balloons, or other types of items is not allowed.
  • Throwing birdseed, rice, flower petals, confetti, or other items is not allowed.
  • Feeding wildlife is not allowed.
  • No use of arbors, arches, stands, risers, or other similar props.
  • Attaching ribbons, flowers, balloons or signs to vegetation, rocks, or existing NPS signs is not allowed.
  • Placing signs along roads is not allowed.
  • Food service and alcohol are not allowed.
Bride and groom along with their guests during their intimate redwoods elopement

Where Can You Elope in The Redwoods?

The California redwoods are not limited when it comes to beautiful locations that you can elope at! The locations below are some of my favorite spots for couples to elope that are pre-approved by the National Park Services! These locations are directly from NPS and are listed from North to South.

  • It’s important to note that permits will not be issued for Fern Canyon, James Irvine Trail, Stout Grove, or Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods ceremony Locations:

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is well known for its beautiful old growth redwood trees that create an enchanting atmosphere!

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is the last in a long string of redwood parks that stretch up Northern California’s coast. A few miles inland from the ocean, the park is densely forested with huge ancient trees. In fact, it contains seven percent of all the old-growth redwoods left in the world. No roads or trails mark “Jed Smith’s” core—just pure, primeval majesty.” – parks.ca.gov

Templeman Grove

Max Participants: 20

Templeman Grove is located inside of Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park. It’s only 2 miles north of the Hiouchi Visitor Center on Hwy 197. This grove is a very beautiful yet secluded location inside of Jedediah State Park. If you’re looking for a more private and intimate ceremony with less traffic from tourists, this is a great location.

Wedding ceremony at Templeman Grove in the redwoods
Photo: Julia Mina Photography

Organ Donor’s Grove

Max Participants: 20

Organ Donor’s Grove is another beautiful grove location located inside of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. It is at the intersection of Elk Valley Road and Hwy 199. This location also offers beautiful lush greenery. Because it is located at an intersection, you should expect traffic noise. If this is something that bothers you, I would consider another location! 

1 Organ Donors Grove opening
Photo: NPS

River Trail

Max Participants: 8

River Trail is another beautiful location inside of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park! River Trail is located 1/2 mile from the east park boundary line on Howland Hill Road. This location offers lush greenery and is a great location to consider for your elopement. It’s well known for its fallen redwood trees!

1 River Trail 3
Photo: NPS

Del Norte Redwoods State Park Ceremony Locations:

Del Norte Redwoods State Park is another beautiful state park that is one of the three inside of The Redwoods National & State Parks! 

The park, established in 1927, has approximately 50% old growth coast redwood and eight miles of wild coastline.

The mixed understory includes tanoak, madrone, red alder, big leaf maple, and California bay. Ground cover is dense with a wide range of species. Vegetation is predominately red alder which will eventually give way to fir and second growth redwood.” – parks.ca.gov

2017 07 18
Photo via Google Images - Dan Schulte

Crescent Beach

Max Participants: 20

(available Oct 25th – May 1)

Crescent Beach is located within Del Norte Redwoods within the Redwoods National & State Parks. The entrance for the beach is 1 mile down Enderts Beach Road. The beachline is 3 miles long, so there are many areas of the beach we could explore! This beach is also dog friendly which is perfect if you’re looking to bring your furry companion. If you’re looking for foggy beach vibes, this is the spot!

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NPS Photo / B. Marciniec.

Crescent Beach Overlook

Max Participants: 20 

(available Oct 25th – May 1)

Crescent Beach Overlook is a dreamy location for your elopement! When it’s not super foggy, you can expect miles of beach, views of the harbor of Crescent City, and sea stacks! There’s also a pretty epic sunset here too. 

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Ceremony Locations:

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park offers the most pre-approved areas when it comes to a redwoods ceremony! 

Fifty miles north of Eureka, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park protects sandy beaches and open meadows grazed by magnificent herds of Roosevelt elk. Ferns cascade down canyon walls. Lush stands of the world’s tallest living tree species, the coast redwood, stand in primeval majesty. Visitors can stay at either Elk Prairie or Gold Bluffs Beach campgrounds and explore the park via three scenic drives, 75 miles of hiking trails, and a 19-mile bike loop. A World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, Prairie Creek and the three other parks in the Redwood National and State Parks group protect 45 percent of California’s remaining old-growth redwoods” – parks.ca.gov

High Bluff Overlook

Max Participants: 20

High Bluff Overlook is a stunning location inside of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. To get to High Bluff Overlook, you’ll need to take exit 768 from Hwy 101 and drive 4 miles to west to the parking area. This location offers stunning views and you can guarantee to get some epic portraits here! If you’re looking for the sounds of crashing waves and sweeping coastline views, this is the spot for you! 

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NPS Photo / James Tiffany

Merriman Grove

Max Participants: 8

Merriman Grove, another location within Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. It’s located at the end of Ah-Pah Trail. This area is surrounded by lush greenery and ferns! If that’s the kind of vibe you’re going for, Merriman Grove is a great choice. This location is also not as frequented. 

Ah Pah Trail Prairie Creek SP Merriman Grove
Photo: NPS

Zig Zag 2 Trail

Max Participants: 10
Zig Zag 2 Trail is located within Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. It’s super lush with ferns and is just stunning! The trail is 3.5 miles north of the Prairie Creek Visitor Center on the Newton B. Drury Parkway. It’s very secluded so if you’re on the look for a more private location for an intimate ceremony and gorgeous portraits, this is perfect! The photo truly doesn’t do it justice! 
1 Zig Zag 2 PB030058
Photo: NPS

Schmidt Grove

Max Participants: 20

Schmidt Grove is located inside of Prairie Creek Redwood State Park at the end of Cal-Barrel Road. Make sure to check current conditions as sometimes Cal Barrel Road has seasonal closures. This is another location that is ideal for an intimate ceremony! 

1 Schmidt Grove Rhodedendron Trail
Photo: NPS

Prairie Creek Amphitheater

Max Participants: 20

[available Oct 25th – May 1]

Prairie Creek Amphitheater is located inside the Elk Prairie Campground within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park! This location is perfect because it has a great setup if you’re looking to invite guests (max of 20). Because this is an actual designated spot that’s perfect for ceremonies, I would request this location ASAP when you know it’s what you want! 

IMG 0322
Photo: NPS

Lost Man Creek

Max Participants: 20

Lost Man Creek is located 5 miles north of the Kuchel Visitor Center on Hwy 101. It’s a well known biking trail. There’s a beautiful picnic area that offers redwood trees along with other beautiful locations along the trail. 

Photo: redwoodshikes.com

Berry Glen

Max Participants: 6

Berry Glen Trail is another beautiful location within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park for your redwood elopement! It’s 5 miles north of the Kuchel visitor Center on Hwy 101. This location is perfect for an intimate and secluded elopement. There’s beautiful fern meadows and overgrown trees throughout. It truly is a magical location! This location also connects to Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail

Photo: redwoodshikes.com

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt Redwoods State Park is not part of The Redwoods National Parks and it is it’s own state park. It is the first stop coming from South of Highway 101 from San Francisco. It is famous for the scenic drive, Avenue of the Giants and old-growth redwood trees. Because Humboldt State Park is it’s own park, you will need a separate wedding permit than the other parks. Williams Grove is a perfect ceremony location for an elopement and larger groups (up to 100 people). 

For elopements (up to 10 people) there are not designated area so you will need to let them know where you want your ceremony and they will let you know if there are any restrictions based on the location you’ve chosen.

Redwoods Elopement Guide Erica and Michael Redwoods Elopement Photographer Julia Mina (7)

Need to Knows For Getting Married in Humboldt Redwoods State Park:

  • Applications must be submitted 6 months in advance
  • Non-refundable permit fee is $150 plus an additional use fee which is location dependent.
  • Dogs are not allowed on State Park trails or groves.

Areas of Humboldt Redwoods State Park that do NOT allow weddings:

  • Founders Grove
  • Rockefeller Forest
  • California Federation of Women’s Clubs Grove

See the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Weddings page for more details.

Other Notable California Redwood Elopement Locations:

Aside from Redwoods National and State Parks, there are other locations in California that you can have a beautiful elopement at. These are a few other locations that I think are worth noting!

  • Big Sur If you’re looking for a beautiful ceremony, Big Sur is known for it’s breathtaking views of the beach and rugged coastline, making for a romantic elopement location!
  • Santa CruzSanta Cruz is well known for its beautiful coastline and majestic redwood trees! Santa Cruz also offers a ton of activities that could be fun for you and your partner to explore after your elopement!
  • Sequoia National Park Dreaming of eloping with the surrounding of towering Sequoia’s? Sequoia National Park offers dreamy locations for an elopement. 
  • Sonoma Coast State ParkIf sandy beaches, rugged headlands, and a beautiful coastline sounds like what you’re looking for, I highly recommend looking into eloping at Sonoma Coast State Park. 
  • Muir Woods – And last but certainly not least is Muir Woods National Monument. Another location with towering redwood trees, Muir Woods offers a serene atmosphere and breathtaking views!
Bride and groom wearing hiking boots for their redwoods elopement

When is The Best Time of Year For Your Redwoods Elopement?

When it comes to your redwood forest elopement, there is no right or wrong season to elope. This truly all depends on your preferences and what is priority to you. Things to consider when planning your redwoods elopement are temperature, ceremony location (some trails are seasonal), and tourists.

Activities to Check Out
During Your Time in The Redwoods

When it comes to visiting the redwoods, there are a TON of activities for you and your partner to do, and even your guests if you’re having guests! From scenic drives, camping, hiking, biking, and so much more, you can truly make your redwoods elopement an unforgettable experience! Or you can even do something of your own like pack a delicious picnic for you and your spouse to enjoy lunch together with epic views! The options are truly endless.

Redwoods Elopement Guide Sam and Manny Redwoods Elopement Photographer Julia Mina (11)

Where to Stay For Your Redwoods Elopement?

While you may not find a lot of lodging inside of the parks, there are campgrounds and beautiful Airbnb’s, VRBOS and other lodging opportunities such as hotels and cabins nearby! Below are some options to consider staying for your redwoods elopement!

Fun Facts: Movies Filmed in The Redwooods

Did you know that the redwoods have been home to many films, television shows, and even commercials? The beauty of the redwoods calls even top filmmakers, and for good reason! There’s just nothing more beautiful than the California redwoods! You can even take a self guided tour with the Map of The Movies.

Notable Movies Filmed in The Redwoods:

  • E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial 
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • Bird Box

Redwood Elopement Packages

Looking to elope in The California Redwoods and searching for a Redwood elopement package? Photography packages for eloping in the redwoods start at $5,000-$7500. Keep in mind this isn’t just photos, but the experience. I’m here to help you find the perfect location, give unlimited help, guidance, lodging and activity recommendations, timeline creation, vendor recommendations, and travel and lodging are included in each elopement package! See below for more details!

redwoods elopement guide redwoods elopement photographer julia mina

Elopement Packages

All Elopement Packages include:

*Engagement Session add-on available

Redwood National Park Starting at $5000

*Packages starts with 4 hour coverage 
*Payment Plans Available

redwoods elopement guide redwoods elopement photographer julia mina testimonial

Redwoods Elopement Testimonial

“We had a wonderful experience with Julia. Coming from Texas but wanting to get married on one of the western national parks, she suggested several locations along with pros and cons. She helped us find an officiant, hair and makeup artist, etc.

On the day of, she was energetic but relaxed and very fun to have around. She was patient with our changing plans (we needed to warm up before going to the second location).

Her photos from the elopement were incredible. Both the Redwood and beach location photos were stunning and she did a great job catching the small, sentimental stuff. I highly recommend her for anyone interested in eloping.” – Ashley Pipkin-Jones

Ready to Elope in The Redwoods?

I hope this Complete Redwoods Elopement Guide for 2024 answered all of your questions and left you feeling prepared to plan your redwoods elopement!

Now that you’ve made it to the end of this guide, are you feeling ready to elope in the redwoods? These National Parks are full of the most beautiful backdrops and serene atmospheres!

It can be very simple and easy to plan your elopement although it can be overwhelming at the same time. This is why I’m here as a Redwood Elopement Photographer and Guide to help you simplify your planning process and take care of things to give you the freedom to dream up your day! 

Are you ready to start planning your Redwood Elopement adventure? Book your free consultation with me to see if we are a good fit! Not set on the redwoods as your elopement location? Check out my Elopement Guides for other location ideas and the blog for real life redwood elopements and inspiration!

5 Responses

  1. Wow!! This is such an incredible guide for anyone wanting to elope in the redwoods. It looks like the most magical location and all of the pictures are so darn stunning.

  2. Wow! This is an incredibly detailed guide for eloping in the Redwoods! The information you provide will give couples all the information they need to decide if eloping in the Redwoods is right for them. I will save this blog for its valuable resources.

  3. This is such a helpful resource for couples choosing to elope in the Redwoods. I love how this Redwoods elopement guide covers everything a couple might possibly need!

  4. Hot diggity dang, what a helpful elopement guide for the Redwoods! I can’t believe how much info is listed here, along with fun facts like movie filmings. Who knew?

  5. What an outstanding guide! This is so helpful for anyone looking to elope in the Redwoods but also anyone who just wants to travel there. So helpful, I’m bookmarking this!

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I am all about making your day as smooth and fun as possible! Helping couples plan their dream wedding day brings me so much joy and it’s surreal that I’m able to capture it at all. Planning a wedding is overwhelming— big or small! Not all of us are natural born planners (if you are, you do you!!). This is where I come in and bring all of my knowledge and resources to the table so all you need to do is envision your dream day!

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