For some of us, the traditional wedding with all of the planning, the guests, and the party just isn’t our style. Instead, a romantic getaway with our soon-to-be partner for life in a super scenic place is all we need.
While an elopement is already an adventure, why not take it up a notch and head to a waterfall for your private ceremony? Here are some of the best waterfalls in the U.S. if you’re considering an adventurous elopement.
Waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
If you’re already in love with the idea of eloping to the PNW (a favorite of ours for epic waterfalls!), there are a few really fantastic location options for elopements with a waterfall backdrop along the Columbia River Gorge Scenic Byway. Several are very easy to access, and with their close proximity to Portland, you can definitely expect busy crowds during the summer and on weekends. But if you’re flexible and open to weekday mornings, especially in the off season, some of our favorite waterfalls to consider eloping to here include:
Multonomah stands at 611 feet tall, surrounded by greenery and is a short walk away from the trail entrance. A bridge takes you across the springs, providing the most picturesque view of the waterfall straight-on. Easily the most popular out of these waterfalls along the Columbia River Gorge.
One of our personal favorites, Latourell is another tall waterfall with a dramatic feel and easy to access. The picture above is from one of our couples sessions from there!
Less than half a mile roundtrip, this waterfall is less popular but just as beautiful of a backdrop for an outdoorsy elopement.
The Olympic Peninsula
Washington state has a variety of amazing waterfalls, and some of the best for elopements are located on the dreamy and moody Olympic Peninsula, with the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. The best part? You can combine your waterfall elopement day with other beautiful scenery, such as the beaches along the coast, forests, lakes, and mountaintops along Hurricane Ridge. Plus, we’ve already scouted out some of our favorite waterfalls in this area, so reach out to us for all the details!
Panther Creek Falls
On the Washington sided of the Columbia River Gorge in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Panther Creek Falls is a drop-dead-gorgeous location for elopements. There’s no parking pass/entry fee, and the hike is less than a quarter mile roundtrip, with only 100 feet of elevation gain. Also nearby is Falls Creek Falls (a 3+ mile roundtrip hike) if you want to do both in one day!
Head on over to our other post on best places to elope in Washington for more ideas!
Rifle Falls, Colorado
Rifle Falls State Park not only is perfect for elopements, since it’s more of a hidden gem and not nearly as busy as other locations in the state, but it even features the Mountain Mist Amphitheater, which seats up to 50 guests if you want your family and friends to join you. And since we have team members based in Colorado, you don’t have to pay any travel fees for us to join you!
Bridal Veil Falls, Colorado
As the tallest free falling waterfalls in all of Colorado, Bridal Veil Falls are surely a sight to see, especially for adventure elopements. Located in Telluride, the waterfalls are 365 feet tall and require a moderate hike with a 1,300 foot ascent with a roundtrip length of about 4 miles. Definitely one of the best views in all of Colorado!
Burney Falls, California
The hike to get to the Burney Falls in California is about 1 mile, but the view at the end makes it more than worth it. Camp at the park the night before, then head over to the cascading waterfall that covers a wall of lush greenery for a romantic, nature-filled elopement day.
Glacier National Park, Montana
There are a few really beautiful waterfalls in Glacier National Park worth considering for your adventure elopement. St. Mary’s Falls is a 3 mile roundtrip hike, and on the same trail you can also opt to see Virginia Falls. A third option is Florence Falls, which will likely have far fewer crowds nearby, but it is a full day hike at over 9 miles and 1000 feet of elevation gain. Be sure to check with the park for all permit information.
Ousel Falls, Montana
Another great waterfall in Montana and not inside the busy national park is Ousel Falls. It’s only a mile and a half long roundtrip, and our favorite part? You can bring your dog(s)!
Nugget Falls, Alaska
Now unlike most other waterfalls, this one you can actually see both the Nugget Falls (aka Nugget Creek Falls) and a glacier! The Mendenhall Glacier is right in the same area, so it’s a perfect opportunity to see two really beautiful features in one spot.
Reed’s Falls, Hilo, Hawaii
If you’d rather elope at a waterfall in a tropical location like Hawaii without having to hike at all, definitely check out the waterfalls at Reed’s Island, a romantic vacation rental with a stunning view of the waterfalls right outside your window.
Manawaiopuna Falls, Kauai, Hawaii
You might recognize these falls from Jurassic Park! Although previously only able to be viewed from the air by helicopter, you can now take a helicopter ride and land at the base of the 400-foot Manawaiopuna Falls. Truly an epic adventure for your elopement!
Waimoku Falls, Maui, Hawaii
On the famous Road to Hana, you can stop and take the Pipiwai Trail above the Seven Sacred Pools up to the 400-foot tall Waimoku waterfall — the tallest on Maui — for an adventurous waterfall elopement in Hawaii. The hike is 4 miles round-trip, and over 600 feet in elevation gain, but worth it!
Stewart Falls, Utah
Located in Aspen Grove, Stewart Falls Trail is located on a 3.5 mile trail and perfect for springtime elopements. The trail also features tall canyon walls, wildflowers, and a nice mix of forest and mountain views.
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
The Lower Calf Creek waterfall is on a longer trail than most others on this list, but definitely worth it for those wanting a full day elopement experience. It’s located inside the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, so may likely need a photography or event permit, and the trail is over 6 miles roundtrip. Dogs can also join you on this trail as long as they stay leashed up.
Havasu Falls, Arizona
Nestled in the desert just outside of the Grand Canyon, this waterfall is a hidden oasis. Havasu falls is enclosed in a red rock formation in a nearly isolated part of the desert on the Havasupai Reservation, which means you’ll definitely need to run permits by them before eloping here. But if you do snag a reservation for the Havasu camping area, you can also head to Mooney Falls — another 6-mile trek from the campground.
Although the area can get crowded during peak season, you and your partner can have an adventurous, secluded elopement if you choose to visit during less popular times.
Mesa Falls, Idaho
Mesa Falls is Idaho gem is easy to access and has plenty of waterfront views. The falls are separated into Upper and Lower portions along the Snake River; the 10-story high Upper Mesa Falls resemble a wall of water while the Lower Mesa Falls stream into the river. Either spot would make for a fun hike for a newlywed couple!
Smith Falls, Nebraska
Smith Falls State Park features the perfect midwest location for a camping elopement and a hike to the tallest falls in Nebraska. Be sure to check with the park regarding any necessary permits you might need to elope here.
Old Man Cave Upper Falls, Ohio
Another hidden gem in the midwest, Upper Falls at Old Mans Cave feels like something out of a fairy tale or movie. The stream of water trickles down from beneath an old bridge, giving a truly picturesque feel for an elopement in the woods.
Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota
A very popular waterfall in the upper midwest, Gooseberry Falls is a sight to be seen for sure. If you want to avoid the crowds for your elopement in this area, you’ll want to visit at off-peak times, such as spring or fall instead of summer, and also aim for a weekday morning such as sunrise.
The Falls at Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
Don’t want to settle for just one waterfall on your elopement day? The Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen has over 20 (yes, 20!) waterfalls along the hike. For the best views, aim to come here during rainy season when the water levels are their highest.
Dry Run Falls, Pennsylvania
Although this waterfall isn’t the tallest, at only about 20 feet tall, it’s definitely one of the easiest to access and still offers a great backdrop for elopements. Dry Run Falls is inside the Loyalsock State Forest right on the side of PA Route 87 and also has wooden tables ready for your elopement picnic!
Taughannock Falls State Park, New York
One of the most scenic waterfalls in the Northeast, Taughannock Falls is perfect for an elopement in New York. Also on-site are campsites, cabins, and a marina with a boat launch.
Cedar Falls, Arkansas
Located inside the Petit Jean State Park in Arkansas, Cedar Falls is a great spot for a moderate hiking elopement experience. It’s only 2 miles roundtrip, with some beautiful stone boulders and forested areas along the trail.
Pine Island Double Falls, Kentucky
We always love it when nature gives us the perfect metaphor for a joining of two people in marriage. Pine Island Double Falls does just that! Two streams of water come down to meet in a pool in the middle at the base, making it a meaningful and stunning place for an elopement.
Cascade Falls, Virginia
Our top choice for a waterfall elopement in Virginia is the Cascade Falls, which is accessible nearly year-round (super cool even covered in snow and ice!). There’s a beautiful stone path along the way, and during summer it’s perfect for a swimming hole as well.
Burgess Falls State Park, Tennessee
A truly remarkable waterfall so loud you can feel the pounding of the water from the ground under your feet, Burgess Falls makes for an epic elopement location in Tennessee. There are four waterfalls here, with the biggest one falling more than 130 feet. Or if you want another great option in this state, check out Cummins Falls State Park. Both of these will be very busy during the summer, so off-peak times are best.
Waterfalls in North Carolina
North Carolina is easily one of our top few states in the US, especially since it has SO MANY great waterfalls and makes for a stunning elopement location with mountains, flowers, and amazing views. Here are some of our favorite waterfalls in this region you might consider for your elopement:
Crabtree Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway
Catawba Falls, Pisgah National Forest
Toccoa Falls, Georgia
This spot is not just beautiful for smaller elopements, but even larger wedding celebrations, too! Toccoa Falls is over 180 feet tall, making it one of the tallest waterfalls along the east coast. Easy to access from other regions nearby like Atlanta, Florida, and the Carolinas, making it a perfect regional destination for eloping couples nearby.
Waterfalls in Alabama
We’ll bet you didn’t expect this state on the list, especially for places to elope with waterfalls. But it’s true! There are dozens of hidden gem locations only locals know about (and we have the inside scoop!) in Alabama and this region is already not a popular destination for elopements, which means fewer crowds, fewer restrictions and permits to deal with, and just as stunning backdrops to enjoy. It even made the cut on our list of most underrated places to elope!
Waterfall Elopement Photographers
Skyewater Photo + Film is an adventure elopement and destination wedding photography and videography team based in Colorado and traveling across the US in search of the best waterfalls and other elopement locations all the timee. We help couples plan elopements all over the US, and offer insight for more than just photography: from planning assistance, finding and booking locations, vendor references and more!
Reach out to our elopement photography and videography team today to get more details!