best lakeside elopement locations in the us

If you’re anything like us, you know just how fun yet relaxing being by a lake can be. Imagine kayaking or boating out onto calm, open waters. Or having a picnic on the shore while watching the sunset and colorful reflections on the water. Now imagine this for your elopement day. This is why lakes can be one of the best locations for your outdoor elopement!

Need some ideas on where to go? Here’s our top list of lakeside elopement locations to inspire you:

a couple kissing on the shore of bagley lakes cascades washington
Bagley Lakes, Cascades, Washington

The North Cascades

From short hikes to places like Bagley Lakes or Artist point, to the sweeping views at Diablo Lake, there are some absolutely jaw-dropping lakeside scenery in the North Cascades. Washington state is one of our favorite places on this planet, since you can have a stunning combination of mountains, lakes, waterfalls, forests, and more, making it perfect for adventure elopements.

For more location inspiration (including other lakes) like this one, head over to our best places to elope in Washington list!

The Great Lakes

Whether you already live in the upper midwest, or you know you want a lake that feels expansive and less like a “pond,” the Great Lakes are sure to give you what you’re looking for. Summer and fall are a great time to elope in this area, when the ice has melted, the foliage is colorful, and it’s warm enough to paddle or ride out onto the water.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the US and the seventh deepest in the world. Located in southern Oregon and named one of our national parks in 1902, Crater Lake isn’t just for those who love lakes. Anyone with an interest for geology will also find that its unique history and appearance is also super cool.

Former Mount Mazama was a 12,000-foot volcano that erupted about 7,700 years ago. Today, the lake is filled only with water from snow and rain, since no other sources of water feed into it. This gives it a distinctly unique blue color, and has some of the cleanest water of any lake in the world.

Although you can’t kayak on this water anymore, you can get some great sweeping views of the lake and its island for your elopement along the rim of the crater, or you can visit one of the designated swimming areas to access the water. Or take a boat tour out to Wizard Island for the day!

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

The Lake of the Ozarks is an extremely popular location for Midwesterners to vacation during the summer and offers plenty of things to do if you want an activity-filled elopement on the water. Consider eloping on the lake itself via a boat ride, or at one of the two nearby state parks: Lake of the Ozarks State Park, which has plenty of camping opportunities, or Ha Ha Tonka State Park, a unique spot with beautiful ruins on site.

Blue Lakes Elopement
Blue Lakes, Breckenridge, Colorado

Alpine Lakes in Colorado

Our photo + video team is based in Colorado, so it’s really hard for us to pick just one lake from here so we’re including a few! Lake Dillon is a great easy-to-access location for anyone wanting to visit the ski towns of Breckenridge and Keystone. Twin Lakes is a little farther south, but also very accessible and quite a bit less busy, so we love recommending it for couples who want a more private elopement experience.

Our other most popular lakeside elopement locations in Colorado are Blue Lakes near Breckenridge and Lake Isabelle near Boulder. At this time, the 4×4 road to Blue Lakes requires a high-clearance 4WD vehicle to access when the gate is open during summer months (often late May through October), but there is talk that this may close to all vehicles in the future.

Lake Isabelle is located in the Indian Peaks Wilderness and during summer can be accessed via a 4-mile roundtrip hike. There are limitations in designated Wilderness areas, such as no props/arches or drones, and guest counts are limited to a few people. If you have more than a few guests, you can elope on the shores of Brainard Lake nearby, a larger, more accessible lake that doesn’t require a hike.

Two other great options are Sprague Lake (inside Rocky Mountain National Park) and Grand Lake, located just west of the national park. Sprague Lake and other options inside the park require reservations made pretty far in advance at very specific ceremony locations, and limit guest counts at 30 people or less (including yourselves and all wedding vendors present, like your photographer). Grand Lake is a great (free!) option at its local Point Park, although we don’t recommend groups larger than about 10 people there.

Eklutna Lake, Alaska

An hour’s drive from Anchorage, you can access Eklutna Lake inside the Chugach State Park for a beautiful lakeside elopement among the mountains. It’s certainly not Alaska’s only fantastic lake option for your elopement, but it’s one of the easiest to access with great views. It also offers kayaking rentals on-site, although you’ll still want to reserve them far in advance.

Walden Pond, Massachusetts

For all the nature writing enthusiasts out there (like us!), eloping by Thoreau’s Walden Pond might just be the perfect option. Although not a very large body of water, this spot has a lot of meaning in the environmentalist movement. It’s also pretty centrally located for anyone living in the Northeast.

donner lake elopement photographer
Donner Lake, California

Lake Tahoe + Donner Lake

On the border of California and Northern Nevada, you’ll find one of the dreamiest lakes in the world: Lake Tahoe. Even if you’ve never been, chances are you’ve seen pictures of the crystal-clear water and snow-capped Sierra-Nevada Mountains surrounding the lake. Our favorite activities here are in the summer, when you can have an elopement day complete with a picnic on the beach, kayaking or SUP on the water, taking a sunset boat ride, and hiking in the nearby forests. It does get extremely busy when the weather is warm, so be sure to opt for a weekday elopement when choosing Lake Tahoe.

If you want a less-busy option nearby, we love the docks at Donner Lake. It’s a very peaceful location, especially at sunrise, and only about 30 minutes from the north side of Lake Tahoe.

And fun fact: Kaitlyn (our lead photographer + videographer) used to live in Reno, NV ― less than an hour away ― so she knows the area really well!

Eloping on a lake? Take us with you!

At Skyewater Photo + Film, we specialize in elopements located by, on, or near the water. Finding hidden gem lake locations is our jam! Especially if you want a combination of lakes and mountains, we have your back. Our photography and videography team isn’t just here to capture your day; we offer unlimited planning assistance to help bring your elopement day to life.

Contact our photo and video team today to get started!

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