I’m a wedding & elopement photographer for laid back couples that value the idea of being married more than just having a party. They want photos that show their true selves and represent their love of nature, and prefer to be more natural than overly posed.
Have you been dreaming about where to elope in Bend Oregon? Do the tall coniferous trees, lush meadows and gorgeous mountain lakes call to you? Perhaps you love the incredible volcanic mountains along the Cascade Mountain chain, or the wide open spaces of the high desert. Bend, Oregon is situated smack dab in Central Oregon and surrounded by an amazing landscape with so many great places for an adventure elopement. It can be daunting trying to nail down that perfect location for your ceremony and photos. Knowing whether you choose to elope with just the two of you, or a small gathering of family and friends, will help you to narrow down the many outdoor locations. As an Oregon and PNW elopement photographer, I always work with my clients to plan the perfect day, and all of my elopement collections include location scouting.
Obviously, Bend, Oregon is one of my favorite places for elopements. I’ve called Bend home since 2008 and it’s truly a rad place! Situated in the high desert, on the east side of the Cascades, Bend is an awesome outdoor lovers paradise, with countless miles of hiking and biking trails, Mt. Bachelor ski resort, and world class climbing at Smith Rock is less than 45 minutes away. The Deschutes River runs through town, and the city is a vibrant place for beer and nature lovers. The craft brew scene is definitely strong in Bend! It’s also a great jumping off point to access all of Central Oregon, from the high desert to the east, to Crater Lake National Park to the south, to the waterfalls and lush forests along the Cascades. There are endless possibilities for epic elopement spots. Here are some of my favorite places to elope in Bend, Oregon!
Not far from town is the gorgeous Deschutes River Trail. Volcanic lava rock, a deep, cold river and incredible cliffs and waterfalls make this a favorite and easy spot to elope. The trail spans 12 miles from Sunriver to Bend, and there are so many great places for your elopement ceremony. You’ll want to be sure you have a Northwest Forest Pass to park at any of the trailheads along the stretch. The river trail is extremely popular with hikers, runners and mountain bikers, and the river itself gets very busy during the warm summer months, so choosing a weekday and avoiding the most popular stretches will help create a more private experience for you. As an experienced Bend, Oregon elopement photographer, I can help to find locations along the river trail that will accommodate your group size and location desires, while also making sure the timing is good to avoid crowds and have the best possible light.
Of course, another absolute favorite location to elope in Bend Oregon is at Smith Rock State Park. It’s a world class climbing spot, but you don’t need to be a dirtbag to enjoy the beauty of the park (although, if you are, I’m 100% cool with that too and I know we will get along great). The park, like many Central Oregon spots, is definitely super popular, and the rangers are cracking down on elaborate elopement and weddings unless you reserve the pavilion. They have been enforcing rules to remain on trail, as they should, but don’t worry, as a Leave No Trace certified photographer I know where to go that won’t get us in trouble and I’m will make sure to stay on top of the latest park rules. Sunset as Smith Rock is seriously a stunner! Here’s a late fall engagement session from Smith Rock to see more images.
The Cascade Lakes Highway is a scenic corridor running through the mountains just west of Bend, giving easy access to many of the mountain lakes. The highway is closed in the winter, but typically opens by Memorial Day weekend and stays open until early to mid-November (depending on snow, of course). It’s along this scenic byway that you’ll find access to some incredible hikes, such as Broken Top, South Sister, and Green Lakes within the Three Sisters Wilderness Area. A permit is needed to hike in these locations, so if you are wanting to do an adventurous hiking elopement, I will help you to make sure you have the proper permits to do so. You can also drive to many of the lakes, some offer resort amenities, while others are more primitive. If winter is your thing, there are options to access the area via snowcat, snowmobile, skis or snowshoes. Mt. Bachelor ski resort is also in this region, and if skiing or snowboarding is your thing (it’s definitely mine), then the slopes are an amazing place to say your vows! If you want to elope in Bend Oregon, and want some epic mountain views, then the Cascade Lakes Region is definitely a good place to look for your location. To see a gorgeous Sparks Lake elopement, take a look at this blog post and if you want to see more winter images from this area, check out this beautiful Dutchman Flats snowy engagement session.
Crater Lake is Oregon’s only National Park, but it’s certainly a gorgeous one! There are so many cool spots within the park, all with amazing views. While the park can be crowded on a summer weekend, choosing to elope on a weekday will almost guarantee you some sort of privacy. The park is also open in the winter, so again, if you like snow, this really is a location you should consider! The park does require a permit, both for the elopement ceremony itself, but also for photography. I am familiar with the permit process and can help guide you through. It can take up to 8 weeks to secure your permit, so if you are considering the park, please make sure to give yourself plenty of time to secure the necessary permits. Check out this amazing Crater Lake elopement for more images.
Central Oregon provides an amazing jumping off point to access many waterfalls and lush forests in the state. Within a hour or so drive, you will find yourself in a complete fairytale landscape, with fern covered forests, hot springs and tall evergreen trees. Magical rivers give the waterfall lover an incredible display and offer some truly jaw dropping backdrops to elope in Bend Oregon! If you want to see a full day elopement, read about this beautiful waterfall elopement at Sahalie Falls. You can also check out this half day elopement at Tumalo Falls.
Last, but certainly not least, is the incredible wide open desert that makes up over half of all land in Oregon. Juniper and sagebrush dot the landscape, with amazing canyons, lava tubes, playa and hot springs. Much of the area surrounding Bend is considered high desert and it’s absolutely breathtaking! Here’s a Crooked River Grasslands engagement session if you want to take a look at the beauty the desert offers. Of course, Smith Rock is definitely a desert landscape, but there are so many locations outside of the busy state park, if privacy is important to you. The best part of the desert is that it truly provides solitude. If you are a desert lover, I would love to help you find your perfect place to elope.
Of course, I have plenty of secret spots, and I’m always willing to scout new locations based on your needs. I love exploring and as a full service Oregon adventure elopement photographer, I want to make sure you have an epic elopement. So, if you want to elope in Bend Oregon get in touch with me and let’s plan your dream elopement day! I am booking 2021 dates and would love to get you on my calendar.
Hey, I’m Erica, a sentimental Oregon elopement photographer for free-spirited and natural couples who love the outdoors. Let’s grab an IPA and chat.
I love Bend and all of these locations! This is a great guide for the area!
You’ve got me convinced! Beautiful locations and such a helpful guide! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and gorgeous work.