One of my favorite places to visit in Washington State is North Cascades National Park. This underrated area of Washington is one of my most-recommended elopement locations for couples looking to have epic mountain views, lakes, and green forests during their special day. This guides covers all things North Cascades. From the weather to the best places to elope, everything you’ll need to know about this stunning area is located in this foolproof guide.
North Cascades Elopement Checklist
- Choose what time of year to elope.
- Choose your perfect elopement location.
- Apply for a marriage license in Washington State.
- Apply for your North Cascades National Park permit.
- Book your lodging.
- Create a timeline (your elopement photographer can help you with this).
- North Cascades National Park Elopement Packages
Best Time to Elope in North Cascades National Park
One of the most unique things about North Cascades National Park is the weather.
If you want to have the best elopement experience possible, I recommend eloping between mid-July and early October. Since the park has so many high elevation locations, it gets a ton of snow, and while winter wonderland elopements are amazing, many of the beautiful spots run the risk of being inaccessible. If you’re wanting completely snow-free trails, I recommend eloping during the months of August or September, just to be safe.
My personal favorite time to visit the park is during late-September and early-October. This is when all the tourists are gone, the fall colors are vibrant as ever, and the weather is still fairly nice.
If you love wildflowers, consider the month of August. This is when the wildflowers are at their peak!
I recommend steering clear from spring and winter elopements in the North Cascades area. The snow shuts down roads, more than half the locations are inaccessible, and the weather is bitter cold.
Best Places to Elope in North Cascades National Park
These are just a few of the many different places to elope in North Cascades National Park. While some of these locations are technically in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, they’re right on the border of the park and still provide epic cascade views.
One of my favorite lakes within the park is called Bagley Lakes. This extremely accessible lake is the perfect spot for pictures. Since this is one of the more popular lakes in the area, I recommend a sunrise ceremony. There are also different viewpoints of the lake around various trails in the park.
If you love to hike, the Ptarmigan Ridge is a great trail for your North Cascades elopement. It branches off of the popular Chain Lakes Loop. In my opinion, it’s is one of the most underrated trails in the park. I know some secret trails around this area where you can experience jaw-dropping views without anyone in sight!
An Alpine Lake
There are dozens of both accessible and hidden alpine lakes around the park. I know of multiple that would be perfect for an elopement. If you’re looking for a quiet place to exchange vows without anyone around, I have a handful of lakes in mind, like this one pictured here that can be found within the park.
Artist Point is one of, if not, the most visited place in the park due to it being a drive-up location. If you want to get up close and personal with Mt. Shuksan, this is the location for you. This area is beautiful during sunset, but again, keep in mind its popularity. There are other areas in the park that will get you similar views with less people.
Winchester Mountain Lookout
Winchester Mountain Lookout is known to be one of the most rewarding hikes in Washington State. However, this hike is notorious for the awful road that leads to the trailhead. I highly recommend adding on the extra 4 roundtrip miles for this hike. My husband and I couldn’t even make our way up in a high-clearance 4WD vehicle! Photo by: Andy Porter Images.
Washington Pass Overlook
This drive-up location is perfect for elopements with friends and family. There is a 0.3 mile wheelchair accessible path that will take you to the famous Washington Pass Overlook. This area is a bit busier, but it’s stunning during sunset. Keep in mind that there is a fence around this location, so if you’re not wanting that in your pictures, consider the hundreds of other lookouts around the park.
How to Apply for a Marriage License in Washington State
To apply for a marriage license in Washington State, you have three different options: in-person, online, or by mail. For most people, online seems to be the easiest and most convenient method.
Before applying for a license, you need to know a few things.
- A marriage license in Washington State has a three day waiting period, meaning you can’t can’t married until three days after obtaining your marriage license have passed.
- The marriage license expires in 60 days.
- You can obtain a marriage license from any county in Washington State. However, you have to return the signed paperwork back to the county you obtained your license from.
If you plan on getting your license from King County (Seattle are), you can view the online marriage license application here. To view step-by-step instructions on how to obtain your marriage license for your North Cascades elopement, click here.
Do You Need an Officiant and Witness for Your Elopement?
Yes. Washington State requires an officiant and at least two witnesses for your elopement.
Pro tip: Friends and family can become ordained to officiate your elopement for free online through the Universal Life Church!
How to Apply for an Elopement Permit
In order to elope in the beautiful North Cascades, you’ll need what’s called a special use permit.
The process to obtain a special use permit is very easy. Simply follow the steps below and you’re good to go!
- Email North Cascades National Park through their contact form found here, asking for the application for your elopement.
- Fill out the Special Use Permit Application and send it back via email.
- Pay the $50 application fee through the NPS website found here.
- After the permit is processed (usually within 4-6 weeks), you’ll receive your official copy via email. Don’t forget to bring this with you on your elopement day!
If you are getting married within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest (right near the border of North Cascades), you won’t need a permit if you have less than 75 people attending your wedding.
As an elopement photographer, I help with all things permits! If any of this information is confusing, or you’re unsure where your elopement location is located, reach out! All of my North Cascades elopement packages include permit assistance.
5 Best Airbnbs in North Cascades National Park
These are a few of my top Airbnbs within the area. While lodging isn’t technically located in the park, a quick 45-minute drive will leave you with a ton of options! Most of these Airbnbs are located in Glacier, WA.
- 70’s A-Frame Chalet (see the Airbnb pictured above!)
- Forest Cabin with Views and a Hot Tub (this place totally reminds me of Edward Cullen’s house)
- Luxurious and Modern Ski Chalet
- Rustic Treetop Cabin
- Scandinavian Luxury Cabin
North Cascades National Park Tips: 3 Things You Should Know
These are a few tips I recommend as a North Cascades elopement photographer!
#1: You may need a parking pass. If any of your locations are within the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Forest, you’ll need a parking pass. It’s $5 a day and can be purchased online here. Failure to do so will result in an $80 fee.
#2: Dogs are allowed! Most areas within the park allow dogs, as long as they’re leashed.
#3: Plan for some extra days. The park is huge, and most areas are not within driving distance of each other. To make the most out of your trip, plan to stay an extra few days.
North Cascades National Park Elopement Examples
- 5:00am – Brianna meets the couple at their rustic Airbnb for getting ready shots.
- 6:00am – Have a first look right on the lake with candles and a pre-wedding dance.
- 7:00am – Head up to the mountain for an intimate vow reading.
- 8:00am – Arrive and begin the ceremony followed by portraits.
- 9:00am – Set up a breakfast picnic by the mountain.
- 10:00am – Explore a bit more around the area, taking photos along the way.
- 11:00am – Head back to the Airbnb to meet up with friends and family.
- 12:00pm – Enjoy some light snacks while the private chef preps lunch.
- 12:30pm – Lunch begins with friends and family, followed with a soak in the hot tub.
- 2:00pm – Leave for a ceremony with friends and family nearby.
- 2:30pm – Begin the ceremony, followed by family pictures.
- 3:30pm – Leave for the Airbnb.
- 4:00pm – Arrive and enjoy cake, champagne, and a first dance.
- 5:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves.
- 1:00pm – Brianna meets the couple at their Airbnb for getting ready shots.
- 2:00pm – Head out for a 2-mile roundtrip hike to an epic mountain view.
- 3:00pm – Begin the hike.
- 4:00pm – Arrive at the top and begin the epic ceremony, followed by portraits.
- 5:00pm – Head back to the car.
- 6:00pm – Leave for the Airbnb.
- 7:00pm – Arrive to a private candlelit dinner with cake, champagne, and a first dance.
- 8:00pm – Photo coverage wraps up, Brianna leaves.
North Cascades National Park Elopement Packages
North Cascades National Park is one of my all-time favorite places. I’ve created personalized elopement packages for couples looking to elope in this beautiful corner of the world.
North Cascades Elopement Package Pricing
- 4 hours – 1.5 days of elopement coverage anywhere in Washington State
- A hands-on elopement planning experience with unlimited assistance
- personalized elopement locations and questionnaires
- vendor recommendations
- permit assistance
- customized elopement timeline
- activity suggestions
- Online gallery with full resolution and printing rights
- 24-48 hour sneak peak images
- Travel fees to ANYWHERE in Washington are already included
- Starting at $4,500
- I also offer all-inclusive elopement packages, which takes the planning out of your elopement completely. Check those packages out here.
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I’m Brianna, a California elopement photographer who inspires, encourages, and empowers couples to push traditional boundaries and create experiences they’ll remember forever.