A Complete Guide to Planning Your North Cascades Elopement

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A Complete Guide to Planning Your North Cascades Elopement

Written by Kiersten Roy at Sonder Studio

It’s hard to think of something we love more than a North Cascades elopement. Fun fact – did you know that North Cascades National Park is one of the least visited national parks in the U.S.? That does not mean it doesn’t have amazing views (we actually think it has some of the best in the PNW), but it does mean that you’ll experience more privacy and way less crowds on your best day ever! For more details about this hidden gem, plus information on the best times of year to elope in the North Cascades, where to elope, and so much more keep scrolling and read our full guide to eloping in North Cascades National Park.

Table of Contents

The 7-Step North Cascades Elopement Checklist

Ready to start planning your North Cascades elopement? Follow these 7 simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to celebrating your best day ever!

Couple stands at Artist Point during their sunset North Cascades elopement

Choose Your North Cascades Elopement Photographer

We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but with over half of our elopements taking place in this area every single year, we consider ourselves experts when it comes to planning a North Cascades National Park elopement. From navigating national park logistics to weather patterns and uniquely scouted locations, we can’t wait to help you start planning your best day ever!

Couple holding clear umbrellas during their rainy North Cascades elopement
Couple walks across a bride during their rainy elopement in the North Cascades

Decide on a Time of Year and Day to Elope in the North Cascades

With over half of our elopements taking place in the North Cascades each year, we’ve photographed elopements in this national park during all times of the year. Below, we’ll walk you through the absolute best times of year to visit based on what you’re looking for.

Pro Tip – The biggest thing to note about weather in the North Cascades is that is can move fast. Even if it does rain or is cloudy or smoky on your elopement day, don’t worry. Because there are so many valleys in the North Cascades, you can still get mountain views no matter what. In fact, a lot of our couples choose this area because rain or shine they get a gorgeous landscape.


We always tell our couples that the best time to elope in the North Cascades is between late June and early October. The reason being is that North Cascades National Park sits at higher elevation, which means snow! And while we love a stunning winter elopement, not all trails are accessible during all months of the year. Depending on how much snowfall occurs during the winter months, all trails should be snow-free by mid-July. That’s why we recommend waiting until the summertime to head to the North Cascades. 

If you’re looking to experience the North Cascades during prime wildflower seasons, then between August to early September is the ideal time to visit. During this season you’ll see lupines exploding in shades of blues, purples and pinks, paintbrushes in their vibrant reds and oranges, and lilies in whites and yellow. Trust us, it’s something everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime!


If mid-summer doesn’t seem like the ideal time for your elopement, then fall is one of our favorite times to visit North Cascades National Park as it also happens to be larch season (specifically September through early October)! What are larches and why are we obsessed with them? Larches are pine trees that change colors and shed their pine needles. In the fall, these pine trees will explode into the most brilliant golden colors. Larch season in the North Cascades is absolutely stunning and will take your breath away! Have we convinced you to plan a larch elopement yet?


We typically suggest avoiding winter or spring elopements in North Cascades National Park because the weather is unpredictable and there are fewer options of where you can go in the park. Many of the roads and trails (especially the ones at higher elevations) close during the winter.

With that being said, if a ski elopement is something you’re dreaming of, the North Cascades is the place to go! There are tons of ski trails for both downhill and cross country skiers that are just waiting for you to explore on your best day ever!

Bride and groom kiss during their sunset North Cascades elopement in the mountains

Pick the Best North Cascades Elopement Location

Narrowing down a location for your North Cascades elopement is a hard decision. There are so many incredible places to explore within the park, but to help you get started, we’ve broken it down into our top three general regions.

  • Artist Point
  • Within the national park
  • Mazama / Winthrop area

Artist Point

Bride and groom hold hands as they walk around Artist Point during their elopement

If there was one location where we find ourselves photographing more than any other, it would have to be Artist Point. This location is actually located just outside the national park (in the Mt Baker Snoqualmie National Forest), which means it’s dog friendly! Here you will get a bit of it all: alpine lakes, flowering meadows, and panoramic mountain views of huge peaks like Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Artist Point is also a drive-up location, meaining it’s a great spot if you and/or your guests require an ADA-accessible location. While this location tends to be super popular, we know a ton of trails surrounding the area that are equally as stunning with a fraction of the crowds. This means you can either choose a single day elopement or a multi day elopement and still not explore all this area has to offer!

Closest Town: Glacier

Best Time to Elope: end of July – end of September

Within the national park

Bride and groom hold hands as they walk around a mountain trail at their North Cascades elopement

This area is best for couples who are eloping with just the two of you (or with a small handful of friends). The trails within North Cascades National Park are best for backpacking or day long hikes. If you’re a couple who wants to get out in the mountains, see mountain goats up close, and experience jaw-dropping views with no one else around, this is the location for you! While there aren’t as many drive-up trails in this area, we can promise you that these trails will be remote and prove just why the North Cascades is one of the most underrated national parks in the U.S.

Closest Town: Concrete

Best Time to Elope: end of July – beginning of October

Methow Valley

Bride and groom hold hands as they hike in the mountains during their North Cascades elopement

Located on the eastern side of the North Cascades, this region is the furthest away from Seattle, but with a high alpine feel and warmer temps, it’s got so many advantages. Because this area is drier and hotter than the others we listed, snow melts quicker meaning it becomes accessible around late June.

If you plan to invite a lot of guests to your North Cascades elopement, the surrounding area has lots of Airbnb cabins that allow celebratory meals up to 30 guests. With drive up locations like Washington Pass Overlook and alpine lakes (with the bluest water you’ve ever seen,) you also have tons of ADA-accessible locations to choose from. And, if you want to harness up and go on a climbing adventure, this area’s got you covered! There are lots of climbs around Methow Valley that we love to do with our couples.

Closest Towns: Mazama or Winthrop

Best Time to Elope: late June – early July // late September – early October

BONUS: Fire Lookouts

Bride and groom hug at a fire lookout at their North Cascades elopement
Bride and groom kiss at their North Cascades elopement in the mountains

While this is not a particular region in the North Cascades, all of the areas we mentioned above have fire lookouts. So, if you want to get married at a location with cool history and incredible views, we have lots of fire lookout locations that we’ve gathered over the years that we can’t wait to share with you!

Brides hold hands while walking around North Cascades National Park

Apply for Your North Cascades National Park Elopement Permit

One thing you definitely don’t want to forget for your North Cascades National Park elopement is your special use permit (aka your wedding permit). While permits vary by region, here is a general idea of what you can expect when applying for your North Cascades elopement permit:

  1. Fill out a Special Park Use Application
  2. Pay a $50 non-refundable special use permit application fee. You can do that online through the NPS website.
  3. The National Park Service will send you back a permit draft for you to review and sign. Sign and send the draft permit back and within a few weeks you’ll receive a fully signed (and super duper official) North Cascades National Park wedding permit.
  4. Don’t forget to bring your signed special use permit with you on your big day!

Pro tip: you can apply for your special use wedding permit up to a year in advance. They require about four weeks to process, so don’t put off getting this step checked off of your list!

Does all this sound overwhelming? Not to worry! We help all our couples walk through this exact process and more so you don’t have to worry about a thing!

Bride and groom hold hands while walking around an alpine lake at their North Cascades National Park elopement

Book a Cabin or a Campsite for Your North Cascades Elopement

There are tons of amazing locations to choose from for your North Cascades elopement! Once you’ve decided on a general location (see the locations above for our top recommended areas), you’ll want to find an Airbnb cabin or campsite where you can continue celebrating your best day ever! We’ve worked with couples who have chosen all different types of accommodations, but one of our favorite choices is an Airbnb wedding venue! Not only can you use your Airbnb as a space to get ready, but it can even be your ceremony location or your post-elopement reception space! To learn more about why we love Airbnb weddings, click on the link below to read our full guide.

Pro Tip – we make a customized location/accommodation guide for every couple, so once you book with us, you’ll receive a list of the best Airbnbs that allow events, our favorite airbnbs for couples, and more.

Bride and groom kiss in the mountains during their North Cascades elopement

Apply for a Washington State Marriage License

You’ve got your incredible partner, the stunning dress, the dreamy flowers and the epic North Cascades elopement backdrop. But, you cannot forget one of the most important items for your best day ever: your marriage license! Here’s what you need to know about getting your marriage license for your North Cascades National Park elopement:

  • You can apply for your Washington State marriage license up to 3 months in advance
  • Washington has a three-day waiting period which means you cannot get married the same day you get your marriage license (note – there is an option to pay a rush fee)
  • The Washington marriage license is valid for 60 days
  • A Washington marriage license costs $69 and is nonrefundable
  • You can obtain a marriage license from any county (we think King County is the easiest), and it is valid in any county in Washington. You just have to return the marriage license to the county where you obtained the license, and you can return it to the county by mail or in person!
  • Your ceremony must be performed by a registered officiant (fun fact – the entire team at Between the Pine is ordained and we’d be happy to sign your marriage license for you should you choose not to have an officiant).
  • You will need two witnesses to sign your marriage license. If you plan on inviting guests, you can simply ask two of them to sign. If your elopement day consists of just the two of you, don’t worry. We are happy to be a witness for you (so long as we are not also officiating) or other hikers are usually happy to sign as well.

For more information about getting a Washington marriage license for your North Cascades elopement click here.

Groom carries bride around a mountain trail during their North Cascades elopement

Plan Your North Cascades Elopement Adventure

We’re not joking when we say that the North Cascades has literally everything (ok, maybe not the ocean, but everything else.)! From alpine lakes, mountains with glaciers, rivers, old growth forests and epic mountain views, this area does not lack in terms of places to explore. What this means is that when it comes to planning an adventure for your North Cascades elopement the sky is the limit. Lace up your hiking boots and trek one of the hundreds of trails or ski down the mountain during your best day ever. Or, if a simple drive-up location with a celebratory meal at your Airbnb is more your jam, the North Cascade’s got that too. Your celebration doesn’t have to end just because your elopement day is over. The North Cascades is a great destination for a Washington honeymoon. For more post-elopement adventure tips, check out our guide below.

Things to Keep in Mind for Your North Cascades Elopement

Bride and groom hold hands while walking through a mountain trail at their North Cascades National Park elopement


One of the most important things we like to tell all our couples is that when choosing to plan an adventure elopement it that it’s best to plan for a certain level of flexibility. We can work together to plan the most epic adventure, but when Mother Nature calls, we are at her mercy. Weather patterns can change quickly, but no matter what happens, we will be there to help guide you every step of the way.

Leave No Trace

Speaking of Mother Nature, we are big advocates of the Leave No Trace Principles and always encourage couples (and their guests) to stay on established trails for your elopement! To learn more about planning a Leave No Trace elopement, click here!


Want to include your pup of honor in your epic elopement adventure? While North Cascades National Park is not very pup friendly, the surrounding national forests do allow dogs and are filled with beautiful trails (like Artist Point). You can still experience the dramatic peaks of the North Cascades, just with you pup by your side. And not to worry we know all the incredible hikes that are dog friendly that lead to stunning views! Click here to learn how to include your pup-of-honor in your elopement day!


And, lastly, you have to keep in mind that this is a beloved national park. It’s possible that there will be others around, either on the trail or at the lookout. While we will help you plan a timeline to avoid the crowds, we can’t guarantee complete privacy.

As we’ve said before, North Cascades is one of our all time favorite national parks in the U.S. There are so many locations in and around the park that would make for an epic elopement – and we are really just scratching the surface. Click the button below to start dreaming up your best day ever in one of the most beautiful national parks in the US!

Meet Your North Cascades Elopement Photographers

We feel most at home in the outdoors, so it’s no surprise that is where we gravitate towards as your North Cascades elopement photographers. Between the Pine was founded by Mollie in 2018 and she has hiked hundreds of miles all over the Pacific Northwest and Kauai, to capture couples during their best day ever. Since 2018, we’ve grown our team and continue to hire even more incredible photographers! 

Our team at Between the Pine is passionate about our jobs and adventuring to the most beautiful locations to document your best day ever. We know the Pacific Northwest like the back of our hands and are dying for a reason to head back to the mountains, forest, and everything in between! Click here to learn more about the Between the Pine team, your North Cascades elopement photographers!

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