Guide to Planning Your North Cascades National Park Elopement
It’s hard to think of something we love more than a North Cascades National Park elopement. First off: did you know that there’s a little mountain town in North Cascades National Park that you can only get to by boat, seaplane or hiking?! That’s right — NO roads lead there! Talk about ultimate adventure and ultimate privacy. We’re sharing all the details about this hidden gem, which is one of our top four places to elope in North Cascades National Park. Plus details on the best times of year to elope in the North Cascades, everything you’ll need to know about weather patterns, one of our favorite natural phenomenons ever (hint: larch season!!!) and so.much.more. in our full guide to eloping in North Cascades National Park.
How to elope in North Cascades National Park: a checklist
- Choose the best time of year
- Hire an elopement photographer (pssst… we’d love to adventure with you!)
- Pick your ideal elopement location
- Get your marriage license + special use permit
- Plan an adventurous celebration in North Cascades National Park
There are a few steps you’ll want to take when planning your North Cascades National Park elopement. First, since the North Cascades get quite a bit of snow, it’s important to understand North Cascades National Park weather and choose the ideal time of year for your elopement. Then, you’ll want to pick your North Cascades National Park elopement location based on things like accessibility and preferred backdrop. Maybe you’re thinking of a sweeping snow-capped mountain or maybe it’s a stunning blue alpine lake or you prefer a sweet little a-frame cabin in the woods, you can have one or even all of these backdrops during your North Cascades National Park elopement! Next, you’ll want to apply for your National Park special use permit, also known as your wedding permit, and make sure you understand what you’ll need to do to get your Washington state marriage license. Head to our travel schedule to start planning your dream day in North Cascades National Park or if you’re set on planning your adventure wedding here, check out our contact form to inquire!
The best time of year to elope in the North Cascades: understanding North Cascades National Park weather patterns
It’s super important to understand North Cascades National Park weather when considering what time of year you would like to elope. We always tell our couples that the best time to elope in the North Cascades is between mid-July and early October. The reason being is that North Cascades National Park is at higher elevation, which means snow! And while a stunning winter elopement is one of our favorite things, hiking around in muddy half-melted snow is a little bit less awesome. 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.
Between August to early September is when you’ll get wildflowers in the mountains of North Cascades National Park. Have you ever seen lupine 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! And in the PNW we have so many different types of wildflowers. Want to learn more on the different types of wildflowers you could see during your North Cascades National Park elopement, here is a list of 57 common wildflowers that grow here!
Fun fact! You can usually predict how good wildflower season will be during the winter. Years with above average snowfall usually mean better wildflowers since snowmelt is what provides water for the wildflowers in the spring and summer.
If mid-summer doesn’t seem like the ideal time for your elopement, the fall is one of our favorite times to visit North Cascades National Park for one reason: larches! September through early October, depending on the year, is larch season. What are larches? Why are we obsessed with them? Larches are deciduous conifers, this means they are pine trees that change colors and shed their pine needles. So in the fall, larches change their colors and the valleys explode in brilliant golden colors. Larch season in the North Cascades is absolutely stunning and will take your breath away! Who’s trying to have a larch elopement? Sign. us. up!
We 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, since some of the roads and trails, especially the ones at higher elevations, close during the winter. If you are wanting to elope in the spring or winter, Olympic National Park and the Snoqualmie National Forest are great options for this time of year! Check out this forest elopement that ended with a beach sunset in Olympic National Park! And if this isn’t what you envision, head to our blog on the best places to elope in the United States for more inspiration!
North Cascades National Park map: it’s called the North American Alps for a reason!
Take a look at the North Cascades National Park map, you’ll notice there are many different environments in this National Park. Here’s where we step on our soapbox about why North Cascades is actually one of the most incredible national parks ever. North Cascades National Park extends all the way from the US-Canada border to Lake Chelan and is extremely biodiverse. This means there are tons of different types of plants and animals that live here! The western side is wetter, with dramatic peaks, lush greenery, and old growth forests, while the eastern side is much drier, and more arid. You truly get the best of both worlds!
The North Cascades are often called the North American Alps, and that’s because the mountains have some of the most breathtaking soaring granite spires we’ve ever seen. What else is there to love about the North Cascades? How about the nearly 400 miles of trails along forested valleys with endless 360-degree views? Or maybe it’s the fact that there are over 300 glaciers? How about the more than 120 alpine lakes? What we want to know is what isn’t there to love about the North Cascades? Did we mention that there are even a few spots in the park and very close by that are dog friendly? We always love when couples include their pups in their elopement day. Want to learn how you can include your pup, click here! All in all, North Cascades is one of our absolute favorite national parks.
Okay. Now we’re going to share a fact that kind of blows our minds: North Cascades is one of the least visited national parks in the US. That means you’ll have less people on the trails and a more intimate elopement if you choose North Cascades National Park for your elopement destination.
Where to elope in North Cascades National Park: Between The Pine’s list of top 4 places
It’s hard to narrow it down, because there are so many incredible places, but here are my top four places of where to elope in the North Cascades. The good news is that this seriously just scratches the surface for amazing elopement locations in North Cascades National Park. I know of SO many other spots! Although not all trails in North Cascades National Park are dog friendly, I know of some gorgeous spots in the park and surrounding areas that are dog-friendly and I can’t wait to share them with you! Is your interest piqued? Reach out to me. I would love to show you around!
- Artist Point
- Washington Pass Overlook
- A Fire Lookout
Whenever you see a lookout called “artist point” you know it’s got to be absolutely stunning, and Artist Point in the North Cascades is definitely no exception. This location is actually just outside the national park in the national forest, which means it’s dog friendly! You’ll get a bit of it all: alpine lakes, flowering meadows, and panoramic mountain views of huge peaks like Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Since it’s a drive-up location, Artist Point is a great spot if you want to involve your family in your elopement. While this location is super popular, we know a ton of places surrounding the area that are equally as stunning with a fraction of the crowds. We do a third of our elopements at this location and would love to help plan your best day ever here! If you are needing more inspiration on planning your North Cascades National Park elopement at this location, check out these couples who had their day here!
Washington Pass Overlook is another one of our top picks for eloping in the North Cascades. It has stunning sunset views of the Liberty Bell Peaks, and is another drive-up location, with a small loop trail that is fully ADA Accessible. Yes! You can bring grandma, grandpa, the whole fam! There are also stunning hikes that lead to alpine lakes or even mountain passes and you can even drive one of the highest roads in all of Washington state, Hart’s Pass! If this location peaks your interest, we recommend staying in Mazama. You’ll want to stop at the Mazama Store to stock up on all the local goods, especially their selection of handmade pastries and deserts! If you’d really like to turn your best day ever into one of the most epic adventures, we’d love to help you plan a fishing trip or even head out on mountain bikes during your elopement! Doesn’t that sound incredible?
Stehekin is an amazing remote mountain town that you can only access by boat, seaplane, hiking or horseback from Lake Chelan. That’s right — NO roads lead to Stehekin. If you’re looking for the perfect elopement spot in the North Cascades where you can also honeymoon, Stehekin is it! Imagine this: you and your partner elope at sunrise by the lake, then grab a slice of chai spice coffee cake at the Stehekin Pastry Company before heading on a kayak tour with your bag lunch (or horseback ride to a waterfall, or bike tour, or hike… the choices are endless!). Afterwards, you enjoy a home-cooked, locally-sourced dinner at the Stehekin Valley Ranch, where you’re also staying for the evening. After the sun sets, you bring a blanket to the campfire to cuddle and watch the stars getting brighter and brighter as the night gets darker… Talk about ultimate adventure and ultimate privacy!
A Fire Lookout
There are SO many epic fire lookouts in North Cascades National Park. You might already know this, but we’re obsessed with fire lookouts and couples planning their adventure elopement here. We love them more than any other thing in the mountains, not only for their cool history, but they also always have the most incredible views. Here is a little history on fire lookouts: the Forest Service built fire lookouts as a response to the devastating forest fires in 1910 across Idaho, Montana and Washington. Because of the high location of these fire lookouts, the views from these mountain tops stretch as far and wide as your eyes can see! There are three main fire lookouts in and around North Cascades National Park, Sourdough Mountain, Park Butte and one of my all time favorites that I only share with my couples, you can see it for yourself here! If you choose a fire lookout for your adventure elopement, you are guaranteed to have the most amazing views! Another cool thing about fire lookouts is that you can sleep in most lookouts.
A few more things to keep in mind when you’re choosing where to elope in North Cascades National Park
- Diablo Lake Overlook: Due to park closures, the Diablo Lake Overlook is not currently open for elopement photos. The National Park Service is currently not giving out special use permits or wedding permits for the Diablo Lake area (keep scrolling for more about special use permits!) Check the National Park Service website or call to speak to a Ranger for the most up-to-date info.
- Make sure to follow Leave No Trace Principles, and stay on established trails for your elopement!
- If you bring family or friends along, make sure they don’t scatter or throw any organic or inorganic materials that can’t be entirely removed. This includes rice, birdseed, and flower petals! You can check out our blog on creative ways to include your friends and family in your best day ever by clicking here!
- Want to include your pup of honor in your epic elopement adventure? First and foremost, North Cascades National Park is not very pup friendly, so if you are planning on having your best friend by your side you’ll want to consider one of the surrounding national forests that does allow dogs. You’ll still have 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 honor in your elopement day!
As we’ve said before, North Cascades is one of our all time favorite national parks in the US. 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!
North Cascades National Park Lodging: The best places to stay for your elopement
There are so many amazing options for your North Cascades National Park elopement, and here are a few of our top recommendations for places to stay in the North Cascades:
Airbnb wedding venues in Glacier, Washington
- Rustic tree house with a hot tub
- One of a kind Cedar Cabin with a hot tub
- Stunning A Frame with a cozy loft
Other areas to stay near North Cascades National Park
- Lake Chelan
Looking for even more epic places to stay in the North Cascades? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Click the button below for the ultimate guide to planning an Airbnb elopement.
What to pack for your North Cascades elopement
Curious what to pack for your North Cascades elopement? Below are our top recommendations of what to pack for your big day:
- National Park Pass
- Layers of clothes
- Bear spray
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- Bug spray (especially during wildflower season when our little pollinators friends and other flying critters are most active)
- North Cascades National Park special use permit
- Marriage license
- A bag for trash*
Who’s surprised that snacks are number-one on our list? Not us, we’ll pack them for you! The America the Beautiful annual national park pass costs $80 and will last you for an entire year’s worth of adventures. It’s so worth the investment! A headlamp is super important if you’re wanting to catch sunrise during your North Cascades National Park elopement because most of your hike to the mountain views will be completed in the dark. The temperature drastically changes as the sun rises, so we always recommend bringing plenty of layers that you can shed throughout the morning. Throw in a long sleeve, sweatshirt, down jacket and rain jacket and you’ll be set! It is always a good idea to be over-prepared by bringing bear spray. You just never know what furry friend you could meet along a trail in the forest! Like we mentioned earlier, you can’t have a Washington elopement without a Washington marriage license. Still have questions about the process? We’d love to help!
* Bag for trash? That’s right! It’s always a great idea to bring an extra bag with you for your own trash and to grab any trash you see along the way. Extra bonus points if it’s reusable like this one.
That’s it! We’ll take care of the rest! We love being over-prepared, so we will make sure you’re fully covered! We will always have these things on us during an adventure elopement:
- First aid kit
- Garmin inReach for emergencies
- Bluetooth speaker (there’s always a reason for a dance break)
- Cameras (I mean, duh)
- Snacks (double duh)
How to get a North Cascades National Park wedding 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. Here’s how to get your North Cascades National Park Wedding or Elopement Permit:
- Fill out a Special Park Uses Application
- Pay a $50 non-refundable special use permit application fee. You can do that online through the NPS website.
- The National Park Service will send you back a permit draft for you to review and sign. Send the draft permit back and you’ll get your super duper officially signed North Cascades National Park wedding permit.
- Don’t forget to bring your signed special use permit with you on your big day!
Pro tip: you can get your special use wedding permit up to a year in advance. They require about four weeks to process, so you won’t want to put off getting this step checked off of your list!
Booking an adventure elopement package with me? Leave this step to Team Mollie! Roger that! We’re on it!
Want to start dreaming up your adventure elopement with the Between the Pine team or looking to check out what packages we offer, head to the button below!
How to get a marriage license for your North Cascades elopement
You’ve got your incredible partner, the stunning dress, the dreamy flowers and the epic North Cascades National Park elopement backdrop. But, you cannot forget one of the most important witnesses to 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 cannot get married the same day you get your marriage license because Washington has a three-day waiting period.
- 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, 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!
Read about all the information you need to know about getting a marriage license for your North Cascades National Park elopement by clicking here. Also, you’ll need to have someone ordained to officiate your Washington elopement ceremony and two witnesses present (and yes, we would be stoked to be a witness, if needed!).
Eloping made easy: choose from these North Cascades National Park elopement packages
We are here to help you with all things adventure elopement. The Between the Pine team is here to plan your best day ever with our library of resources and knowledge of the outdoors, and we’ve created the elopement packages below to help you decide the best way to invest in your day. These elopement packages are tailored to fit any type of adventurous wedding day. So, click below to explore the breakdowns of the packages we offer to find the one that is right for you!
On average, a Washington elopement costs an average baseline of $10,000, including the wedding dress and suit, bouquet, photographer and marriage license. Which, considering the average wedding costs $30,000, everyone should consider eloping! If you are looking for more details on how much an elopement costs, head to our guide full of example budgets from our couples and all the aspects that go into planning your day you may have not considered.
Meet your North Cascades National Park 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 National Park 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 North Cascades National Park elopement. Since 2018, we’ve grown our team and hired two incredible photographers (cue Dawn and Kass)! Dawn has been photographing elopements all over the Pacific Northwest for the last seven years and is truly incredible when it comes to capturing all the in-between moments of your North Cascades National Park elopement! Kass was previously an outdoor recreation guide and knows all the best locations to adventure during your North Cascades National Park elopement. She transitioned from guide to photographer six years ago and hasn’t looked back since! 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 National Park elopement photographers!