How to Elope in the North Cascades

The North Cascades are one of the most magical locations in the Pacific Northwest. They are often called the “American Alps.” And for good reason! The towering, jagged peaks definitely resemble those found southern Europe. The majestic scenery makes the North Cascades National Park one of the top contenders for engaged couples searching for an epic location to elope. While Washington State has countless stunning locations to elope, the backdrops provided by the North Cascades are seriously unbeatable.

Washington adventure wedding videographer
Fire lookout in the North Cascades

We’ve put together a quick guide for couples planning to elope in the North Cascades.

Now the hard part begins! Once you’ve decided on the North Cascades for your adventure elopement, you’ll need to actually begin planning. Don’t worry though – we’ve got a ton of helpful info for you! First, you’ll want to pick a date for your wedding/elopement. Check out the bullet points below for some of our tips on picking a date for your North Cascades wedding.

  • Late Summer or Early Fall (July – October)
  • Late evening (for the best light)
  • Weekdays (Mon-Thurs)
  • Stay for a couple days – don’t try to cram the trip into just a single day

Due to the higher elevation, the North Cascade trails and roads are often covered in snow through the beginning of July. While much of the national park is still open year round, it is best to elope in August, September, or early October. That way you’ll avoid potential road closures and closed (or slippery/muddy) trails. Another tip to keep in mind it that starting in early September, the crowds go down a bit since the school year starts back up.

Once you choose the month, you’ll want to pick out a day. We HIGHLY recommend eloping on a weekday. Washington parks and trails fill up like crazy on weekends – even Fridays. To avoid crowed trails, traffic, and full parking lots, you’ll want to choose a Monday-Thursday for your elopement. A lot of times, weekday dates will also get you discounted pricing for vendors, lodging, and travel too!

While your elopement adventure will likely fill the full day, we recommend planning a photo/video session in the late evening. This will give you the opportunity to be part of an epic sunset. The times will change slightly based on the month, so make sure to track the sunset times. The best time for light is about an hour before the sun sets, and about thirty minutes after. Make sure to factor in hiking time if you’re planning to head up to a mountain top or fire lookout! We’ll get to locations in a bit!

Finally, we always recommend couples plan to stay and explore for a few days. To avoid unnecessary stress, it helps to book an AirBnB for a few days and stay a while. That way you have time to unwind, relax, and even get in a hike or two. Your wedding day will feel much more relaxed. Plus, if you have friends & family visiting, it can be like a mini vacation for everyone!

Washington Elopement Locations
Sunset from the Park Butte fire lookout in the North Cascades

So you’ve decided on a location: North Cascades. But guess what! There are so many locations within this beautiful park! Now comes the time to choose which spot you want to elope. We’ve listed some of the most popular North Cascade locations below:

  • Artist Point
  • Fire Lookouts (several to choose from)
  • Washington Pass Overlook
  • AirBnB Cabin
  • Forest Trail

The options are seriously endless in this area. By far, the most popular location in the North Cascades is Artist Point. This spot is super accessible with a spacious parking lot. Since it offers incredible 360 degree views, many choose to venture her for elopements, engagements, or just your everyday Instagram selfie. The hike to a gorgeous reflective pond is about one mile with minimal elevation gain. There is also a ton of space for a group of people to gather for a ceremony and photos.

Artist Point elopement in the North Cascades

Another option – if you’re up for a hike – is to elope at a North Cascades fire lookout. These fire lookouts are located all over the Pacific Northwest and offer unbeatable views of the surrounding area. As the name implies, they were built as lookouts, so they generally have expansive 360 views. The catch: they usually require a bit of hiking to get to. Though it’s always worth it! Send us a message for some suggestions on the best hikes to fire lookouts.

Washington Pass Overlook, like Artist Point, is another super accessible (ADA accessible even) spot. This is a stunning overlook just off the main highway. There are a lot of viewing areas, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find some privacy. Since it is so accessible, this spot is usually pretty crowded though.

If you’re wanting total privacy and a bit more flexibility, you can also choose to elope at an AirBnB or a short forest trail. This will allow you (or your videographer/photographer) to find a good spot for the ceremony and photos. This is also a good option if you have a lot of friends/family in attendance since it’s often tricky to corral everyone to a hike or trail. There is really nothing more PNW than eloping in front of a rustic A-Frame!

North Cascades adventure wedding and hike

Once you have the date and location, what are the next steps in planning your wedding or elopement?

Now that you have the location and date set, what are the next steps in planning your North Cascades wedding or elopement? Well, you’ll definitely want to assemble an awesome team of vendors for your day. We know a pretty great videographer (us!), and we also have a ton of recommendations for experienced vendors familiar with North Cascade weddings. Reach out and we’ll send this list your way! Below are a few vendor categories you’ll want to look into for your adventure wedding/elopement:

  • Videographer (oh, hey!)
  • Photographer
  • Adventure Planner
  • Florist
  • Officiant
  • Cake Shop/ Desserts
  • Hair/Makeup Artist
  • Catering
  • Attire (in addition to wedding attire, you’ll want some hiking gear!)

Another thing you’ll want to plan early on is your lodging for the duration of your stay. Most couple choose to stay at an AirBnB. The area around the North Cascades does not have a ton of hotel options close by, so AirBnB’s and VRBO’s are generally the best bet. Glacier is a popular location for lodging – especially for Artist Point events. Make sure you look at the map before booking because the North Cascades cover a massive area in Washington, so you’ll want to find something close to where you’re planning on having your ceremony.

Adventure wedding in the North Cascades in Washington State

Those are the musts when it comes to eloping in the North Cascades. There are definitely a lot more tips & tricks but we’ll stick those in a future blog post. Feel free to reach out if you have specific questions for your way. We’re always happy to offer advice to couples considering an elopement here. Check out our website to watch some of our recent adventures with couples in the North Cascades!

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