Locations, guides, and all the important things to consider when planning YOUR North Cascades National Park Elopement & wedding


North Cascades elopement photos at Artist Point with two grooms

When you think of the Washington mountains, you probably think of Mount Rainier. Yes, of course, this mountain is beautiful and iconic and we LOVE shooting elopements here, but there are so many more beautiful mountains and mountain ranges in Washington outside of Mount Rainier. In fact, we wrote a whole blog on the best mountains in Washington for elopements which you can check out here.

One of our favorite and totally underrated mountain ranges in the PNW is the North Cascades National Park. Spanning more than 500,000 acres the North Cascades is the 20th largest national park in the U.S. and the largest national park in Washington state! Additionally, there are over 300 glaciers, the most in any U.S. national park outside of Alaska (according to the National Park Foundation). With old-growth forests, snow-topped mountains, rivers, valleys, alpine lakes, lush meadows, and so, so, so much more this park is so vast and diverse that it provides a brand new experience with every adventure!

Explore Some Of The Most Adventurous and Beautiful North Cascades National Park Weddings, Elopements, and Engagements

HOW TO ELOPE AT NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK IN 7 STEPS

1) Choose the best location in the North Cascades that speaks to your heart

2) Book an elopement photographer you can connect with. Send us an inquiry for a FREE consultation

3) We’ll talk and plan on EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to make your elopement in the North Cascades the best day ever

4) Confirm your elopement county and apply for a Washington marriage license.

5) Apply for an elopement permit to get married inside North Cascades National Park

6) We’ll adventure around the location you picked, take in the beauty of the most stunning Washington mountains, create memories, and we’ll photograph the heck out of you two.

7) Eat the cake, pop the champagne, and celebrate your marriage! Yay!!!


Step 1: Choose The Best Locations and The Best Time To Elope at North Cascades National Park

Two brides hold hands during their mountain elopement in the North Cascades

WHERE ARE THE BEST AND MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO ELOPE INSIDE NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK? AND HOW LONG DO WE HAVE TO HIKE?

Though it is best known for its stunning mountain ranges and jagged peaks, the North Cascades are filled with mountains, glaciers, streams, and forests so you have endless options when it comes to choosing the scenery for your adventure elopement. We always advise couples to make decisions for their elopement day based on the feeling they want to have. Would you like the feeling of being “on top of the world” from a mountaintop? Would you like a cozy vibe from a cute lake house? Would you like to have a cozy forest cabin experience?

You might wonder how to approach this when the North Cascades has so much to offer. This is why we always encourage all our couples to read 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping. In that article, we composed a little guide so you can feel confident about making the decision to elope and actually learn how to plan an adventurous elopement.

Once you have some sort of image in your head, check out some of our favorite North Cascades National Park elopement locations:

Diablo Lake Elopement

  • If you have done a quick Google search, you can see multiple photos at Lake Diablo in the North Cascades. In fact, you can even see photos on my website here from Amanda + Matt’s Foggy and Moody Diablo Lake Engagement session. Though this meadow area is off-limits for photos, there are many nearby trails that offer the same view of this gorgeous lake that I am confident you will fall in love with as well.

Artist Point Elopement

Bride and groom hold hands during their Artist Point elopement photos

Washington Pass Overlook Elopement

  • This short, paved trail is perfect for elopement ceremonies with guests. A short quarter-mile walk to the lookout not only provides stunning views into the pass, but this trail is also one of the most accessible making it the perfect ceremony location if you are planning on having guests who do not want to hike a long distance.

Fire Lookout Elopement

  • The North Cascades has a variety of fire lookouts throughout the park. These lookouts are often high up, requiring a hike to get to them. Depending on the type of views you are looking for, we can help recommend a fire lookout for your elopement. We can’t wait to show you some of our favorite ones!

North Cascades Highway (aka State Route 20) Elopement

  • Known as the most scenic route, this highway is the northernmost route across the Canadian Mountain Range and is also a part of the 400-mile Cascade Loop. Offering an abundance of beautiful viewpoints and sceneries along the way, you won’t have any difficulty finding a stunning view for your elopement!

Picture Lake Elopement

  • Picture Lake is an easy 0.5-mile trail that is very close to Artist Point. This is a great spot to do your ceremony if you have guests with mobility restrictions. Keep in mind that this area cannot accommodate a large group of people though as the trail is quite narrow. This location will give you picturesque views of the lake and surrounding fields with mountains in the background and afterward, there are many nearby trails that we can continue to explore for your adventure photos.

Most of the locations listed above require very minimal hiking (we would consider it more like walking a path) and some are even paved making them wheelchair accessible. They are perfect for intimate weddings and elopements that involve guests and family members. If you choose one of the above locations for your North Cascades elopement ceremony then afterward, we can go on a more adventurous hike (if you wish) for more epic and moody photos 🙂

Besides being your elopement photographers, we are also there to plan alongside you to assist in finding and choosing a location that speaks to your heart. Therefore, we focus on the value and the experience you’re going to get. The best locations are the ones we haven’t shared publicly just yet, the ones that we’ve spent hours researching and scouting, making sure that we have permission to access them. And, when we do visit, we also make sure that we follow the “Leave No Trace” principles while we are there. This is all part of our services to you as your adventure elopement photographers. Contact us if you’re ready to inquire 🙂

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO ELOPE AT NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK?

Though this park is open year-round the main access road is only open seasonally so we try to encourage couples to elope here during the summer months when the Seattle weather is the warmest. During these months we will get more sunny days and there is a greater chance that the snow will have melted off the trails (though there still is a chance we may come across some through mid-July so it’s always best to be prepared.) With that being said, what kind of sceneries and vibes speak to your heart the most will determine the time you can get married here:

  • June – September: We will get more sunny days than cloudy or rainy days, therefore, an intimate wedding or adventure elopement around these summer months would allow us to go anywhere we want. From the stunning alpine lakes to high-elevation locations, you tell us where, and we’ll be right there to photograph your day 🙂

Step 2: Find The Best North Cascades Elopement Photographer and Book The One You Can Connect With

WHY US FOR ALL YOUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT PHOTOGRAPHY NEEDS

We are huge believers in “there’s a photographer out there for everyone”. We don’t know how you ended up here reading all these words but we know you are here for a reason.

Growing up, Henry never thought one day he would become an elopement photographer. He went to school for nursing and started working as a Cardiac ICU Nurse for a while before his heart found photography and more importantly, his heart found a need for documenting memories from seeing how short life truly is.

When we grow old, photos remind us of how we once looked. When times get tough, photos let us re-live those times when life was much easier and full of hopes and dreams. When we lose our loved ones, photos are the only thing that lives on and allow us to immerse in the nostalgia and memories. Photos are timeless. Photos are sacred.

This is why we don’t mess around when it comes to creating a safe space for our couples to express themselves, to feel how they feel, to be who they are meant to be, so we can truly capture their true authentic selves.

Besides the main focus of capturing memories and moments, we are also huge believers in “Leave No Trace”.

WHAT IS “LEAVE NO TRACE” AND WHY SHOULD WE CARE ABOUT IT?

As experts in adventure elopement photography, we care a whole lot about “Leave No Trace”, which is where we go on adventures for photos but also make sure we leave things the way they are by doing our parts to preserve the beauty of nature. Here are some things we do and expect our couples to do (not limited to):

  • Stay on trails
  • Not climbing over fences, roped-off areas, or places with visible signs of “Do Not Trespass”
  • No meadow stomping
  • No confetti inside National Park (doesn’t matter if they are bio-degradable or not): Each National Park has their own living organisms, plants, animals, etc… By leaving things behind, we can harm these living organisms. Bio-degradable confetti takes a while to degrade and might need rain or water to speed up that process. In the meantime, other animals might still be able to ingest them. If you are thinking about confetti, we can do so at your cabin (if allowed)

Step 3: Transportations, Accommodations, Pets, and EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW to Elope At North Cascades National Park

WHERE ARE THE BEST PLACES TO STAY FOR YOUR NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

As mentioned previously, with the park being so ginormous, where you choose to stay will depend on where you are planning on having your elopement photographed. With that being said, please keep in mind that even with finding the perfect place to stay, we might still have to drive around for photos since these locations within the North Cascades National Park are quite spread out. Please see some well-known places listed below as examples:

Hotels / Lodges [some of these places also offer services for wedding and elopement venues within North Cascades National Park)

  • Ross Lake Resort: Open seasonally, mid-June – October. Accessible by foot, water taxi, or boat and close to Ross Lake and Lake Diablo.
  • North Cascades Lodge at Stehekin: A 3.5-hour drive from Seattle, this lodge is located on the tip of Lake Chelan
  • Mountain Springs Lodge: Located near the idyllic German town Leavenworth, this lodge offers easy access to trails with stunning views as well as a nearby town with lots of sightseeing opportunities.

Campgrounds [yesss if you are feeling adventurous and want to bring your Camper Vans, RVs, Trailers, Tent or even Boat for your adventure elopement, check out these places]:

  • The North Cascades National Park has 5 serviced campgrounds, 4 of which can be reserved in advance.
  • There are a number of boat-in campgrounds within the park. This can offer a fun alternative to tent or RV camping but keep in mind that backcountry or dock permits may be required.
  • Colonial Creek Campground: near Thunder Knob & Fourth of July Pass trails. Has a boat launch as well as a water taxi to Ross Lake Resort. Reservations accepted.
  • Newhalem Creek Campground: Within walking distance of the North Cascades Visitor Center. Reservations accepted
  • Mineral Park Campground: Open seasonally and offers a gorgeous view of Mt Baker on a clear day.
  • Goodell Campground: Good for tent camping and small RVs. First come first serve.

Airbnbs near North Cascades National Park:

  • Closest towns around the park: Bellingham, La Connor, Lynden, and Newhalem
  • These places are more flexible since you can pick a cabin based on what they offer, capacity, and amenities. Since you’re staying outside the National Park, you also have fewer restrictions on what you can do with your wedding.

Although the list above is quite extensive, we did not list everything we’ve found since we don’t want to overwhelm you with information. When we plan on your adventure elopement, we will narrow down places that are more relevant to your needs.

CAN WE INVITE GUESTS? HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOULD WE HAVE AT OUR NORTH CASCADES ELOPEMENT?

We’ve photographed elopements that consist of just the couple and we have also photographed elopements where 30+ family members and friends also came along with the couple. There are no rules when it comes to having your wedding day how you have envisioned it. If you want to read more on this topic, we have written a blog post on 6 Things To Consider Before Eloping.

In terms of legality and paperwork, you will need 2 adults who are 18 or older to sign as your witnesses. If you choose to not have guests, it’s ok. Oftentimes, we become one or both of the 2 witnesses and we have a list of options for a second witness if needed for when we plan together.

Dachshund dogs lay on bride's wedding dress train during outdoor elopement at North Cascades National Park

WE HAVE A DOG OR TWO, CAN WE BRING OUR PETS ALONG WITH US TO OUR NORTH CASCADES NATIONAL PARK ELOPEMENT?

According to the North Cascades National Park website “Dogs and other pets are not allowed within the national park except on a leash on the Pacific Crest Trail and within 50 feet of roads. Service animals are allowed for those with disabilities.

Pets are allowed on a leash within the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. Pets are also allowed on most surrounding national forest lands.

If you are not sure where you can hike with your pet, please call the Wilderness Information Center at 360-854-7245 for trip suggestions.”

If you are thinking about bringing your pets to North Cascades National Park, follow the BARK acronym:

  • B: Bag your pet’s poop
  • A: Always wear a leash
  • R: Respect wildlife
  • K: Know where you can go

In addition, pets must be with you at all times, not tying them to trees. For a full list of rules with pets, see the website link above.

Looking at the list of rules above, you might feel discouraged about eloping at North Cascades National Park. However, don’t be. As a dog father of 3 fur babies, Henry knows how important it is to include your pets on your elopement day. This is why our job is more than just photographing your day; rather, by assisting you from day one with planning and finding the right resources for your elopement day, we can help make sure you guys can include everything that’s important to you


Step 4: Marriage License and Legality in Washington State

Two brides hug during their North Cascades blue hour elopement photos

HOW TO APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE IN WASHINGTON STATE

Since many areas of the North Cascades range fall within the state of Washington, you will need to apply for a marriage license to get married here. Note: the North Cascades sprawls across county lines, so once we’ve nailed down a location, you will want to check which county you will be eloping in and apply for your marriage license there. Per Washington state law, you will need to apply for a marriage license at least 3 days before your elopement date. Please keep in mind that you can only apply for a license within 60 days of your elopement date.

If you are from Washington or if you arrive at least 3 days before your elopement date, you can visit any local office to get one. If you are from out of state and don’t have enough time to arrive early and to wait, the BEST WAY IS TO APPLY ONLINE AND HAVE IT MAILED TO YOU. More Information on your marriage license can be found HERE

HOW MANY WITNESSES DO WE NEED? WHAT ABOUT AN OFFICIANT?

You will need an officiant and 2 witnesses. If you have family and/or friends who can be there for you, that’s amazing. If not, it’s ok. Oftentimes, we are one or both of the witnesses, and we can recommend a list of officiants for you.


Step 5: Apply For A Wedding Permit for Your North Cascades National Park Elopement

Depending on where you are getting married within the North Cascades National Park will determine what kind of permit you might need. There is no entrance fee to enter North Cascades National Park.

You will need a permit to have a wedding inside North Cascades National Park: Please fill out the Application Form and submit a $50 non-refundable application fee online (note – this fee might change over time).


Step 6: Everything Else To Prepare For Your North Cascades National Park Elopement

We know that when you seek an adventure elopement, you seek an experience. An elopement does not mean the day is “less than” a traditional wedding. Therefore, we decided to dedicate a whole page to our site with multiple blog posts and resources on elopements.

Why eloping? How can we make this day unique and special? What else should we think about? If we can’t have our family with us, what are some other things we can do to let them be involved from afar? These are just some of the many questions we know you might have, and we will be there from day 1 to prepare you and plan with you for a day that none of us will ever forget. It all starts TRUST & INTENTIONALITY.

More information, resources, and what-to-pack reminders will be sent throughout our planning process together.


Thanks for reading and we hope you consider us as your North Cascades National Park Elopement photographers. You can read more About Us, Pricing, Elopement Packages and Everything we are about. If you are ready, please head over to our Contact Page to send an inquiry.


North Cascades National Park Elopement Packages

– Photograph by Henry or Sergio

– Explore anywhere within North Cascades National Park

– Coverage from 4 hours to Full Day

– A personalized elopement experience with unlimited guides and resources as promised above (click here to see everything that is included)

– All your breath-taking photos in a secure & private online gallery

– Travel fees included


Ready to elope? Need our help in finding the most perfect location for you? Need more clarification?


Henry Tieu & Sergio - Elopement Photographers

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