North Cascades Elopement Guide

North Cascades Elopement Guide

The Complete Guide to Planning Your Elopement in North Cascades National Park

Alpine lakes. Wildflower meadows. Hidden remote towns. Rugged mountains. Snow-capped glaciers. North Cascades National Park is one of our favorite pieces of paradise, and it’s such a romantic and isolated spot for your elopement! Why? North Cascades National Park has so much to offer for couples looking for the perfect spot to say “I Do!” 

This national park in the Pacific Northwest stretches from the U.S.-Canada border all the way to Lake Chelan, and the park is known for its awesome biodiversity. The North Cascades are so much more than just a stretch of mountains! To the west of the North Cascades, you’ll find a more wet environment with dramatic peaks and old growth forests. To the east, you’ll find a drier and more arid climate. Fun fact: this national park is even home to the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States.

So why should you elope in the North Cascades? Well, there are almost 400 miles of trails throughout the park with endless views and stunning scenery. Plus, the park has more than 300 (yes, 300!) glaciers! And more than 500 lakes! Also, several spots in the park are dog friendly. We could go on, and on, and on… 

The biggest perk? North Cascades National Park remains one of the least – yes, least – visited parks in the U.S. That means there will be plenty of spots around the park to take in some solo time, say your vows, and pop open a bottle of champagne to celebrate your vows.

Your North Cascades National Park Elopement Checklist

Your North Cascades National Park Elopement Checklist

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  • Step Six

Find Your North Cascades Elopement Photographer

We highly recommend finding a photographer first to make sure that he or she is available during the timeframe that you plan to elope in Washington. We recommend choosing a photographer that you feel relaxed and confident that you’ll be able to be your natural selves. Every photographer has a different approach to how they capture moments throughout the day, so we think that it’s a good idea to ask how the photographer will guide you throughout the entire experience.

Our photography style is documentary focused to create a safe space for you and your other half to share authentic moments on your wedding day. We create a balance of guiding you if we have a specific vision for a shot, and allowing you both to melt into a private moment or experience. Our goal is to make you feel as if you’re adventuring with good friends that happen to take epic photos as we explore together!

Choosing the Best Time of Year to Visit the North Cascades

The best time to elope in North Cascades National Park is between mid-July and early October. Winter elopements are magical, but slushy snow isn’t that romantic or pretty. Planning an elopement during this time means you’ll miss out on some of the gross half-snow sludge in the spring. Depending on the year, most of the snow will have melted by mid-July. 

Wildflowers blossom in the mountains starting in August and last until early September, though the wildflower season depends on the amount of rain that year. If there has been above-average snowfall that year, expect a truly wild wildflower season with shades of blue, purple, and pink scattered across the meadows in the mountains.

If you don’t like the idea of eloping in the summer, consider getting married in the fall! The seasonal foliage in the North Cascade mountains is out of this world, and would be amazing for your wedding day. There are these larches which are deciduous conifers that change color in the fall when they shed their pine needles.

Book other wedding services

We will provide a detailed guide for you immediately after booking with us! The elopement guide will have our recommendations from years of visiting this incredible part of the country. We’ve worked with several other wedding vendors that we highly recommend, which helps speed up your research process and allows you to book whichever vendor that you connect with the most.

We do not recommend booking an all-in-one elopement package because it doesn’t allow you to have options. We’ll share recommendations for videographers, officiants, florists, hair + makeup artists, musicians, and specialty bakeries.

In Washington, you’ll need an ordained officiant to sign your marriage license. Your officiant doesn’t have to be traditional. You can pick an elopement-friendly officiant, or you can ask a family friend or family member if they’re ordained. You will need two witnesses, and we can help out signing if you are not bringing any guests to your ceremony!

How to Get Your Marriage License for Your North Cascades Elopement

You’ll need to decide whether you want to get legally married in Washington or your home state. Depending on the section of the park, your wedding permit will fall under different jurisdiction. 

If you plan to get legally married in Washington, you can file your paperwork in either Pierce County or King County for the most part. Here’s a fun fact about Washington marriage licenses: you can get your license from any county, and the license will be valid in any part of Washington. The only thing you need to do is return the license to the county by mail or in-person drop off. 

Regardless of where you want to file, Washington state has a three day waiting period for marriage licenses. Licenses cost $69 and the fee is nonrefundable. Once you receive your license, it will be valid for the next 60 days.

How to Obtain a North Cascades Wedding Ceremony Permit

If you’re planning to elope in North Cascades National Park, we can help! You’ll need a special use permit for the park. Here’s what you need to know: 

  • You’ll need to fill out a Special Park Uses application
  • Pay the $50 non-refundable application fee online
  • The National Park Service will send back a draft of your permit for your review. If it looks okay, you will have to sign it and send it back. 
  • You’ll then receive your official permit to bring on your wedding day!

You can do this up to a year in advance! It takes officials around a month to process the paperwork, so don’t get too worried if the process takes a while.

How to get to the North Cascades

There are two easy ways to get to North Cascades National Park, and the option you pick will likely depend on where you’re flying in from. 

The closest airport to North Cascades National Park is the Bellingham International Airport in Bellingham, Washington. It’s located north of Seattle, close to the Canadian border. From there, you’ll need to rent a car and drive about an hour and a half to the park.

If you’re coming from further away, consider flying into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Seattle is south of the North Cascades National Park, but it’s a much larger airport, so you’ll probably be able to find an affordable flight. Plus, you can schedule in a few days to explore Seattle, too. From here, you’ll rent a car and drive three hours north to get to the park.

Best Places to Stay Near North Cascades National Park

Best Places to Stay Near North Cascades National Park

Our Top 8 Accommodation Recommendations

Ross Lake Resort

The remote Ross Lake Resort, featuring floating cabins on the lake, is only accessible by hiking or ferry (and requires reservations many months in advance!)

North Cascade Lodge

North Cascade Lodge at Stehekin, an idyllic spot with lake and mountain views.

Mount Baker Retreat

This Mount Baker retreat, complete with a hot tub on the balcony and plenty of space

Private Lodge & Spa

A private lodge and spa in the wilderness with an awesome patio for the whole family (and a hot tub).

The Modern Craftsman

The modern craftsman for your luxury getaway (and of course there’s a hot tub here too!)

Upscale Guesthouse

This amazing upscale spot complete with a ping pong table, BBQ, and a jacuzzi!

Best Activities for your North Cascades Elopement

Best Activities for your North Cascades Elopement

Top 5 Activities Near the North Cascades

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding in the mountains: Ride Norwegian Fjord horses for a multiple hour trip from Stehekin Outfitters to Howard Lake and enjoy incredible views in the North Cascades!

Whitewater Rafting

Whitewater rafting along the Upper Skagit River: Enjoy sweeping views of the North Cascades’ granite mountain peaks when you go whitewater rafting in the Upper Skagit River. This scenic and exciting activity is more of a moderate adventure, so it’s great for first-timers looking to wade into it.

Hiking the Maple Pass Loop

Hike the Maple Pass Loop: Even if you don’t love the idea of hiking, you don’t want to miss out on the Maple Pass Loop. This incredible 7.2 mile trail has everything you can ever want: golden larches, stunning lakes, fields of wildflowers, and dramatic views of the mountain ranges.

Explore Stehekin

Explore the remote mountain town of Stehekin: This unique spot, only accessible by boat, plane, or foot, is nestled deep in the North Cascades. Rent a bike and explore the area, or walk through the orchards while relaxing and unplugging!

Go Fly Fishing

Go fly fishing: Explore the gorgeous eastern section of the North Cascades and go fly fishing on the crystal clear Methow River. This catch and release fishery has plenty of beautiful Rainbow and Cutthroat trout for fly fishing!

Best Places To Get Married In North Cascades National Park

Best Places To Get Married In North Cascades National Park

Top Ceremony Locations in the North Cascades

An Alpine Lake

Pick an alpine lake! With more than 500 lakes in the area, North Cascades National Park has no shortage of breathtaking alpine lakes for your special elopement! We can pick different spots, depending on how much hiking you want to do and how much privacy you want. One thing is for sure: you won’t forget the beautiful views! 


An Overlook Point

An overlook point: If you don’t want to hike, or you have guests who may not want to hike, why not pick a lookout point? Many of these spots, located all around the park, can be easily reached by car. This is a great option, too, for guests who may need more accessible options. You can still have a private moment (depending on the time of day) and enjoy all the park has to offer.

A Fire Lookout

Pick a fire lookout! The North Cascades have more than a dozen incredible fire lookout spots. Washington State’s fire lookouts have been popular for decades for elopement couples to day hikers. These spots can offer a really private, secluded mountain top elopement spot for hikers willing to make the trek – and in some cases, we can even book these in advance! Plus, you can camp out at many of these lookouts for a super special experience.

Check out Stehekin

Check out Stehekin: If you’re planning to stay in Stehekin, why not pick an elopement destination nearby? This insanely cool remote mountain town can only be accessed by boat, seaplane, foot, or horseback – making it an extra special getaway! There are plenty of nearby trails with amazing views for an adventurous elopement.

Best restaurants to celebrate your North Cascades elopement

Best restaurants to celebrate your North Cascades elopement

Top 7 Dining Experiences in the North Cascades

Stehekin Pastry

This amazing pastry spot is known for their homemade baked goods. They even have gluten free and low carb options!

Cinnamon Twisp Bakery

People from all over drive to Cinnamon Twisp Bakery for their amazing baked goods, sandwiches, and smoothies.

Old Schoolhouse Brewery

Old Schoolhouse Brewery offers a comfortable and cozy apres-ski vibe spot with tasty brews and snacks.

Annie's Pizza Station

This super casual pizza spot in the Cascades Loop caters to the casual-loving couple with fresh pies and checkertop countertops.

Arrowleaf Bistro

On the eastern side of the North Cascades, the neighborhood Arrowleaf Bistro offers locally sourced, upscale cuisine from the region.


Oyster and Thistle

Oyster & Thistle is located near the coast on the western side of the park; it’s a bit of a drive from the park, but this restaurant offers fancy dining options for newlyweds.

Captain Whidbey

Located on Whidbey Island, to the west of the park, Captain Whidbey is that charming neighborhood spot with great food, beautiful views, and a romantic atmosphere.