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Out of Washington’s three national parks, North Cascades is the least visited – but it’s definitely not lacking in scenery! It’s remote location, with few developed roads, means it’s an incredible place to explore the wilderness of Washington, and one of the best places to get married if you want to tie the knot outdoors, with mountain views, alpine lakes, and rugged landscapes.
If you’re planning an adventurous wedding day, consider a North Cascades National Park elopement! You’ll find epic views and endless mountain adventures.
Here’s what you’ll find in this North Cascades National Park Elopement Guide:
About North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades has over 300 glaciers, which is more than any other national park outside of Alaska! It has a rich archeological history dating back over 8,500 years, and is also an incredible spot for stargazing. There are over 600,000 acres designated as Stephen Mather Wilderness, meaning the park is largely free from artificial light sources that would obstruct your view of the cosmos– interested in taking some epic nighttime photos for your elopement?
The Best Time to Elope in North Cascades National Park
Like most mountain ranges, the North Cascades have some pretty dramatic weather, which means the date you set for your elopement will depend on the experience you want to have.
For most couples, the best time to elope in North Cascades National Park will be July and August, as this is usually the only time of year when the mountains aren’t covered in snow, and the weather is perfect for hiking! September can be an amazing time as well, with fall foliage peeking through – though there is the occasional rogue snow storm at higher elevations.
The North Cascades are famous for larches, a conifer whose needles turn bright orange for a short period of time from late September through mid October. So if fall colors are your thing, this can be an incredible time to elope! Just be sure to bring layers and some hand warmers.
Though North Cascades National Park is less visited than many other parks, there can still be some crowds on popular trails. If you want to get some more privacy, eloping in the off season can help! But, you’ll need to make sure you’re prepared for snow and potential road closures.
Best Places to Elope in North Cascades National Park
The jagged peaks of North Cascades National Park hold countless beautiful spots where you can exchange vows and get married amongst the most incredible backdrops Washington has to offer! Here are some of my favorite ones, and the best places to elope in North Cascades National Park.
Heather-Maple Pass Loop
If you want to hike on your elopement day, look no further than the Heather-Maple Pass Loop! The trail offers a moderate challenge, at 7.2 miles and 2,000 feet of elevation gain. It traverses through the forest, with wildflowers in the summer and larches in the fall, occasionally opening up to views of alpine lakes below before you emerge from the tree line to the jaw dropping mountain ridge, with peaks extending into the distance.
As an added bonus, while dogs aren’t allowed in most of the park, your fur children can actually join you on this trail! For an easier hike, the short Rainy Lake trail begins at the same trailhead, and is a paved walk to a blue lake surrounded by mountains.
The town of Stehekin is truly a remote oasis. With no roads leading here, you’ll need to take a boat or a plane, or your own two feet to this town located at the north end of Lake Chelan. This gorgeous mountain town offers off the beaten path adventures, with hiking and backpacking trails, local gems, and scenic views all around!
Sterling Munro Boardwalk
This trail is ADA accessible, perfect for couples who want easily accessible views for their North Cascades elopement! The 300 foot long boardwalk begins at the visitor’s center, winding through the forest to take you to incredible views of the Picket Range. The Sterling Munro Boardwalk is one of the best places for mountain views if you don’t want to hike!
A Note About the Diablo Overlook
The overlook at Diablo Lake has been a really popular photo location in the past, but the park no longer allows elopement, or photos, to take place there – but if you’ve seen this spot and had your heart set on it, don’t worry! There are plenty of other gorgeous places around the North Cascades.
North Cascades National Park Wedding Permits
For your North Cascades National Park elopement, you’ll need to get a special use permit, which costs $50. This serves as your wedding permit for the park, and reserves a time and location for your ceremony.
North Cascades National Park doesn’t make the application available online, but you can email the park office for more information, and to get the permit application! Their contact info can be found here. I recommend contacting them at least a month in advance, but giving them more time can save you some stress!
Getting Legally Married When You Elope in North Cascades National Park
To get legally married during your North Cascades National Park elopement, you’ll need to learn about Washington state’s marriage laws! To elope here, you need to get a marriage license – which can be done at any county clerk’s office in the state. You can find one close to home, but if you live out of state, King County is usually the easiest office to apply through, as you can apply online or by mail. The marriage license costs $69, and once you receive it, there’s a 3 day waiting period and it expires after 60 days.
At your elopement ceremony, an officiant and two witnesses will have to sign the marriage license, and the officiant must mail it back to the county clerk no more than 30 days after the ceremony.
North Cascades National Park Elopement Packages
I think your wedding day should be everything you want – and nothing that you don’t! As an elopement photographer, I’m passionate about helping adventurous couples like you elope amongst some of the most breathtaking landscapes, and have the most amazing adventures.
My North Cascades National Park elopement packages include location assistance – which means I get to know you, and make a personalized list of recommendations of the best places for you to elope – as well as recommendations for local vendors, places to stay, things to do, and everything you need to plan a day that perfectly reflects the two of you, and your love story.
Contact me to learn more about North Cascades elopement packages!