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Mt. Baker (also known as Koma Kulshan) rises over 10,000 feet in northern Washington, and its rounded, snow capped peak is located in the National Forest land west of North Cascades National Park. The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is close to Seattle, with gorgeous elopement locations within an hour of the city– but in this guide, we’ll focus on elopement locations that offer views of the majestic stratovolcano. Keep reading this guide to learn how to plan a Mt. Baker elopement, and how to get married in the remote wilderness of the North Cascades!
Here’s what you’ll find in this Mt. Baker Elopement Guide:
Reasons to Elope at Mt. Baker
Before we start talking about elopement planning and crafting your perfect, one-of-a-kind wedding day, let’s see if eloping at Mt. Baker is right for you! Here are a few reasons to tie the knot at Mt. Baker.
While the views of Mt. Baker are reason enough for an adventure elopement in this area, there’s another peak nearby that’s just as stunning! Mt. Shuksan – named for the Lummi word for “high peak,” is a wide arrangement of ridges and glaciers, just east of Mount Baker. From the Mt. Baker ski area and the surrounding hiking trails, you can see the most incredible sunrises over Mt. Shuksan – the peaks glow pink as the snow reflects the early morning light.
Permits Not Always Required
A lot of public lands – like national and state parks, require a permit when you have a wedding ceremony. But the great thing about national forests is that the land is much less developed, and there are typically fewer restrictions!
While you should always check to confirm permit requirements, as they can change if a location gains popularity, as of right now there are many places in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that don’t require a permit! You just need to respect the land and other visitors – which means no blocking trails or pathways, and no elaborate setups with chairs and decorations. And the locations that do require a permit normally don’t have a fee 🙂
You may, however, need a forest pass for your elopement location! You can get a day pass for $5, or an annual pass for $30, which is valid on all national forest land.
Dog Friendly Elopement Locations
Another benefit of eloping in national forests is that unlike national parks, they’re dog friendly! There may be exceptions on a few trails, but overall, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest allows your furry friends to join you for your elopement adventure, as long as they’re on a leash.
Places to Elope in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
There are countless gorgeous locations to choose from when you elope amongst the North Cascade mountains, and narrowing it down can be tricky! But here are my picks for the best places to elope in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest that offer views of Mt. Baker itself.
Artist Point is the most iconic viewpoint in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. After a drive up the winding, scenic Mt. Baker Highway, you’ll reach Artist Point at the end of the road. From the parking area, you’ll be greeted with nearly panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, and sweeping vistas that will take your breath away! From here, you can see both Baker and Shuksan, and take the short & easy Artist Ridge trail to find some privacy away from the parking lot.
There are many other trails that begin here too, offering options for couples that want a longer hike on their elopement day! If you’re eloping with family or inviting guests, you can choose to have your ceremony at the easily accessible Artist Point before heading off on your own! Some of the best hikes include the Chain Lakes Loop and Ptarmigan Ridge.
Travel a few minutes down the road, and you’ll reach Picture Lake – the most photographed lake in Washington state! Mt. Shuksan looms over the water, and there’s a short, ADA accessible loop around the lake.
The Skyline Divide trail is 7.2 miles, and climbs steeply through forest growth before opening up to the ridge, where you’ll traverse the peaks with views of Mt. Baker. It’s one of the best places for a Mt. Baker elopement if you want a bit of a challenge, and you can turn this into a two day backpacking adventure! Some hikers finish the trail once they reach the ridgeline, but you can continue on for more gorgeous views and more privacy. The trail gains almost 2,500 feet of elevation, so it’s definitely a challenge – but the views will make you forget about the huffing and puffing.
Heather Meadows is a little down the road from Artist Point, and offers a less difficult hiking trail, making it a good choice for couples who want gorgeous views without a strenuous trek. You’ll see subalpine wildflower meadows with huckleberries and sparkling lakes, and if you elope when the snow begins to melt (late June to mid July), you’ll be greeted with a display of blooming flowers. Elope in the fall, and you’ll see the huckleberry leaves turn orange!
When to Elope at Mt. Baker
At high elevations, the weather gets pretty dramatic! Artist Point and much of the area surrounding Mt. Baker is covered in snow for a big portion of the year – so if you want to avoid this, elope the summer, from around July to September. The Mt. Baker Highway to Artist Point closes when there’s too much snow, and reopening varies each year – so your best bet is usually the end of August if you’re eloping in high elevations!
Fall is a gorgeous time to elope at Mt. Baker, but snow can start falling as early as October, so aim for early in the season. Spring can be great at lower elevations, but where there’s no snow, there’s often rain.
Winter can bring some opportunities too – the mountain has a ski area for couples who want to hit the slopes, and some of the nearby hikes become snowshoe trails.
Overall, summer is the best time for a Mt. Baker elopement for open roads and snow-free trails!
Tips for Your Mt. Baker Elopement
Here are some tips for your Mt. Baker elopement, and things to know about tying the knot in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Research Marriage Laws
To get married at Mt. Baker, you’ll need to get a Washington marriage license. This can be done at any county clerk’s office in the state – if you live outside of Washington, King County allows you to apply online and get a marriage license in the mail. Be sure to do this early enough, but it does expire 90 days after you get it!
Stay in an A Frame
During your elopement, I recommend booking a cozy place to stay! Having a place to relax after adventuring always feels good, and adds so much to your experience. It’s a way to make your elopement feel extra special; especially when you click the “hot tub” filter 😉 There are tons of cabins by Mt. Baker, like this wanderlust-worthy A Frame.
For more unique cabins of all sizes, check out Mt. Baker Lodging!
Practice Leave No Trace
If you haven’t heard of Leave No Trace (LNT), this is a great time to familiarize yourself with the 7 principles! These guidelines help protect the outdoors, because nature is often more fragile than we realize. Most elopement locations in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest don’t require permits, but as they gain popularity, it’s important to be careful so that they stay open for couples to have wedding ceremonies in these beautiful spots.
These are the 7 principles to remember:
- Plan ahead and prepare.
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
- Dispose of waste properly.
- Leave what you find.
- Minimize campfire impacts (be careful with fire).
- Respect wildlife.
- Be considerate of other visitors.
Mt. Baker Elopement Packages
If you’re ready to elope at Mt. Baker, I’m ready to help you plan! As an elopement photographer, I help couples find the best places to elope, and give recommendations for vendors, places to stay, and things to do – anything you need to create your dream wedding day.
Contact me if you’re interested in planning a Mt. Baker elopement!