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If you’re planning an outdoor, adventurous elopement in the mountains in Washington, I’m sure you’ve heard and seen many times all the wonders of Mt. Rainier, and the possibilities for an elopement at this incredible place. But within Rainier, where do you go? Which spot might serve you and your partner best on the day you get married? What kind of view are you after? How do you beat the crowds? Enter Mt Fremont fire lookout — this gem is the highest fire lookout in the park, and is super worth the hike for a magical mountain elopement.
I’m going to go over all the specifics you’ll need to know in order to plan your elopement at the Mt Fremont fire lookout, and I’m going to feature Ashley and Caroline’s gorgeous styled elopement from this location to inspire you and give you an idea of what eloping here could look like for you!
Why A Fire Lookout?
The first fire lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park was built in 1916. Many have been constructed and taken back down as the years pass, and the few that remain offer a super unique experience for visitors of the park. These lookouts are all at the end of wonderful hikes, and the views that await you at the top can’t be beat. The Mt Fremont fire lookout was built in 1934 and stands over 7,000 feet above sea level. From here you have one of the best views in the area. You can see the Willis Wall and Emmons Glacier, and the hike isn’t severely strenuous to get here!
After Ashley and Caroline’s shoot, it quickly became a favorite spot of mine, and I’m so excited to share it with you!
Getting Your Bearings
Deciding on your elopement location is one of the first things I always recommend couples do; it’s much easier to build your timeline and experience around a specific spot, so that your travel time to the location is easier, you know where to find lodging, etc.
In Mt. Rainier National Park, the Fremont fire lookout is on the northeast side of the park. You can use this park map from NPS to orient yourself. It’s important to note that no fire lookout cabins in Mt. Rainier can be rented or reserved, and they do not allow overnight stays. I recommend finding lodging that isn’t a long drive away but gives you the full Washington experience. For Caroline and Ashley’s styled shoot, we stayed at a cabin close by in Packwood, WA.
Here’s some lodging recommendations I have for easy access to the Fremont lookout:
- Heartwood Cabin on the Cowlitz River
- Lost Elk Cabin in Packwood
- Cozy River Cabin at Mt. Rainier
- Tahoma A Frame Cabin
- Tiny Home in Ashford
There are more traditional hotels and resort stays in the area as well, but I love private cabins for elopements; you have the ability to relax, spread out, cook a meal together, and gather with any loved ones who are celebrating with you.
What to Expect on Your Way to the Mt Fremont Fire Lookout
Okay, so you know you want those epic views from this fire lookout. But how hard is the trail, really? How long will it take to get there? Let’s go over all of those details here!
The trail, a 5.7 mile out-and-back hike with 1200 feet in elevation gain, is officially rated “moderately challenging.” But okay — what does that mean? Here was my experience with Ashley and Caroline:
There are quite a few steep sections, particularly at the beginning. But, they don’t last long and are followed by really nice, flat sections that give you a good chance to recover. The steep sections are a bit challenging, especially if you’re not used to inclines, however the hike is never difficult enough that you’d believe you couldn’t make it! Just take it nice and slow, don’t rush through it, and you’ll be fine. Most of the hike is flat or even slightly downhill, so as long as you can navigate the rocky sections, I’d recommend it to anybody capable of walking over 5 miles in total.
There are no dogs allowed on this trail, so you’ll have to leave your pups at home.
When Should You Elope at the Mt Fremont Fire Lookout?
Sunrise, the area of the park where the Mt Fremont fire lookout is located, is accessible from around late June to early October.
The trail to access Mt Fremont is best to hike from July to September. You won’t encounter as much, if any, snow cover during these months, which makes the trek easier. And, even on a warm summer day, I highly recommend checking the official trail conditions here before you set out.
Another thing to note is that the trail to Mt Fremont is popular with visitors! For this reason, I particularly like a sunrise elopement at Mt Fremont. That early wakeup will feel brutal, but will be so worth it. Just look at how Caroline and Ashley’s day turned out!! It also helps to choose a weekday to elope, since there are always fewer people around then.
Caroline & Ashley
Finally, I have to gush about what a privilege it was to be with Ashley and Caroline for their shoot. This elopement may not have been their real wedding day, but I can’t stop thinking about just how lovely their love shone in the early morning light. How Caroline couldn’t stop staring at Ashley in that dress. And how magical it was to watch Rainier wake up with the sun.
Getting married somewhere rugged and beautiful like this will, in my opinion, always elevate your experience. It makes the memories of the day you get married sweeter, brighter, and more vivid.
If you have more questions about what it’s like to elope at the Mt Fremont fire lookout, or are ready to dive in and bring me on as your Washington elopement photographer, reach out to me here! I can’t wait to connect with you.